Analyzing tone

IB English A: Language & Literature: Analyzing tone

Writers communicate a message to us through a particular tone. Tone is the choice of vocabulary, syntax and verb tense, all of which place the reader in a particular mood. As we analyze the language of the unseen texts in Paper 1, we need to establish a particular vocabulary for describing tone. In other words, we need to learn a few important adjectives in order to describe the language of texts. Instead of commenting...

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Comments 6

Alison Hunter 7 January 2015 - 16:03

I looked up the second text, and it may be an urban legend - it is, at the very least, a combination of text and image that did not originally go together. It's still an interesting exercise, but it might be worth mentioning to your students.

David McIntyre 12 January 2015 - 07:46


Thanks, Alison.

Priyamvada Gopal 24 February 2015 - 08:19

Mr David;

One of my students asked me a question about the the structuring of a thesis statement in Paper 1 and Paper 2. Since she will be only picking certain elements such as modality, themes etc to analyze, she may miss out analyzing certain details (structure, for example) while sticking to her thesis statement. I would like to know if this is fine.

David McIntyre 24 February 2015 - 09:20

Hi Priyamvada,

I think for a thesis to be meaningful, it has to be relevant. For Paper 2, in particular, a thesis should emerge as a response to the question. I would argue that an initial paragraph should (also) include some 'signposting'; that is, an indication of what will be discussed in the process of responding to the question and maintaining the thesis.

I'm not sure that a Paper 1 requires a thesis as such - anyone care to argue otherwise? - as the question is unchanging and, I think, self-explanatory. Quite fundamentally, students need to be able to understand the attitude/perspective of the text(s) they comment on. It is, in my view, this understanding that frames a student's response. Where students cannot ascertain the intended purposes of a text and the ways in which a text positions an ideal reader, they tend to struggle.

Is this a reasonable response?


Priyamvada Gopal 6 March 2015 - 08:28

Thank you Mr.David

But I do have a last doubt. If a student does not form a thesis question for Paper 1, there are chances for the essay to go haywire, as in the student may include everything. I feel that based on the student's understanding of the Paper 1 text, he/she should form a thesis statement which gives the scope for the student to analyze.

I would like to have your opinion on this. Thank you

David McIntyre 7 March 2015 - 23:27

Hi Priyamvada,

I have been teaching IBDP for a long time. 'Haywire' is always a possibility, despite your best efforts. I don't think, as such, that a thesis is required (see comments above). I do believe that you need to offer a framework or frameworks for your students; they require some form of scaffolding to approach their text(s). And, it is the case that to do well, students should be detailed as possible. Rich and developed language analysis that frequently returns to discussion of readers, purposes, and contexts is the key to success in this task.

Best regards,


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