FOA Samples

In order to prepare for the further oral activities, you will want to listen to work from previous students. The following samples include both good and poor practice, along with teacher's comments on the sample performances. Try assessing the activities using the assessment criteria for the further oral activity. Compare your marks to the teacher's. How were they different or similar? 

How to Use Sample Work
This section contains several sample Individual Oral Commentaries of former students. You may want to look at sample work for several different reasons, depending on who you are and what your aims are. Teachers may want to practice assessing students, comparing the grades that they would have given with the grades that we have given. Students may want to look at the sample work to learn from example. Either way we recommend you approach these sample works as an 'information gap' exercise, that is to say by making educated guesses before looking at the results. This can be done best by following these steps:
Step 1
Read the passage that has been provided for each Individual Oral Commentary before listening to the student's response. In fact, you can already make guesses about what you think the student will say in his or her commentary before listening to the commentary. 
Step 2
Listen to the recording of the commentary. As you listen check to see if the student has included all of the ideas that you would have included. Naturally, if you are not familiar with the work, the student will have different and perhaps better insights into the text. This does not always have to be a handicap though. As a stranger to the text, you may see things in the passage that the student is blind to. 
Step 3
Assess the student's work using the grading criteria from the IB. For each criteria, discuss what grade you would give the student together with fellow classmates or colleagues. Do not click on the [show] button, which discloses the teacher's grades and comments, until you feel you are confident about your grade.
Step 4
Look at the teacher's assessment and comments and compare them to your own. Were you close? Do you agree or disagree with the teacher's comments? Perhaps you would like to post a comment to the sample work stating your opinion. Look at more sample works from this section to gain a sense of how lenient or strict teachers can be. All in all, this information gap exercise should be a learning experience. 
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Comments 12

Mary Davenport 29 August 2017 - 14:19

Hi all, do you find using these samples in class is beneficial, why or why not? Thank you!

elizabeth smith 17 September 2017 - 15:15

Hello Tim
Do you have any exemplar reflective statements or proformas I could look at to help guide my students. This is the first time I have taught the IB and wondered if there are any templates out there?



Tim Pruzinsky 18 September 2017 - 03:08

Hi Elizabeth,

We don't and the IB doesn't have one either. The IB doesn't actually collect them and only vaguely mention that they should be done. I wouldn't worry about "exemplar" reflections and instead I tend to have the students reflect on the topic + their own FOA while also setting targets for the future.


elizabeth smith 18 September 2017 - 11:10

Thank you so much.



Joanne Craig 12 October 2017 - 08:36

Hi Tim,

I have a student who would like to do an FOA on Tintin in the Congo, the focus would be on language and taboo. However, this is a text in translation. Can this be used in an FOA on Part 1?

Many thanks

Tim Pruzinsky 12 October 2017 - 08:54

Hi Joanne,

This is such a tough one! Technically, the IB doesn't want FOAs from texts in translation. They want students to be immersed in the culture of the language being studied (and the language of that place too).

On the other hand, they promote international mindedness and do allow for the study of short texts in translation in Part 1 and 2. Usually, I recommend no to this type of query. But I absolutely see the value in a FOA here. I'm torn. Run it through IB Answers and if they don't get back to you in time, I'd say go ahead in this case only.


Peter Thompson 1 November 2017 - 13:59

Hi Tim and David,

I hope you're both well.

Last week I had a student present an FOA on Language and Dialect and he spoke alot about Arabic. He gave examples of the way in which even though Arabic would still be seen as the same language, dialect of Arabic in different countries would vary greatly and would usually not be mutually comprehensible. It got to the heart of some of the classification problems with a Language and Dialect.

Should his FOA have been focussed on dialects of English language or do you think this Arabic focus would be ok? It certainly helped him to explore the LO for Part 1.

Thank you very much for your advice and best wishes,


Tim Pruzinsky 1 November 2017 - 23:33

Hi Peter,

It should focus on English as this is English Language and Literature. This would have been a fine topic for an Arabic Language and Literature class.

At this point, he's already presented his FOA and so there's not much you can do. For his second one, if he hasn't already done it, make sure the focus is on English language material.


Eric Kinderman 1 March 2018 - 09:56

My class has been doing Language and Taboo. Does anyone have any advice or samples having to do with this topic?

David McIntyre 1 March 2018 - 10:30

Hi Eric,

Taboo can refer to a number of things. If you take something like 'swearing', it is about contentious or offensive language use. Some may say that the degree to which swearing is socially acceptable is context dependent; in a Glasgow pub it may be acceptable (and possibly expected!), whilst in the classroom it is generally considered inappropriate. Others may claim (for many possible reasons) that swearing is always unacceptable. Notice too that the nature of swearing changes over time and cross-culturally.

Why state the obvious?

Well, like with any FOA, it is likely to be better if a range of interpretations/perspectives inform a discussion (irrespective of the approach to the FOA). In other words, texts do not speak for themselves, meaning is not inherent, and meaning is not straightforwardly transmitted. Whilst this is true of any text, given the contention that surrounds taboo language, it should be easy to build in a multi-lens approach to the study of any text.

Kind regards,


Hunter Minks 28 March 2018 - 13:19

Hi Tim and David,

I just had a student do a decent breakdown of Ronald Reagan's 1987 "Tear Down This Wall" speech in Berlin. However, I later realized that he only addressed about the first quarter of the speech. Surely it's acceptable to look at specific sections of a text, especially if it's long, but how would you mark it if they didn't make it clear that's what they were doing? Would you take off of Criterion A since it's not showing an understanding of the text as a whole? Or just give the benefit of the doubt and assume he only intended to cover that section?

Similarity, another student looked at FDR's 1933 inaugural address, which is also quite long. He did a better job of addressing the text as a whole, but only cherry-picked sentences and phrases that he wanted to use to make points. I assume this is also acceptable, but obviously a lot is glazed over with this technique, which makes me question how to mark Criterion B. I think he showed a "good" understanding of "some" of the language used, but again, much was glazed over or outright skipped.

I guess the question is what's the best approach when the student wants to examine a very lengthily text.

Thanks as always for the insight and feedback,


Tim Pruzinsky 29 March 2018 - 00:52

Hi Hunter,

In your first example, I would give the benefit of the doubt. However, I would have a conversation with that student to make sure in future FOAs (if you still have one to go) and in future work, he needs to contextualize the work. Explain why and he should, hopefully, understand why that's important.

As for your second question, reward positively - give the marks for what the student did do and not what they didn't do or didn't cover. For example, he may have missed a metaphor that we both think it important in the speech. But in the FOA the student did a good job of showing an understanding of FDR's tone and the effect on the audience - and that was part of his purpose in his FOA. Reward as such instead of penalizing for missing the metaphor.

As for covering lengthy texts, I like the first approach best, although I can understand the arguments for others ways of doing it. Contextualize it all, say you're only looking at one specific section and why, and then go for depth. That seems to me like a strong approach to the situation you are facing. And as always, do ask any follow-up questions if you have any!


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