How to tackle French ab initio SL

How to tackle French ab initio SL?

Salut! One of the most exciting things to do while we’re still young and our minds are still flexible is to learn a new language. The IB provides you this opportunity and it is up to you to make the best of it. Now, you can look at this IB French course as a huge task that you just want to get rid of, or you can look at this as a wonderful learning experience that you can carry forward (and show off to your friends). 

IB French have components that test reading, writing, listening and speaking. Let’s take a look at the examination structure first to help us better understand the IB requirements. 

Examination Structure Brief of IB French 

External Assessment

Paper 1

Duration: 1 hour and 15 mins

Weightage: 25%

What does it entail: Paper 1 tests your writing skills. There will be 3 different topics, from which you will have to pick one. You will have to write around 450-600 words. It could range from a personal diary entry about your day out to a newspaper article about the environment. As these topics will be from the syllabus, it is recommended to have a few opinions and thoughts regarding such common topics to be better prepared and save time. 

You should also make sure that you familiarize yourself with all kinds of text types as format carries marks as well. It could be a journal, blog, article, formal/informal letter, brochure, film review, etc.

Paper 2

Duration: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Weightage: 50%

What does it entail: Paper 2 tests your reading and listening skills. There will be 3 written passages and 3 audio passages. All the information you will be required to write will be from the passages, hence no prior knowledge is required. The type of questions you can expect will be multiple choice type questions, looking for antonyms or synonyms of words, true/false statements or mix and match responses. Hence, it is much shorter and easier. 

Internal Assessment

Oral Exam

Duration: 12-15 minutes

Weightage: 25%

What does it entail: The Oral exam tests your speaking skills. You will be given a choice of two pictures from one of the prescribed themes. You will have 15 minutes to pick one and formulate bullet points. For approximately 10 minutes you will have to describe what you see in the picture thoroughly and connect it to the theme and give personal opinions as well. The remaining 5 minutes will be to converse with the examiner regarding the picture and general questions as well.

Also Read : French Language : A core subject in IBDP Diploma

Bonus Tips to improve your French fluency & score high% in IB French :

Now that you are well aware of the examination structure, you need to know how you can learn the language effectively over 1.5 years. Since we all can’t afford to move to France, you need to emulate that environment as much as you can. Here are some tips: 

  • Watch movies/tv shows in French. This is one of the best and most entertaining ways to learn a language. When you associate words with visuals, it makes it much easier to comprehend the meaning as well as the scene. Over a period of time, you get accustomed to the accent, words, tone, nuances, sentence structuring, idioms and much more. This will help you with the listening component significantly, as well as the others overall. 
  • Listen to podcasts and music in French. This is similar to watching movies or tv shows as it also allows you to sharpen your listening skills. It provides a similar level of entertainment, however it may be a little more difficult to understand the words as there are no visuals. The French also tend to talk fast, which makes it harder to follow. So, I would suggest trying out beginners podcasts at the start, and then level up as you start to see progress and improvement. 
  • Change your phone settings to French. If you are going to immerse yourself in the language, then you’ve got to surround yourself with it. Even the little things matter. In the end, you will need to know what surrounds you on a day to day basis in French so that you can fully express yourself in your writing/reading/speaking. This will help add on to your vocabulary, which is one of the most important parts of learning a language. 
  • Talk to your friends in French. While you may be able to take the time to think and write well  in a French examination, it may completely different when you are put on the spot and have to respond to somebody in French. You may end up stuttering, mixing up the sentence structure, mispronouncing words; there’s so many things that could go wrong. Hence, to build confidence and practice, you need to inculcate the habit of talking to your friends/family in French. 
  • Keep a journal for day to day activities but write it in French. As emphasized earlier, you need to know what surrounds you. When you keep a journal, it improves your flow of writing and your thought process. This will help you write faster, saving more time during the exam. 
  • Live like the French! While this may not contribute to your grade to a significant extent, it is a great way of having fun with the culture and language. If you want to truly learn a language, you must live like the French! Try to make their food, whether it’s crème bruleé after dinner or a glass of wine before. Learn the idioms to sound like a native French speaker and don’t be afraid to go overboard with it. Perhaps one day you could actually visit France and be able to show off all your skills. 
  • Practice past papers regularly. Ok, we’ve had a lot of fun with the language. Now it’s time to get down to business. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with French, you need to now familiarize yourself with the paper pattern and IB’s expectations. A great way to do this is by practicing as many past papers as you can, and getting your writing graded. This way, you’ll know what to expect and can track your progress and make changes accordingly. 

When it comes to IB French, what matters the most is perspective. You can look at it as a sixth ‘subject’, or you can have fun with it. Learning a language should never seem like a hassle, it should feel entertaining. So when you go into the IB, make sure you have the right mindset so you can make the most of it. Au revoir!

For Further Reading :

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