Spanish A Literature, as well as any literature class, is very rigorous. Sometimes it might seem overwhelming due to the number of assessments there are and the depth of analysis required. The following tips come from my experience as an IB student in Ecuador and from Eveling Egas, my Spanish literature teacher and an IB examiner.
When writing an analysis, try to brainstorm every idea that comes to your mind, then organize them in each paragraph. This way it will be easier to organize your thoughts including every relevant idea. When I am writing an analysis for homework or in-class where I know I have a little more time than in a test, I try to do very specific outlines. Here I write the main topics, some sub-topics, and describe each of them. I try to re-read some excerpts of the texts, copy the quotes that I think might help support my analysis, and write some important ideas that appear before and while writing the task.
In an exam, test, or assessment I know I don’t have a lot of time. I do very quick outlines, just writing words that will help me remember the ideas I had before and while writing. Being a native Spanish speaker has helped me in my brainstorming process since I can express my thoughts in a clearer and more organized way. I use a broader vocabulary and the content I read is easier for me to understand. If you are not a native speaker I would recommend learning and practising a more appropriate vocabulary when writing analysis. I also take English A Literature SL and this is something I do to get a higher score, especially in tests where I can’t search synonyms or definitions.
2. Practice the basics.
When studying, practice with past papers. In texts, try to identify the main theme or topic. When writing, string your ideas to have a cohesive argument. You can also practice for the IB assessments when reading any type of literary text, maybe something you enjoy. Try reading beyond the words, remembering who the author is, and what his or her intent was by finding symbols, messages, or even understanding the context of the characters. Usually, Spanish Literature uses many symbols, figurative language, and imagery. As a culture of Spanish speakers, we are very descriptive.
When reading the originally Spanish literature and if you are a native speaker, remember the slang words we or our parents and grandparents use, this is very helpful in the analysis since it shows the culture hidden beyond the words. The actions that each character takes are also representative of our culture. For example, in “El amor en tiempos de cólera” written by Gabriel García Márquez, at the beginning of the novel, he describes how Fermina Daza treats her husband basically like a baby, this is very common in the Latin culture, where the woman is always taking the best care of her husband.
3. Differentiate between assignments
When working on papers 1 and 2, remember to link your ideas with concepts. When practising and organizing your ideas for the individual oral, remember to link your ideas with the global issues.
- Concepts: Cultura, identidad, creatividad, comunicación, representación, transformación, perspectiva.
- Global issues: Cultura, identidad y comunidad; Creencias, valores y educación; Política, poder y justicia; Arte, creatividad e imaginación; Ciencia, tecnología y medio ambiente.
4. Review the marking criteria
In every assignment, always review your text with the criteria before submitting your work. Check if your teacher will grade you with specific criteria. The 4 criteria are the following:
- A: Conocimiento, comprensión e interpretación
- B: Análisis y evaluación
- C: Focalización y organización
- D Lenguaje
5. Be open to exploring multiple perspectives
When analyzing literary texts you should try to find and understand every perspective proposed. No literary text has just one perspective. The purpose of this literature course is to reflect on different points of view. When writing your analysis, include these perspectives, the content of the text, its purpose, the supposed audience, the author’s intent, and the social, historical, and cultural contexts seen in the text. Since a very young age, I’ve been very passionate about controversial topics. At first, it was hard for me to understand a foreign perspective. But I worked this out by trying to always be empathetic and maybe get into the story. I try to think: what would I do if I were in this situation? If I had a lot of money, or if I were very poor? If I was born Black or Indigenous during a slavery period? Or if I grew up in a racist family? Try to never judge since each person lives in their own reality, situation, and context.
Whether or not, in the future you want to pursue a career in languages or alike, remember that this subject is an opportunity to develop your communication skills, to open your mind to new ideas, and learn about new and varied topics such as a new culture or identity. Since this is a very broad class, you can take the analysis to any topic you like, from psychology to the historical events of the time period. It might sometimes feel tiring and overwhelming to think of all the assessments and requirements we need to complete, but try to enjoy the reading, and take each big task one step at a time. We, the IBlieve community are here to help you with anything you need!