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My English A1 teacher's words "ESL students can't score high at English A1"

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So I'm Korean living in Australia

It's been four years now, and I'm taking English A1 HL.

Yes, it is really challenging for me - but I had no other options thanks to my inflexible school.

So, what do you think about my English teacher's claim?

Every time I screw up my practice IOCs, she looks at me with her pity-filled eyes

and with her pitiful voice, she says "You know, ESL students can't achieve high in English A1 because it's just not possible. Even native speakers struggle." It penetrates my already broken heart T^T

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Ouch :( Yeah English A1 is sometimes difficult for native speakers, but not impossible if English isn't your first language. My teacher told me about one girl who was an ESL student but she worked hard and got a 6 which was a better grade than a lot of the native English speakers got at the time.

Your teacher is right that it will be harder for you to do well but it's definitely not impossible! Even if your teacher does sound discouraging you can still work hard and get a 6 XD Why is your school so strict that they won't let you take Korean A1? :S

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I think I would partially agree with your teacher. ESL students: students whose 2nd language is English. there might be 2 cases:

  1. English is not their 1st language but they moved to an English-speaking environment and is now used to both their native language AND English
  2. English is not their 1st language and they speak their native language more often than they speak English

In the first case, it's like this friend of mine who is pure Indonesian and is very fluent in Bahasa, but she goes to an International school ever since Primary so she can now speak both Bahasa and English fluently. she is doing English A1 (I'm not sure which level though) and she is doing really well.

In the second case, it's just like me myself. I speak Bahasa at home, my parents don't speak English. I did study English as a 2nd language in primary & middle schools but not as much as now in IB. I go to an international school for high school and I now need to speak English at school while still speaking Bahasa at home. TBH I still sometimes speak Bahasa at school because I am not that fluent in English, but I am quite confident in writing in English. I am now still taking English as a 2nd language (i.e. English B) and I am very sure that I won't survive in English A1. Even in Indonesian A1 I am already a bit struggling. How can I survive English A1 then?

There is a Korean in my class, but Korean A1 is not offered in my school and he doesn't dare self-studying it. Therefore he goes for IB certificate only, he doesn't take language A1. Same with my Japanese friend. There is even a Singaporean whose first language is English, taking English B with me. He said it's too hard so he dropped his language A1 and goes for English B. Another certificate student. So even a first speaker might not do well in language A1.

I'd say your teacher is being honest. However I believe she doesn't intend to hurt you. It's a justifiable quote. It doesn't mean you should stop trying though. Do your best and prove her wrong!

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Your teacher is right, but unless you and her are close, it's really not something that she should say to you as a teacher to a student.

Besides, the definition of "high" in this case would be a 6 or a 7, in that a 6 would be very difficult, and 7 essentially impossible, with the cutoffs being what they are for English. But a 5 would be a very comfortable placing for an ESL student who has had at least a few years of English and works very, very hard in the subject.

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I wouldn't say you can't score high in English A1, but it is going to be harder than you other subjects. For example, one of my friend is an exchange student from Macau doing the IB at our school. In all her other classes she gets 6s or 7s, but in English she gets a 4 and she working hard to get it up to a 5. The fact is you are going to have to try hard, but that does not make it impossible, just a bit more difficult than for others.

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Your teacher is right, but unless you and her are close, it's really not something that she should say to you as a teacher to a student.

Besides, the definition of "high" in this case would be a 6 or a 7, in that a 6 would be very difficult, and 7 essentially impossible, with the cutoffs being what they are for English. But a 5 would be a very comfortable placing for an ESL student who has had at least a few years of English and works very, very hard in the subject.

I'm on a 6 at the moment - but it's only because I sweat blood to do well in English. My aim is a 7 - do you really think it's impossible? T^T

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7 is top 2%; my school hasn't had a student receive a 7 in English for the past 3 years. My provincial mark is sitting at a 97% in the subject, and my teacher predicted me a 6.

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7 is top 2%; my school hasn't had a student receive a 7 in English for the past 3 years. My provincial mark is sitting at a 97% in the subject, and my teacher predicted me a 6.

Really? :-( Why is that so? If you're getting as high as 97%, you have a high chance that you'll get a 7!

Is it because of exams? If you're sitting on a 97% at school, and you're school's marking is spot on,

I don't see why your teacher only gave you a 6! Do you do bad in exams?

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My sister got 6 from HL English A1 and she only studied in an English speaking country for like half a year before IB (and only studied English as a second language before), so I don't think it's that difficult. Does your teacher speak English as a second language? How would she know? I mean sure, it is a disadvantage, but only a little one and it definitely doesn't mean that you are always going to score lower than native speakers. Perhaps your teacher gives more importance to "use of language" than she should? Most IB English students are from international schools and examiners are probably used to seeing non-perfect English.

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The thing about english A1 - is its subjectivity. Usually, it really depends who is marking your test, because IB english A1 has no multiple choice, unlike SATs or other standardized and provincial/state-wide/AP exams.

MCs are simply subjective on the other side of testing: to the student. In English, a "best answer" is not always the 'best answer".

I don't think subjectivity is an issue to be honest. The IB rubrics are detailed and not very vulnerable to the opinions of a marker. The real issue is still the subject's mark band cutoffs, with that slim window for a 7.

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On the one hand, yes, ESL students may struggle with English A1 since it is aimed at students who speak English at a level that is close to native. If you think about it, the exams are very time-limited, to construct the quality of work that is expected at a level 6 or 7 you do have to think fast and work fast in English, both in the written exam and in your IOC. If an ESL student doesn't do as well here, it's not because they don't know the literature or they don't have the idea, it's more that they take longer to express them.

But on the other hand, plenty of native speakers will struggle with A1 as well, mostly because A1 exam questions are so broad (since they can't control what you read, so questions have to be broad enough to be applicable to most works) so you might just end up misunderstanding the question or rambling about things that are irrelevant.

I really think and it's been proven that English A1 is one of the most challenging subjects and to get a 7 is very very hard, probably mainly because there's so many people taking it that it does raise the bar a lot. You get marked against a very big group of candidates with a wide variety of ability, yet at the same time the so-called quality is not so black and white as Math. So yes, there is a subjectivity to marking English A1. It's subjective in the sense that the mark scheme says you must mention points A, B and C, but you must also back those points up to convince the examiner you have achieved in proving A, B and C. It's in the proof, so to speak, that lies the subjectivity.

Is it because of exams? If you're sitting on a 97% at school, and you're school's marking is spot on,

I don't see why your teacher only gave you a 6! Do you do bad in exams?

School's mark may be very different from IB's marking system and mark boundaries.

I think your teacher might have said that to you so that you don't get overly disappointed in the end but I don't think it's the right time to say it. The only thing this does is makes you lose confidence which isn't going to help anyone. The teacher could have told you that as an ESL students you will have to try a lot harder, but not outright tell you you won't get a good mark.

And to be honest, getting good marks in class all the way through makes you a little fearless when the exam comes and that's not a good thing. The disappointment of getting a 5 when you've been expecting at leats a 6, if not 7 is not pleasant. Trust me.

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So I'm Korean living in Australia

It's been four years now, and I'm taking English A1 HL.

Yes, it is really challenging for me - but I had no other options thanks to my inflexible school.

So, what do you think about my English teacher's claim?

Every time I screw up my practice IOCs, she looks at me with her pity-filled eyes

and with her pitiful voice, she says "You know, ESL students can't achieve high in English

A1 because it's just not possible. Even native speakers struggle." It penetrates my already broken heart T^T

It appears that your teacher is very pessimistic and is making very biased claims.

If you wish to prove your teacher wrong, show us some of your commentaries and we

shall provide you with the assistance you need, fellow South Korean :hug:

Now returning to what your teacher has claims, it is valid to a certain degree.

English A1 requires the ability to perceive texts and express your thoughts with valid

evidence during a given time-frame.

Do not worry! There is hope, Voyanta.

Rather than studying hard as the others have suggest, I think that you should

practise writing commentaries in order to present a well-done IOC.

And though, because my response is quite late, the IOC's may be done, the commentaries you write,

can be given to us and we will criticise your work for you.

When writing or orally presenting a commentary, remember these rules:

1. What is the text about?

2. What is the author trying to present or express to the reader?

3. How is it achieved? (ex-use of irony, the effect of imagery, etc)

4a. What effect does this have on the reader/characters within the text?

I'll pm you a prose commentary, which can easily be turned into an oral commentary

after I'm done with WL1 with the text it is based on so that can actually see what

a 7 looks like.

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Dont listen to your teacher's comment. I know people who learned english for 4 to 5 years and got a 6 and 7 in english A1. Anything is possible, as long as your commited and do the work

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