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What’s new in the DP studies in language and literature courses?

Do you teach a DP studies in language and literature course? We are entering the final stages of the curriculum review cycle and the new courses are almost ready to deliver to you for first teaching in 2019. Here are the highlights of what has changed and how you can prepare to teach the new courses.

First, how does the curriculum review cycle work?

Take a look at this overview of the curriculum review cycle.

All IB Diploma Programme (DP) courses are reviewed in consultation with DP teachers, examiners and experts in the subject field beyond the IB to make sure that all those involved in the different stages of the teaching, learning and assessment of the curriculum have a say, and to ensure that innovations and developments in the  field of language and literature studies are considered and incorporated into the discussion. Here are some of the ways in which different voices from the IB community and beyond took part in the decision-making process to create the new DP studies in language and literature courses:

  1. Surveys with teachers, alumni and universities:Several surveys throughout the curriculum review revealed how our courses are perceived and in which direction they should develop. Most recently, two surveys asked teachers and principal examiners about written tasks and written assignments, and a potential written coursework component for the higher level (HL) course. Hundreds of respondents representing more than 50 languages participated with extremely valuable feedback.

    Here’s a snapshot from our whiteboard in meeting 6 which studies possible course structures

  2. Online forum with IB teachers: Thanks to teacher participation and feedback in online discussions following the publication of the Second Report to Teachers, some aspects of the new courses were reconsidered and reformulated. These were vital in shaping our decisions.
  3. Two trials: In 2015, we trialed the new internal assessment. In 2017, we trialed the new Paper 1. Feedback from teachers and examiners in both trials brought about significant changes to both components.
  4. Feedback at IB workshops: The curriculum manager of DP studies in language and literature joined eight workshops in Hong Kong in September 2017 where the changes to the new courses were presented. Subsequent debates provided even more useful feedback.
  5. Development of teacher support material (TSM): TSMs are the practical material that guide teachers in the implementation of a course. 235 applicants from all over the world wanted to join us in the TSM design for the new courses, from which eleven participants were selected on the basis of the creativity of their proposals, and their relevance to the new courses.

What changes can you expect from the new DP studies in language and literature courses?

The changes are underpinned by our guiding principles to highlight the conceptual nature of language and literature, to achieve greater consistency between the two courses, and to underscore the relevance of the study of language and literature to our students’ lives.

You can expect the following changes:

  1. Paper 1: Greater consistency between both subjects, language A: literature and language A: language and literature. The structure of the paper will be the same for both subjects, consisting in the guided analysis of one unseen text at standard level (SL) and of two unseen texts at HL.
  2. Paper 2: Paper 2 will still be a literary comparative essay paper containing general questions on literary issues, and will be the same paper for both subjects.
  3. The internal assessment (IA): It will consist of one individual oral assessment which will be recorded, the focus of which will be on how two different texts approach one same global issue.
  4. The higher level (HL) essay: The latest addition to our assessment components—the HL essay is introduced in response to the concerns of teachers and examiners that there was no longer a written coursework component assessed outside of exam conditions.

IB teachers can find out more about the changes in the  Final report to teachers which will be published on the programme resource centre.

The HL Essay

Another whiteboard snapshot – click to zoom in

We contemplated, when designing the fourth HL component, the possibility of having it consist in a creative writing task, and we consulted teachers and examiners about it. Both teachers and examiners considered this option not to be reliable in its marking, not to be the best way to prepare students for university and not to be a good differentiator between HL and standard level (SL). We decided to go for the well-worn path of the argumentative essay, and for good reasons too. But we are hoping that in spite of the fact that creative writing did not make it to the assessment, it will still be part of the teaching and learning. Creative writing can be a very profitable and enriching way of engaging with a text in class. We hope many teachers will choose to take this road, and we are certain that it will make all the difference.

What happens next?

Early 2019: New course guides, specimen papers and TSMs will be published on the programme resource centre.

First half of 2019: Subject-specific seminars will be available for you to register in the workshop schedule.

We look forward to meeting you all in those workshops. Until then, look out for new posts, reports and updates here on the blog and on the programme resource centre.

If you have any queries or comments please join the discussion thread in the programme communities.