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Final implementation of the new IB Diploma Programme specifications: May 2023 foreign language exams

It was back in 2018 when students starting the first year of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) were surprised by the new specifications released. Those specifications introduced some changes in the papers to be implemented for the first time in exams on May 2020, being the most important one the inclusion of a listening comprehension part in the paper 2 of either Language B or Ab initio.



But at that time no one could predict the development of a world pandemic that would totally change all the plans. Covid-19 has disrupted all sort of normal development of teaching and learning processes around the world. Still in May 2021 the new design of the exams for the IBDP is being affected.


In what refers to foreign languages, the newly incorporated listening comprehension part is not going to take place in May 2021 yet, neither for Language B nor Ab initio. In the new 2020 specifications the IB organization (finally) admitted that “the development of all language skills is essential” when learning a foreign language. But later, and given to the Covid-19 pandemic, it also stated that “though listening skills could still be meaningfully developed in virtual or blended settings, schools might not have been in a position to administer this new component for May 2021 safely and successfully”.


The consequence is that the students taking the May 2022 are the first ones to face the listening comprehension part in paper 2. Luckily, there is still time enough to get ready for it.


As for the official calendar published by the IB organization for May 2022, the IBDP exams will expand along three weeks like in recent years. Also as previously done, almost all subjects are scheduled in an afternoon and morning pattern on consecutive days. The reason for this is to minimise the impact of absence of a student on any given day, whilst maintaining continuity for candidates.


Specifically for Spanish B and Spanish Ab initio, the dates scheduled for May 2022 exams are as flows:


· Afternoon session on Monday 16th of May: Paper 1 of Written expression plus the Reading comprehension part of Paper 2, either for Spanish B Standard level and Higher level or Ab initio.


· Morning session on Tuesday 17th of May: Listening comprehension part of Paper 2, either for Spanish B Standard level and Higher level or Ab initio.


In order to facilitate students but also teachers to prepare the listening of Spanish B subject, we developed a post with a thoughtful analysis of the exam back in January 2020 that it is still updated. You can read it here. In this post we also provided useful tips to students and teachers as well as some resources where to get activities to practice and get ready for the exam.


In relation to the Ab initio listening part we have just posted a similar article (read it here) that will help you to know in depth the design of the paper. In case you are a student, it will allow you to face the exam with more confidence and possibilities to succeed. In case you are a teacher it will provide you some orientation where to find resources to practice and how to adapt listening activities to learn and practice along the course with your students.




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香港西班牙文化會 - The Spanish Cultural Association of Hong Kong

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