Language B is a foreign language learning course designed for students with some previous
experience of the language. It may be studied at either higher level or standard level. The main focus
of the course is on language acquisition and development in the four primary language skills:
listening, speaking, reading and writing. 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. It should not be intended solely for
the study of specific subject matter or content.
Although the nature of the language B course is the same for both higher level and standard level, the
two levels differ in the number of types of texts that students are expected to write and, more
generally, in the depth and breadth of the language used. These differences are reflected in the
objectives and the assessment criteria.
At both higher level and standard level, a successful language B student should not only learn and
assimilate basic language structures but should also be able to use the language in a range of
situations and purposes for which and in which the language is used. These situations extend to the
domains of work, social relationships and, at higher level, may include the discussion of abstract
ideas. The range of texts and material that is used and the specific audiences who are addressed
determine the type of language needed for these different situations and purposes. In short, the
language B student learns the “rules of the game”—how to communicate effectively in a number of
situations and within the culture(s) where the language is spoken.
In the context of language B the successful use of a language consists of demonstrating competence
in three distinct but interrelated areas:
understanding ideas and how they are organized in order to
communicate them appropriately.
selecting language appropriate to a particular cultural and social
• cultural interaction
handling the language system accurately (grammar, syntax, etc) • language
These three areas form the thread that runs through the entire course and that leads students from the
“nature of language B”, through the description of the language skills to be acquired, to the
During the course of study, and through the development of all language skills, students should be
encouraged to develop confidence in the use of the language, sensitivity to the audience and an ability
to communicate their ideas clearly.
8 IB Diploma Programme guide: Language B, February 2002
LANGUAGE B OBJECTIVES
The bold text denotes the differences between higher level and standard level.
At the end of the language B course higher level candidates are expected to demonstrate an ability to:
• communicate clearly and effectively in a wide range of situations
• understand and use accurately oral and written forms of the language that are essential for
effective communication in a range of styles and situations
• understand and use a wide range of vocabulary
• select a register and style that are appropriate to the situation
• express ideas with general clarity and fluency
• structure arguments in a clear, coherent and convincing way
• understand and analyse moderately complex written and spoken material
• assess subtleties of the language in a wide range of forms, styles and registers
• show an awareness of, and sensitivity to, the culture(s) related to the language studied.