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IB Language B Standard Level IA: Guidance

IB Language B Standard Level IA: Guidance

4 min Read|February 02 2024
|Written by:

Charles Whitehouse


The International Baccalaureate (IB) program offers a variety of assessments for students, including Internal Assessments (IAs), which are pieces of coursework marked by students’ teachers. The Language B Internal Assessment is an individual oral assessment which makes up 25% of a student’s grade at Standard Level. Language B is a language acquisition course designed for students with some previous experience of the target language. There are many different languages offered by the IB. These include French, German, and Spanish.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the IB Language B IA for Standard Level students, including preparing for likely topics and responding to the visual stimuli on the day.

What is the Language B IA?

The Language B IA is an oral assessment, consisting of a conversation with a teacher, during which the student demonstrates their ability to use the target language in a variety of real-life situations.

The student will be presented with two visual stimuli, and can pick one to prepare a presentation about. The student will have 15 minutes of preparation, during which they can make up to 10 bullet points of notes in response to the visual stimulus.

They will then have 3-4 minutes to describe the picture to the teacher, relate it to the relevant theme and the target culture. This should be specific to the picture, and not just be a general, pre-prepared presentation on the theme in general. Most of the time in this section should be dedicated to connected the overarching theme to the picture, and providing an example within the target culture.

This will be followed by a 3-4 minute follow-up discussion, expanding on the theme prompted by the picture. This will likely include questions about topics already brought up by the student, further prompts to evaluate ideas presented by the visual stimulus, and will allow the student the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the target language’s culture. In this section, the student should demonstrate their ability to hold a natural conversation in the language.

The assessment will conclude with a 5-6 minute general discussion on at least one additional theme.

This totals a 12-15 minute oral assessment. The assessment is intended to assess the student’s ability to understand and use the language effectively and appropriately. The conversation will be recorded and will be assessed by the teacher based on the student's use of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, fluency, and comprehension.

IB Language B Guide

Structure of the assessment. Source: IB Language B Guide

What are the assessment criteria?

The IB sets out these skills which are being tested:

  • communicate clearly and effectively in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes
  • understand and use language appropriate to a range of interpersonal and/or intercultural contexts and audiences
  • understand and use language to express and respond to a range of ideas with fluency and accuracy
  • identify, organize and present ideas on a range of topics
  • understand, analyse and reflect within the context of presentation and conversation.

Criterion A: Language (12 marks)

To score highly, the student should demonstrate a very effective and mostly accurate command of the language. They should use appropriate and varied vocabulary, including idiomatic expressions, and a variety of grammatical structures. Pronunciation and intonation should help to convey meaning.

Criterion B1: Message - visual stimulus (6 marks)

The presentation should be consistently relevant to the stimulus and draws on explicit and implicit details. It should provide both descriptions and personal interpretations relating to the stimulus, with clear links to the target culture.

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Criterion B2: Message - conversation (6 marks)

The student’s responses to the teacher should be relevant to the question, appropriate, developed, and broad in scope and depth.

Criterion C: Interactive skills - communication (6 marks)

The student should demonstrate sustained comprehension and interaction.

What topics could the visual stimulus be about?

The visual stimulus is likely to be a photo, poster, illustration or advertisement, taken from the relevant culture.

The five themes which the visual stimulus could relate to are: identities, experiences, human ingenuity, social organization, and sharing the planet.

Your classwork will suggest what kind of topics relate to each of these themes. For example, you may study the environment, human rights, peace and conflict, equality, globalization, ethics, and/ or urban and rural environment as part of the Sharing the planet theme. If you had studied a lot about environmentally friendly behaviours in class, the visual stimulus might be, for example, a poster encouraging people to turn off the lights when they leave a room.

Have a look at our comprehensive set of IB Study Notes and IB Practice Questions, developed by expert IB teachers and examiners!

How can I score highly?

There are several key strategies that a student can use to score highly in the International Baccalaureate IA oral assessment. Even though you will only see the picture on the day of the assessment, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself.

First, it is important to thoroughly research and understand each possible topic which could come up, as this will demonstrate a deep understanding of the subject matter in response to the visual stimulus. Practise making mind-maps of key vocabulary, learning complex phrases, and familiarising yourself with the key debates or talking points of each topic. Idioms are especially important to score within the highest marking band.

Second, it is essential to practice for the oral presentation, including practicing speaking clearly and confidently and organizing and delivering the information in a logical and coherent manner. Try talking into a voice recorder to hear how you sound. Or, find a willing classmate to practice your conversational skills with!

Third, test yourself by giving yourself relevant pictures to respond to, and see what you can remember when put on the spot. Then, keep track of what you miss out, and reflect this in your further practice.

Lastly, considering IB tutoring can be a strategic addition to your preparation. A specialized tutor can provide personalized guidance, focusing on your specific strengths and weaknesses. They can offer targeted practice, feedback, and techniques tailored to the IB criteria, thereby enhancing your confidence and ability to excel in the assessment.

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Professional tutor and Cambridge University researcher

Charles Whitehouse

Written by: Charles Whitehouse

Oxford University - Masters Biochemistry

Charles scored 45/45 on the International Baccalaureate and has six years' experience tutoring IB and IGCSE students and advising them with their university applications. He studied a double integrated Masters at Magdalen College Oxford and has worked as a research scientist and strategy consultant.

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