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French B – Standard Level

Language B is an additional language-learning course designed for students with some previous learning of that language. It may be studied at either SL or HL. The main focus of the course is on language acquisition and development of language skills. These language skills should be developed through the study and use of a range of written and spoken material. Such material will extend from everyday oral exchanges to literary texts, and should be related to the culture(s) concerned. The material should be chosen to enable students to develop mastery of language skills and intercultural understanding. It should not be intended solely for the study of specific subject matter or content.

The aims of the language B course reflect those of group 2 listed above but are to be defined within the parameters of the language B syllabus. The range of contexts, purposes, language skills and texts to be taught are listed in “Syllabus content”. The use of appropriate language and the breadth of intercultural understanding to be demonstrated are also defined within the syllabus content. 

Group 2 and Theory of Knowledge

Learning an additional language involves linguistic and metalinguistic, sociolinguistic, pragmatic and intercultural skills and competencies. Therefore, teachers are challenged to make links between TOK and group 2 courses that encourage consideration and reflection upon how these skills and competencies are acquired by the language learner and, equally, imparted by the teacher. What follows are some questions that could be used in the language classroom to investigate the link between the four ways of knowing (reason, emotion, perception and language) and additional language acquisition.

Do we know and learn our first language(s) in the same way as we learn additional languages?

  • When we learn an additional language, do we learn more than “just” vocabulary and grammar?
  • The concept of intercultural understanding means the ability to demonstrate an understanding of cultural diversity and/or similarity between the target culture(s) and one’s own. To what extent is this definition true?
  • “Those who know nothing of an additional language know nothing of their own” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, playwright, poet, novelist, dramatist, 1749–1832). By learning another culture are we able to enrich our own?
  • We can learn grammar intuitively, without conscious thought, or formally, by stating rules. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each approach? Are these the same for learning in other areas of the curriculum?
  • To what extent does membership of a group (a cultural group, a gender group or another group) affect how we come to linguistic knowledge? Are there factors to consider between individuals within a group and between groups?
  • To what extent does the learning environment (the physical setting) have an impact on the way an additional language is acquired?
  • If you were to learn a language from a textbook only, how would this differ from learning through interaction only?
  • Do you understand the world differently when you learn another language? How (for example, time, humour, leisure)?
  • How is perception encoded differently in different languages (for example, colour, orientation)? What does this tell us about the relationships between perception, culture, reality and truth?
  • How are values encoded differently in different languages (for example, family, friendship, authority)?
  • When, if ever, is it possible to make a perfect translation from one language into another? What might “perfect” mean in this context?
  • What is the relationship between language and thought? Do you think differently in different languages? If so, does it make a practical or discernible difference to how you interpret the world?
  • If mathematics is a language, it is clearly different from natural languages. In your experience, do we learn the two differently? What does your answer tell us about the nature of mathematical and linguistic knowledge? 

Assessment objectives

In the language B course, students will be assessed on their ability to:

  • communicate clearly and effectively in a range of situations, demonstrating linguistic competence and intercultural understanding
  • use language appropriate to a range of interpersonal and/or cultural contexts
  • understand and use language to express and respond to a range of ideas with accuracy and fluency
  • organize ideas on a range of topics, in a clear, coherent and convincing manner
  • understand, analyse and respond to a range of written and spoken texts


From Diploma Programme Language B  guide, International Baccalaureate, Cardiff, Wales, 2013


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