Language B (SL and HL)

The language B Standard Level (SL) and language B Higher Level (HL) courses are language acquisition courses for students with some previous experience of the target language.

The distinction between language B SL and HL can been seen in the number of recommended teaching hours, the level of competency the student is expected to develop in receptive, productive and interactive skills, and that HL students are required to study two literary works originally written in the target language. 

Students develop the ability to communicate in the target language through the study of language, themes and texts.  In doing so, they also develop conceptual understandings of how language works.  Communication is evidenced through receptive, productive and interactive skills across a range of contexts and purposes that are appropriate to the level of the course (and beyond those for language ab initio).

The language B syllabus is organized into five prescribed themes: identities, experiences, human ingenuity, social organization and sharing the planet.  Optional recommended topics and possible questions for each theme are presented in the guide, but are not prescribed.

Key features of the curriculum and assessment models

  • Available at standard (SL) and higher level (HL)
  • The recommended teaching time to complete the course is 150 hours for SL and 240 hours for HL
  • Knowledge of vocabulary and grammar (the what of language) is reinforced and extended by understanding audience, context, purpose, meaning and variation (the why and how of language)
  • The development of international-mindedness is one of the key aims of the course
  • The prescribed themes of the course are inspired by the transdisciplinary themes of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and the global contexts of the Middle Years Programme (MYP)
  • Students are exposed to a variety of authentic text types in relation to the prescribed themes and related course content
  • Students describe situations, narrate events, make comparisons, explain problems, and state and support their personal opinions on a variety of topics relating to course content
  • Students produce a wide variety of oral and written texts for audiences, contexts and purposes associated with academic and personal interests
  • At HL, students are required to study two literary works originally written in the target language, and are expected to extend the range and complexity of the language they use and understand in order to communicate
  • Students are assessed both externally and internally
  • External assessment consists of Paper 1: productive skills—writing (a written response to a task) and Paper 2: receptive skills—with separate sections for listening (demonstrating understanding of three audio passages) and reading (demonstrating understanding of three written passages)
  • Internal assessment at SL consists of an individual oral assessment—productive and interactive skills (a presentation by the student and a follow-up discussion based on a visual stimulus linked to one of the prescribed themes of the course, and a general conversation with the teacher based on at least one additional theme of the course)
  • Internal assessment at HL consists of an individual oral assessment—productive and interactive skills (a presentation by the student and a follow-up discussion based on an extract from one of the literary works studied during the course, and a general conversation with the teacher using one or more of the five prescribed themes of the course as a starting point)

Read about individuals and societies