About the Author: Roseline A.
How to Ace Your French IA
The IB curriculum for language B is structurally the same for all levels (AB, SL, HL ) however the assessments differ. The curriculum is structured around specific themes that allow students to engage with the target language through reading written texts, audio -visual stimuli, written and oral expressions.
Why is your French IA important? Aside the obvious reason that it constitutes 25% of your final IB grade for the language, it is an important indicator of your proficiency level in the language needed to make informed choices about further studies and/ or career prospects.
It may sound like the usual advice you get from everyone else but give me a moment to explain. Ideally, your preparation should start from the very moment you choose to pursue a second language (maybe even before, but that’s stretching it a bit). Depending on how much time you have to prepare, emerge yourself in the language as often as possible during your leisure like music, movies, videos, etc.
If you have received images from your teacher on each of the themes, classify them according to which theme and guiding principle they fall under. You could also take the liberty to google random themes and find images that evoke one or two of the optional recommended topics. For example, when you google images on peace and conflict it falls under the theme of sharing the planet. Ideally, your teacher should give you 3 or 4 themes to help you narrow your search.
(Please refer to your IB syllabus for the list of themes)
2. What next?
Take one theme and one of the optional recommended images (you either found on google or received from your teacher). What do you see at first glance?
• Describe the general nature of the photo prompt: Number of people, colors, gender, activities, etc. Use expressions like : « il s’agit de », « Dans cette photo je vois », « C’est une photo de », etc.
You may also highlight specific features of the image like color, size, etc. which you deem relevant to the theme. To introduce these specific features, you can use expressions: « Plus précisément », « En plus je remarque »
• What does the image represent?
What social question does the image prompt raise? You may use expressions like : « cette image représente », « Cette image parle de », « Aujourd’hui / dans nos jours, il est question de »
Keep in mind that the social question should be linked to the prompt so if the image you pick is about air pollution, the social question could be as follows: what are the causes of air pollution, what are the effects? How do we save our planet?
• Give at least 3 points in response to your social question. Make sure that you know how to express reason, cause, and effect. You may practice by preparing social, educational and economic points. For example, for the prompt on pollution, if you choose the causes of pollution, you could give social reasons why pollution is increasing as well as economic and educational reasons. The same works for effects and solutions as well.
• What is your opinion?
Learn to express your opinion in French! A key feature of communication is the expression of one’s preferences, tastes, opinions, etc. Learn expressions like « Je préfère », instead of using « j’aime » all the time which when used in social discussions may appear too subjective. You may also use « à mon avis », « je pense que », « selon moi », etc. to express your opinion on the subject.
• End with an open- ended question
This is often a tricky thing to do and since it is optional you may skip it. An open-ended question allows the discussion to continue in the “minds of people”. This means after you have offered your opinion assess it by finding a counter question. For example, again about pollution and global warming, you may end your presentation with the question: Is there an urgent need to save the planet? Is global warming a world threat? Why do people claim global warming is false? Is saving the planet more important than living on it?
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After you have done the same for all the themes, you would have prepared for your oral presentation. Finally, on the day of your exam, once you receive the image prompt write down all the key verbs and expressions you have mastered for each of the steps I enumerated before (general description, detailed description, social question, responses to the question and the open-ended question. This will help guide you while you describe your image. Pay attention to verb tenses and subject-verb agreements because they will be evaluated.
Lastly, do not write down full sentences because they tend to be difficult to read under exam conditions and do not show the mark of an evolved speaker. Limit your ideas to points in the form of key words.
If you can, form study groups with friends and share your ideas! This lessens the work load and allows you to experience, in a friendly environment what it is like to engage fully in the language. After all, language should be spoken!