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Hey!

I was looking for tips for the IOC (internal oral commentary) because we are going to do ours in a few weeks ( :urgh:) and I realized there are no threads with advice for it! I was wondering if someone could give me some tips on how to structure the IOC, and how much time I should aim to spend talking about the stylistic and literary devices in the 40-line passage itself.

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Woops, no wonder it sounded funny :D Yeah I was just wondering because its for an A1 language and not language and literature (courses are different, so I thought there would be some difference on the IOC too). Thanks!

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Hi Erasmusrasmus,

It's funny how tips and advice tend to go out the window when the actual event comes around. The mind goes blank and ideas seem ... to be few and far between. The clock is ticking. I am not the only one that felt like that and few of us in the class felt were really prepared, despite all the really good advice. We all felt we could have done so much better.

There is long-range advice, which you've got (read the books, study the key passages -if you can find them-- etc) all good .... and then there is advice for the short range. The short-range advice is this:

For the IOC, there is nothing quite like practice under pressure, twice a week, two months before the exam-- at the latest. You can do that with your classmates - or ask your teacher to do this. Do it with a timer and recreate the conditions as closely as possible; you actually have to FEEL what it is like to be under pressure with a passage that you maybe seeing for the first time. With this intensive practice, you will be able to take the exam day in stride, with little panic, and therefore produce the semblance of a coherent and well-structured response.

Have your teacher sit in on at least one or two of your practice sessions so that you get some precise feedback. Otherwise, it might be hard to know if you doing it right or not.

Edited by Blackcurrant
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Yeah, like they say, practice makes perfect :D. I've drawn up a little schedule for my IOC practices also ^^ I'm also really glad our teacher agreed to let us have a mock IOC with the same conditions as the real one (obviously the passages used in the mock won't be in the final one) as that should take some stress off the final one. Thanks for your advice!

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If my memory doesn't fail me, the whole IOC should take about 15 minutes with you talking for around 10 minutes and the rest being a discussion with your teacher based on the given text. There are many aspects to this which you should try and combine to form a coherent and nicely flowing commentary.

You should put the passage into context. For example if it is a passage from a play you have studied, you should explain its role in the overall play, its significance and how it is affected by previous events and how it influences the later events.

When it comes to talking about stylistic and literary devices, there is not set rule to how much time you should spend on this. One very important thing here is: "DO NOT MERELY IDENTIFY STYLISTIC DEVICES, EXPLAIN THEIR EFFECTS." Explain what effects they have and what's their purpose. In fact talking about these could be weaved into your entire commentary rather than being talked about as a separate thing. For example, you could be talking about a metaphor in a poem while relating it to the tone by talking about how it sets the tone of the poem or to imagery by showing the imagery it creates and perhaps how that could be related to one of the themes of the poem.

Remember that you don't have to identify each and every literary device and talk about it (your time is too limited and you have other important things to talk about too.) Identify and talk about some of the significant literary devices, the ones that have an impact on the text and which can be related to other aspects such as themes, tone, persona, characterization & setting (in the case of a play or novel).

Besides these, you should also talk about the themes which are evident in the text. In the case of a play or novel, you should talk about the themes which make themselves evident in the passage and how could these be related to the text as a whole.

Also talk about the tone, mood, atmosphere or the narrator's voice (in case of a novel) and how these are created through the literary devices, the choice of words (diction) and probably how they could be related to the theme or other aspects of the text as a whole.

In case of novels and plays you could also talk about characterization and the relationship between characters and how that is developed by the writer throughout the passage. You could also talk about the setting and how that is related to other areas such as theme. For example, a night setting with rain and lightening in a play could symbolize an ill omen and perhaps relate to a particular theme such as "Omens".

I think your teacher should provide you with a list of aspects which you should include in your analysis. Remember on thing: there are things called assessment criteria. Look at the assessment criteria for the IOC and try and understand what you have to do to get the highest score on each one. For criterion A you should demonstrate a good understanding of the text which comes through as you give your commentary and relate different aspects such as theme, setting, putting the passage in context etc.

You need to also be careful with your language. Make sure you use proper English and not make too many grammatical errors.

Organization (criterion C) is also important. The way to achieve this is to weave the different aspects which you are analyzing into your commentary. For example don't ever organize your commentary as follows; "I am going to start the commentary with setting the passage in context... bla...bla...bla... Now I am going to talk about the themes.. bla bla bla.....Now I will talk about literary devices...bla bla bla.... Now about characters........ now setting.... bla bla." This partitioning of the commentary will not score very highly. The different aspects such as theme, diction, literary devices etc are inter-related and hence should somehow be connected together to create some flow to your commentary. Moreover, this way you will find yourself repeating some points --which wastes precious time-- since when you talk about literary devices you could also talk about their effects on settting and then when you talk about the setting again, you will be repeating some of the points from what you previously said. (I hope you get my point). So try and connect things together to give your commentary the flow that will impress the examiner and keep them interested. (And by I hope by reading the post you should have understood how to create that flow).

And again practice makes perfect. So practice doing the commentary with random passages from the texts you are studying. Time yourself and even record your voice. Then play the recording and try to judge yourself with the assessment criteria and see where you were wrong and where you could improve yourself. Also try and get to know the texts which you are doing, read them thoroughly and try to analyse them so that you are quite familiar with them-- that helps with your understanding of the text.

With all that said, I hope you will find my post useful and BEST OF LUCK WITH THE IOC!

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Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your tips will definitively help me a lot ^^. Right now I think the most difficult thing would be the flow, but like you and Blackcurrant said that should come with practice (and with the help of your tips!).

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