Group 2 Subjects

Tips for Language B SL: Oral

The Internal Assessment for Language B is an individual oral assessment with your teacher that makes about 25% of your final IB Language B grade. With a duration of 15 minutes, it consists of three parts: picture description, follow-up discussion, and a general discussion. 

Preparation Time (15 minutes)

Before your oral, your teacher will give you two visual stimuli. Each of the visual stimuli is related to a different theme (identities, experiences, human ingenuity, social organisation, or sharing the planet). To attain high marks for Criterion B and C, it’s vital you speak consistently throughout without large gaps where you are thinking and not speaking. Thus, ensure you choose the visual stimuli with the unit you believe you can speak the most with; 

In this time period, you are permitted to take a few notes. Make sure these are brief (aka bullet points, not full sentences) and are related to what you want to speak about in your picture description.

Here are two examples of visual stimuli that could be given:

Note: N21 and M22 students will be shown visual stimuli from each of the five themes instead of just two. They still need to choose just one of those to present about.

Picture Description (3-4 minutes)

This is the time period where you can speak openly about your visual stimulus. This is the format I’d usually go by in this part. You can always alter this strategy to fit your needs!

  1. General Description of the Picture

Just provide a general idea of what’s going on in the picture. Many students end up talking too long in this step about every little thing in the picture, but remember that your time is limited! It’s best to take only about 30 seconds to 1 minute for this step.

  1. Talk About the Overarching Theme

Each visual stimulus will have a label of the theme related to the picture (note that this label is in the language you take Language B SL in). Talk about the theme in general for a bit here. For example, if I was given the theme of social organisation, I’d mention how humans are organised into different groups, and these humans form relations with one another within our society. Just a brief overview of a few sentences is required here; your main focus should be on the specific part of the theme the picture relates to!

  1. Connect the theme to the picture

Now is the time to get more specific! Whichever specific part of the theme pertains to the picture should be spoken about here, giving your conceptual understanding of the connection between the theme and picture. 

For instance, if I was given a picture relating to gender inequality under the theme of social relations, I’d speak about the patriarchy which causes many men to feel as if they are superior to women. This causes a change in social relations between men and women, ultimately causing women to have fewer opportunities in society.

  1. Provide a Target Culture Example

Criterion B1 requires students to link the specific theme you are discussing. To give an example, if you take Spanish B SL, your target culture examples would be from Hispanic countries such as Argentina, Spain, Bolivia, or Colombia. On the other hand, if you take French B SL, your target culture example would be from Francophone countries such as France, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Belgium, or the Ivory Coast. 

For example, in my practice oral based on the theme of identities, I spoke about how the identities of citizens in Argentina and Peru are very different. Most Argentinians are first, second, or third-generation immigrants and many languages are spoken apart from Spanish in the country such as Italian, Arabic and German. On the other hand, most Peruvians are of Indigenous descent and there are also many other languages spoken in Peru besides Spanish such as Quechua and Aymara. While there are various differences between people within each of these countries, they all have the overall Hispanic/Latino identity that brings them together, and this can be seen in the similarities in the music, dance, and cuisine of both countries. You only need to talk about one country, but if your Language B course is a language spoken in various countries, I’d recommend also speaking about other countries and their cultural examples and try to compare the countries from each other. Of course, this isn’t necessary since not every language is spoken in multiple countries, but it would allow you to speak for longer in your oral.

  1. If Time Permits, a Personal Example

This is not required to speak in this section, as you often can bring in personal examples during your follow-up discussion with your teacher. However, if you still have enough time in this section, you can provide your thoughts on the theme or examples from your own life! 

Follow-up Discussion (4-5 minutes)

This section is where your teacher will ask you questions about the theme in the visual stimulus you chose. Questions may be related to clarifications on your presentation, general questions related to the theme, and more. The discussion section scares a lot of students, but don’t worry! Your teacher isn’t trying to make you lose marks, they’ll actually ask questions that if answered well can significantly improve your score! While you cannot necessarily guess the questions that may come up, the questions generally tend to be broad enough so that you can speak about the answer to the question for a while. Avoid asking your teacher to repeat/rephrase the question unless you absolutely have no clue what they are mentioning, as this would cause you to lose marks in Criterion C. Finally when answering the questions, make sure to provide at least a few personal examples of the theme in your life, required in Criterion B2!

General Discussion (5-6 minutes)

Finally, the general discussion section will be questions from your teacher on at least 1 other theme that you didn’t choose in the previous sections. The tips for this section are similar to the ones for the follow-up discussion, so just make sure you answer the teacher’s questions elaboratively with personal examples if the question desires!

General Tips to Prepare

It’s definitely very daunting thinking about the fact that you’ll be speaking for 15 minutes in your non-native language. However, there are many things you can do before the oral to prepare!

  • Learn your tenses and idiomatic expressions

This is important in Criterion A! If you do not include any idiomatic expression at all in your oral, it’s likely you won’t be able to reach the highest (9-12) band in Criterion A. Using different tenses apart from present tense is also crucial, and make sure you learn the different moods and what situations they are applied in of the language you take Language B in. I’d recommend going through conjugation apps in your specific language to work on embedding tenses when you speak!

  • Practice with friends

Conducting a mock oral with friends that take the same Language B SL language class is a great way to get some practice with the language. You can find several sample visual stimuli online related to each of the themes, and then practice making a presentation with it. After the presentation stage, your friends can ask questions to you in the specified language about the theme which you will answer. Ultimately both you and your friend’s speaking skills will improve so it’s a win-win!

  • Quizlet is your best friend!

Like the other assessment component in language B, it’s essential to use Quizlet or any other flashcard website to improve your vocabulary. Try searching on Quizlet pre-made vocabulary lists related to different themes in the language you take Language B in. This way, you will have the necessary vocabulary required to hold a sustained conversation related to the theme. Ensure that you learn some transition words as well to make sure your sentences flow properly!

As difficult as a 15 minute oral in your non-native language might seem, getting enough practice certifies that you will do great in your Language B SL IA. Good luck!

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