The DP Coordinators view: Language orals

I am not a language teacher.

I am a biology teacher by training but being diploma coordinator requires me to become a generalist in other subjects. In this post I want to summarise my understanding of the coursework requirements of these courses, so as to better understand their placement in an assessment calendar.

The changes in the International Baccalaureate group 1 and 2 courses in the last couple of years appear to have been positively received by the educators I have spoken to.

Aside from the exams at the end of the courses coursework components for these courses has been streamlined, a positive change for both teachers and students a like.

In group 1 subjects HL students will have an externally assessed essay to complete, which replaces the written task. At the time of writing, I suspect that this essay will be submitted as an early component. SL and HL group 1 students will have to complete an oral.

In group 2 subjects HL and SL students need to complete an oral.

The guide for group one subjects recommends that orals for these subjects are placed at the end of year 1 or the beginning of year 2 of the programme.

Teachers and experienced coordinators that I have spoken to recommend that group 2 orals are placed as close to the IA upload deadlines as possible, as this will give students the greatest chance to demonstrate fully developed speaking and listening skills, which makes sense for a language aquisition subject.

Therefore for my assessment calendar, in addition to blocking the internal assessment for the maths courses to occur at the same point in the year, I recommend:

  • Placing group 1 orals in June of DP 1
  • Students taking 2 group 1 subjects they can opt to take one or both subjects at this time or one of their subjects in a second slot in September of DP 2
  • HL essays to be completed between October and February of DP2. There is a potential conflict here, affecting HL group 1 students, with the TOK essay which also needs to be submitted in the early deadline
  • Placing group 2 orals in the middle to end of March of DP 2 allowing 2 to 3 weeks of processing and uploading to the IB eCoursework system.

Thinking about it, while all coursework needs to be checked for authenticity, language orals are the closest in likeness of an exam in terms of the conditions that they are held under. They are less likely to be affected by academic integrity issues.

Are you a IB language teacher? What do you think? I would love to hear from you.

Please share your thoughts..

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