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How to prepare for the IB English Individual Oral Commentary?

How to prepare for the IB English Individual Oral Commentary?

The Individual Oral Commentary (IOC) is a task in the International Baccalaureate (IB) English Language & Literature program in which students are required to deliver a spoken commentary on a literary or non-literary text. Preparing for the IOC requires careful analysis of the text and careful planning of the commentary.

In this essay, we will outline some top tips for preparing for the IOC.

  1. Analyze and practice discussing different types of texts. In the IB English Individual Oral Commentary, you will be asked to deliver a commentary on a variety of different types of texts, including literary, non-literary, and visual. It is important to be comfortable analyzing and discussing different types of texts, so consider practicing with a variety of different texts in preparation for the IOC. This will help you to feel more confident and prepared when it comes time to deliver your commentary. It may be helpful to choose a text that you have already studied in depth as part of your IB English course. This will allow you to draw on your existing knowledge and understanding of the text and will make it easier to identify and analyze key themes, symbols, and literary devices.
  2. Carefully read and annotate the text, paying attention to the author’s style, tone, and use of literary devices. Make note of any quotes or passages that you think may be particularly relevant to your commentary. Consider making a list of key themes, symbols, and literary devices that you want to discuss in your commentary, and think about how they relate to the overall purpose and meaning of the text.
  3. Consider the purpose and intended audience of the text, as well as the context in which it was written. Understanding the author’s intentions and the context in which the text was produced can help you to analyze the text more effectively and to better understand its significance.
  4. Begin to develop a clear and well-organized outline for your commentary. Your outline should include an introduction, body, and conclusion, and should identify the main points you plan to discuss. In your introduction, you should briefly introduce the text and its author, and outline the main points you plan to discuss in your commentary.
  5. In the body of your commentary, you should analyze the text in detail, focusing on specific literary devices. Literary devices are certain strategies used by writers to express a deeper meaning than what is written on the page. In addition to the storyline and characters, literary devices can elevate a narrative and compel readers to consider various aspects of life, society, and what it is to be human.
  6. Practice speaking in front of an audience. One of the most effective ways to improve your performance in the IOC is to get comfortable speaking in front of an audience. Consider joining a club or organization that requires public speaking or try giving presentations in front of your classmates. The more experience you have speaking in front of others, the more confident you will be during the IB English Individual Oral Commentary. Seek feedback from your teacher or a peer on your practice commentary and make any necessary revisions.

Key Points

  • Audience/Purpose – Who is the author writing to and what is the purpose of it?
  • Content/Theme – What does the text mean? Is there a theme you can detect?
  • Tone/Mood – What is the author’s tone? What kind of mood does it instigate?
  • Style – What is the style of the text? Formal, informal? 
  • Structure – How does the author structure the text? Are there graphics involved? 

Important Literary Devices

  1. Allegory. The literary device of allegory is used to convey significant, complicated ideas in a clear, understandable way. With powerful critiques of political or societal reality, allegory enables writers to put some space between themselves and the topics they are criticising. 
  2. Allusions: A common literary technique for developing characters, framing plots, and fostering linkages with well-known works is an allusion. Allusions can make references to anything, including the Bible, as well as popular culture and Greek Mythology.
  3. Foreshadowing. Storytelling’s main goal is to keep readers interested in your work by grabbing their attention and holding it. One strategy a writer might employ to establish and heighten suspense is foreshadowing, or subtly hinting at an upcoming occurrence.
  4. Imagery. If you’ve written creatively or studied it, you’ve probably heard the saying “create a picture with words.” This is referred to as imagery in poetry and literature: the use of figurative language to arouse the reader’s senses. The reader’s senses are engaged when a poet uses descriptive language skillfully; they are exposed to sights, tastes, smells, noises, and even intense emotion. Images come to life thanks to the sensory details in them. 
  5. Irony. Irony is a frequently misunderstood literary technique that relies on contrasts between what things appear to be and what they actually turn out to be.
  6. Simile, metaphor, and analogy. Three strategies are employed in speech and writing to make comparisons: metaphors, similes, and analogies. Differentiating between the three can be a little challenging because each is used in a different way: For instance, a simile is essentially a type of metaphor, therefore while all metaphors are metaphors, not all similes are metaphors. 
  7. Personification. A personification is a common form of figurative language that aims to portray a point or idea in a more vivid, imaginative way by giving human characteristics to a non-human entity or inanimate thing.

A Sample: IOC structure on the literary text, “The Road not Taken” by Robert Frost. 

In my introduction, I will briefly introduce the poem and its main themes and outline the main points that I plan to discuss in my commentary.

In the body of my commentary, I will first discuss the theme of individual choice and its role in shaping our lives. I will argue that the speaker’s decision to take the less traveled path represents a choice to follow his own path and to carve his own destiny, rather than following the path of others.

Next, I will discuss the theme of regret and its role in the poem. I will argue that the speaker’s regret at not being able to explore both paths suggests a sense of longing for what could have been and serves as a reminder of the importance of making choices that are true to ourselves.

Finally, I will discuss the use of imagery and figurative language in the poem, and how it helps to convey the themes of individual choice and regret.

In my conclusion, I will summarize my main points and argue that “The Road Not Taken” is a powerful exploration of the role of individual choice in shaping our lives and serves as a reminder of the importance of following our own path and living with intention.

By following these steps, you should be well-prepared to deliver a confident and well-organized Individual Oral Commentary on your chosen text. Good luck!

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