Timings, transitions and signposts

You have your outline for your IO. You have examples from the works and the extracts. You turn on your voice recorder and practice at home. Then you realise that this task is way more complicated than it looks. You stop the recording. Maybe you listen to yourself, but the thought of listening is already enough to make you cringe. It's time to practice your timings and transitions. 


Criterion C is about balance, focus and organisation. If you speak for 4 minutes about your passage and 1 minute about "the rest of the body of work", you will be penalised. This is something that you can control and practise beforehand. So why get it wrong? There are different ways of organising the IO, some of which are explained on the page: Outlining the IO. Try practising with a timer. Here is an example timer created by Thomas Lewandowski. 

Transitions and signposts

For teachers and moderators, it is important to hear how the oral is organised. In other words, a good IO includes 'signposts'. These are phrases that indicate where you are in the oral. They help you transition. Here are a few phrases worth considering:  

  • The global issue that I will explore today is: 
  • ...which I will discuss later, when exploring the extract in detail.
  • As can be seen in the extract from the (non-)literary work....
  • In the rest of the (non-)literary body of work...
  • Another authorial choice used by X to present the global issue is the use of...
  • Whereas the use of X is prevalent in the extract, Y is prevalent in the rest of the work to present the global issue. 

Notice how these signposts use phrases from the IO instructions and assessment rubric. Terms like "extract" and "non-literary body of work" are crucial. The instructions ask you to show how authors "present" a "global issue" through "authorial choices", so use these words as well. You may also notice 'meta-talk' in the examples above. This is when you talk about your talk, such as "I will now explore how...". Not all teachers appreciate meta-talk equally. So students and teachers should have classroom discussions that define terms like "coherent" in Criterion C in order to set clear expectations. Teachers, after all, are the examiners of this component.  


IB students are supposed to develop communication skills. Where better to develop these than in English? Although the IO is a rather artificial form of communication, it is something that someone has to listen to. Imagine what it is like to listen to your oral. Is it easy to follow? Where is it going? Make it easy for the listener to navigate by using signposts.   

Last modified: Wednesday, 8 March 2023, 10:48 AM