Monday, July 3, 2017

IB Spanish Standard Level (SL) versus Higher level (HL)

Every year after learning Spanish for 4-5 years when students are preparing for the GCSE exams the same questions always arise, should I take a language like Spanish as one of my HL subjects? Many students say things like “I heard that HL Biology is so hard” “maybe is better that I take HL Spanish since I am quite good at languages? but I am unsure how hard it is….”

So what are the main differences between HL and SL and how much extra effort will I need to put if I take HL? The simple answer would be: ONLY the reading paper makes the big difference.

For a more detailed answer here is the explanation step by step:
- The score is separated in the following way:

30 % Reading
25% Writing
25% Speaking
20 % Writing Assignment

So let’s go from bottom to top:

  1. The writing assignment in fact you do it at home, which means you can prepare it well and with the help of a tutor you can get an excellent grade, so this doesn’t make a difference between HL and SL.

  1. Speaking is internally assessed and it gets moderated. Speaking is always on the same topics like health + one more. If you prepare well enough the typical questions that your teacher will ask you and you know some fancy grammar structures and Spanish phrases HL or SL won’t make a big difference in the difficulty.

  1. Writing is slightly more difficult for HL not because the questions that you have to choose from are harder but because they expect to see more advance structures and you have an extra text type to write about. In this extra text you will be given a sentence in which you have to reason points that justify it and points that go against it, reaching a final conclusion at the end. So there is one more skill you need to practice for HL compared to SL but again if you have a Spanish tutor which is familiar with the exam syllabus that will not be a problem.

  1. The reading. This is what makes the real big difference! Reading for HL is substantially much harder for HL than SL because first one of the text is Spanish literature with old fashioned words where students always struggle and the overall questions are harder to answer. Nevertheless reading is usually the part of the exam where students that have a tutor perform the worst (is the slowest to improve) so you might aswell do HL because you will struggle anway for the SL reading!

Conclusion: you are more likely to get a 6 in HL Spanish than a 7 in SL Spanish if you have the help of a tutor and without putting that much effort. If you really need a 7 for your HL it will not be easy. If you just need a 6 for your SL Spanish and you have a good tutor you have nothing to worry but don’t forget that you will really need to try hard to achieve a 7! Finally remember is not only about learning Spanish but also about learning exam skills!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

5 simple tips to score high in IGCSE Spanish writing exam (CIE) with the new markscheme 2015

5 simple tips to score high in IGCSE Spanish writing exam (CIE) with the new mark scheme 2015 

CIE has decided to change its mark scheme this year. But how does this affect you?

First now there is no more directed writing in the reading paper, it has been moved to the writing. Now the Spanish writing paper is now separated into 3 parts. you MUST attempt do all parts:

Section 1 which consists on knowing some basic vocabulary identified by photos.
Section 2 is the directed writing (only 1 option).
Section 3 is the creative writing (3 options choose 1).

Tip N1: Always follow the tense required in the sub-category of the question.

One of the key points in writing is to know well your tenses. This doesn't mean you need to know most of the irregular actions in every tense. Just make sure that you remember to use regular actions ( most actions in Spanish are actually regular) and know how to conjugate them well.

For example exam question of 2009:
  1. Tu amigo/a español(a) te va a hacer una visita pronto. Escribes a tu amigo/a para darle información sobre tu familia y el lugar donde vives.
    Debes incluir:
    • detalles sobre tu familia ( PRESENT TENSE)
    • lo que piensas del lugar donde vives  (PRESENT TENSE)
    • los preparativos que has hecho para la visita de tu amigo/a (PRESENT PERFECT)
    • lo que haces en un fin de semana normal (PRESENT)
    • los planes que tienes para la visita.  (FUTURE)

Tip N3: Prepare a list of actions that would fit in most of the writings.

One key marking criteria is use of actions. Make a long list of adjectives on daily routine and hobbies and make sure to include most of them in your writing. Remember you will need 18 verbs well conjugated in your exam to get full marks!

Tip N4: Have a long list of adjectives available ready to use.

Adjectives make a text look more elaborate and many adjectives in Spanish are very close to English! So do not forget to include adjectives like normal, fantástico, perfecto, excelente, fenomenal etc.

Tip N5: Remember to include connectors and quantifiers.

Adjectives will help your text look more elaborate but don't forget to include expressions of quantity (un poco, bastante, tan, realmente, extremadamente) Ej: Mi casa es realmente grande y tan bonita.
Use linking words or connectors (Luego, después, más tarde, sin embargo, aunque, por eso etc).
You can include some comparatives and superlatives: Ej: Mi casa es más grande y bonita.

By David Cornado
Spanish Tutors Hong Kong

Learn Spanish, achieve top results in exams, learn about the Spanish culture

Learn Spanish, achieve top results in exams, learn about the Spanish culture

We have decided to open up a blog between all teachers from Spanish Tutors Hong Kong to share our views and experiences. The objective is to give advise and help our students. In this blog we will also share any information that we think any of our Spanish learners might find interesting. From here we would like to encourage our students to participate in the blog. We will post any blog entry as far as Spanish is involved. It can be about your recent trip to Spain or South America or your experience when you went to take that DELE exam that you were very nervous about.