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  • Writer's picturelaurawippell

Leaflets: love them or hate them?

Admit it, I know you have an opinion on leaflets. I’m not going to try and change your mind, but here is some food for thought and my personal opinion on exploring leaflets with your English B students.

In the current English B guide, there are almost 30 different text types, and this list is neither “prescriptive nor exhaustive”. While it’s important to study a variety of text types throughout the English B course duration, time constraints mean it is simply not possible to explore them all.

Sometimes we can plan a whole unit around a text type, for example a travel guide based on a unit around ‘experiences’. Sometimes we can review text types simultaneously, such as a questionnaire and a survey, and compare and contrast their conventions with students. Sometimes we just have to skip a text type altogether.

So when it comes to the leaflet, I found myself wondering: is it worth dedicating my precious class time to a text type that most of my students had never seen before?

Leaflets were always a part of my childhood. I’d see them in our mailbox, at the doctor’s office, at the dreaded dentist, and even on the table in my school's reception area. They were a tactile, informative and sometimes persuasive text, and a clear and concise way to distribute ideas. My eyes would always travel to the bright headlines, pictures and graphs.

Fast forward a couple of decades and most of my students had never seen a physical leaflet before. I had to spend more time showing them mentor texts or examples as we dissected their conventions and tone. Despite originally finding them rather archaic, once it was time to make one many students were much more motivated than usual, as they could think about design details such as fonts, colours and images. While these design aspects are not usually considered during the final Paper 1 exam, it was nice for my students to be able to have a more hands-on, creative activity during class time.

I’ve found leaflets to be an engaging form of assessment after exploring some global issues such as human trafficking or ‘the war on waste’. It was interesting to see that while we explored the same texts in class on these issues, the information each student chose to include in their leaflet varied greatly, depending on the aspects they considered most relevant or cared about the most.

A handy thing to consider when it comes to English B is that you can study leaflets, brochures and pamphlets at once, by comparing and contrasting their features. Three birds with one stone! For your assessment task you can also use differentiation by product, by asking students to choose one of the three to present their ideas. In the end, they are all very similar, but it’s good practice to get them to justify their choice of text type.

So what do others think? Well, some say the leaflet is dead, others argue that it’s still relevant in the digital age. What side are you on?

Something important to remember is that the IB is an international curriculum. While your students might not see leaflets in their physical mailbox at home, some students in other countries might. These text types help students communicate in a concise, clear way, through the use of bullet points and headings, have a clear call to action and contact details. They’ve always been one of my students' favourite text types to produce, as it has allowed them to step outside writing for a moment and consider other design aspects. So don’t write the leaflet off, just yet.

So are you a leaflet lover or hater? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

And if you’d like to see an example of how leaflets can appear in the English B Paper 1 exam, check out this resource.


IBO (2019). Language B guide: First assessment 2020

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