Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Kicking FOA butt all over the place in IB DP Language and Literature Parts 1 and 2

The Further Oral Activity (FOA)

If you, like many Nardvark fans, are in IB Language and Literature, it's quite likely that at this moment in time you are getting ready to do your FOAs.

FOAs are part of your internal assessment (IA) for this course, along with your Independent Oral Commentary (IOC -- phew! What's with all these acronyms, IB?)

The good thing about FOAs is that they are not as formal or as frightening as IOCs. IOCs are recorded and moderated by IB examiners, while FOAs are marked by your teacher and the IB trusts your teacher to mark them honestly. But the fact that no mysterious IB examiners will see or listen to your FOA, and it's just you, your classmates, and your beloved English teacher, makes it less daunting, doesn't it?

Another difference between FOAs and IOCs is that FOAs are less structured. You can choose pretty much any format. You can do a straight presentation if that's what floats your boat, or you can do something more creative, like a talk show, an interview, a debate, a vlog post, a podcast, a TED talk... the list goes on. However, you still need to show your understanding of the text(s) and topic, and of how language forms meaning.

FOAs take place in both Part 1 and Part 2 of the course. They are based on the language parts of the course, unlike IOCs which take place during Part 4 and are based on literature.

Finally, and perhaps most excitingly, you get at least two opportunities to do your FOA and your teacher simply selects your best mark to add to your IA mark.

So how do you kick FOA butt?

To answer that, let's look at the marking criteria:

Unpacking the FOA Marking Criteria

Criterion A: Knowledge and understanding of the text(s) and subject matter or extract is worth ten marks. That's one third of the total for the FOA, which is 30.

In order to do well in Criterion A, you need to demonstrate that you know and understand the text or texts that your FOA is based on. This has to be a text studied in class or assigned by your teacher; you can't just pick any random text to do your FOA on.

You also have to demonstrate understanding of how your chosen text relates to the subject chosen. In Part 1, the subject might be Language and Gender, or perhaps Language and Belief, or even Language and the Individual. In Part 2 it might be Textual Bias, Stereotypes, or Arts and Entertainment, to name a few. So whatever your unit or topic is, you have to show how your text is related to it.

Criterion B is also worth ten of your possible 30 marks for the FOA.

This criterion is measuring your work in terms of what is sort of the essence of this course, or how language creates meaning. To do well here, you have to look at specific textual features, stylistic features, and words or phrases that relate to your topic and explain how they affect the audience (with respect to the topic.) So for example, if your topic is Language of Gender and you're looking at a magazine cover that seems targeted at girls, like this one, you'd want to talk about some of the stylistic features and textual features that are aimed at girls specifically:
Stylistic feature: there is lots of pink on this cover. All girls like pink, right?
Textual feature: there are lots of words that have connotations of prettiness, like "sparkle," "shine," "cute," and "beauty." All girls want to be pretty, right? There's a pun in "DIY" -- all girls say something is "to die for" when they like it, and plus all girls like to "do it themselves" (but only things like crafts and decorations, because that's what girls are good at.)
Criterion C is pretty easy to get high marks in, but it's only worth five of the possible 30, so it's weighted lower than the first two criteria.

To be "effectively organized," your FOA has to have a clear introduction or starting and a clear conclusion or ending, and the ideas or parts have to flow logically from one to the next. It has to be coherent, in that it makes sense to your audience, and it has to be effective, in that your audience learns something from it.

Criterion D is all about language. It's also pretty easy to get high marks here, if you practice your FOA before presenting it so you're confident, but it, too, is only worth five marks.

By "clear" they mean your audience can understand your meaning, and by "appropriate" they mean you use language that it's okay to use in a school setting and especially use correct subject-specific vocabulary. Your grammar and sentence construction has to be correct. The last sentence in band five (which is what you're going for, right?) is the most confusing for students. It means basically that you speak in the appropriate style for your chosen task. So if you're doing a vlog aimed at your fellow teenagers, you should speak with a style similar to actual teenage vloggers. If you're doing an academic presentation, you should speak with an academic style. "Register" here means degree of formality, so in the first instance, you'd be using a low register with lots of colloquial language, and in the second you'd use a formal register with lots of academic language.

Follow these steps to make sure your FOA hits all the marking criteria:

1. Make sure you know what your topic is and select a text with your teacher's approval.
2. Draft a plan for your FOA and run it by your teacher or a really clever classmate to make sure you're on the right track.
3. Practice your FOA for your mom, best friend, younger siblings, cats, or mirror until you're confident. If you can practice it for a classmate, make sure you get feedback based on the marking criteria above.

So there it is, FOA butt-kicking in a nutshell.

If you have an FOA coming up, please post your idea or plan in the comments so other IB students can either bash it or rave about it. Come on, don't be shy!!


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