How to: English Orals

Language A Orals are a difficult part of the new IB syllabus, and in the extraordinary exam conditions the 2021 Graduating Class are facing, can be worth 45% of the total English grade! However, for further years, these orals would once again count for 20%, like any other Internal Assessment.





Firstly, there are several restrictions as to what your oral must contain. They must discuss a global issue in terms of one literary work originally written in English (A) and one literary work translated into English (B).


But what is a global issue?

According to IB English Literature Syllabus, global issues must be themes which can be found both across the globe and across time. To be successful, they must also be very specific such that it is possible to evaluate them within the 10 minutes allotted.


Here are some examples of good global issues (as these have been previously used, try to find an original question).

- How is the search for revenge portrayed as degrading to human morals?

- How is an incomplete education depicted as inciting an incomplete sense of identity?

- How is the loss of spirituality shown to lead to moral corruption?

- How is a lack of cultural awareness illustrated to prompt feelings of alienation?


The structure of the English Oral is incredibly important, so much so that it constitutes 1/4 of the total marks possible. Orals must have an equal split between: extract A | work A | extract B | work B. In terms of timing, it would seem that 1 minute for the introduction, 2 minutes for extract A, 2 minutes for work A, 2 minutes for extract B, 2 minutes for work B, and 1 minute for the conclusion should work perfectly.


In dealing with the extracts, literary analysis is essential. 40 lines maximum are allowed for the extract length, but this is quite long - only use the number of lines which you think is feasible to analyse in the time given. Moreover, throughout the oral all of the analysis must be centered in terms of the global issue. No analysis, no matter how insightful, will gain marks if it is not related to the global issue.


Lastly, a popular question is always : should we memorise the orals? There is no penalty for doing so, and if this makes you feel comfortable, go ahead! It can ensure your analysis is sophisticated and that none of your plan is forgotten. However, this does not work for everyone, and a more general and flexible strategy would be to memorise the introduction and conclusion for a strong start and finish, while leaving the body more free.


That seems to be all of the most important information! If there are any questions, always feel free to contact us.