When you are facing just what you can do to get those three marks for a good Reflective Statement for your Written Assignment, you best guide is the question that is asked in Criterion A. This is the central question the examiner will use to mark this part of the submission. And that question is: “To what extent does the student show how their understanding of cultural and contextual elements was developed through the interactive oral?”
So what you want to convey is that as a result of the Interactive Oral(s) you now have a better sense of this kind of information: (cultural and contextual):
Who wrote the work? What are important highlights of his or her life? Where and when did she or he live? What were significant elements of geography, local and world history, social, political, economic and religious factors that are important to the work?
Where does the work fit in the history of the genre: are we looking at the beginnings of tragedy in Greek drama, or the use of memoir to convey a life-changing experience as with Primo Levi’s work?
Additionally, you may need to develop your sense of the context and culture within the work: Patrick Suskind and Grenouille do not share the same context. What are the significant features of each?
One of the most successful strategies for getting these 3 (easy) marks is to choose 2 or 3 of the elements mentioned above and rather than just citing them, develop the material so it’s clear you understood these elements and their significance to the work. (Remember, this particular exercise is not focused on the literary work itself, but on the many things that surround and affect its composition).
Do also be aware that the word limit of 400 words is VERY STRICT; one word more than 400 will put you in the penalty box.
And to really nail those marks, you should convey that you are in a different place as to understanding the ‘soup’ in which the work was written –and possibly even received by audiences–than you were prior to the Interactive Orals.
You say you already knew all of the material you heard? If the Interactive Orals meet a demand for good and relevant research and delivery, that’s probably unlikely.
This lesson focuses on eight ways to invigorate your writing style. These tips will come in handy for all written activities that you do, from essay writing to creative writing. They help you meet the third aim of Group 1 courses in the IB Diploma, which states that students are to "develop powers of expression, both in oral and written communication."
In order to meet this objective, you will compare and contrast two letters of application. The second letter is an improvement on the first. Then you will find examples of these 8 tips in the improvements.
Eight ways to improve your writing
Read these following 8 tips on how to improve your writing and search for examples of them in the improved letter below.
8 ways to improve your writing
- Clauses at the beginning of a sentence: good idea, but avoid really long ones.
There is nothing more boring than a series of sentences that all start with the subject of the sentence:
Instead of: "I train dogs. The animal shelter hires me. I do this every weekend."
Try: "As part of my weekend job at the animal shelter, I train dogs."
While clauses at the beginnings of sentences are great, you can have too much of a good thing. Avoid really long clauses at the beginning of a sentence:
Instead o f: "Every day, as I walk to work and pass the kiosk, where they sell those delicious chocolate bars, I stop to buy one."
Try: "Every day on my way to work, I stop to buy one of those delicious chocolate bars that they sell at the kiosk."
- Avoid 'it' as the subject of a sentence.
Sentences that start with 'it' or dummy subjects, such as 'there is...' or 'there are...', are quite weak.
Instead of: "It is often the case that mobile phones end up on the lunch trays after the meal."
Try: "Mobile phones often end up on the lunch trays after the meal."
Sentences that start with 'there is..' or 'there are... often have a 'who' or 'which' that follow. These can be cleaned up as follows:
Instead of: "There is this guy at school who always annoys me."
Try: "This guy at school always annoys me."
- Use the right verb tense.
This may come more naturally for native speakers of English. Nevertheless, many people make mistakes in the verb tense that they use. Be sure to know when to use each tense, such as the present simple, the present perfect, etc.
Instead of: "I am attending this school since 2010."
Try: "I have attended this school since 2010" (the present perfect).
- Use (relative) clauses.
Using clauses in general is a good idea, as we saw in the first tip. Using relative clauses, which expand on ideas further (like this one), are also a good idea. Relative clauses make use of words such as 'which', 'who' and 'where'
Instead of: "I have a new job. I enjoy it a lot."
Try: "I have a new job, which I enjoy a lot."
- Watch out for wordy sentences.
It is good to read and reread your own work. Often times during self-evaluation, you see sentences that are not clear or 'run on'. Wordy sentences can be cleaned up with punctuation and parallel constructions (Tip 7).
Instead of: "If everyone in the building were to just clean up their own garbage and if they just sorted it properly then the recycle man wouldn't have to go through everything, then we wouldn't have to pay extra fees for this service."
Try: "If everyone in the building disposed of his or her own waste in the proper recycle bins, then we would not have extra expenses."
- Never start a sentence with 'But'.
Although you may see sentences that start with 'But' in other works, you should avoid starting sentences with it for academic purposes.
Instead of: "The character displays a lot of courage. But she fails to save the day."
Try: "Although the character displays a lot of courage, she fails to save the day."
- Use parallelisms.
Parallelisms are sentences or phrases that contain parallel syntactical structures. These usually contain lists of noun phrases or clauses with similar structure. For example: "I decided not to (1) use PowerPoint, (2) read notecards or (3) memorize a script." Notice how ideas 1-3 all contain a verb and an object. They all line up nicely in parallel.
Instead of: "I brushed the children's teeth and then I read a book to them. They climbed under the covers and I tucked them in."
Try: "I brushed the children's teeth, read them a book and tucked them in."
- Use active verbs.
In persuasive and academic writing and speaking, active verbs sound much stronger than passive verbs. Passive verb phrases use the verb 'to be' and the past participle of another verb. For example "The house was built by me." The active form of this phrase would be: "I built the house."
Instead of: "The novel has been criticized by feminists."
Try: "Feminists have criticized the novel"
Compare and contrast letters
Here are two letters of application. The second letter is a corrected version of the first. Look at the teacher's underlined corrections and comment on how the sentenced have been improved. The underlined phrases and words relate to the 8 tips that you have just studied. Explain how each of the 8 tips are done well in the 'corrected letter' and poorly in the 'original letter'.
Compare and contrast two letters of application
|Tip||from the poor letter||from the corrected letter|
|Don’t have too many clauses at the beginning of a sentence.|
Over the past six years, each morning, as soon as my students walk in the door… I am so happy to see them again and see my classroom take on life again.
Each morning for the past six years, I have been happy to see my students walk through the classroom door.
|Avoid 'it' as the subject of a sentence.|