Spanish Ab Initio Written Assignment Criteria Meaning

What you will learn

You will learn some useful language and tips to write your written assignment. Please refer to the language ab initio syllabus for specific details and requirements. Also become VERY FAMILIAR with the marking criteria for the written assignment, found from pp. 33-39 in the ab initio 2015 syllabus, and use it as a checklist. It is also a good idea to read the 2014 subject Report  and Subject Report 2015 relating to the WA’s submitted in previous years.

Remember, the use of linking words is essential in your essay to gain full marks in each section.

What you need to know

Word limit

There is a very strict 200-350 word limit. However, direct quotes are not part of the word count, consequently take advantage of quotes to get some of your ideas across so as to avoid going over the word limit. But do not force quotes – make sure they are justified and that they flow with the rest of the paragraph.

Sources

You need 2-4 sources in the target language – additional sources in any language are optional. You must submit the sources in the target language with your assignment and all sources in all languages but be included in the bibliography.

Choosing your topic.

A good starting point is a source that explains some features of Italian culture. Of course, culture by definition is a big generalisation, and not everything you discover will apply to all Italians, particularly when the topic is about habits (eg. coffee drinking), behaviours (eg. “fare bella figura”) and attitudes (eg. views on immigrants), as opposed to more defined topics, such as school systems, governments. etc.

Some resources to get you started:

Here are some examples suggested by the IBO for all languages. The advice is to narrow down your topic and choose something specific, rather than a broad topic, for your comparison.

Personal details, appearance and character
Japanese ab initio: Why do Japanese students wear a school uniform whereas Italian students do not?
Daily routines
Italian ab initio: Why is la passeggiata an important part of daily life in Italy?
Physical health
Mandarin ab initio: Why are early morning exercises considered essential in China?
Relationships
French ab initio: The role of women—a French family and an American family
Food and drink
German ab initio: Food and drink festivals in Germany and New Zealand
Shopping
Malay ab initio: Shopping at the market in Malaysia and Canada
Employment
Indonesian ab initio: Young people and part-time employment in Indonesia and Scotland
Entertainment
Russian ab initio: Young people’s attitudes towards alcohol and smoking in Russia and Egypt
Holidays
Spanish ab initio: How is Easter celebrated in Barcelona compared to my community in Melbourne?
Education
Swahili ab initio: The ideal school day—the secondary school education systems of Kenya and Switzerland
Transport
Arabic ab initio: Finding sustainable methods of transport in Jordan and Greece
Town and services
English ab initio:The greenest way of getting around a capital city—London versus Paris

Some good ones from previous MLC Italian students compare the following cultural aspects in Italy and Australia: coffee – soccer – bread – weddings – exercise – opera – alcohol -tourism

Section A:  A description of the chosen topic

In this section you simply describe your chosen topic with factual information. Imagine you are explaining this concept to someone who knows nothing about the Italian culture.

To introduce your topic, you may use the following sentences:

  • L’argomento che trattero` in questa tesina e` la moda.
  • L’argomento di questa tesina e` la moda.

Depending on the topic, you may wish to use some “authoritative phrases” such as “secondo gli esperti”, “da una recente indagine risulta che” etc, which can be found in the topic of healthy habits. You may also choose to use some quotes from one of your Italian sources in this section (but remember that direct quotes are NOT counted in the word limit). Ensure that the use of your quotes are justified – for example, that you are quoting to add authority to your statement – and that your quotes are introduced by sentences such as “Come spiega il professor Rissi, “.

Common mistakes:

  • In this section, students tend to throw in quotes unnecessarily and without a proper introductory phrase.
  • Students tend to go into “sub-topics” and expand on these, rather than simply stating 3 or 4 FACTS about the topic
  • Students tend to start comparing or mentioning Australia – section A is only about your topic in relation to ITALY.
  • Students already begin to explain why this tradition exists instead of explaining it in section C

To get 2/2 for this section ensure that “more than two pieces of relevant factual information about the target culture is used in the description“. To be safe, mention at least 3 or 4!!

Section B: Comparing the topic in the two cultures

In this section you have to compare the differences and/or similarities between the chosen topic in Italian culture and Australian culture. Again, imagine you are explaining this to someone who is not familiar with either culture – indeed, it is highly unlikely for the marker to know anything about Australian culture. For example, if your topic was the school day, you would mention what the Australian school day has in common with the Italian school day (eg. early start, recess break, rotating lessons) and what instead is quite different (eg. students stay in the same classroom all day, with teachers moving from one room to another; school finished at lunchtime in Italy but at 3 ish here, Italian students go home for lunch, etc).

Basically, tell me about your topic in Australia VIA the four points you expressed in section A.

A common mistake for section B is a lack of cohesion  – the marker comments that it sounds like “lista della spesa”. Ensure all the ideas in this paragraph flow well via use of linking words and by finding a logic thread to connect your points.

To get 3/3 in this section, ensure “cultural differences and/or similarities are consistently presented in a clear and coherent manner“. This means that your ideas have to flow well and follow an obvious strong logical thread.

Useful language

strutturaesempiotraduzione
La differenza fondamentale tra + topic+ in Italia e in Australia e’ + noun
La differenza fondamentale tra il cibo in Italia e in Australia e` la qualita`The main difference between food in Italy and in Australia is quality
Un’altra differenzae` chein Australia …. + verb clauseUn’altra differenza  e` che in Australia il lavoro si trova facilmenteanother difference is that in Australia work can be found easily
Un’altra differenzae` che gli Australiani …. + loro verb
Un’altra differenza e` che gli Australiani bevono il cappuccino anche dopo pranzo e cenaAnother difference is that Australians drink cappuccino even after lunch and dinner
A differenza dell’Italia, in Australia + si impersonale verb OR A differenza degli Italiani, gli Australiani + loro verbA differenza dell’Italia, in Australia non si mangia molto a cena OR A differenza degli Italiani, gli Australiani non mangiano molto a cenaUnlike Italy, in Australia one doesn’t eat much at dinner
Unlike Italians, Australians don’t eat much at dinner
topic + come quello/a/i/e australiano/a/i/e, e`/sono+ adjectiveLe strade australiane, come quelle italiane, sono molto trafficateAustralian roads, like Italian ones, are full of traffic
Rispetto + aIl rugby in Australia e` molto più popolare rispetto all’ItaliaRugby in Australia is more popular compared to Italy
State fact from Italy. In Australia, invece, + differenceLe chiese in Italia sono quasi esclusivamente cattoliche. In Australia, invece, abbiamo chiese di denominazioni cristiane diverse.Churches in Italy are almost all Catholic, In Australia, instead, we have churches from different Christian denominations.
noun + è più + adjectiveLa giornata scolastica in Australia è più lunga di quella italianaThe school day in Australia is longer than that in Italy
noun + è meno+ adjectiveIl traffico in Australia è meno intenso nei centriTraffic in Australia is less heavy in the city centres
Sia in Italia che in Australia ….Sia in Italia che in Australia ci sono animali in pericolo di estinzioneBoth in Italy and in Australia there are animals in danger of extinction
Anche in Australia (come in Italia )….Anche in Australia la giornata scolastica inizia verso le ottoEven Australia the school day begins at around 8 o’clock
Neanche in Australia …Neanche in Australia è proibita la cacciaHunting isn’t prohibited in Australia either.

Use of verbs in your sentence

Typically, your sentence structure will be as follows:

  • Introductory phrase + gli Italiani/gli Australiani+ loro form of the present tense
    Eg. Una differenza fondamentale e` che gli Australiani mangiano la pizza alta
  • OR
  • Introductory phrase + in Italia/Australia+ si impersonale verb

For the si impersonale verb, all you need to do is put a SI before the lui/lei form of the verb in the present tense.

Eg. MANGIARE= si mangia; LAVORARE=si lavora

However, if the verb is followed by a PLURAL noun, then place use the loro form of the present tense instead.

Eg.

1. Un’altra differenza è che in Australia si mangia la pizza

2. Un’altra differenza è che in Australia si mangiano le pizze

3. Un’altra differenza è che in Australia si mangiano la pizza e la pasta (note: two single nouns “add up” to a plural, so if you are using more than one noun immediately after the si impersonale verb, you must use the LORO form of the verb in the present tense).

Section C: A reflection related to the chosen topic

In this section you must answer these 3 guiding questions, which are each marked separately: Which aspect of your chosen topic surprised you? Why do you think these cultural similarities/ differences exist? What might a person from the target culture find different about your chosen topic in your culture?

You need to write your questions as subtitles. I suggest writing the first two questions together, and answering both in one cohesive and coherent response (see examples below).

Pay careful attention to the marking criteria for each question. Criterion C is where most students lose a mark or two.

Criterion C: Which aspect of your chosen topic surprised you?

To gain 3/3, ensure “a relevant aspect of the chosen topic has been identified and fully developed* in answer to the question“. I suggest mentioning TWO aspects that surprised you.

* The most common criticism by markers for Criterion C is that the student has simply stated a “mere fact” without expanding and developing the fact. For example, this was awarded 1/3:

Here is an example of an answer that got 2/3, with the answer considered “incompleto”:

Here are two examples that got full marks as, according to the marker, the points were “ben sviluppati” – well developed:

The marking, unfortunately, is inconsistent. Looking at these marked assignments, It’s hard to understand what the markers expect and how to get 3/3. The only thing that appears different is that candidates who got full marks mentioned Australia again in this section (“in Australia”, “quello australiano”). The only advice I can give is to mention TWO things that surprised you, AND to find a way to expand on it (by referring back to Australia or perhaps explaining why it surprised you) before you start to answer the second question below.

Criterion D: Why do you think these cultural similarities/ differences exist?

To gain 3/3, ensure “at least one reason whey these cultural differences and similarities exist has been identified and fully explained“.

Criterion E: What might a person from the target culture find different about your chosen topic in your culture?

To gain 3/3, ensure “at least one difference has been identified and fully developed in answer to the question“.

Common mistakes for Question 3:

  • students tend to use the same point for Q.3 as they did in Q.1 or Q.2. Eg. “I was surprised to discover that Italians don’t wear a uniform. An Italian would find quite different the fact that in Australia uniforms are compulsory”

In summary, I suggest the following format:

Section C: Reflection

Which aspect of your chosen topic surprised you? Why do you think these cultural similarities/ differences exist?

1.first thing that surprised you + why + reason for this difference.

2. second thing that surprised you + why + reason for this difference.

What might a person from the target culture find different about your chosen topic in your culture?

3. what would surprise an Italian + why + reason for this difference

(and, if it fits in your word limit….) 4. another thing that would surprise and Italian + why + reason for this difference

Useful Language

Guiding question 1: Which aspect of the chosen topic surprised you?

La cosa che più mi ha colpito è cheLa cosa che più mi ha colpito è il fatto che in Italia si va a scuola il sabatoWhat surprised me the most is that fact that in Italy you you go to school on Saturdays
Mi ha sorpreso scoprire che Mi ha sorpreso scoprire che in Italia il cappuccino si beve solo al mattinoIt was surprising to discover that in Italy you only have a cappuccino in the morning
Sono stata colpita dal fatto che Sono stata colpita dal fatto che il traffico in Italia è il peggiore d’EuropaI was surprised by the fact that traffic in Italy is the worst of all Europe
Trovo sorprendente che (+ subjunctive verb)Trovo sorprendente che ci sia (subjunctive verb) razzismo tra il Nord e il Sud d’ItaliaI find surprising that there is racism between the North and South of Italy
Mi ha stupito il fatto che (+ subjunctive verb)Mi ha stupita il fatto che in Italia si possano (subjunctive verb) bere alcolici a 16 anniI was surprised by that fact that in Italy you can drink alcohol at 16

Guiding question 2: Why do you think these cultural similarities/differences exist?

E` possibile che questa differenza sia dovuta a+ noun
è  possibile che questa differenza sia dovuta all’importanza dei pasti in Italia.It’s possible that this difference is due to the importance of meals in Italy
Credo che la ragione di questa differenza sia il fatto che…
Credo che la ragione di questa differenza sia il fatto che in Italia questo è un problema recente.I believe that the reason for this difference is the fact that in Italy this is a recent problem
Secondo me, il motivo di questa somiglianza è il fatto che…
Secondo me, il motivo di questa somiglianza è il fatto che sia gli italiani che gli australiani sono appassionati di sportIn my opinion, the reason for this similarity is the fact that both Italians and Australians love sport
Probabilmente questa differenza è dovuta a + noun
Probabilmente questa differenza e` dovuta alla storia: l’Australia e` un paese molto giovaneThis difference is probably due to history: Australia is a very young country…

Guiding question 3: What might a person from Italy find different about your chosen topic in Australia?

Un italiano troverebbe strano che in Australia + noi form of verb + info
Un italiano troverebbe strano che in Australia mangiamo uova e bacon a colazione An Italian person would think that it is strange that Australians eat egg and bacon in the morning
Gli Italiani troverebbero insolita l’usanza di + infinitiveGli Italiani troverebbero insolita l’usanza di mangiare uova e bacon a colazione Italians would find the tradition of eating bacon and eggs for breakfast
Probabilmente, gli Italiani considererebbero alquanto atipico il fatto che in Australia + si impersonale verb OR noi form of verb
Probabilmente, gli Italiani considererebbero alquanto atipico che in Australia mangiamo uova e bacon a colazione Perhaps Italians would find it quite odd that in Australia we eat bacon and egg in the morning

Bibliography & Formal Requirements

Remember to include a bibliography following the guidelines in the syllabus:

Bibliography and register combined are worth two marks. You can check good examples of a bibliography in the student samples below. Please note that I have not included a copy of their sources, which you will have to submit with your WA.

Sample Written Assignments

Here are two WA’s from 2015 which gained full marks. Thank you to Luci and Sabrina for sharing their assignments to help us better understand the expectations of the markers.

Luci WA ; Sabrina’s WA

Here are some  other Written assignment samples that I wrote with a class in 2013- they are not perfect examples (especially for word limit) and the information is NOT based on real research. But you may find some concepts, vocab, phrases and structures useful.

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“They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication.”
Nature of the subject:

Group 2 consists of modern languages which can be studied at different levels depending on the level of proficiency of the student in that language.  Modern languages are studied through the four primary language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) to ensure that the student can communicate spontaneously, appropriately and effectively in the target language in both familiar and unfamiliar circumstances.  This level of competence is achieved through an understanding of three interrelated areas which form the basis of the assessment criteria: using the language accurately in terms of grammar and vocabulary, selecting language appropriate to a particular cultural and social context and understanding how ideas are organized for appropriate communication. This process encourages the learner to go beyond the confines of the classroom, expanding an awareness of the world and fostering respect for cultural diversity.

Language B (Intermediate / Advanced Intermediate)

In 2015, three Language B programmes are on offer: Hindi B, Spanish B and French B. All follow the same syllabus guidelines.

In this course Language B students will focus mainly on language acquisition and the development of the linguistic skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, up to a fairly sophisticated level.

The course
Language B students will learn basic language structures and use these in a range of situations and purposes which can include work situations, social relationships and the discussion of abstract ideas.  They will also explore the culture using a variety of texts in the language."



Levels available 
Higher and Standard Levels are available.

Previous knowledge
The Language B course is designed for second language learners with some previous experience, 4 to 5 years for HL and 3 to 5 years for SL, of learning the language.  As a result a Language B student should have a good knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, and be fairly fluent in conversation. 

Language Ab Initio (Beginners) 
In 2015, two Language ab Initio programmes are on offer: Spanish ab Initio and French ab Initio. Both follow the same syllabus guidelines.

The course
The language ab initio course is organized into three themes.

  • Individual and society
  • Leisure and work
  • Urban and Rural environment

Each theme has a list of topics that provide the students with opportunities to practise and explore the language as well as to develop intercultural understanding. Through the development of receptive, productive and interactive skills, students should be able to respond and interact appropriately in a defined range of everyday situations. The course aims to develop a good command of the grammatical structures of the language, a variety of linguistic skills and a basic awareness of the culture associated with the language. 

Levels available 
Only Standard Level is available.

Previous knowledge
None required as this is for the beginner who has little or no previous experience of the language. Candidates should not have undertaken any formal examination in the language previously.
All final decisions on the appropriateness of the course for which students are entered are taken by the Coordinators in liaison with teachers using their experience and professional judgment to guide them.

Assessment in Group 2
Language B HL
Assessment componentWeighting
External assessment70%

Paper 1 (1 hour 30 minutes): Receptive skills (60 marks)
Text-handling exercises on five written texts, based on the core.

25%
 

Paper 2 (1 hour 30 minutes): Written productive skills (45 marks)
Two compulsory writing exercises
Section A :250-400 words  (based on options topics) (25 marks)
Section B :150-250 words(based on core topics) (20 marks)

25%

Written assignment: Receptive and written productive skills
Creative writing of 500-600 words plus a 150 - 250 word rationale, based on one of the literary texts read.

20%

Internal assessment

30%

Individual oral (8-10 minutes) (20 marks)

20%

Interactive oral activity (10 marks)

10%

Language B SL
Assessment componentWeighting
External assessment70%

Paper 1 (1 hour 30 minutes): Receptive skills (45 marks)
Text-handling exercises on four written texts, based on the core.

25%
 

Paper 2 (1 hour 30 minutes): Written productive skills (25 marks)

One writing task of 250-400 words from a choice of five based on the options.

25%
 

Written assignment: Receptive and written productive skills (24 marks)

20%
Language Ab Initio
Assessment componentWeighting

External assessment

75%

Paper 1 (1 hour 30 minutes): Receptive skills 
Understanding of four written texts. (40 marks) Text-handling exercises.

30%

Paper 2 (1 hour): Productive skills 
Two compulsory writing exercises. (25 marks)
Section A (7 marks): One question to be answered from a choice of two.
Section B (18 marks): One question to be answered from a choice of three.

25%

Written assignment (2 hours): Receptive and productive skills 
A piece of writing, 200–350 words, in the target language carried out in a candidate’s own time with guidance from the teacher (20 marks)

20%
Internal assessment 25%

Individual oral (25 marks)

25%

Three-part oral internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IB towards the end of the course.

  • Part 1: Presentation of a visual stimulus (from a choice of two) by the student
  • Part 2: Follow-up questions on the visual stimulus
  • Part 3: General conversation including at least two questions on the written assignment.
 

Career links – university courses
Political Sciences, Advertising/Marketing, Public Relations, Journalism, Newspaper/Magazine editors, Publishing, Lecturer, Teaching, Media, Interpreter/Translator, Librarian, PR officer, Writer, a Literature or related course

For details on the IBDP: ibo.org/diploma/curriculum/

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