By Guillermo Duff
In the first part of this series on the new language A syllabuses (first assessment 2021), we explained the importance of studying both intertextuality, the study of connection between texts, and intratextuality, the study of the coherence that exists within one text or within a number of texts by one same author. This blog looks at the individual oral for the new language A syllabuses and how it integrates these two notions.
The individual oral of the new language A syllabuses (first assessment 2021) achieves a finely balanced integration between the inter- and intratextual approaches to the study of the relationships between texts.
In the case of the language A: literature course, the individual oral asks students to bring together two works, one written originally in the language A studied and one in translation. For the language A: language and literature course, a connection should be established between one literary work and one non-literary body of work. In both cases, the connection should be the result of a common global issue whose presence students have detected in both.
The individual oral task, in this sense, asks students to make personal and individual connections among the works and/or bodies of work they have studied in relation to global issues of their choice. This component thus highlights the sense of agency of students as learners as well as their autonomy as readers. As they read and study texts throughout the course, each student will be establishing in their learner portfolios different personal connections amongst them based on their interests and on their individual interpretations of these texts.
As the time to finalise their preparation of the oral approaches, students will decide on a final pair of works or a work and a body of work that they will explore in the oral through the lens of the global issue they have chosen. The most interesting element about the act of pairing two works or a work and a body of work in this way is that both the exploration of the global issue and the connection between the texts is proposed by the student: neither the choice of the common global issue nor the connection between the texts one student makes needs to be an obvious one to other students.
The oral illustrates the importance of connecting texts in the new syllabuses, without imposing the need to refer explicitly to the intertextual links between them: it does not involve a comparison and contrast exercise. Students only need to bring the two texts together and explore how the global issue is presented by each of them.
The individual oral also requires that students select one extract from each work or from both the work and the body of work that clearly exemplifies how the global issue is present in them and how meaning is constructed in relation to the global issue. Students are required to use these extracts to demonstrate their ability to analyse the contribution of specific elements to meaning.
The extracts also allow students to demonstrate their ability to connect a part of a work or a part of a body of work to the whole. Students will need to show that they have given some thought to the way the global issue is present in the rest of the work or the body of work. When the extract is a complete text, as might be the case with a poem, an ad or a photograph, students will have to refer to the broader work or body of work by the creator from which those texts were taken. By establishing this connection, students will be displaying their awareness of the creator’s production as a background against which to contextualise the study of any individual extract or text.
This awareness of the importance of setting the text in the broader context of a work or body of work is one of the aspects that examiners will be assessing in this component. Examiners will be looking for evidence of the students’ ability to establish these intratextual connections between the part and the whole. In order for a student to be fully able to demonstrate this ability, the whole needs to be fundamentally broader than the part: if the work or body of work did not offer enough breadth of material for intratextual connections to be established, then there might be a lack of balance between the discussion of the extract and the work or body of work it was extracted from. Thus, there might be not enough evidence of the student being truly aware of the broader presence of the global issue in a creator’s work. It is important therefore for students to have studied works and bodies of work that are substantial enough for this interplay between the part and the whole to be properly established.
The individual oral is in this sense the clearest manifestation of the centrality that establishing connections of various types, both inter- and intratextual, has in the 2021 syllabuses.