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 39

Mariam Hussain 26 January 2017 - 06:52

hi Tim,
What should be the time of the FOA the instructors should follow?
can it be a 7-8 minute FOA?
or has to be 12-15 minutes per student like an IOCs time allocation...
Best Regards,
Mariam Hussain.

David McIntyre 26 January 2017 - 09:56

Hi Mariam,

There are no precise timings for the FOA; you can determine this.

To my mind, the crucial thing is the grading criteria; given the nature of the activity and the time allocation, will the student be able to excel and achieve full marks? Assuming that potential exists, you will have allocated enough time. If, however, a student were unable to 'do justice' to a task, it may be that you must provide more time.

Of course, there are local circumstances that influence what is and isn't possible; not least, the number of students you have and the time allocated to your course will play a role in the kinds of FOA that you do.

Best regards,


Mariam Hussain 26 January 2017 - 12:59

Thanks David, to me the understanding is in order to meet the criteria the students should do an FOA that equals the time of an IOC at least...
Am i right then?

David McIntyre 27 January 2017 - 04:09

Hi Mariam,

I think it depends entirely on the task, and the type and length of texts a student is working with. In some instances, 10 minutes could work very well. In a paired activity, you may wish for students to talk for 20 minutes. Or 30 minutes. As I wrote earlier, logistics will play a role. If, for example, you have a very large class, you may actively construct tasks that are shorter and therefore more manageable. With a smaller class and more available class/teaching time, you may be able to incorporate longer speaking activities.

Whilst comparison to the IOC may give a degree of guidance, unless you set up a more or less analogous FOA, there is no compulsion to speak for 15 minutes (and therefore potentially achieve highly against the marking criteria).

One thing that I have come to appreciate about IB curricula is that they achieve a good balance of establishing a level playing field in regard to course content and examinations, without delimiting teacher autonomy and variation.

I hope this helps,


Mariam Hussain 27 January 2017 - 04:34

Thanks David. Your explanation is a great help. Just a quick question. FOA and WTs can be on any language topic/area (Parts 1 & 2) whether studied or not studied in the class, from the topic list I mean?

David McIntyre 27 January 2017 - 05:21

I would suggest you would want students to do something that emerges from work in the classroom and the study of particular text types, Mariam. This is not to limit the creative autonomy of students; rather it is to creatively build on understandings derived in the classroom.

In developing WT ideas, students will sometimes say to me that they want to write a 'text type A'. I might say to the student 'why?'. Having listened to their explanation, I might say, 'we haven't studied text type A. What do you know about the conventions of that text type?' Having listened to a further explanation, I might say, 'we have studied text type B, C, and D in recent weeks. You have learned something about those text types. Might one of these work better?' My intention, rightly or wrongly, is to coral the student to build on what they have done in class without limiting their opportunity to be creative or to show an understanding of text or topic.

I should say, in passing, that my strategy for teaching texts is not to include the gamut of possible text types over two years. That is a road to nowhere, in my view. I tend to take a functional approach to language, because functions are much more limited than text types, and there are only a limited number of ways to (linguistically) express a function. And, as it happens, the linguistic expression of functions, to a greater or lesser extent, transcends text types.

I hope this helps,


Mariam Hussain 29 January 2017 - 09:56

Thanks a lot David. Truly a great help you and Tim are. I had the same thing in my mind while writing to you about this particular point of linguistic functions/expressions.... for the WT and FOAs. I've somehow managed to do the same as u pointed out..

Mariam Hussain.

Syed Abbas 20 February 2017 - 09:21


Where are the teacher's marks for FOA recorded? In the 1L&LIA form where it says teachers comments?


Tim Pruzinsky 21 February 2017 - 02:00

Hi Faheem,

In the past, this is has been the case. However, let me advise you to ask your IB Coordinator. Things are changing so quickly in terms of how things are getting uploaded online that I don't have the precise answer you are looking for.


Syed Abbas 21 February 2017 - 02:39

Dear Tim,

Thanks; I'll do that.


Leigh Redemer 8 March 2017 - 07:57


I recently had a group of G12 students completely plagiarise their second FOA, as in they just used a presentation they found online and didn't even insert any original material. What is your opinion on how this should affect their official oral grades submitted to the IB? My opinion is that their single completed FOA mark needs to be halved when added to their IOC mark for their oral mark - it is not fair to other students who completed the two required FOAs for the cheaters to receive full marks on their orals... What do you think?

David McIntyre 8 March 2017 - 11:36

Hi Leigh,

Tim and I need to be sensitive in how we respond to questions, and at times, as in this case, it is not prudent to express what we think. However, I can say, in this instance, that you have a clear case of academic malpractice. Your school will have a policy on academic honesty, and you should liaise with your IB Coordinator in dealing with this. If I can suggest, the issue is best approached through following established and previously agreed protocols and conventions.

I hope this helps.


Tobias Lloyd 28 March 2017 - 09:51

Hi Tim, apologies if you have answered this before, but am really confused about where to mark my Further orals - do I add them up with the IOc and divide by 2? This does not seem right to me, but I can find no where to mark these on the IBIS site.. On the upload there is just a column with a score out of 30. I am sure I am missing something obvious but have ploughed through all the guides I can find and my co-ordinator can not seem to find any info either.... advice please before my hair falls out even mre.
Regards Tobias.

Tim Pruzinsky 28 March 2017 - 11:48

Hi Tobias,

From my understanding, it works like this:

1. You add up the FOA + IOC then divide by 2. Round up if it is a decimal.

2. You send to the IB - through their system IBIS - that total score.

3. IBIS spits back the sample they want from the combined total to be moderated.

4. You prepare to send things to the IB through IBIS, including the recording, the passage, your comments about the marks for the IOC only, and the marks themselves.

5. Examiners listen to your recordings and decide if on the IOC you were too easy, harsh, or exactly right. They then adjust the total marks accordingly.

So, on IBS, before you know what "sample" of students you will have to send, you have to input all the scores for all the students (see #1). Then, IBIS becomes a bit more helpful and self-explanatory (steps #2 and beyond).

I hope that helps in lessening the stress.


Tobias Lloyd 29 March 2017 - 08:28

Thank you very much - really appreciate this, and yes, this has relieved the stress. Thanks a lot.

Kelli Karg 30 March 2017 - 06:02

Hello Tim,

Can you comment on how "scripted" the FOA is allowed to be? It is an oral assignment, so should they have an outline, or if read in an engaging way, can it be spoken verbatim?

Thanks for your help!

Tim Pruzinsky 30 March 2017 - 08:25

Hi Kelli,

The IB doesn't tell us exactly and this is where the confusion arises. I think this is a case of using your best professional judgement.

For example, you will find on the site scripts for FOAs when students are in pairs and doing a creative "skit" or some type of dramatic performance.

I will ask students to create that script because, well, how could they perform a skit if they didn't know where it was going? However, I don't allow them to have it in their hands during the FOA. They are only allowed bullet pointed notes with minimal text to just remind them of what they wanted to say on a few index cards.

I fully expect them to never read (but it's only a bullet point and so that's not really possible) and to talk to the audience or the other person in the skit depending on what they are doing.

I think letting students read word for word from a script will lead you down a road you don't want to go. That doesn't preclude a student creating a script in the first place. It just means they can't use/read from that piece of paper throughout the FOA.

Again, it's not a clear cut answer. Use your professional judgement and stick to what is the spirit of the assessment: students presenting something to the class in an engaging and insightful manner.


Kelli Karg 5 April 2017 - 10:55

Thanks Tim! I would assume that if the script were to be used too heavily that this would come out of Criterion D?

Tim Pruzinsky 5 April 2017 - 12:13

Hi Kelli,

Yes. You may even knock down in organization as they don't have it together depending on the situation. However, let me again caution against the using of an actual script in a FOA. I'm all for students creating one beforehand if the situation calls for it. In the actual assessment, I'm not okay with them having that exact piece of paper in their hand.


Liz Strootman 31 March 2017 - 19:13


I have a question concerning the Internal assessments. I have searched the OCC high and low but I can't find a clear answer. Seeing as the IOC and the FOA are each worth 15%, I would assume that the score (out of 30) should be an average of these grades. However, my trepidation lies with entering the average as the majority of students performed much better on the FOAs than the IOCs. There are some students who got 11/12 for IOCs and then 24/25 for FOAs. The majority do not have such a large difference in score. However, my primary concern is that an examiner only receives a sample of the IOC and the average grade could be considerably higher; thus they would moderate all the samples accordingly. I am sure there are conflicting ideas about how best to do this. For example, I have heard of teachers basing their scores purely on the IOCs to counteract such discrepancies; yet, I feel this goes against the spirit of the programme.

I would really appreciate any insight into this matter.


Tim Pruzinsky 1 April 2017 - 11:35

Hi Liz,

The IB is pretty explicit about this. You are to take the FOA score (out of 30) and the IOC score (out of 30). Add them together. Divide by two. Round up if necessary. That is the score you submit into IBIS - the IB system - for the IA mark. This is the only way all schools should be doing it.

Once you do so, IBIS spits back the sample they want you to send for moderation. You prepare what they need (recordings, IOC passages, the IOC marks, and your comments about the IOC and justification of marks) and send it on through IBIS.

The moderator will look at your IOC marks (not your FOA marks) and decide if you were too easy, hard, or just right. From there, your scores move up or down. In fact, this year, the moderator won't even see the breakdown for the FOA or even a justification for it. They apply the moderation factor based on how you scored the IOC. They are assuming (rightly or wrongly) that if you were too easy in the IOC, you were also too easy in the grading of the FOA.

So, for example, I have sent off an IA mark of 22 for a student. He scored a 20 on his IOC and a 24 on his FOA. This is typical. He had time to prepare his FOA and did better because of it. The moderator isn't looking at the IA mark of 22 (which my IB coordinator submitted to IBIS). Instead, she is looking at the IOC mark of 20 that I gave and deciding if I was right or not. Moderation then applies based on her judgement of my judgement.

Whether or not all schools do follow the explicit instructions in the subject guide is another matter and one I won't get into here. What I will say is that there's no question about how to add up the IOC + FOA to get an overall IA mark. All schools must follow this and all schools must do it this way.


Liz Strootman 2 April 2017 - 21:35

Hi Tim,

Thanks for your quick and clear response.


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.


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