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IB English and Literature – Everything You Need To Know About It

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is widely-considered to be the leader in international education, which prides itself on being able to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to prepare them for university. Throughout the duration of the course, students are to study 6 subjects, one from each subject group, in addition to other components such as writing the Extended Essay (EE) and completing the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course.  This rigorous programme may be a source of worry or stress for you and your child, which is why so many IB students in Singapore seek help in the form of IB English Tuition or English Tuition in Singapore.

Here at MindFlex, we have put together an Ultimate Guide to IB English Language and Literature, including some resources that will be helpful towards helping your child prepare for the IB English curriculum.

1. An Overview to IB English

IBDP students are expected to study one course from each subject group, Group 1 to Group 6. Under Group 1, which involves Studies in Language and Literature, English Language and Literature is one of the most commonly-taken courses. Excelling in English Language and Literature is important not only to do well in the IBDP Curriculum, but is also imperative for your child to be a skilled and confident communicator in Singapore, where English is used as the main means of communication. The IBDP Curriculum has multiple components where students are graded on consistently throughout the curriculum, unlike the A Levels where students sit for one exam at the end of the 2-year-long course. This means that IB English students have to be consistent in honing their skills and knowledge of the IB English Language and Literature syllabus throughout the duration of the curriculum. Skills such as textual analysis are imperative for your child to score in the course, as well as integrating literary analysis with investigation with respect to the literary texts. Such skills require immense critical thinking and in-depth analysis, and are definitely not easy to hone. At MindFlex, we have a large pool of 3,000+ experienced IB English tutors ranging from part-time tutors to IB Trained Teachers to help your child in their IB English Language and Literature journey.

2. Difference between SL (Standard Level) and HL (Higher Level) in IB English Language and Literature

It is important to understand the key differences between taking IB English Language and Literature at SL and HL, the main difference being that HL students have to study a greater number of both literary and non-literary texts over the course of the curriculum. Other differences included: 1. In paper 1, HL students are to answer both the questions they are presented with, while SL students only have to answer one out of the two. 2. HL students study a total of 6 works, while SL students study a total of 4 works. 3. HL students are also required to complete a HL Essay, which is a 1,200-1,500-word essay that explores a studied text. SL students are not required to write this essay.

3. Objectives of IB English

The primary objective of the IB English Language and Literature course is to encourage students to understand the constructed nature of meanings created by language, as well as the role of context in doing so. Textual analysis in both literary and non-literary terms are also an important skill in this course. The following Assessment Objectives are aimed towards encouraging students to hone these skills.

1. Knowledge and understanding
IB English Students are expected to have a keen understanding and knowledge of a variety of texts, as well as on the use of different literary devices such as technique, structure and language. Moreover, students are to have a critical understanding of how readers perceive words and give them their own meaning, depending on the context and the perspective of the reader.

2. Application and analysis
IB English Students are expected to know how to choose text types based on a given purpose, and to use the appropriate diction that corresponds to the particular text type. Over the course of the IB English Language and Literature Curriculum, students are also to learn how to analyse how one’s choice of language, structure, style and technique may influence readers. In addition, students are expected to appreciate how various texts are produced and received by readers can influence their perceived meanings. Finally, students should be able to properly back up their arguments and ideas with solid and relevant examples.

3. Synthesis and evaluation
IB English students are expected to be able to compare and juxtapose the formal elements, context and content of the various texts that they encounter, as well as understand the various ways that image and language are used in a wide variety of texts. In addition, students are to evaluate different viewpoints surrounding a text.  HL students are also expected to write a critical response that evaluates certain aspects of text, context and meaning.

4. Selection and use of appropriate presentation and language skills
IB English students should be able to clearly and fluently express their own ideas both on paper and in spoken English, and in a wide variety of styles, registers and contexts. Also, students are to be able to analyse and discuss various texts in a matter that is logical, analytical and focused.  HL students are also expected to demonstrate an ability to write a comparative analysis of texts that is highly balanced and logical.

4. IB Exam Format

The IB English Language and Literature assessment comprises both Internal Assessments and External Assessments. The Internal Assessment, making up 70% of the total grade, includes Paper 1 (Textual Analysis), Paper 2 (essay), and a Written Task. The External Assessment, which makes up 30% of the total grade, involves oral activities. In terms of content, the IB English assessment differs from SL to HL, as shown below. 

IB English Infographic

The IB English Curriculum At A Glance

4.1. Standard Level (SL)

External Assessment (3 hours, 70%)

Paper 1: Guided Textual Analysis (1 hour 15 minutes) The paper consists of two non-literary texts with a question that comes with each text. Students are to write an analysis of one of these texts using the accompanying question. (20 marks, 35%)

Paper 2: Comparative Essay (1 hour 45 minutes) Students may choose 1 out of the 4 questions provided to write a comparative essay based on the two works that they studied over the IB English course. (30 marks, 35%)

Internal Assessment (30%)
This component is first internally assessed by the teacher and then externally moderated by the IB at the end of the course.

Individual Oral (15 minutes): Students are to give a prepared 10-minute spoken response from one literary text an one non-literary text, followed by 5 minutes of answering the teacher’s question according to a prompt, for example: “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, 30%)

4.2. Higher Level (HL)

External Assessment (4 hours, 80%)

Paper 1: Guided Textual analysis (2 hours 15 mins)  The paper consists of two non-literary texts from different text types, with a question that comes with each text. Students write an analysis of both passages. (40 marks, 35%)

Paper 2:  Students may choose 1 out of the 4 questions provided to write a comparative essay based on the two works that they studied over the IB English course. (30 marks, 25%) 

HL Essay: Students are to submit an essay on either one literary text or a few non-literary texts written by the same author. Alternatively, they may also choose to write about a text studied during the course of the IB English curriculum. The submitted essay is to be 1,200-1,500 words long. (20 marks, 20%)

Internal Assessment (20%)
This component is first internally assessed by the teacher and then externally moderated by the IB at the end of the course. 

Individual Oral (15 minutes): Students are to give a prepared 10-minute spoken response from one literary text an one  non-literary text, followed by 5 minutes of answering the teacher’s question according to a prompt, for example: “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, 20%) More information can be found under the IB Syllabus.

5 Challenges Faced in IB English Language and Literature 

5.1. Overwhelmed By the Amount of Content

As an IB English student, one would have to study a total of 4 to 6 literary and non-literary texts over the span of the curriculum. Moreover, there are 5 other subjects to study for, in addition to the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course and the Extended Essay (EE). It is no wonder that IB English students are often overwhelmed with the amount of content that they have to study in order to stay on top of the IB English content. 

5.2. Poor Time Management in Papers 1 and 2

The IB External Assessments are extremely rigorous and students usually find themselves struggling to complete the various written analyses and essays in Paper 1 and Paper 2 respectively due to poor time management or insufficient practice. Regardless of how well-versed with the syllabus content one is, without proper time management, students will still be unable to score well in the IB examinations. Hence, MindFlex recommends that students work on their time management by setting aside time to practice their exam papers under timed conditions in order to simulate real-life exam settings. This way, students will be able to build up their time management skills as well as to familiarise themselves with the speed and accuracy required to complete their paper and do well.

5.3. Lack of Adequate Resources To Revise

It is no secret that there are far fewer resources and assessment books available in Singapore for IB than for other more commonly taken examinations such as the A levels. There are only a few credible IB English assessment books that are in line with the  IB syllabus, one of which being the Oxford IBDP Assessment books. Moreover, there are insufficient past IB English examination papers available for students to practise.  As a result, students may not have enough practice to be truly confident to sit for their various Internal and External Assessments.

6. IB English Tips and Resources

With the huge amount of challenges listed above, the IB English Language and Literature curriculum definitely seems daunting. Here at MindFlex, we have compiled a short list of tips to score for IB English. 

6.1. IB English Tips

1. Familiarise Yourself With The Content in Bite-sized Pieces

As mentioned, the content for the IB English Language and Literature curriculum can be extremely overwhelming. It is thus extremely important to break down all the content that you have to read into small and non-intimidating pieces. For instance, you could aim to read 20 pages of your literary text a day, rather than trying to complete reading a text just before a test or assessment. This way, not only will this lessen your workload and stress, but you will also have sufficient time to revise the content, meaning that you will be able to absorb and retain the information with much greater ease.

2. Practise Reading Critically On A Regular Basis

One of the aims of the IB English Language and Literature is to encourage students to analyse any piece of literature, regardless of whether they have studied it or not. As such, we recommend that you take the critical reading skills that you have learnt in the classroom, and apply them to any other literary or non-literary text that you encounter. As you do so, ask yourself what the possible different interpretations of the text could be and how the meaning of the texts could have been influenced by factors such as context and your own perspective. Soon, it will be second nature to you to read any text that you encounter in a critical and analytical way, standing you in good stead to confidently tackle the IB English Assessments!

3. Create Your Own Study Plan

With the plethora of technological devices such as smartphones in this day and age, it is common for students to get distracted. As such, it is necessary to bring a sense of structure and discipline into your study plan for English Language and Literature. Moreover, it is important that the study plan you create is realistic and consists of concrete actions. This ensures that you will be more likely to stick to your plan, and remain on top of the IB English Language and Literature curriculum at all times.

4. Read Widely

It is important to expose yourself to a wide variety of different writing styles and vocabulary. This will stand you in good stead to confidently tackle any unfamiliar passages and writing styles that you may encounter as an unseen passage in Paper 1 of the External Assessment. On top of that, reading widely will help to increase your fluency in your own writing as well! This is because you will be exposed to a wide variety of different sentence structures and vocabulary, which will encourage you to articulate your own thoughts and ideas more fluently as a result.

6.2. IB English Resources

Here, we have compiled our top 8 resources for your child to aid him/her in their IB English preparation.

1. English A: English Language and Literature

This book is ideal for IB English students as it is specially written to be student-friendly and have the truest alignment to the latest IBDP English Language and Literature Syllabus. This book serves as an effective guide for IB English Language and Literature students, and they will be well-assured that it contains the most up-to-date information with regards to the IB English syllabus.

English A Oxford Textbook

2. Language and Literature for the IB MYP 4 & 5: By Concept

This resource is relatable to students who are taking the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP). As the only series for IB MYP 4 and 5 developed in cooperation with the International Baccalaureate (IB), this assessment book will be beneficial for IB students as they prepare for the Language and Literature subject within the IB curriculum in their middle-years. Through this book, students will be able to develop conceptual understanding with key MYP concepts and related concepts as well as to learn how to ask questions with a statement of inquiry, thus adequately preparing students for the IB examinations.

Language & Literature Textbook

3. IB Resources Repository

As mentioned above, there are not many resources and practice papers available for IB English students for them to fully gain mastery of the specific skills needed for each paper. More pressingly, the lack of practice may lead to them falling short in terms of time management skills. The IB Resources Repository contains a wealth of content including coveted past-year IB papers arranged according to Subject Group, as well as Question Banks that will help students immensely in preparing for the IB English Language and Literature examinations and assessments. IB Resources Logo

4. StudyBlue

Studyblue is an online learning tool made specially for students. Available both in website and mobile app form, it allows students to upload class study materials, create flashcards and study materials to share with users of the app. By promoting co-learning, students will be able to greatly benefit from other users of the app. 

Studyblue is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

StudyBlue Logo

5. StoryTel

StoryTel is an increasingly popular mobile application for anyone, including IB English Language and Literature students, to read and/or listen to storybooks, audiobooks and ebooks. With over 250,000+ stories, students will be spoilt for choices when it comes to choosing what they want to read/listen to. With the accessibility and convenience of StoryTel, students can choose to read or listen to the English books anywhere at any time. From reading an ebook on the way to school to listening to an audiobook during one’s leisure time, students will be able to effectively learn grammar and vocabulary, while comprehending and analyzing texts more quickly.

Storytel is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

StoryTel Logo

6. Quizlet

Quizlet is an online learning flashcard tool which aims to help make learning more engaging and interactive. Apart from utilising flashcard sets already on the app, users can create their own sets – allowing it to be more personalised and catered to the user’s needs. With Quizlet, parents can help to make flashcard sets for their child, who can then go through the flashcards at their own pace and convenience.

Quizlet is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Quizlet logo

7. IB English Tuition

Nothing beats an extra pair of hands to guide your child in their learning. With plenty of IB Tuition Centres in Singapore, it definitely won’t be difficult to find one to your liking. However, if tuition centres aren’t your cup of tea, why not try out MindFlex Home Tutoring? With over 12,000 experienced tutors, MindFlex holds one of the largest selections of IB English Language and Literature English Home Tutors who are able to guide your child in their IB English preparation. Enjoy quality education at the comforts of your own home with MindFlex, and witness exemplary grade improvements! 

Request for a MindFlex IB English Tutor today!

7. Conclusion

Here at MindFlex, we know how challenging the IB English Language and Literature curriculum can be. From the amount of content mastery required of students to the sheer amount of essays required of them, IB English is definitely tough. This is why at MindFlex, our Top IB English Tutors are available to help you ease your burden as you take the IB English Language and Literature course. Our IB Tutors can help you to regularly clarify your doubts and clear your misconceptions, as well as coach you on the various critical reading and analysis skills that are needed for you to score well in IB English. Kickstart your IB English journey with MindFlex today!

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