LANGUAGE A: LANGUAGE & LITERATURE HL/SL - new syllabus
Language A: language and literature course - new syllabus effective as of September 2019
In this course, students study a wide range of literary and non-literary texts in a variety of media. By examining communicative acts across literary form and textual type alongside appropriate secondary readings, students will investigate the nature of language itself and the ways in which it shapes and is influenced by identity and culture. Approaches to study in the course are meant to be wide ranging and can include literary theory, sociolinguistics, media studies and critical discourse analysis among others.
The model for language A: language and literature is the same at SL and HL but there are significant quantitative and qualitative differences between the levels.
SL students are required to study four literary works and a number of non-literary texts that is equivalent in teaching and learning time, whereas HL students are required to study six literary works and a number of non-literary texts that is equivalent in teaching and learning time.
In paper 1, both SL and HL students are presented with two previously unseen non-literary extracts or texts from different text types, each accompanied by a guiding question. SL students are required to write a guided analysis of one of these, while HL students must write guided analyses of both non-literary extracts or texts.
In addition, HL students will have a fourth assessment component, the higher level (HL) essay, a written coursework task that requires students to explore a line of inquiry in relation to a studied non-literary text or texts, or a literary text or work. The outcome of this exploration is a 1200-1500 word essay in which HL students are expected to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the nature of linguistic or literary study.
Studies in language and literature aims
The aims of all subjects in studies in language and literature are to enable students to:
- engage with a range of texts, in a variety of media and forms, from different periods, styles, and cultures
- develop skills in listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, presenting and performing
- develop skills in interpretation, analysis and evaluation
- develop sensitivity to the formal and aesthetic qualities of texts and an appreciation of how they contribute to diverse responses and open up multiple meanings
- develop an understanding of relationships between texts and a variety of perspectives, cultural contexts, and local and global issues and an appreciation of how they contribute to diverse responses and open up multiple meanings
- develop an understanding of the relationships between studies in language and literature and other disciplines
- communicate and collaborate in a confident and creative way
- foster a lifelong interest in and enjoyment of language and literature.
Know, understand and interpret:
- a range of texts, works and/or performances, and their meanings and implications
- contexts in which texts are written and/or received
- elements of literary, stylistic, rhetorical, visual and/or performance craft
- features of particular text types and literary forms.
Analyse and evaluate:
- ways in which the use of language creates meaning
- uses and effects of literary, stylistic, rhetorical, visual or theatrical techniques
- relationships among different texts
- ways in which texts may offer perspectives on human concerns.
- ideas in clear, logical and persuasive ways
- in a range of styles, registers and for a variety of purposes and situations
What students will learn in the language A: language and literature course
In the language A: language and literature course students will learn about the complex and dynamic nature of language and explore both its practical and aesthetic dimensions. They will explore the crucial role language plays in communication, reflecting experience and shaping the world. Students will also learn about their own roles as producers of language and develop their productive skills. Throughout the course, students will explore the various ways in which language choices, text types, literary forms and contextual elements all effect meaning. Through close analysis of various text types and literary forms, students will consider their own interpretations, as well as the critical perspectives of others, to explore how such positions are shaped by cultural belief systems and to negotiate meanings for texts. Students will engage in activities that involve them in the process of production and help shape their critical awareness of how texts and their associated visual and audio elements work together to influence the audience/reader and how audiences/readers open up the possibilities of texts. With its focus on a wide variety of communicative acts, the course is meant to develop sensitivity to the foundational nature, and pervasive influence, of language in the world at large.
The learner portfolio
The learner portfolio is a central element of the language A: language and literature course, and is mandatory for all students. It is an individual collection of student work done throughout the two years of the course.
The work carried out for the learner portfolio forms the basis of preparation for the assessment, although the portfolio itself will not be directly assessed or moderated by the IB. However, it is a fundamental element of the course, providing evidence of the student’s work and a reflection of their preparation for the assessment components. Schools may be required to submit these learner portfolios in cases in which it is necessary to determine the authenticity of student’s work in a component, to certify that the principles of academic honesty have been respected or to evaluate the implementation of the syllabus in a school. the world at large.
Assessment component - SL
External assessment (3 hours)
Paper 1: Guided textual analysis (1 hour 15 minutes)
The paper consists of two non-literary passages, from two different text types, each accompanied by a question. Students choose one passage and write an analysis of it. (20 marks)
Paper 2: Comparative essay (1 hour 45 minutes)
The paper consists of four general questions. In response to one question students write a comparative essay based on two works studied in the course. (30 marks)
Internal assessment 30%
This component consists of an individual oral which is internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IB at the end of the course.
Individual oral (15 minutes)
Supported by an extract from one non-literary text and one from a literary work, students will offer a prepared response of 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of questions by the teacher, to the following prompt:
Examine the ways in which the global issue of your choice is presented through the content and form of two of the texts that you have studied. (40 marks)
Approaches to learning
Developing thinking skills is a key feature of the constructivist approach to learning that heavily influences all IB programs. The teacher in the IB classroom is the facilitator who provides or shapes learning opportunities that allow students to develop skills of metacognition, reflection, critical thinking, creative thinking and transfer. Deliberate thinking in a classroom situation is best achieved through requiring students to come up with responses to questions that do not only require remembering or explaining.
In studies in language and literature students are asked to engage with authentic disciplinary problems. The three courses are built around the reading, listening and viewing of texts, the development of an informed, creative response to text and the communication of such a response to an audience. All of these activities involve and develop a varied range of sophisticated thinking skills.
Examples of the ways in which thinking skills can be developed in studies in language and literature include:
- establishing connections between texts studied and current affairs that might make transfer of learning to new contexts more likely to happen
- encouraging students to actively engage in the formulation of hypotheses about a text’s meaning and how that meaning is constructed without needing to rely on tried interpretations or on easily accessible online sources
- fostering thinking through the juxtaposition of texts from different times, cultures, literary forms and text types
- using active learning techniques, such as role plays and debates during which students need to think and make decisions independently and spontaneously
- ensuring that a culture of thinking is firmly established in the classroom, by consistently using visible thinking routines.
Communication skills are important for success in school but are also essential to create an atmosphere of congeniality in the learning community: they help to form and maintain good relationships between students and between students and adults. Furthermore, being able to communicate well contributes to the development of students’ self-confidence and enhances their future prospects. It almost goes without saying that communication skills are at the heart of studies in language and literature. Specific aspects of communication such as reading, viewing, writing, speaking, listening and performing form a part of the aims of the courses in studies in language and literature. Almost every aspect of the studies of language and literature is related to the development of communication skills in students.
Examples of further ways in which communication skills can be developed in studies in language and literature include:
- articulating a well-developed and well-supported personal response to a text
- carrying out group and individual presentations, using a variety of presentation formats, and encouraging attentive listening from the rest of the class and presenter/audience interaction
- using digital tools to enrich learning and improve communication and feedback in the class learning environment
- practising different roles using role play and reflection and performing plays, skits or oral interpretations of literature for an audience of peers
- broadening academic communication beyond the classroom through student-led literary conferences, presentations to parents, and work with younger students or other school communities.
Social skills are closely connected to communication skills in that they relate to the development of the learner as a whole and in that they both foreground the value of a community for learning. A starting point for developing students’ social skills is to acknowledge that people differ greatly in terms of their degree of introversion or extroversion and that these differences should be respected. Similarly, different cultures have different expectations on appropriate behaviours in social situations. To be able to understand the perspectives of others, to form good relationships and to gain an awareness of how one’s words and actions have an impact on other people are at the heart of many of the IB learner profile attributes and the aspiration to develop internationally-minded students.
In studies in language and literature, the sensitive, interactive and collaborative engagement in the discussion of a wide variety of texts allows students to consider and develop their own social skills by debating/negotiating the meaning of a text, as students in one same classroom may have different interpretations of one same text. When students are faced with an interpretation that contrasts with or even opposes theirs, they need to listen carefully to the other student(s) that hold such an interpretation, support their own, and arrive collaboratively at an agreement, or when that is not possible, achieve a clear understanding of the differences between two or more views and identify the evidence that could be used to support each of them.
Examples of the ways in which social skills can be developed in studies in language and literature include:
- creating classroom and discussion norms
- creating, through attitude and example, a safe classroom environment where challenging and diverse texts can be studied in a respectful manner fostering thinking through the juxtaposition of texts from different times, cultures, literary forms and text types
- using in a balanced and purposeful way group and private response, group and individual work, and the classroom space for both better classroom interaction and private reflection
- developing an active listening ability that allows students to consider different perspectives and to engage in collaborative negotiation of meaning with the students who hold such perspectives
- teacher modelling possible varied responses to texts and public feedback that acknowledges and appreciates difference.
IB students need to learn to persevere and be resilient as individuals. Learning to manage themselves is important for students in any academic programme and is important for competency in later life.
Self-management skills such as organizational skills, goal setting, and time management as well as affective skills such as managing state of mind, motivation and resilience are important for success in the study of language and literature especially when it comes to lengthy or difficult texts and self-directed research. Students should demonstrate initiative, perseverance and a strong willingness to learn independently. They should also be willing to embrace the opportunities for individual and personal choices the syllabus allows.
Examples of the ways in which self-management skills can be developed in studies in language and literature include:
- establishing clear deadlines and managing expectations in a fair and purposeful manner
- establishing a scheme of work or a plan of study that scaffolds growth and helps students to manage time without creating artificial boundaries, hoops or expectations that hinder true reflection
- giving attention to study techniques such as note-taking, text marking or the use of various digital organizational tools while allowing students to find their own approaches to self-management and academic organization
- encouraging self-reflection on progress against criteria but also self-reflection based on aims as broad as developing an interest in and enjoyment of language and literature
- helping students increase their autonomy and take responsibility over the organisation of their own work, developing in the process an awareness of the challenges that deadlines pose for them individually.
While good research skills have always been at the heart of academic endeavour, the availability of digital resources and the explosion of the amount of information easily accessible to students make the development of research skills a particularly pertinent part of today’s education. Learning to use those resources and to put those skills into practice in an academically honest way is an important aspect of learning in all IB programmes.
Fundamental research skills such as formulating focused and intriguing research questions, appraising sources, and recording, evaluating and synthesizing information are critical skills in studies in language and literature. Throughout their studies, students have ample and excellent opportunities to practise their skills in both informal and more formal and extended ways. A course that deals with a variety of texts produced in a variety of contexts inherently demands some element of research in order to increase engagement and understanding.
Examples of the ways in which research skills can be developed in studies in language and literature include:
- teacher modelling effective research skills and solid academic honesty practices through the use of carefully selected secondary material that goes beyond the basic internet search
- development in the student of the ability to distinguish between a sound, well-grounded and well-researched interpretation of a text and one that isn’t, and the ability to evaluate the validity of the claims of different critical perspectives on texts
- individual research for presentations, papers or performances with teacher guidance on how to use online databases and how to identify and select the most fruitful sources
- group research tasks in relation to contextual concerns of texts studied
- research of linguistic and literary history or practices, again structured by the teacher, so that students can begin to have a sense of important disciplinary questions, appropriate databases, possible secondary text sources and means of assessing reliability.