Access the Complete Guide!

Complete Presentation

Guide (B SL)

Language B SL

Language B is a language acquisition course designed for students with some previous experience of the target language. In the language B course, students further develop their ability to communicate in the target language through the study of language, themes and texts. In doing so, they also develop conceptual understandings of how language works, as appropriate to the level of the course.

Receptive skills: Students understand a range of written and spoken authentic personal, professional and mass media texts on topics of interest. They understand descriptions of events, feelings and wishes; they understand comparisons and recognize a straightforward, linear argument. They use context to deduce the meaning of sentences and unknown words and phrases.

Productive skills: Students write texts for a variety of purposes and make oral presentations on topics of interest. They write descriptive texts and personal correspondence; they make comparisons, narrate stories, provide detailed accounts, and express their thoughts and opinions on abstract or cultural topics.

Interactive skills: Students initiate and maintain the flow of conversations and discussions. They express and respond to opinions and feelings on a variety of topics. They use and understand clear speech on a variety of topics relating to course content and the culture(s) of the target language. Students use a variety of strategies to negotiate meaning and foster communication.

Language acquisition aims

The following aims are common to both language B and language ab initio.

  1. Develop international-mindedness through the study of languages, cultures, and ideas and issues of global significance.
  2. Enable students to communicate in the language they have studied in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes.
  3. Encourage, through the study of texts and through social interaction, an awareness and appreciation of a variety of perspectives of people from diverse cultures.
  4. Develop students’ understanding of the relationship between the languages and cultures with which they are familiar.
  5. Develop students’ awareness of the importance of language in relation to other areas of knowledge.
  6. Provide students, through language learning and the process of inquiry, with opportunities for intellectual engagement and the development of critical- and creative-thinking skills.
  7. Provide students with a basis for further study, work and leisure through the use of an additional language.
  8. Foster curiosity, creativity and a lifelong enjoyment of language learning

Assessment objectives

The following assessment objectives are common to both language B and language ab initio. The level of difficulty of the assessments, and the expectations of student performance on the tasks, are what distinguishes the three modern language acquisition courses.

  1. Communicate clearly and effectively in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes.
  2. Understand and use language appropriate to a range of interpersonal and/or intercultural contexts and audiences.
  3. Understand and use language to express and respond to a range of ideas with fluency and accuracy.
  4. Identify, organize and present ideas on a range of topics.
  5. Understand, analyse and reflect upon a range of written, audio, visual and audio-visual texts.

First assessment 2020

External assessment (3 hours) 75%

Paper 1 (1 hour 15 minutes) 25%
Productive skills—writing (30 marks)
One writing task of 250–400 words from a choice of three, each from a different theme, choosing a text type from among those listed in the examination instructions.

Paper 2 (1 hour 45 minutes) 50%
Receptive skills—separate sections for listening and reading (65 marks)
Listening comprehension (45 minutes) (25 marks)
Reading comprehension (1 hour) (40 marks)
Comprehension exercises on three audio passages and three written texts, drawn from all five themes.

Internal assessment 25%
This component is internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IB at the end of the course.

Individual oral assessment
A conversation with the teacher, based on a visual stimulus, followed by discussion based on an additional theme. (30 marks)


External Assessment criteria—SL

For paper 1 (30 marks), there are three assessment criteria with markbands. Detailed marking notes are used by the examiners in assessing the task.

Criterion A: Language : 0-12
Criterion B: Message :  0-12
Criterion C: Conceptual understanding : 0-6

Note: A response that ignores context, purpose and audience may receive marks of 0 for criteria B and C, even if the response has received a high mark for criterion A.

For paper 2, there are markschemes.


Internal assessment details—SL

Interactive skills: Individual oral assessment
Duration: 12–15 minutes (plus 15 minutes for preparation)

The language B SL individual oral assessment is divided into three parts, preceded by a timed period of supervised preparation.

Supervised preparation time Shown two visual stimuli on a different theme, labelled in the target language. The student chooses one and allowed to make brief working notes 15 minutes
Part 1: Presentation The student describes the visual stimulus 3–4 minutes
Part 2: Follow-up discussion The teacher engages the student on the theme presented in part 1, expanding on what the student has provided in the presentation. 4–5 minutes
Part 3: General discussion General discussion on at least one additional theme. 5–6 minutes

The teacher selects a range of visual stimuli linked to the five themes studied during the course and labels each one in the target language according to theme. For the purposes of the SL individual oral assessment, a “visual stimulus” may be a photo, a poster, an illustration or an advertisement.

The presentation must be spontaneous and relate specifically to the content of the visual stimulus provided. The presentation should last 3–4 minutes, during which time the teacher should avoid interrupting the student, unless it is clear that guidance is needed

Follow-up discussion based on the visual stimulus
Following the student’s presentation, the teacher initiates a discussion by asking questions about the theme represented by the visual stimulus.

General discussion
The teacher should signal that they are moving to the final section of the individual oral assessment in order to prepare the student for the change of theme. The teacher may use a phrase such as “Let’s move on to the final section of the exam.

Internal assessment criteria—SL

Criterion A: Language  0-12
How successfully does the candidate command spoken language?

Criterion B1: Message—visual stimulus 0-6
How relevant are the ideas to the selected stimulus?

Criterion B2: Message—conversation 0-6
How relevant are the ideas in the conversation?

Criterion C: Interactive skills—communication 0-6
To what extent does the candidate understand and interact?


Syllabus content

Prescribed themes : Five prescribed themes are common to the syllabuses of language B and language ab initio; the themes provide relevant contexts for study at all levels of language acquisition in the DP, and opportunities for students to communicate about matters of personal, local or national, and global interest.

The five prescribed themes are:

  • identities
  • experiences
  • human ingenuity
  • social organization
  • sharing the planet.
Theme Optional recommended topics
  • Lifestyles
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Beliefs and values
  • Subcultures
  • Language and identity
  • Leisure activities
  • Holidays and travel
  • Life stories
  • Rites of passage
  • Customs and traditions
  • Migration
Human ingenuity
  • Entertainment
  • Artistic expressions
  • Communication and media
  • Technology
  • Scientific innovation
Social organization
  • Social relationships
  • Community
  • Social engagement
  • Education
  • The working world
  • Law and order
Sharing the planet
  • The environment
  • Human rights
  • Peace and conflict
  • Equality
  • Globalization
  • Ethics
  • Urban and rural environment



In theory, a text is anything from which information can be extracted, including the wide range of oral, written and visual materials present in society.

Students understand and use a variety of text types in relation to the prescribed themes and related course content. The categories are described below, and the table that follows provides examples of text types for each category. The examples shown are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive.

Personal texts Professional texts Mass media texts



Personal letter

Social media posting/chat room




Formal letter




Set of instructions



Article (newspaper, magazine)






News report




Public commentary (editorial/

readers’ letters)

Radio programme



Travel guide

Web page

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial