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Senior School Prospectus.
2023-2025

Subject Groupings and Descriptions

Groups 1 and Group 2: Languages


Students taking the IB Diploma must study at least two languages. All students take a first language and in addition either another first language, a language B or a language ab initio. English and Chinese are offered as a first language. Chinese and Spanish are offered as language B and ab initio courses. All courses may be taken at Higher Level or Standard Level except for ab initio courses, which are only available at Standard Level. Selection of the appropriate level in each language will depend on the student’s previous linguistic background, academic record, and on the student’s intentions for use of the language in the future.


Students with a first language other than English or Chinese may take the language as a self-taught Literature course at Standard Level only. While no instruction in the target language will be provided at the college, internal supervision and assistance with aspects of the course will be provided.


First language courses are designed for students with fluency in the target language. The Literature course is exclusively literature-based while Language and Literature courses combine language and literature study. Language B courses are for students who are in the process of acquiring the target language. Ab initio courses are for students with limited or no prior experience of the language. Language B and ab initio courses focus on developing communicative competence.


Studying language and literature develops critical thought and analytical capacity. These are essential life skills and have wide currency in the job market. Students may choose a career specialising exclusively in language, such as writer, translator, interpreter, editor, journalist, analyst or educator. There are also many excellent academic career paths available in areas such as literacy research, linguistic analysis and literary theory. For many students, study of language complements specialisation in other areas. Some disciplines that notably lend themselves to this kind of career path include law, media studies, engineering, psychology, education, business, information technology, marketing and social work.


Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature


Literature (SL and HL)


The Literature course develops understanding of the techniques involved in literary criticism and promotes the ability to form and justify independent literary judgments. This will include an appreciation of structure, technique and style. Focussing exclusively on literary analysis, this course is aimed at students who enjoy literature and engaging with the issues raised by such texts. Students will develop the ability to structure a logical, sustained and persuasive argument using academically sophisticated language with precision and coherence, and they will engage in both written and oral literary analysis, based on familiar and unfamiliar texts. Texts will be drawn from a range of genres (novel, non-fiction, poetry, short stories, plays) and include works in translation, enabling students to gain an understanding and appreciation of other cultures, but also some of the global issues that we all face.


The course comprises internal and external assessments. In the Standard Level course, students study nine works, which can be, for instance, a set of poems or a selection of short stories, whereas in the Higher Level course, students study thirteen works. 


The Literature course is available in English at both Higher and Standard Levels, and as a self-taught language at Standard Level only.


Language and Literature (SL and HL)


The Language and Literature course develops skills of textual analysis and critical thinking. Literary and non-literary texts are analysed for their form and how meaning is affected by culturally defined reading practices. Relationships between power, identity and language form the basis of inquiry. Students explore the ways in which language is used to construct meaning in a range of contexts within written, oral and visual texts. Texts are chosen from a variety of sources, genres and media including works in translation. At Higher Level, students study six works and complete a Higher Level Essay, whereas at Standard Level, students study four works. In both courses, study of non-literary texts is a primary focus. The Language and Literature course fosters the ability to use various modes of writing appropriate to purpose and audience, organise a logical and sustained argument and use sophisticated language with coherence, precision and clarity. The course comprises internal and external assessments requiring students to read, write, present visually and express their understanding orally.


The Standard Level course is designed for students who wish to pursue a university education in any discipline, catering to a broad range of student abilities and interests.

The Higher Level course is best suited for students whose interests and strengths lie particularly in language based subjects. Students who are interested in pursuing further studies in areas such as Humanities or Social Sciences, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Law, English or foreign languages are recommended to consider taking Language and Literature as a Higher Level subject.


The Language and Literature course is available in both English and Chinese.


Group 2: Language Acquisition


Language B (SL and HL)


This course is designed for students with some previous learning of the language. It may be studied at either Standard Level or Higher Level. The course gives students the possibility of reaching a high degree of competence in an additional language while exploring the culture(s) in which that language is spoken. The course aims to develop the students’ linguistic competence and intercultural understanding.


At the end of a Language B course, students will be assessed on their ability to:

  1. communicate clearly and effectively in a range of situations, demonstrating linguistic competence and intercultural understanding

  2. use language appropriate to a range of interpersonal and/or cultural contexts

  3. understand and use language to express and respond to a range of ideas with accuracy and fluency

  4. organise ideas on a range of topics, in a clear, coherent and convincing manner

  5. understand, analyse and respond to a range of written and spoken texts

  6. understand and use works of literature written in the target language of study (Higher Level only)


Five prescribed themes are studied:

  • identities

  • experiences

  • human ingenuity

  • social organisation

  • sharing the planet


Assessment comprises external assessment (two written examination papers and one listening paper) and internal assessment (an individual oral).


Language B is offered in Chinese and Spanish.


Language Ab Initio (SL only)


The Language Ab Initio course is designed for students with little or no prior experience of the language they wish to study. It is available at Standard Level only. The course is organised into five themes:

  • identities

  • experiences

  • human ingenuity

  • social organisation

  • sharing the planet


At the end of the Language Ab Initio course, students will be assessed on their ability to:

  1. demonstrate awareness and understanding of the intercultural elements related to the prescribed topics

  2. communicate clearly and effectively in a range of situations

  3. understand and use accurately the basic structures of the language

  4. understand and use an appropriate range of vocabulary

  5. use a register and format that are appropriate to the situation


Assessment comprises external assessment (two written examination papers and one listening paper) and internal assessment (an individual oral).


Language Ab Initio is offered in Chinese and Spanish.

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