The Language and Literature course encourages you to make connections across texts, find stylistic and thematic patterns and explore several concepts. The IB encourages teachers to teach for conceptual understanding, which means that students should engage with texts, using higher-order thinking skills. While there are many meaningful concepts that you will come to understand better throughout this course, such as 'meaning' and 'purpose', the IB has outlined 7 concepts which you should aim to explore frequently while studying texts and works. Each concept has been outlined below, with an explanation and a few questions for discussion.
A3 Poster by Cambridge University Press A6 cards: 7 concepts
People have a capacity to design, create, build and grow things. Writers write texts for readers to read. Communication is an act of creativity, because it starts with a writer’s choice of words. And there are, after all, over a million words to choose from! Take any text and ask yourself: What choices did the writer have to make? Why did the writer write this text?
A text can give its readers a new perspective on life. Perhaps this is because every text is written from a perspective or point of view, and this perspective may not be the same as the reader’s. In a sense, words, characters and camera shots offer you a new way of seeing the world around you. Take any text and ask yourself: How does this text offer you a new perspective on the world?
Writers use language to show readers a version of the world. Writers make choices when representing people, places and things in their texts. They do this to make us think about the ways in which the world works. Take any text and ask yourself: How are people and ideas represented by the author of this text? Why are they represented in this way?
The language of a text can be an expression of a writer's identity. Texts, in turn, can play a role in shaping the reader's sense of identity. Who are you and how do you see yourself fitting into the world around you? Are there any texts or characters with which you can identify? Why? What do these texts and characters say about you? What do they say about their authors?
A text can be a window into another world. It may be a window into the time and place in which the author wrote, reflecting his or her cultural values or beliefs. Texts, in turn, can also shape the values and beliefs of a culture. Words, after all, can change the world. Literature is the stuff of culture, like art in a museum. Take any text and ask yourself: How does this text reflect the culture in which it was written? How has this text influenced cultures around the world?
Texts can change over time. Texts can influence other texts. Texts can transform readers' understanding of the world. Many texts have been transformed into new texts. For example many novels have been turned into movies. Take any text and ask yourself: How can this text be transformed for a different audience? How has this text transformed me?
Communication is the way meaning is constructed between readers and writers through language. It involves a message, a producer and a receiver. The Language and Literature course is a course in communication arts. Take any text and ask yourself: What is being communicated? How is this message communicated? Why does the author want to communicate this message?
Approaches to teaching and learning (ATL)
The IB encourages teachers to teach for conceptual understanding. It helps to think of the seven concepts as 'touching points' that you return to throughout the course, as you reflect on what you have learned. Teaching concepts directly and explicity, such as 'today we're going to study identity', is rarely effective. Instead each student should create their own mind map for each concept that is revisited regularly.