Written tasks

Throughout this course, you will build a portfolio of written tasks. There are two types of written tasks, known as written task 1 (WT1) and written task 2 (WT2). These are very different in nature.

Written task 1 is an 'imaginative piece' in which you demonstrate your understanding of the course work and a type of text. For example you could write a letter from one character to another character from a novel that you have read for Part 3 or 4. Or you could write a journalistic review of a speech that was studied in Part 1 or 2. Because the possibilities are endless, it is easy to write irrelevant work. Therefore it is important that you look at several samples and several tips for guidance on the written task 1. 

Written task 2 pertains to HL students only. It is a critical response to a text or texts, written in light of one of six prescribed questions from the IB Language A: Language and Literature guide. These questions can be answered using texts from all parts of the syllabus. 

Remember: An essay is not an acceptable type of text for the written task 1. Students are encouraged to step into someone's shoes, explore a different role and practice writing different types of texts. The Paper 2 and the written task 2 provide opportunities for students to practice essay writing.

WT1 basics

  •   Written task 1s are between 800-1000 words long.
  •   Students must write a rationale of 200-300 words, explaining the decision making process behind the task. The rationale should offer the examiner the necessary background information for a good understanding of the task. For more on rationale writing click here
  •   Written tasks may be done at home or in school under teacher guidance. Teachers are not supposed to prescribe a type of task. Rather they should facilitate the process and guide students towards successful ideas. While general feedback may be given, the work must be the student's own.
  •  Students submit one WT1 task from their portfolio.
  •  Students submit two tasks from their portfolio: one WT1 and one WT2. See table below:
  Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
 Minimal in portfolio 1 (+1)* 1 (+1)
 To submit to IB 1
 Minimal in portfolio 1 1 1 1
 To submit 1* 1*

* At SL students must have written at least three written tasks 1s. One must be on Parts 1 and 2, one must be on Parts 3 and 4, and the other can be on any part. Again this is a minimum requirement.

* One of the two tasks submitted at HL is a written task 1 and the other is a written task 2, meaning that HL students submit either 'possibility 1' or 'possibility 2' from the table below.

HL only Parts 1 & 2 Parts 3 & 4
Possibility 1 written task 1 written task 2
Possibility 2 written task 2 written task 1

 

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

SL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

To submit

1

HL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

1

To submit

1*

1*

 

 

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

SL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

To submit

1

HL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

1

To submit

1*

1*

 WT1: what it is and what it is not

The written task 1 can be difficult to write, if you do not understand the nature of the task. Here is a table to clarify this form of assessment.

What it is not What it is

A creative writing assignment
WT1 is not the opportunity to write a fantastical short story, a hypothetical play script or a cryptic poem. If you want to write a new ending to a novel or a missing chapter, it has to be in the spirit of the author’s intentions. WT1 is not solely the product of your imagination.

A type of text
Instead, you have to show that you have understood a ‘text type’. Each text has structural conventions. For example, if you write a speech, it has to have rhetorical devices that are characteristic of speech writing. Be sure that the text type lends itself well to the content you are writing about. Study a few examples of the text type that you want to write.

Out of context
It is not enough to state in your rationale, “I’m writing a opinion column about advertising.” In which magazine or newspaper does your column appear? Is it in the style of a particular columnist? 

In context
Place your WT1 in a context. For example, if you want to write an opinion column about advertising, write about a particular ad campaign that has received attention in the news. Imitate the style of a famous columnist. What would he/she say in response to a topic?

A persuasive essay
WT1 is not a test of your opinion. This is not your chance to vent your frustrations about a particular topic that you feel passionate about. 

An understanding of course work
Instead, WT1 is a test of the course work. How will you demonstrate your understanding of language and/or literature? Is your written task rooted in a particular text?

A summary
Examiners are not interested in reading the summary of a text that you read. This is not a ‘book report’. 

An interpretation
There should be some evidence of critical thinking. For example, writing a letter from one character to another provides you the chance to show that you’ve understood the work thoroughly.

WT2 basics (HL only)

 

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

SL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

To submit

1

HL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

1

To submit

1*

1*

 
  •  Written task 2s (also called 'critical responses') are between 800-1000 words. 
  •  Written task 2 is a critical response to a text which answers one of six prescribed questions from the Language A: Language and Literature guide.
  •  Written task 2s can be based on texts taken from anywhere in the syllabus, from Part 1 to Part 4.
  •  Each written task 2 must be accompanied by an outline, which must be written in class. The outline contains the following.
    • the prescribed question that has been chosen
    • the title of the text(s) for analysis
    • the part of the course to which the task refers
    • three or four key points that explain the particular focus of the task
  •  The guide states that "the critical response is based on material studied in the course." The term 'material' is open to interpretation. For example this could mean that students may have studied rhetorical devices in class (the 'material') and may find a speech outside of class to analyze.
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Comments 34

Echo Savage 13 May 2015 - 19:20

Hello,
I think I may know the answer based on reading the thread above, but I want to clarify just to be sure.
Once my students submit a written task to me (they will submit four over the course of the two years, and select two from those four that will be submitted), can they go back and revise a written task before they submit it to IB? Or should the version they submitted to me the first time around be the one that they turn in? Also, how much feedback am I allowed to give them on drafts of their WTs before they submit them to me in "final" form?
Thank you,
Echo

Tim Pruzinsky 14 May 2015 - 08:44

HI Echo,

Yes, they can go back and revise. In fact, they can revise (on their own) up until the point of your internal deadline.

In terms of feedback, various teachers do many different things, based on their philosophical beliefs about feedback. It's up to you how much or how little feedback and the types as well. I think the thing to keep in mind is the spirit of the program. You are not their editor and you are not to make editing remarks/corrections on their WTs.

I provide more holistic feedback on the back of their WT (it acts as a separate page), but more than anything else, I am conferring with them in the process of the creation of the WT to catch any issues early on in the process. Hope that clarifies things.

Best,

Tim

Gregory Succingeas 5 June 2015 - 01:22

Hello Tim,

I am currently teaching a group of eight students. This is my first year teaching the course. So far, they have written two WT1 on Part 1. I shall submit the one they have selected. I have asked them to write a WT2 on Part 4. I have been using the ‘Toward Assessment’ section of the site. Some students will therefore submit a WT1 based on the same topic. Is that fine with the IBO requirements? Or are they absolutely required to find their own topics?

Regards,

Gregory

David McIntyre 5 June 2015 - 02:01

Hi Gregory,

It is 'in the spirit of things' that students should have autonomy to select. However, students should be writing WTs on what they have studied in class. That delimits choice. Then, it may be sensible to direct students towards writing the kinds of text types they have studied in class. That delimits choice too. Students, inevitably, submit, at times, similar kinds of task. It's just fine, as long as it is the independent work of the student, and you have not directed all students to produce the same task/text.

Cheers,

David

Gregory Succingeas 5 June 2015 - 02:20

Thank you for the extremely prompt reply. Just to clarify, I have assigned them the suggested topics in ‘Toward Assessment’ in the Part 1 section of the site. Each time, they completed the same tasks but they will not necessary submit the same one. Their portfolio is identical, though... What do you think?

Gregory Succingeas 5 June 2015 - 06:44

Also, could you please email me the answer?

Abdes Kaur 27 July 2015 - 09:43

Hello, I am very new to Lang. and Lit, I was wondering if my HL students can do WT1,one each from Part 1 and part 4, and WT2 one each from Part 4 and Part 2. Part 4 has been utilised twice.Is that ok?

David McIntyre 27 July 2015 - 10:36

Hi Abdes,

Your question is a good one. The 'spirit of the course' is that students should have a written task from each part of the course. At SL, the study guide communicates this clearly. At HL, I'm not sure the study guide makes this obvious. If, as I suggest, the notion of one WT from each part of the course is not 'spelled out', then your approach is in theory legitimate.

However, please consider that Part 3 informs Paper 2. A WT emerging from Part 3 can provide more or less good preparation for paper 2 (and 25% of the overall marks).

Welcome to the course.

David

Sarah Holden 11 September 2015 - 06:28

Hi David,
One of my HL students has done her WT1 - a magazine article for a 'Marie Claire' style mag on Ophelia from Part Three. She wants to do WT2/CR on Q3. (How and why is a social group represented in a particular way?) - she is thinking of finding an area of Media to explore how women are represented in a particular way, for example, in bra advertisements. Are the WT too similar in topic? Thanks, Sarah

David McIntyre 11 September 2015 - 06:52

Hi Sarah,

Good questions. Firstly, both ideas seem creative and germane. Secondly, she need not submit both WTs, rendering any similarity irrelevant. Thirdly, I think the tasks are, in fact, not that similar; the first is relevant to Part 3, and is literary in its (main) focus, and the second, an academic essay, seems mainly relevant to Part 2 of the course. In short, I don't think you should be too concerned; good integration is taking place here in my view, without significant overlap or replication.

David

Gregory Succingeas 14 September 2015 - 13:53

Hello,

At HL, do students have to write one Written Task 1 in each Part of the course, or just four Written Tasks 1 in total?

Gregory

Tim Pruzinsky 15 September 2015 - 00:14

Hi Gregory,

At HL, the IB isn't precisely clear. They are clear that students have to write 4 WT in total, but that includes WT1 and WT2.

Remember that you must submit 2 WTs at HL and they must come from different parts of the course (one in Language and one in Literature).

The IB does not spell out how to accomplish this. Students will be well served though if they have choices and aren't constrained. A WT1 from the Language and from the Literature part of the course as well as a WT2 from each part would allow them that flexibility in selecting what to send to the IB.

Best,

Tim

Prasada Sathyanarayana 24 September 2015 - 17:23

Hi David a few questions on WT
Can students come up with a primary source of their own (a fictitious speech of or an interview with a fictitious person) and then writing a WT on that?
Can students write a letter( written by a worried parent to school's Head of English on distortion/contamination of language due to texting? the primary source is an article on 'text messaging language'.
Thanks

David McIntyre 24 September 2015 - 23:53

Hi Prasada,

The answer to your second question is yes. In response to your first question, I would say the idea is rather contrived (this is my view). If I were teaching the youngster, I'd send them off to find something in the 'real world'.

Regards,

David

Prasada Sathyanarayana 29 September 2015 - 05:58

Hi David,
Sorry to bother you again. Is it MANDATORY that the video/movie clipping as a primary source for a WT has to be in English language? Can it be in other language (Hindi or Hindi and English)?
Regards
Prasad

Tim Pruzinsky 30 September 2015 - 08:08

Hi Prasada,

Having a primary source for a WT in a language other than English is quite complicated. How does a student explore the language, the style and the structure of the source document? This could be said of our Works in Translation texts(s), but this has been translated by a professional, of course. In this case, your primary material is not in English and has not been translated into English.

I would be very uncomfortable with having a student write a Written Task on a primary source written in another language.

Best,

Tim

David McIntyre 30 September 2015 - 10:17

Hi Prasada,

I agree with Tim. For a multilingual text, codeswitching - what motivates it - may be significant, but I think it is best to work with English language texts for the purposes you describe.

David

P.S. You are never a 'bother'. Both Tim and I 'work for a living', so our responses may not always be immediate. However, Tim and I are concerned to help colleagues globally and, besides, you pay for this service through subscriptions!

Deborah Walker 30 October 2015 - 15:26

Hi David,
A couple of my students responding to the WT1 assignment have decided to write a letter to one of the authors of a text that they read. I think the letter in response to what the author said would be considered a fine WT1, but what happens if the student is proposing responding to one article by writing two letters- each from different perspectives? Is this considered appropriate?
My thoughts are that the student(s) has decided that s/he/they will not meet the required word count without the additional perspective.
Thanks, in advance, for your advice on this.
Deborah

Tim Pruzinsky 1 November 2015 - 23:29

Hi Deborah,

Two letters to the same author from two different perspectives is absolutely acceptable and appropriate. A set of letters, such as these, work best if they contrast each other in terms of a specific aspect of the text the student is investigating.

In other words, the more focused the letter (and the less general it is), the greater the ability for the student to get into depth about a key aspect of craft, for example.

Best,

Tim

Katherine Adisa 28 November 2015 - 20:06

Help! I have students who want to write a poem in their own language and then the translation to explain the difficulty of translating the meaning of the poem. This is for a Written Task 1, Part 1 Language and Translation. However I cannot see how they can meet the word count criteria. Can you give me an idea?

Tim Pruzinsky 28 November 2015 - 22:51

Hi Katherine,

I would advise these students to not do this. Part of the Written Task will be in a language the examiner might not (will not?) understand and thus, cannot award points. Even if the examiner did understand the language, we are assessing their English skills and so this will not work.

As well, it sounds very much like an essay in many respects. I can envision a student writing "Another reason why this poem is difficult to translate..." That is not the expectation of WT1.

If the students are stuck on working with poetry in translation, I would have him or her think about the following: Who is their audience for this piece? What is their context, as in, who are they as a writer and what is their situation? What purpose do they want to communicate?

So, I can see a set of letters/emails back and forth between two translators about the difficulty of translating poetry. I can see a magazine or newspaper article highlighting what translators do and why, including the difficulties they face. Perhaps they write an extended job application or advertisement for a job as a translator where they discuss all the things they must tackle.

In other words, I would advise them that writing their own poetry is a wonderful thing to do, especially if it is in their mother tongue, but that this assessment will ask them to extend beyond that in many ways.

Best,

Tim

John McCune 6 January 2016 - 16:35

Would appreciate reaction to this possible WT1: a letter to the editor of the New York Times about that paper's review of the Laurence Olivier film version of Othello. (Othello was one of our Part 3 texts.)

Tim Pruzinsky 7 January 2016 - 05:53

Hi John,

I think letters to the editor are great. My biggest concern though is length. Most publications limit a letter to the editor to 150-200 words. Obviously, they wouldn't publish a 800-1000 word letter to the editor. And that makes the Written Task a bit inauthentic in that regard.

If the student acknowledges this point in the rationale, explains why it still works as a text type and task, and as long as it doesn't start to sound in any way like an essay, I think it could turn out well.

Best,

Tim

David McIntyre 7 January 2016 - 07:26

If I may...

More than one letter is possible. This would afford a plurality of perspectives, and this may benefit criterion B.

I wonder/worry a little about the 'text'. The course, very neatly, compartmentalises the world, distinguishing between the literary and non-literary, where no such absolute distinction exists (I would argue). Is the film a literary text, or is it a media text; in other words, does it belong to part 2 or 3/4? I think most examiners would be 'reasonable' and show appreciation of the dilemma, but I do think the rationale needs to go some way to address and legitimate the choice of text.

David

Julie Murphy 12 January 2016 - 16:57

Hello Tim and David,

We have been studying racial profiling as part of language in cultural context and I have a student that wants to write a letter to the ACLU responding to their PSA "The Man on the Left". However, he wants to take on the role of an average caucasian American male and comment on how the PSA is unfairly judging white males, so as to protect his social standing.

My gut reaction to this task is that it won't work. Am I right? Or is this an idea he could develop?

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Best,
Julie

Tim Pruzinsky 13 January 2016 - 01:32

Hi Julie,

I would trust your gut on this one. Advise him that he misses the point of what you have been studying and that he will have a hard time writing the rationale justifying his piece.

However, it does (rarely) happen that a student will not listen to your advice and suggestions. If he persists, against everything you have said, he can do so. Just let him know that you don't think the IB will score this well. The last option, depending on his persistence, is that he writes this one, but that you send a different one to the IB, as he has several to choose from.

So, depending on the student and his reaction to your very sound advice to go in a different direction, there are some options available to you.

Best,

Tim

Keely Murphy 13 January 2016 - 04:37

Hi Tim,
I am finishing Part one of the course and moving to Part two as an instructor new to the course. In your response to Julie, you advised trusting your gut. Could you please elaborate a bit on why the task the student wanted to pursue would not be recommended? With the study of language and personal bias and identity, I could see the choice as reasonable, but I fear that I must be missing an obvious point!
Thank you,
Keely

Tim Pruzinsky 13 January 2016 - 08:19

Hi Keely,

Of course! And I don't think you are missing an obvious point at all. Let me try to explain my reasoning a bit.

I advised Julie to trust her gut because she felt the student was off task and missing the point. At least, that is what I gleaned from her question. When that occurs, even if the WT1 could work out, I will usually say, in cases of WT 1's, for a teacher to trust their judgement because they have the experience, background, and know what they taught.

Unfortunately, because I'm not in Julie's classroom, I don't know exactly what happened or what specifically has been taught. I can only guess from afar based on the information provided. She felt something was amiss. I trust her on this and think it's okay for her to point him in a different direction. I guess it's more of a philosophical belief about the nature of our profession and being the professionals we are. That is not to say we are always right, but that it's okay to say no sometimes to students.

I'm also not sure how the student is framing the letter (and more importantly the rationale). It seems, from Julie's question, that the student missed the whole point of the unit and is arguing in essence, "reverse racism." I have absolutely no issue with the politics of it all. A student can be either left or right (independent as well, of course). I'm more concerned with the student showing an understanding of the learning objectives Julie put forth about language and racial profiling.

Thus, it becomes tricky to demonstrate his understanding of those objectives in what he proposes. It really comes down to how he positions himself in the rationale. If he is able to articulate what happened in class - the objectives that were taught and learned - in a way that clearly shows his understanding of how language is used to profile, I'm okay with it. My sense (and it was an implicit feeling), from Julie's question was he missed those objectives.

So, he would need to show to the examiner (and to Julie) that he understands how language is used to profile, how this particular white male in the letter is positioning himself in the argument about profiling, and how that is juxtaposed to how the ACLU views the issue.

Without the full knowledge or understanding on my end of what the student is attempting to do, I went with the advice to trust your [her] gut as it seemed he was off base in what he was saying and how he was saying it. That's not to say this couldn't work. It could, which is why you most likely saw this as a reasonable WT1. It is. Julie, on the other hand, seemed to suggest something was wrong with his reasoning and his approach. I'll trust that she's right in this because she has more knowledge about it than I do. From the information provided, if I was Julie, I'd point him in a different direction, which is why I recommended that approach.

I do hope that clarifies my reasoning for you and I do appreciate you asking for that clarification. Don't hesitate to ask more questions if they arise!

Best,

Tim

Keely Murphy 14 January 2016 - 09:45

Tim,
Thank you! What a relief. l appreciate your clear response as it reassures me that multiple approaches are acceptable and embraced, similar to what we encourage in our student perspectives.
Thank you,
Keely

Gustav Dahlin 20 January 2016 - 13:16

Hello Tim and David,
When of my students has written a great WT1 based on part 2 which she wants to submit to the IBO. However, I realised that the text the student is basing it on may not be appropriate. She is writing a piece on how the TV-show COOPS perpetuates stereotypes. Do you think that it would be an accepted text type for part 2?
Best regards
Gustav Dahlin

Tim Pruzinsky 21 January 2016 - 00:11

Hi Gustav,

Just to double-check, are you talking about the TV show COPS from the U.S. where the show follows the police around as they make arrests?

If so, I think it's okay. Students can write in relation to television (CNN and Fox for example) for their WT1 in Part 2 of the course. This seems along that vein of thought.

My guess is that you studied something about media and stereotypes and how the media plays a role in creating this bias. Just make sure she is super clear in the rationale about the objective for the course and how/why her WT demonstrates the learning objective.

Best,

Tim

Emilie Braddell 8 February 2016 - 09:45

Hello Tim and David,
I have a student here in France who has written an opinion column on freedom of speech. The problem is that she has used a cartoon from Charlie Hebdo - so published in a French newspaper, and with French text. I have a feeling that this is not submittable...but because it's so good I wanted to check!

Another student has written a transcript of a TED talk. As these talks are filmed, and as the speakers use visual aids (graphs, clips of film...) do you think the student should /could do the same?
Many thanks in advance for your words of wisdom!
Emily

David McIntyre 8 February 2016 - 12:55

I don't know about wisdom, Emily! I speak for myself, not Tim!

If the text is in French, it is not appropriate (for this course). Certain texts involve, at one level or another, codeswitching. Although this may not be unusual, a text that is in another language other than English cannot be readily assessed, and is probably best avoided. A straightforward 'remedy' for the situation may simply be to write the opinion column in an English language publication. Would this work, do you think?

David

Emilie Braddell 8 February 2016 - 15:36

Hi David, thanks very much for your advice. The student has written an opinion column for the Guardian - so for an English language publication - but the subject of the op column is a French cartoon taken from Charlie Hebdo. She uses it as a starting point for a general exploration of freedom of speech. Still unuseable, do you think?
Emily


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