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  • Writer's picturelaurawippell

The final thing you need to know when designing a Language B Course

Those of you who read my blog post last month will know that when you’re designing an English B course, the first principle you need to consider is VARIETY, and the second principle is INTEGRATION.

We’ve come to the end of the year and the final principle you need to reflect on when designing an English B Course, which is TRANSPARENCY.

Variety, integration and transparency. In a nutshell, when designing a Language B program for our students, we need to spice different aspects up, find ways of incorporating those aspects, and do so in a way that is honest and upfront with our students. 

I believe that transparency is something that is already quite ingrained in us as IB Educators, from the IB attribute of being ‘principled’, to how academic honesty is constantly explored and reinforced in the classroom.  Compared to the last two principles, the guide doesn’t go into much detail when talking about transparency, so let’s keep it short and sweet by breaking down the information in the guide into two sections.

#1 - Aims and Objectives

According to the Language B Guide, “Teachers must ensure that their students are given clear information about the aims and objectives, the syllabus requirements and the assessment criteria for the course.” (IBO, 2019)

It seems like they are stating the obvious, right?  Perhaps not.  As a new teacher, I struggled to find a way of giving students clear information from the guide in a dynamic or engaging way.  When I first began, I wanted to dive right into activities before telling them more about the internal and external assessment, but I quickly discovered that was a mistake.  From the beginning, students need to know what requirements of the course are.  Obviously we need to take the time to get to know them a little bit first, but it is vital that you dedicate class time to clearly explaining assessment and requirements straight from the guide, so they know where they are heading.  For more ways on how to do this, check out this blog post.  

#2 -Expectations and Feedback

The second aspect of transparency refers to how “students should be made aware of what is expected of them regarding classwork and homework, as well as receiving regular feedback on their progress throughout the course.”  (IBO, 2019) 

Again, seems obvious and I’m sure this is something you are already doing.  But a quick reflection never hurt anyone.  One thing to make sure of is that students know how much home and class time they will have to work on something.  For example, if you are doing a piece of assessment such as an oral presentation - how much time will you give students to prepare in class?  Or will they need to prepare outside of school hours?  I have had to explain this in writing, and verbally, several times to students before, as they sometimes assume they will have a week of classes to prepare for a big piece of assessment, when in reality we just can’t give them that amount of time!  If you’re not already doing so, adding a quick overview of the timeframe to the assessment document will only take you two minutes, and might avoid some mini breakdowns - again, I’m speaking from my personal experience here…

When it comes to feedback, I’m sure you are giving students a variety of written, verbal, and doing checks for understanding during your classes.  I had to learn the hard way that feedback doesn't have to be unidirectional, or just the teacher doing all of the hard work!  Since we need to give students regular feedback, it is impossible for that feedback to be a detailed, written explanation for every single formative task we do.  Check out ten feedback techniques here that will get your students thinking and take some of that load off.

So that’s transparency!  When you are planning your English B course, think about how you aim to share important information with students at the beginning, and throughout the course, as well as expectations surrounding classwork, homework, and how you will give them a variety of feedback in a timely manner.

What are some other ways you teach in a transparent way?  I’d love to hear your comments below!  Have a great end to the year everyone.  Thank you so much for being here and I look forward to seeing you here again in 2024.


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

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