Written By Ranjika B.
The IB English Language and Literature IO is soon approaching, and it is the primary internal assessment for English (specially for Standard level students). It requires the student to give a 10 minutes spoken analysis of a literary extract and a non-literary text or body of work as well as a 5 minute discussion with the teacher following an overarching global issue. You can choose the texts yourself from what have been covered in class to prepare in advance.
It is quite normal to feel overwhelmed and confused about this essay, but with some preparation and some tricks it will be a smooth process!
Carefully select your Global Issue
The global issue is the central theme of the IO, and the bulk of your grade will be determined by how connected the texts are to the global issue. A global issue must – have wide scale significance, be transnational and impact every day, local contexts. For instance, using issues such as the impact of media portrayal of LGBTQ+ people on perpetuating stereotypes, or the impact of social media on inter-personal relationships are a good choice for the IO. Be careful to not select anything that is specific to one country or a local context. The selected issue must also fall within the following themes
- Culture, Identity and Community
- Beliefs, Values and Education
- Politics, Power and Justice
- Art, Creativity and Imagination
- Science, Technology and the Environment
Select your extracts with the global issue in mind
The choice for the extracts you use in the IO can be quite difficult, but using your global issue as the guide makes this process a lot smoother. First, start by breaking down the topic to the different arguments and explanations. Next, look for these explanations in practice in your text. In other words, explore how the texts address the global issue. If your topic is the impact of social media on interpersonal relationships, look for example for the specific instance in your literary text when the characters have an argument over something shared on social media. Doing this will help you link the issue to the texts.
Treat the IO like a spoken essay
Structuring the IO can be what makes or breaks your grade. A helpful note on how to do this is treat your IO as if it were an essay, with an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. While outlining the IO, follow a typical essay structure and that will ensure you have an organized and clear IO. Generally, try to limit the introduction and conclusion to a minute each, and take 4 minutes to discuss each text. The last 5 minutes are for your teacher to ask questions.
Practice , Practice, Practice!
Speaking for 10 minutes without a break is a lot harder than you think it is. For some students, they do not have enough content and spend too much time rambling towards the end. For others, they have too many points of information that they try to integrate into the oral. The easiest way to avoid this is practice your speech within the time limit. Avoid overcomplicating things and trying to use too many examples for your point. Be strategic with the information you pick from the text so that you have enough content to discuss with relations to the global issue. This also ensures that your IO flows smoothly and gives you more confidence in your delivery.
Use the teacher’s questions to make additional points.
In the last 5 minutes of the IO, your teacher will ask you questions based on your presentation. Most teachers are looking to help their students get higher grades, and will ask you something that you may already know or have discussed in class. When preparing for the IO, make sure to pay attention to what your teacher said about the texts covered. This will help you answer the questions more accurately later. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask your teacher to clarify or break down the question if you couldn’t understand. Nervously rambling on about something unrelated will only make you lose points, so just stay calm, gain the clarification and move on.
Using these steps to prepare will ensure that you ace your English Language and Literature IO and boost your IB English grade. If you need some more clarity, click here to see an example IO.