Further oral activity

For Parts 1 and 2 students will be asked to conduct several further oral activities (FOA). These activities can be based on different types of situations that use spoken language, ranging from presentations to interviews, or from debates to speeches. In the FOA students must demonstrate their understanding of course work, focus on the relevant topic and an achievement of one or more learning outcomes. In the classroom preparation that leads up to FOAs, teachers should guide students towards successful ideas and speaking formats, without prescribing one method or approach.

Further oral activities are a form of internal assessment. The assessment criteria for Higher and Standard Level are the same. Marks for the FOA are added together with the marks for the individual oral commentary and divided by two. At the end of each exam session, a subject committee decides upon grade boundaries for Higher Level and Standard Level students. Higher Level grade boundaries are slightly stricter than Standard Level grade boundaries.

Remember: The IB moderators who listen to the sample recordings of the individual oral commentaries (IOC) do not only moderate the marks from the IOC. They moderate the entire internal assessment grade. This means that the marks for the further oral activity are also affected.

The basics

The following bullet-points apply to both Higher and Standard Level students

  • Further oral activities are based on texts and topics from Parts 1 and 2 of the syllabus. The activity should be rooted in a primary source.
  • Students must conduct at least two FOAs; one on Part 1 and one on Part 2. Teachers may provide more opportunities to do an FOA than these two.
  • Students may work alone or in groups.
  • Students decide on an activity in consultation with their teacher.
  • Although there is no official time limit, there must be enough material to assess. On this matter the IB Teacher Support Material states: "The length of the individual oral commentary may be used as a rough guide for the amount of time an individual student should spend speaking during the further oral activity: 15 minutes."
  • The oral activities do not need to be recorded. However, recording good samples is useful for future students.
  • Following each FOA, students have to write a reflective statement, which is kept on record within the school. The reflective statement explains how the student met one or more of the learning outcomes for Parts 1 or for Part 2.
  • The marks from the best FOA performance count for 15% of the final grade.

Teacher talk

After reading the Language A: Language and Literature guide, you may still have many unanswered questions about the further oral activity. In fact, this form of assessment requires some professional judgment and an understanding of formative assessment. More on these topics below.

Professional judgment and formative assessment

The further oral activity requires a great deal of professional judgment on the part of the teacher, since the Language A: Language and Literature guide does not offer much guidance. In the guide, we read about the various activities that students may choose for the FOA. You can find the criteria and a brief description of the reflective statement. That’s it. Many questions go unanswered, such as ‘How long must the FOA be?’, ‘What material must students discuss?’ or ‘How do the reflective statements play a role in the assessment process?’ In brief, teachers are left to discover their own answers.

What’s more, the IB seems to place a great deal of trust in the teacher’s hands. No recordings are required. The record sheet of reflective statements is not sent to the IB (though it may be requested). And it is internally assessed, meaning that many marks may never be moderated. Surely schools will take a range of approaches. For example some teachers may assign all of their students to write speeches. Even though this goes against the spirit of the further oral activity, there is no system in place to prevent this from happening. Chances are high that this will happen somewhere at some school.

While this lack of guidelines may leave one feeling insecure, it can also be seen as a great opportunity. Rather than worrying about what is fair practice across all IB schools, it is recommended that teachers focus on their own school, their own students and the interests of their students. Every teaching context is different, and most likely these are differences that the IB would like to accommodate. So too should we. The FOA is the perfect chance for teachers to experiment, learn from mistakes and apply professional judgment.

Generally speaking, the various forms of IB DP assessment are summative in nature, meaning that they are a test of learning. The further oral activity, however, could be regarded as one of those few forms of formative assessment in this DP course, meaning that it can be used as a tool for learning. After all, the best one counts, meaning there is room for trial and error. Because the guidelines are so vague, teachers have the freedom to run several FOAs under a range of conditions (see tips page).

For example, students and teachers often ask, ‘Should FOAs be based on texts that were studied in class? Or should they be based on texts that students find outside of class?’ You have to walk before you can run. Applying in-class concepts to out-of-class texts requires more critical thinking that the application of in-class concepts to in-class texts. This is an argument for doing one round of FOAs one way and another round of FOAs another way, using this form assessment as a tool to develop skills in a formative way. Use the freedoms of the guide to your advantage, turning the FOA into a learning tool rather than an end-station test.
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Comments 15

Gregory Succingeas 17 September 2015 - 17:14

Hello David,

So far, my HL students have been studying the texts and activities provided in Part 1. Can I assign the same topics to all my students, or do they absolutely need to choose their own? In other words, am I allowed to use your FOA topics?

Also, I have the same question about Written Tasks 1.

Thank you for your time.

Tim Pruzinsky 18 September 2015 - 00:08

Hi Gregory,

Glad to hear the texts and activities on the site have been useful for your Part 1 teaching.

If you give your students a list of possible topics - and some guidance on what to choose - and they choose from that list, I think that's okay. Some teachers are more open-ended (choose whatever you want) and some teachers are more guided. I think both approaches work.

The key here is to stay within the spirit of the program which is to allow students choice in an aspect to cover within the topic studied (which could have been investigated in class or not); choice in text type or presentation style; and choice in how they want to make their claims.



Chris Martin 23 September 2015 - 17:05

Hi David,

How broadly can interpret the idea of a primary source 'text' for the activity? Is a particular dialect a text? Not a text with a particular dialect in it but the dialect itself?


David McIntyre 23 September 2015 - 23:29

Using the definition in the subject guide, Chris, I'd say that it is. It would be hard to argue otherwise. What is the implication of the question?



Chris Martin 25 September 2015 - 13:30

My idea is to have a Part 1 topic on lingo (dialects, language communities, slang and accents) largely student driven. I provide an introduction with key definitions and examples and raise questions through some academic reading and then students select a lingo of interest to them and explore it in relation to the learning outcome(s). Does that sound okay? Thanks again.

Tim Pruzinsky 27 September 2015 - 09:28

Hi Chris,

Absolutely! It sounds very student centered and provides a lot of flexibility for the student. Good luck!



Gary Cairns 8 January 2016 - 05:20

This summer will be my first time uploading work. I am clear about the uploading of written tasks but not the FOA reflections. How are these normally submitted to the IB?

Thank you

Tim Pruzinsky 8 January 2016 - 08:09

Hi Gary,

For the internal assessment, the IB does not require you to upload their reflections. All they ask is for the FOA scores (in combination with the IOC scores on the official IA sheet) along with relevant comments for both assessments. Passages for the IOC are also uploaded along with the actual recording.

In other words, keep the FOA reflections for you on file, but the IB does not have a place for you to upload that information to them.



Gary Cairns 11 January 2016 - 02:31

Hi Tim,

Thank you very much for answering my question.

Laura Baines 24 January 2016 - 20:19

Hi Tim or David,
Do you have the official IA sheet for 2016?
My Co-ordinator says he hasn't received it yet and I cannot find it online.
Thank you so much!

Tim Pruzinsky 25 January 2016 - 10:08

Hi Laura,

You can find it on the OCC. It's not easy to locate though. Under the 3rd heading titled "Assessments" you will find it is the 10th pdf document down on the list!

You can download it from there; you'll also find the WT coversheet information in that same section.



Oberoi School 3 March 2016 - 08:56

Hi Tim/ David,

We needed a clarification regarding Internal Assessments. Are we allowed to share the final grades and/ or raw mark of the FOA and the IOC with the students?


Tim Pruzinsky 3 March 2016 - 09:06

Hi Rucha,

My understanding is that this is decided on a school-by-school basis. I've worked in places that do and places that don't.

Do know that moderation takes place and that your cumulative marks for the internal assessment can decrease substantially from the marks you have given. The opposite is true too. Because of this, many schools do not share these marks with students.

I would suggest that this is a larger conversation for your entire school as this affects other departments.



Annette Kappert 15 March 2016 - 09:49

Hi Tim,
Trying to fill in form 1/LIA, it has two sections:

Part 2: Works studied (2 at standard level, 3 at higher level)*
Please indicate the particular work on which the candidate's individual oral commentary and discussion is based by checking the box

Part 4: Works studied (3 at standard level, 3 at higher level)*
Please indicate the particular work(s) on which the candidate's individual oral presentation is based by checking the box.

It may seem Obvious but which one is for the IOA, because I thought that was called the individual oral commentary and was based on part 4?


Tim Pruzinsky 15 March 2016 - 23:32

Hi Annette,

I think from your description, you are using the Lit form, not the Lang/Lit form. Lit has an IOP in Part 4 where we have an IOC in this part.

Look for the Lang/Lit form on the OCC or ask for it from your IB coordinator. These forms confuse most of us and I just wish they were named better!



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