A Complete Guide to IB German Language B

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German Language B is one of the paths you can take within your IB programme to master a foreign language.  This is a challenging IB subject. However, it provides a wealth of opportunities for future education, career, and self-development.

After all, almost 130 million people speak German as their mother tongue, and it is an official language in 6 countries.

This post is going to provide information on everything you need to know about the course.

German Language B Basics

Many students who start the IB already have a background in learning a foreign language. Language B is designed specifically for them. In other words, the course implies further development, honing, and expansion of linguistic skills, the acquisition of which started in middle school or earlier.

Those who didn’t have a prior experience with German but would like to start learning the language in high school can choose German Ab Initio, i.e. German for beginners.

It is possible to opt for Language B, instead of Ab Initio, for students who have no previous formal education. Those who studied the language on their own or in language courses outside the school system may become candidates for Language B on condition that their knowledge meets the admission requirements.

Thus, they need to prove that they know the basics of German equivalent to 2-3 years of middle school language acquisition program. The final decision is made by the IB coordinator in liaison in collaboration with the class teacher considering possible benefits and downsides for a candidate.

Overall, the German Language B programme is designed as a 2-year course, and along with linguistic function, it also focuses on the cultural aspect of the language.

German Flag

SL and HL German Language B

Unlike German Ab Initio, which is available only at Standard Level (SL), Language B can be learned at both Standard and High Level. The difference between both levels is in the depth, breadth, intensity of education, and linguistic competence you acquire at the end of the course, as well as curriculum content and even assessment methods.

With 150+ teaching hours, SL German intends to develop comprehension of straightforward texts in various forms (spoken, written, recorded, etc.) on the topics you are likely to come across daily. Besides nurturing such core linguistic skills as listening, writing, reading, and speaking, it also contributes to improving interactive language skills. These are the ability to engage in a dialogue, understand and respond to questions, as well as display logical conclusions based on your language comprehension.

In contrast, HL programme has at least 240 hours of teaching hours. Its purpose is to provide a deeper understanding of the language, and its grammatical structure, and the improvement of analytical skills. HL students work with texts of greater complexity relating to everyday topics and beyond. When working with these texts, students give replies in more detail, adjust them to various contexts, and learn how to argue their points of view.

In addition, HL programme introduces excerpts from two literary texts in German. The same works will be further included in the internal assessment as part of the Language B exam.

After the first year of your IB diploma programme, you may transfer from HL to SL.  HL is much more demanding and material-rich, hence some students struggle to keep up with the pace of the course. Before switching to SL, we recommend working with your teacher and a German tutor to see where the root of your problems lies. It is always of great help to get a different perspective on the studying process to decide which level is right for you after all.

You can also upgrade from SL to HL after consulting with your teacher. However, you should be ready to double your effort and time to study at High Level, and this is not something we often see happen.

The Purpose of German Language B Course

The ability to communicate in a foreign language is a primary purpose of language acquisition. Along with that, students are able to acquire and improve skills beneficial for further educational opportunities. So, the course allows for:

Development of communication skills necessary to speak a foreign language. There are four components that ensure sufficient communication skills:

    • speech competence, which implies mastering such activities as speaking, listening, reading, and writing. To attain this competence, students get access to various educational materials in written, audio, visual, and audio-visual forms, get to know authentic literary works in German (for HL), as well as learn to produce texts independently;
    • linguistic competence is the introduction to language means (phonetic, spelling, lexis, and grammar) in accordance with the themes of the syllabus. Linguistic competence also stands for mastering knowledge about the linguistic phenomena of the target language as well as different ways of expressing thoughts and ideas;
    • socio-cultural competence – German Language B introduces students to the culture, traditions, and peculiarities of German-speaking communities. Apart from that, the course facilitates intercultural communication and international-mindedness;
    • educational and cognitive competence – the course contributes to the further development of general and special educational skills (critical thinking, analyses, independent research, etc.). It also familiarizes students with the methods and techniques for the independent study of languages and cultures.


Themes of the IB German Syllabus

According to the Language B syllabus, the course is broken into 5 themes. These themes cover communication about personal interests, as well as local, national, and global themes. Learning the themes of the syllabus makes it possible to compare German with students’ native language and other languages they are familiar with.

The themes Language B syllabus prescribes are the following:

  1. The theme focuses on human nature and the ways we use to express ourselves.
  2. The theme explores events and experiences that shape our identity.
  3. Human ingenuity. The theme delves into innovations and technology as well as their ability to transform our lives.
  4. Social organization. The theme considers social groups, factors that lead to their formation, and the ways they interact with each other.
  5. Sharing the planet. Students will get to know the issues and opportunities of sharing the Earth.


To study the themes in a more convenient and in-depth way, IB diploma programme recommends dividing them into several topics. Although they are not prescribed meaning each school is free to choose topics they see fit, there are topics you are likely to encounter:

  1. Identities:
  • Personal attributes
  • Personal relationships
  • Eating and drinking
  • Physical well-being
  1. Experiences:
  • Daily routine
  • Leisure
  • Holidays
  • Festivals and celebrations.
  1. Human Ingenuity:
  • Transport
  • Entertainment
  • Media
  • Technology
  1. Social organization:
  • Neighbourhood
  • Education
  • The workplace
  • Social issues
  1. Sharing the planet:
  • Climate
  • Physical geography
  • The environment
  • Global issues
IB Language B Assessment Methods

Examinations for SL and HL levels provide extensive assessments, which divide into External and Internal Assessments.

  1. When it comes to External Assessment, it consists of Paper 1, which assesses productive skills (writing), and Paper 2, which assesses receptive skills (listening and reading).
  • SL students have 1 hour 15 minutes to complete Paper 1. They need to produce a 250-400-word text based on one of the topics out of the selection of 3. Paper 1 allows getting 30 marks, which make up 25% of the final score. Students of HL must produce a text of 450-600 words within 1 hour 30 minutes for the same 30 points.
  • Paper 2 is 1 hour 45 minutes long at SL and 2 hours long for HL level. A successfully completed listening component brings up to 25 marks while reading comprehension provides a maximum of 40 marks regardless of the level. Paper 2 weighs 50% of the final result.
  1. Internal assessment is an oral assessment, carried out as an oral exam with your teacher and graded by them. At SL, students pick an image, which serves as a stimulus to write an outline for a short speech, present it to an examiner, and discuss it with them in a form of a dialogue. In contrast, HL uses extracts from one of the literary works students learned in class for a presentation and follow-up. The internal assessment is worth 30 marks, and it is 25% of the final grade for both HL and SL examinations.


Language B Learning Success

We are sure you pull out all the stops to succeed in German Language B. However, sometimes you may need a helping hand. If you need additional support our German tutors are just a click away.

One of the benefits of a tutor is a fresh outlook on how you learn a foreign language. They can make your studying or revision process much more efficient and effective. Our IB teachers and Examiners also teach you to get the best marks possible to succeed in your Internal Assessment.

Moreover, a tutor is capable of offering an approach that caters to your individual needs.

Would you like to give our tutors a try? Then don’t hesitate to contact us at 022 731 8148 and info@tutorsplus.com.

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