Below are the three learning outcomes that should be met while studying Part 3 of the English A: Language and Literature course. For each outcome a brief explanation is offered, together with links to supporting activities. The learning outcomes in bold are taken from the IB guide for Langauge A: Language and Literature.
  • Consider the changing historical, cultural and social contexts in which particular texts are written and received.
    Students are asked to understand the context of the production of a given text, and compare that context to the way the text is understood today, or at another time. Choice of texts is extremely important. Contentious works, plays and roman a clef works are good for Part 3, as they demand a contextual understanding in order to appreciate the author's intentions. Students should learn to identify both differences and similarities. Surprise leads to questioning that may bear fruit. Consult the lessons on Black Boy of The Crucible.
  • Demonstrate how form, structure and style can not only be seen to influence meaning but can also be influenced by context.
    A novel written in the second half of the twentieth century does not often resemble a novel written in the mid-nineteenth century. Developments in psychology, for example, changed the way writers depicted the human mind. Considerations such as this can provide useful inroads into reaching this learning outcome. Students need to put themselves in the writer's position and ask how context determines the range of options open to the author. Comparing texts from the same genre makes it easier to explore issues related to this learning outcome.
  • Understand the attitudes and values expressed by literary texts and their impact on readers.
    Recognizing difference is often a good starting point for defining our own attitudes and values in relation to those presented in a text. In addition to the pages listed above, you may want to look at The Crucible pages as an illustration of how to explore changing attitudes and impact. Related pages with brief definitions and suggested readings related to a few movements in critical theory may also be helpful while thinking about how to teach Part 3 texts. These are postcolonial criticism, stylistics, and new historicism. These pages are intended to provide different lenses through which teachers of the course may want to approach their texts to help students achieve the above aims. They are also implicit in some of the lessons in this section. 
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Comments 6

Jose Alejandro Pantoja 16 October 2016 - 06:34


I'm teaching Gabriel Garcia Marquez short stories for Part 3, and I'm wondering to what extent does his personal upbringing and background play a role in the formation of his texts, or how much should we focus on his journalistic background coupled with his influential grandparents in village-life Colombia? Does this fit, or should the focus be concentrated on the Latin American political and social background from which he writes?

David McIntyre 16 October 2016 - 12:12

Hi Jose,

I think, potentially, both are significant.

However, in a Paper 2 response, it is the understanding of literary text that is at stake. A knowledge of writer and other contexts are certainly relevant, but this knowledge should flavour and inform a discussion of text; it should not dominate the response to the question.

I hope this helps,


Nazia adeel 11 November 2016 - 17:12

Hi David,
Your site is an amazing resource for new teachers like me. I, however, need more guidance on certain aspects of paper 2 which is based on part 3. Would you please be kind enough to support me and others on what exactly is required / important when students write response to particular questions of paper 2. For example, an ideal response to questions like "How can we explain the continued interest in a particular work in different contexts and at different times?" If you could guide me with reference to a particular text (Pygmalion/ Oedipus Rex/ Persepolis) it would be great. If not, kindly do highlight the key aspects to be added in a good response.
Thank you.

David McIntyre 13 November 2016 - 08:48

Hi Nazia,

I think it makes most sense to understand this question in a decontextualised way. Different texts will, of course, have different idioms, but the underlying reason will be unchanged. I think the answer is because the texts, arguably, convey something that is enduring, universal, and/or the ideas/events of the text continue to resonate in the present. In the case of Persepolis, a bildungsroman, the experience of coming of age is probably universal (albeit experienced in localised variations) and I would suggest timeless. Issues of gender politics also endure (alas), and the issues of theocratic states and so-called Islamic extremism remain of contemporary interest. Depending on the reader, in time and place, the story of Persepolis may confirm one's lived experience, make the familiar strange, or the strange familiar - many responses are possible.

I hope this helps.


Lianne Chung 22 November 2016 - 02:05

Hi David/Tim,
What exactly do they mean when it says "form, structure, and style"? Is that in reference to things like syntax, and how the story is broken up? And does "style" mean writing forms, like narration?
Could you make that a little more specific for me?

Thanks so much,

David McIntyre 22 November 2016 - 04:07

Hi Lianne,

I think that that these are difficult terms to parse, and I'm sure that if one looked in a 'dictionary of literary terms' - of which there are many - there would be a good degree of disagreement, along with a degree of agreement. And, as the TOK teacher, at least, will tell you, there is a problem with definition theory.

So, my approach to thinking about your question is to consider broadly what kinds of things would be included under the rubrics structure, form, and style. I think the answer is to do with arrangement, perspective, and manner of expression. It would include things like, as you suggest, syntax and mode of narration.

Other readers of your question may respond to you a little differently and, arguably, provide more precise definitions and dare to split hairs. I am not comfortable with dogmatic definitions; who says that this means this, and this means that? Moreover, definitions can be, to my mind obfuscating. For example, one may argue that the style of a text is ornate, urbane, colloquial, or plain. But, what does this mean? The student of stylistics would aim to unpack these terms through fine language analysis; that is, through consideration of lexis and syntax (understood in wider social context).

I hope this answer is satisfactory; I'm confident you are 'on the right lines'. Normally, other subscribers don't contribute to a discussion, but it may be interesting to hear other perspectives on this.


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