IB German Ab Initio Guide

B student reads book

Students who’d like to learn German as part of their IB often wonder what German language course options are, and want a German Ab Initio guide to break it down.

Moreover, they are curious about how it differentiates from German Language B, what the course’s content is, and how it is assessed.  In this German Ab Initio Guide, we’re going to answer all these, and some other, questions concerning IB German Ab Initio.

What is German Ab Initio?

There are many students who recognize the importance of learning a second language. Today, when globalization affects every aspect of our lives, language acquisition skills are critical. Some students start their linguistic journey quite early, and by the time they transition to high school, they are able to communicate quite effectively in their chosen foreign language.

However, for many reasons some students get to high school without having learned a second language.  Ab Initio is designed exactly for these cases.

To be more specific, German Ab Initio is a language acquisition course for beginners. It lasts two years and allows getting basic knowledge of German grammar and accumulating vocabulary to express thoughts and ideas on everyday topics. On top of that, the course provides insight into the culture of German-speaking communities and encourages students to appreciate cultural diversity.

German Language Acquisition Options: Ab Initio and Language B

As we have already mentioned, many students start learning a second language long before high school. They are well familiar with German when they select subjects for their IB qualification. Such students will benefit more from German Language B course, which requires at least two years of prior experience. In other words, Language B is for those who wish to continue learning German, whereas Ab Initio is for those who just start with it. So, these courses cannot be viewed as alternatives.

Nevertheless, it is possible to enrol in Language B even if you officially have no background in studying German. If, instead of school, you learned German at home or in language courses and your knowledge is on par with other candidates, you may be eligible for Language B. The final decision is made by coordinators in liaison with teachers based on their professional judgment. The most important thing is that the subject “should be a challenging educational experience”. Clearly, Ab Initio is less challenging if a student can already speak some German, even though their middle school certificate doesn’t specify this.

German newspaper for IB study

Distinctive Features of German Ab Initio

The primary goal of German Ab Initio is the development of three crucial communicative skills:

  • Receptive skills refer to one’s ability to recognize and comprehend language in audio and written forms. German Ab Initio students are expected to understand most simple and some complex sentences, which content relates to the syllabus.
  • Productive skills are the ability to express one’s thoughts in speech and writing. Students will learn to demonstrate their knowledge of basic grammar and vocabulary to produce texts, dialogues, and other pieces of information, as well as answer questions.
  • Interactive skills imply the ability to engage in conversation, understand information, and respond to it appropriately.

Students need to showcase all these skills in familiar contexts (i.e. those relating to the themes of the syllabus) alongside unfamiliar contexts. When the latter is concerned, the course encouraged students to enhance their skills of independent research, critical thinking, and analysis.

German Ab Initio teaches not only language but also cultural awareness. So that students develop an appreciation of the cultures for which German is the mother tongue. Along with this, the course puts an emphasis on the importance of learning a second language and how it contributes to intellectual development.

Ab Initio is available only as SL. Over the course of two years, it envisages at least 150 hours of teaching time. Students will get to know a variety of authentic texts in German and will also learn to produce texts on their own. These texts will be related to the themes of the syllabus along with their personal interests.

Themes of the Syllabus

IB diploma programme specifies 5 themes for German Ab Initio. Each theme, in turn, includes 4 topics. In total, the syllabus introduces 20 topics in the form of visual, written, audio, and audio-visual texts. These texts belong to one of three categories: professional, personal, and mass media. It is important for students to recognize the characteristics of each type of text because they will encounter them in their exams.

As part of our German Ab Initio Guide here are the themes of the course:

  1. It delves into the ways to express your identity, personality, and physicality. The topics are the following:
  • Personal attributes
  • Personal relationships
  • Eating and drinking
  • Physical well-being
  1. This theme explores the ways of personal transformation through the lens of experiences, journeys, and events we encounter throughout our lives. The specific topics of the theme are:
  • Daily routine
  • Leisure
  • Holidays
  • Festivals and celebrations.
  1. Human Ingenuity. The theme explores creative thinking, technological achievements, and innovations, and how they affect the world around us. The four topics are as follows:
  • Transport
  • Entertainment
  • Media
  • Technology
  1. Social organization. People tend to organise themselves in various ways. This theme provides a closer look at social groups, as well as factors and actions that affect their formation. It includes such topics as:
  • Neighbourhood
  • Education
  • The workplace
  • Social issues
  1. Sharing the planet. There are opportunities and challenges that stem from living together in this world. The theme elaborates on these factors through the following topics:
  • Climate
  • Physical geography
  • The environment
  • Global issues
German Ab Initio Guide On Assessment

A multi-stage assessment concludes the course of German Ab Initio.

In the first stage, students have to sit an external assessment, which consists of two papers:

  • Paper 1 assesses productive skills; primarily, writing. The students are given 3 topics, from which they need to choose two and produce 70-150 pieces of text for each. This assignment lasts 1 hour and awards up to 30 marks, which is equal to 25% of the total score.
  • Paper 2 focuses on receptive skills. First, students will receive three audio passages, with which they need to display their listening comprehension. The duration of this section is 45 minutes and the maximum number of marks is 25. The following assignment involves the assessment of reading comprehension. The students will have 1 hour to process three written passages. With this assignment, they can earn up to 40 marks. Overall, Paper 2 makes up 50% of the final result.

The final stage of the IB German exam is Internal Assessment (IA).  It is designed to evaluate interactive skills in the form of conversation and presentation. IA rewards 30 marks fo rthis part of your exam, which is 25% of the total score.

Succeeding in Language Ab Initio

German Ab Initio is a challenging subject due to the fact that it provides plenty of material over the course of just 2 years. Due to this density, many students fail to achieve good results in their exams. Nevertheless, the top grade of 7 is not mission impossible. There are many effective revision tactics you can use.

Without much ado, let us turn it over to Dr. Eva Herlitzius-Karpasitis, an English, German, and French Language Specialist, as well as one of the most qualified tutors at Tutors Plus. Here is her most important piece of advice on getting the top score in German Ab Initio.

“Succeeding in a language acquisition class is predominantly dependent on how thoroughly a student has revised the target vocabulary. The best way to achieve this goal is to revise consistently and as regularly as possible.

Rather than studying hours at a time shortly before an in-class assessment or exam, it is a much more efficient strategy to revise vocabulary daily in smaller time chunks (15-30 minutes). The target lexis should be classified according to topics and further grouped according to word type (noun, verb, adjective, etc.) Especially the setting of a fixed time during the day has proven very successful.

Shortly before exams, it is helpful to make a distinction between active and passive vocabulary.

Active vocabulary includes those words that are needed to be learned in such depth that each word can be reproduced in the context in a correct manner. Passive vocabulary includes those words that need to be memorized in a way that allows for mere recognition rather than correct reproduction.

Classifying words into active and passive vocabulary then allows for a more concentrated focus on a selection of specific words and, in turn, faster processing of the total amount of words. The key to this distinction is the meticulous classification and grouping of each word to be learned.”

Better Your Best with Tutors Plus

Watch YouTube videos, listen to songs in German, read books, study with past papers, get a pen pal, or organize a study club with your friends – these are some of the ideas to emerge yourself in German.

At Tutors Plus, we offer one more effective (and exciting, too) way to learn a foreign language. With some friendly help from our experienced German tutors, you’ll be able to significantly strengthen your communication skills, improve your grammar, and expand your vocabulary to feel more fluent when speaking German. Studying with a tutor is a comprehensive linguistic experience that provides confidence to express your thoughts as freely as you would in your native language.

Feel free to contact Tutors Plus via our email info@tutorsplus.com and phone at 022 731 8148.

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