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 38

Catherine Santarelli 2 May 2017 - 13:24

Hi Tim and David,
Thanks for all your responses on this thread; I've read through the whole thing and it's really helpful. You mentioned that it's not in the spirit of the assessment for students to do their FOA on a piece of literature that they'll be studying in Parts 3 or 4 of the course. However, is there a specific rule stating that the FOA must be on non-literary texts? If a student did their best FOA on a piece of literary text, such as a poem, that we studied within a topic in Part 1, for example, will they be penalized?
Thanks in advance

Tim Pruzinsky 2 May 2017 - 14:51

Hi Katt,

A quick clarification before we get to the heart of your question: the FOA must come from Part 1 or 2 of the course. A literary text from Part 3 or 4 cannot be used for the FOA under any circumstance. The IB is explicit about this rule.

As for using poetry in your teaching of Part 1 or 2, we see this as possible. The IB even states, "In addition to the text types mentioned above, literary genres may be used to complement the study of a topic in parts 1 and 2 but should not form the basis of the study" (Subject Guide, 20).

It is that last part of the sentence that gives us pause and is a bit more tricky in terms of assessment. "But should not form the basis of study" suggests that a poem in this case should not be used for the FOA.

Your last question asks would they be penalized. I don't actually think so as the IB now has absolutely no idea what you did for the FOA unless they ask (rarely) for the "reflective statement." The IB says in the TSM that "Following the completion of each activity, the students are required to write a reflective statement on the oral, commenting on the progress they made in achieving the aims they set out for themselves. The reflective statement must be kept by the school and it may be required by the IB's Assessment Operations Department."

Unless that occurs, and even if they do ask, I don't think there would be a penalty. And that's why David and I argue that it's not in the spirit of the program. While the IB isn't checking, we have a responsibility to adhere to the course as designed and presented by the IB; the FOA really should be using a non-literary text even if their language is a bit vague here.


Annabel Greve Kristensen 16 August 2017 - 07:56


A question about moderation. When the internal assessment is moderated do they just change the IOC grade and leave the FOA as it is, or does the average get taken up or down? I ask because I have some students that have done some really fantastic FOAs, and I'm worried that if the moderator doesn't agree with my IOC grade, they will also lose marks on their FOA.

I hope that makes sense.

Thank you!

Tim Pruzinsky 16 August 2017 - 08:12

Hi Annabel,

For moderation, you will send your overall marks (IOC + FOA) and your individual IOC marks. The moderator will listen to the IOC sample and decide if your marks are correct, too harsh, or too easy.

Let's say they decide you are two points too easy. You gave a 28 on the IOC and they've determined it's a 26. They are assuming you are also too easy on the FOA, and by two points as well. So, to answer your question, the average gets taken up or down.

When the moderation gets applied, it is applied to the overall total score (IOC + FOA). If the total score was 29 (28 for the IOC and 30 for the FOA), the moderator is saying that's too high and your student will come down to a 27 overall (26 for the IOC and 28 for the FOA).

Let me know if you need further clarification.


Annabel Greve Kristensen 16 August 2017 - 08:46

Hi Tim,

Thank you, that is a great explanation :-)


Mariam Hussain 8 September 2017 - 15:14

Hi David/ Tim,
If we are to impersonate two authors in a pair, for the FOA in order to comment on the other person's work , can the texts used be one originally written in English and the other a translation?

Extracts from: The Odyssey, Percy Jackson

Authors: Homer and Rick Riordan.

Part 1: Langauge in Cultural Context: Langauge and religion (mythology)

Objective: To comment on the use of langauge in two works of mythology of different time periods.
What role language plays in constructing our perception on a particular topic (Greek Mythology)

Tim Pruzinsky 9 September 2017 - 01:32

Hi Mariam,

This feels very literary in nature, and FOAs should not be based on literature. I understand the student has connected to language and religion/mythology, but I don't fully understand how it connects to the course.

If you can be persuaded that it does in fact connect well to Part 1, and you are convinced that this is not a literary discussion of the texts, but a discussion about how language and meaning are shaped by culture and context, then I would say you can proceed. If it feels "off" to you, tell them so, and to switch topics.


Mariam Hussain 27 September 2017 - 08:06

Hi Tim,
I have allowed my students to proceed with this idea of FOA, keeping the track of the learning outcomes and guiding questions of Language and Belief. To do the analytical commentary they will touch some literary aspects also, since without them the true intention of their FOA can not be met.
I hope Ive guided them on the right track, now?
Mariam Hussain.

Tim Pruzinsky 28 September 2017 - 00:58

Hi Mariam,

Sounds good to me! Hopefully the students follow your directions and reach the expectations that have been set.


Mariam Hussain 3 October 2017 - 05:59

Thanks a lot Tim.

Mariam Hussain 9 September 2017 - 11:16

Thanks Tim.
Will look in to it further to make direct links to the sub topic

Mariam Hussain 26 September 2017 - 09:39

Hi Tim/David,
one of my students wants to do a (field-report) for his FOA, that will be more of a role play but individually....as an anchor or a political journalist, is the idea ok?

Tim Pruzinsky 26 September 2017 - 10:29

Hi Mariam,

I am okay with almost any idea for an FOA as long as the student is not self-penalizing. If the student proposes something that I think will not allow them to succeed at the highest levels of the assessment criteria, then I will tell them to do something else.

However, if they convince me that they can meet all the objectives, connect to course content, and analyze the language/style/images/structure (or whatever) effectively, I almost always tell them to proceed. Ask you student if they can do all this, and if he or she can, go for it!


Hunter Minks 27 September 2017 - 06:59

Hi Tim and David,

How do we ensure our students are academically honest in the FOA, and is there an acceptable amount of investigation they are allowed to do in their analysis of the text? For example, the some of the samples you list on this website are very famous texts (such as the Ich Bin Ein Berliner speech). Would a student be allowed to look into past interpretations of this for inspiration? If so how do they cite it, and if not, how can we be sure all their ideas are their own?



Tim Pruzinsky 27 September 2017 - 07:59

Hi Hunter,

This is such a tough question! Let's use the "Berliner" speech as an example. Could that student have read a bunch of different websites and analysis of the speech, cobbled together his ideas, and then presented it? Probably.

And for that reason, some teachers are more strict than others about what texts can be used (only ones handed out in class, but not analyzed together). Others are more free and open, which does mean academic honesty issues may be a problem.

My suggestion would be to see their work before the actual FOA. Help them in developing their topic + focus. See some of their ideas. Usually, by doing so, this will allow you to catch things early before you realize you are watching an FOA that is by no means the thoughts/analysis of this student.

In other words, we can't be sure all their ideas are their own. There are ways to mitigate it, and that will differ from teacher to teacher. Use your best judgement in order to help students navigate this.

Please do ask follow-up questions if this doesn't fully answer your question as this is such a gray area.


Hunter Minks 27 September 2017 - 09:17

No that's a great explanation. Thank you. What about investigating context, which isn't necessarily analytical, but is definitely necessary to fully understand a text? The context of the Berliner speech is fairly common knowledge, but what about a text where the context isn't so clear? Or where knowledge of a specific (less commonly known) event is necessary to the understanding of the text? Should they just be encouraged to use a text where specific historical knowledge is not necessary?

Tim Pruzinsky 28 September 2017 - 00:39

Hi Hunter,

I would say use your professional judgement. I don't think it's not that difficult for a student to incorporate bits of contextual details embedded with the analysis. In fact, one might argue this is good practice for what we teach in the course.

I think both widely known texts/events and more obscure ones still need that crouching in contextual factors when appropriate to the FOA.


Dagmara Nowak 25 October 2017 - 20:25

Hi Tim&David,
I have a question about FOA-does it have to be exactly about the things we do in class? i.e. if we talked about lang&identity,gender,sexuality(so far),do students need to base their FOA on the specific text(s) we studied,eg Artemus Ward's letter,or can this be some other text dealing with similar topic? Sorry,I'm new to this :)
Thank you,

Tim Pruzinsky 30 October 2017 - 08:03

Hi Dagmara,

The FOA does not have to be based on texts studied in class. In your specific case, students can use other texts dealing with the same topics you studied. However, this is up to you and different teachers will do things in different ways.


Tracy Radbone 2 November 2017 - 00:08

Hello there
Despite discussion on the difference between a read act and a speech act, and the fact that almost all students did very well on their second FOA by taking this repeated advice, I had a student who pretty much read the FOA. She did look up but not a lot. We have had this discussion at our school in the past but would be interested in your input on how much their marks are affected with a read FOA. We have thought that Crit A, C and D are affected.
Many thanks

Tim Pruzinsky 2 November 2017 - 07:14

Hi Tracy,

I understand the concern here. Students reading scripts for an FOA is a problem.

However, penalizing them 3 times for the same mistake could be seen as a bit much. My advice would be to pick the criterion you as a school want to penalize for this, be harsh (as extreme as you want), but try to keep it to one.

The IB does this in marking for Paper 1, for example. They don't double penalize a student for quotations or lack thereof. They penalize - or rather, don't award points - once (in A).


Tracy Radbone 2 November 2017 - 07:19

Many thanks Tim
We will discuss this as a department.
Good advice and well explained.

Dagmara Nowak 2 November 2017 - 13:37

Thank you very much Tim :)

Heide Turner 8 November 2017 - 04:06

I am teaching German LnL (using the same guide like English) and from time to time I use english texts in class. We obviously discuss and work with them talking German.
Do you think a student could choose an english speech as primary source for the FOA?

Tim Pruzinsky 9 November 2017 - 00:01

Hi Heide,

I wouldn't. As you are teaching German L/L, the text(s) used for the FOA should be in the language studied - in your case, German. This may change in the future course, but right now, assessments should use primary sources in the language studied.


Heide Turner 9 November 2017 - 00:25

Thanks a ton, Tim.

Michael Lamb 8 November 2017 - 06:32

Hey there Tim,

My students have run across video FoA's posted on Youtube. To be clear, this type of FoA is of the pre-recorded variety (not a video of an in-class FoA). To this point, I have simply addressed these videos as "practice FoA's." However, I can't be sure of this.

Obviously, this type of submission seems to go against the spirit of the course. However, I can imagine a situation where I would allow it.

As best as I can tell, this is not clarified in the guide.

What do you think?


Tim Pruzinsky 8 November 2017 - 23:59

Hi Mike,

Somewhere in the Handbook of Procedures - and I am not 100% on this, but I am fairly confident - it states that "live" examination material should not be made public. As well, FOA's need to be done live, not recorded outside and submitted to you to mark. Again, I'd have to find where - I'm guessing the TSM - but that's not allowed either.

In other words, I'd not go down this route as it might put a student in a tricky position with the examinations board. I'd ask your IB Coordinator for more information about this (public posting), but I am very, very hesitant and my advice would be to not allow it.


Michael Lamb 14 November 2017 - 00:17

Thanks! I'll continue to address FoA's posted to YouTube simply as "practice."

John Skrzypczak 12 November 2017 - 12:56

I am looking for a clarification on grading. Criterion B evaluates "How language is used." A colleague asked if that mean that the FOA must be grounded in written text? I know IB considers text to be anything that conveys meaning. Of course that implies non-written text, ie clothing, signs and symbols. These seem contradictory. I have always read "language" as the message being conveyed, either from written or non-written text. Does that seem correct?
Thanks John

Tim Pruzinsky 13 November 2017 - 08:40

Hi John,

I can see the trouble here. I also think there is latitude in the FOA that doesn't exist in the other assessments.

In this case, for criterion B, I think you award for the critical thinking in understanding how language is used. If you define "language" or "text" one way and another teacher defines it another way, but both students in each class show excellent critical thinking and analysis about it, I think both students can be awarded excellent marks here.

Would I like greater clarity here from the IB? Of course. On the other hand, the skills of analysis is the intent - the spirit - of the assessment and that is still being applied in each situation above. Find common ground in a department, but different schools might look at it differently and I think that's okay here.

I do realize that "critical thinking" isn't in the criterion, but I was trying to use a phrase that best demonstrated heightened analysis of language, however teachers are defining it. Please do ask if you do have any follow-up questions.


Ashley Gregoris 14 December 2017 - 16:36

I have a student who currently has a mark of zero for the FOA focused on Part 2 of the course. Despite many opportunities, he is not ready to present. I need to move on to new course content, but, since they have to have at least two FOAs completed, am I obligated to take more class time to allow him to present, or, can I have him present to me instead of the full class? I can't seem to find information on this in my IB documents. Thanks!

Tim Pruzinsky 14 December 2017 - 23:46

Hi Ashley,

You won't find it because it won't be explicitly mentioned. In this instance, presenting outside of class seems okay. You're still adhering to the spirit of the assessment - he's presenting - and you are also acknowledging the real life circumstance of this student in this situation.


Hunter Minks 14 December 2017 - 18:50

Do the texts that form the basis for FOAs (and Written Tasks, for that matter) have to be originally in English, or can they be in translation? I have a student who wants to do a Part 1 FOA on a Hitler Speech. He is linking it to our Language & Power unit and addressing the learning outcome about audience and purpose, so I feel like it's appropriate in that sense. But I don't know if it's ok that it's originally a German text.



Tim Pruzinsky 14 December 2017 - 23:43

Hi Hunter,

We recommend that texts for the FOA and WT be originally written in English. There isn't the absolute clarity I would like on this from the IB, but translation opens up a pandora's box here. On top of this, language texts in translation are not allowed for C3 EE's either.

Yes, there is a bit of a gray area in the guide (Part 1 lists translation as a topic). But in that instance, you would be looking at how translation works, and your student isn't doing that in this case. I would say that this would be a great FOA for a German L/L class. I would recommend that he finds something in the target language though.


Hunter Minks 15 December 2017 - 06:30

Thank you for the feedback. That's what I was leaning towards as well. This student is from Quebec and originally wanted to do a comparative analysis of the French Canadian dialect to Parisian French. I told him that would be great if this was French L/L! Not sure why he's stuck on non-English texts, but I'll continue guiding him. Thanks so much!

Zena Youseph 17 January 2018 - 11:59

Hi Tim and Dave,
I'm new to the FOA task and had a few questions.
1) Just to confirm, the FOA can be rooted in primary and secondary sources, just so long as they're linked to the topics studied, correct?
2) Do the students need to submit a hard copy of their FOA, or do we just mark the oral activity itself? In that instance, should we record them, so that we can go back and re-play it later should we need to for assessment?
3) do they need to perform for 15 minutes and do they get marked down if they are under time?
Thank you!

Tim Pruzinsky 18 January 2018 - 07:25

Hi Zena,

Welcome to the course! Here are some answers to your questions:

1. Yes.

2. No. Just mark it. You technically don't even need to record it. That's up to you and your school. We don't record - audio or visual - ours. Occasionally we do for the sake of having model examples to show future students, but not for the IB.

3. Technically, the IB hasn't set a time for this. There's a recommendation. Do not mark down for being "under" a perceived amount of time. Instead, mark positively and mark what they do. It might be 14 minutes and be full of a ton of language analysis. That should do well.


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