Learning IB French Language B requires time and hard work, and this article gives you a complete guide to the subject. From the structure of the course to the exams, including the IB French oral, to suggestions for revision resources.
It’s all hard work and there is no getting around that, but the result means you can freely express your thoughts and understand others, which opens up new exciting possibilities for university, future employment, and lifestyle choices.
Chances are that you learned a foreign language in middle school and now want to develop it within the IB program. If so, this post is for you.
Below, we highlight the key aspects of French Language B, its curriculum, assessment, and everything you need to know to get the best marks possible in the subject.
Your Guide to French Language B
Language B is a two-year course within the IB Diploma Programme that provides students with core communicational skills and intercultural comprehension.
The purpose of the course is to enhance students’ abilities to successfully understand French and to be able to freely express their ideas or points of view in the linguistic and cultural environment.
Unlike French Ab Initio, Language B requires a previous background in language acquisition.
In other words, students start this course with a foundation in French, which will help the further expansion of their knowledge. On average, 2-3 years of formal French lessons are required to be eligible for French Language B.
Some students may also start the course with a degree of French fluency, but it is not sufficient for them to study IB French at native level within the French A curriculum.
SL and HL French Language B – What is the difference?
As you may already know, the Diploma Programme requires 3 to 4 subjects to be taken at Higher Level (HL) while the rest are at Standard Level (SL). French Language B is available at both levels.
There is no difference in assessment models but the levels differ in curriculum content, intensity, depth of learning, and skill acquirement objectives.
At SL, the number of recommended teaching hours is 150. By the end of the course, students must develop an understanding of straightforward recorded, written, and spoken texts that correlate to the daily usage of French.
Additionally, they are expected to effectively communicate and interact with a partner, be able to express their thoughts, and showcase intercultural engagement.
HL French has significantly longer in-class time – at least 240 hours taught over the 2-year course.
The purpose of the course is to teach students to understand complex information in oral, visual, or written forms, as well as convey their thoughts in more detail and depth. Students will also learn how to justify their points of view and produce convincing arguments.
Along with that, HL French introduces two literary works. Students are supposed to understand, analyze, and showcase their appreciation of these texts. Finally, while SL French puts an emphasis on the topics of the curriculum, High Level prepares students for unfamiliar contexts and situations.
During the first IB year, it is sometimes the case that a teacher will suggest a struggling student move from HL to SL. If this happens it is important advice to keep in mind as it can mean you maintain your grades, and increase your chances of getting a higher final mark.
Elements of French Language B – A Guide
Here we guide you through the French Language B course. Its focus is on the development and improvement of comprehensive communication skills as well as an appreciation of the cultural background of the language.
During the course, the students will get to know authentic French texts in written and spoken formats, as well as audio-visual materials contributing to the enhancement of their receptive, productive, and interactive skills.
One of the key objectives of the course is the expansion of international-mindedness, which means the acknowledgment, respect, and appreciation of French culture and the entire Francophone community.
As you will see this is a key part of the IB philosophy and for this reason, many of the materials focus on the cultural context of communication.
Besides learning and analysing texts written in French specifically for the course (as well as literary works at Higher Level French), students will need to produce a variety of texts on their own on the given topics. In these texts, they should be able to provide their opinion on the matter, explain problems, give arguments, compare situations, etc.
Besides communication skills, the course aims to improve other vital skills such as critical and abstract thinking, self-management, research, social interaction, etc. Again, all in line with the IB learner profiles.
French Language B Curriculum
Here we guide you through all elements of the HL and SL courses.
The whole course, French Language B, regardless of the level, is divided into three core themes.
- Communication and media
- Global issues
- Social relationships
Also, teachers choose two additional themes. Language B guide specifies the following options:
- Cultural diversity
- Customs and traditions
- Science and technology
Students who opted for HL French will also read two literary works, the content of which aligns with the syllabus.
Overall, the course is extensive and packed with content. Although French is not too hard to learn if you already speak English, it may become a stumbling block with a lack of comprehension or diligence. If you happen to stumble on it, it will be a challenge to catch up. We suggest seeking a qualified French tutor if you struggle to make friends with le français.
French Language B Assessment – A Guide on how you will be Examined
The maximum grade you can get with Language B is 7, like the other IB subjects. The grade depends on the marks you acquire in your exams.
The exam itself has External (75% of the total grade) and Internal (25%) components.
The External assessment includes two papers. Paper 1 is a written exam that assesses productive skills. Students have to answer two questions from the choice of three. Paper 2 asks students to demonstrate their receptive skills; in particular, listening and reading. Papers 1 and 2 carry 30 and 65 marks respectively.
When it comes to Internal assessment, it is in the form of an Individual oral exam. A presentation based on a visual stimulus awards 30 marks. This is the French IA or Internal Assessment.
How to get Top Marks in IB French Language B
If you’ve chosen French for your IB language option, you will know how important the results are. The secret is of course to work hard, but to also to work consistently over the two years.
Our team of IB teachers and examiners suggests using fun resources to help you consolidate your learning as you go through each topic. This means not moving on to the next topic until you feel you have understood the last one.
Here are some links to some helpful resources:
Great for topic-linked programs and to improve your listening skills.
Here you will find some excellent content for revision with podcasts linked to different areas of the syllabus, many on topical subjects.
Here you will find many links to French as a foreign language resources, for all aspects of language acquisition, reading, writing, listening, and oral expression.
If you find that you need a little extra help, or support prepping for your French B oral, or exam practice, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our IB teachers and examiners are just a click away.
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