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How worried should I be?

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Of all the IB subjects I'll soon be taking (school starts in less than a week), it's French I'm most worried about. Though I've taken it for 7 years, I still can't speak the language (except for some basics) and can only barely understand the gist of a text after re-reading it several times. All my friends are even worse off than me (except for the students who took French immersion when they were younger) so I think it really has to do with the quality of French teaching in my region =/ Anyways how worried should I be about French IB? Do they expect me to be fluent in it? With my limited skills, what are the chances of me passing? Really anything you can tell me about the French IB course would be greatly appreciated...

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Yeah you should be very worried. It's all right if you can't understand the texts sometimes, they are obscure, but you should be able to speak it at the very least. Since that is a component of your final grade. However, if you are doing SL and cannot understand the texts fully, please get yourself a tutor.

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French B SL or HL? or A2?

If it's B then you don't have too much to worry about, but if you've taken it for seven years, you're probably taking A2. Did you actually take 7 years of French as a subject? Or have you just been exposed to it unofficially for that amount of time?

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Well at the end of IB, you should be able to hold a decent conversation in French even at B SL. Maybe try to get through the first semester and see how much/or not you've improved then think about it.

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A lot of people are in the same situation as you, because they level that French is taught at in many schools means that even after 9 or 10 years of study, you're not fluent. Most people have no chance outside the classroom to practice speaking French. But you do need to be able to hold up a conversation, and not just about your last holidays. Some SL topics that are covered are humanitarian things, environemntal protection and working life. You need to be able to explain yourself and give your opinions on arguments.

I suggest waiting one term to find out what exactly you need to work on (just conversation, or also reading and writing) and then getting a tutor if need be to work with you on those areas. You could borrow some French comic books like Asterix from the library and read those, since it may be easier for you to understand written French if it's accompanied by pictures.

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French B SL or HL? or A2?

If it's B then you don't have too much to worry about, but if you've taken it for seven years, you're probably taking A2. Did you actually take 7 years of French as a subject? Or have you just been exposed to it unofficially for that amount of time?

I'm in French SL. Sorry, but I don't know that much about IB - what's A2? I've never heard that term used at my school. And yes, it's been 7 years of French as a subject. I've moved around schools a lot so it probably doesn't help that the teaching for me hasn't been consistent and there seems to be a lot of overlap on the topics we cover instead of steady progression =[. I don't really know how much of a difference that's made though, since I'm actually better than all my friends at the school I'm currently at who have taken French at one or two schools....

I suggest waiting one term to find out what exactly you need to work on (just conversation, or also reading and writing) and then getting a tutor if need be to work with you on those areas. You could borrow some French comic books like Asterix from the library and read those, since it may be easier for you to understand written French if it's accompanied by pictures.

The comic book idea sounds like a really great suggestion.

If it's only French I get say, a 1/7 in, can I still get my diploma?

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If there is a chance you'll get 1/7 I suggest you try and change your language. Your best option would be to try and take an Ab initio language choice if you cannot speak any other language. I suggest you do this as soon as possible. If you are yet to start IB, then you still have this option, but just don't wait until it is too late. And yes, you will fail if you do this badly.

Another option, as previously stated, is getting a tutor and working on the areas where you need some help. Still, this can be time consuming, especially if you are really behind, and if you've taken difficult subjects, time will not be very available. For this reason, I suggest you learn a new language at Ab initio. Contact your school and see what other languages they offer at IB level. Hopefully, you'll find another choice.

Good Luck with your IB! :P

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I'd just like to point out my experience with Spanish. I took Spanish B SL. At the beginning of the first year of IB Spanish, I could conjugate in a couple of tenses. My vocab was meager. There was no way I could talk without a piece of paper in front of me unless it was like "Can I go to the bathroom?" or something. Reading... haha--see the comment about my vocab. The first year of IB Spanish, I covered a LOT of material. The second year was review of all of the rules plus at the end, it was specific preparation for the IB exam. I believe French is a harder language to learn as a second language than Spanish is, but I don't think you'll get a 1 or 2 in French B SL. I thought I would do terribly, but my grade seriously surprised me. Once you start learning the language for real, I suggest you use it outside of class with your friends or family. My brother was also in Spanish and I'd speak half English, half Spanish with him. There were some interesting conversations! You don't have to be fluent, in my opinion, to score well. I believe 70% of the IB grade is how well you can read, comprehend, analyze to a small extent, and write. The other 30% is speaking, which was my worst area, and I still scored a low 5 out of 7 on it. Good luck!

P.S. A2 is for people who are fluent in the language, but it's not their first language, as far as I know.

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A2 languages are similar to A1, which means that you write literary essays and analyse texts. Don't worry about it, because you're doing B.

And in order to score a 1 out 7 in French, you would have to be a complete idiot. The grade boundaries for a 1 would probably be 0-8 marks out of 60 (or soemthing similar), and very few students do that badly (According to IB statsitics). And even if you did get a 1 in French, you could still get your diploma provided you got lots of points in other subjects.

I thought about suggesting learning French as an ab initio language as well, or taking some other ab initio language. But you live in Canada, and very few students here on IBS attend schools where they offer any ab initio languages, or where French isn't compulsory. If you do attend a school where this is offered and can change language, it may be easier for you.

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I am currently in my third term of French B SL, and I think you will be fine if you can put some effort in!

The rate at which everyone is forced to learn makes prior knowledge fairly insignificant (unless you have little to no french knowledge at all), so if you apply yourself you will be able to pick it up with no problem.

I definitely dont think you will fail if you try, and like it has been said.. you have to be a real idiot to get a 1 :/ B SL doesn't expect you to be fluent, but you do need a fairly substantial knowledge to be able to go well; I suggest just ploughing through it and taking every opportunity to improve your french.

If you are still worried however, maybe Ab Initio of another language is the way to go :P it will give you a fair shot at learning the language.

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But can she take French as ab initio if she's been around it so much and taken French classes, even if the quality of the classes suck?

Technically no. In reality, a lot of schools allow them to. Which is why mark boundaries are insanely high for languages, coupled with bad teaching, students with minimal knowledge can only get so far with self studying.

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Unless you're taking A2 and can't even read comics, you won't get an 1. It's rather hard to be that bad. But you're supposed to speak decently even at B-level and understand texts. The texts in P1 are usually extracts from novels, newpapers articles, interviews with famous people etc etc, and you should answer questions about them.

Find out if you're doing A2 or B, if you're doing A2, switch to B if possible, or take another language. And talk to your teacher, ask him/her how badly you're doing.

If you decide to go on, comics are really good ways to improve language (I love to read Donald Duck in German), or try to find some children books you read as young translated into French.

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No, I meant perhaps it would be better if Meh took an Ab initio for another language, therefore, she could start fresh! Perhaps Spanish ab initio or maybe another language???

Edited by Taigan
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No, I meant perhaps it would be better if Meh took an Ab initio for another language, therefore, she could start fresh! Perhaps Spanish ab initio or maybe another language???

Unfortunately my school does not offer ab initio - the IB program at my school is quite small and only offers a limited number of courses. I'd love to be taking something like Japanese ab initio because of my interest in Japanese culture, which would probably help me feel more motivated to absorb the language. I'm not particularly interested in French but since I have no other choice I suppose I'll just 'plough through it' as someone had suggested.

Thanks for all the input, I feel more confident now that at the end of these two years I Will stand a decent chance at passing :P But even if I end up doing poorly, at least I won't be at a disadvantage - probably more of an advantage - for being in the IB class because with my school we write both an IB final and a regular curriculum final (which should be easier) so we have a regular curriculum mark in addition to an IB one.

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I'm actually in a rather similar situation in Japanese B. I spoke to my teacher about it and she told me at the end of the two years I should be able to handle basic daily conversations fluently. She told me not to worry though- as long as I keep doing the exercises she gives me I will be fine. So I guess some of the things you can do are:

1. Read some French books/newspaper.

2. Make a vocab book and write down the unfamiliar words you encounter in it

I reckon you will be fine if you keep this up. I've been doing that for Japanese (but not as diligently as I should) and I find that I'm beginning to gain more understanding of the texts my teacher gives us.

Good luck!

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