As a student in an international school, you already know the importance of language. Studying an additional language goes beyond basic communication.
An additional language opens doors to other cultures and builds bridges between societies. One learns more about people by studying their language and culture, which broadens your perspective of the world in the process. Globalisation is making language, cultural understanding, and international mindedness vital aspects of your education. With linguistic skills in more than one language, you will be looked upon favourably by univerisities and employers.
Depending on your prior experience, you will study a second language at either ab initio, or B level. However, you will receive the same credit on your IB Diploma for either.
It is vital to your success in this course that you be challenged, enjoy the course, develop your reading, writing and speaking skills as much as possible.
Ab initio is a Latin phrase that means “from the beginning”. If you have had very little or no formal teaching in the language, this is an appropriate course for you. You must not have an IGCSE or any other similar qualification in it. This is designed to allow you to take up a completely or nearly completely new language.
The objective of an ab initio course is for you to be able to communicate in a variety of everyday situations. Ideally, you will be able to understand and use the essential spoken and written forms of the language in a range of situations. You will grow in awareness of elements of the cultures that your language belongs to.
Language B is the level to choose if you have studied the language before to IGCSE or the equivalent. Normally, people who have been learning the language for between two and five years would consider this option, although whether this is the case may depend on how much you covered over that time and to which level.
By the end of a Language B course, you will be able to communicate effectively in a wide range of situations, and be able to express ideas with clarity and fluency, structure arguments in a clear, coherent and convincing way, and understand and analyse written and spoken material. You will become sensitive to quite subtle elements of the cultures that your language belongs to.
Essentially, at ab initio you will notice an emphasis on practical utility; Language B will range from practical and social needs to expressive and intellectual pursuits.
The IB subject guides express the distinction and the aims well: “... the ab initio student should be able to give clear directions to someone looking for the beach, and understand the information in a tourist brochure. The Language B student, on the other hand, should be able to describe in detail the beauty of the waves, and critically analyse the misleading use of language in the brochure.”