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DP English B: Global Contexts

How are global contexts integrated into the structure and approach of the new DP English B Course Book? Author Kevin Morley explains...

English Language Acquisition promotes international mindedness through five overarching themes...

English has become a global language. As well as being an official language in almost 90 countries, over a billion people are learning English as an additional language. At the same time, technology is creating a world that is increasingly interconnected. 

To meet these realities, the International Baccalaureate has developed highly effective educational programmes to help students understand the world from a global standpoint. 

In the new English Language Acquisition courses (first examinations 2020), learners will develop the cross-cultural skills and global perspectives they will need for studying and working in a complex, multi-cultural world.
English Language Acquisition promotes international mindedness through five overarching themes that place the course content in their global context:

  • identities
  • experiences
  • human ingenuity
  • social organisation
  • sharing the planet 


When developing our new English B Course Book pack, we based the 10 inquiry-led content chapters on these major five themes in a way that will fully engage both SL and HL learners.

Each chapter poses an overarching research question that provides a starting point for an initial interactive exploration of one specific aspect of Anglophone cultures and peoples.


Chapter title

Research question


Fit for life

What ideas and images do we associate with a healthy lifestyle?


Sketching our lives

How would travelling to or living in another culture affect my worldview?

Human ingenuity


What can we learn about a culture through its artistic expression?

Social organisation


What is the individual’s role in the community?

Sharing the planet

Protecting the planet

What environmental and social issues present challenges to the world and how can these challenges be overcome?


Human rights

What ethical issues arise from living in the modern world and how do we resolve them?


Life’s challenges

Does our past shape our present and our future?

Human ingenuity

The impact of scientific Innovation,

How do developments in science and technology influence our lives?

Social organisation

Education for the 21st century

What opportunities and challenges does the 21st century bring to education and work?

Sharing the planet

Our rights

How do language and culture contribute to form our identity?

These specific inquiries give students of English B multiple opportunities to examine aspects of English speaking cultures, and then allow them to reach insights into global contexts that transcend one specific language or culture.

The global contexts that we have emphasized in the new English B Course Book include:

  • Beliefs and values
  • Concepts of culture and diversity 
  • Global engagement
  • Identity and cultural diversity
  • Intercultural understanding
  • Interdependence and globalization 
  • International-mindedness and global citizenship
  • Peace building and conflict resolution 
  • Social justice and human rights 
  • Sustainable futures

Each chapter is further subdivided into three inquiry-based sections, each exploring a specific topic and research question for the chapter.

For example, Chapter 3 - Celebrity - explores the syllabus theme of Human Ingenuity. The chapter asks students to inquire into three related topics and research questions: Artistic expression (What qualities do you need to become a successful musician?); Media and communication (How are celebrities affected by fame?) and Entertainment (Why do some fans hero worship some celebrities?).

In this way, the above chapter on Celebrity examines these global issues:

  • Beliefs and values
  • Concepts of culture and diversity
  • Identity and cultural diversity

Moreover, all the global contexts listed above are visited several times over the course of the 10 chapters. 

Communicating concepts

Each section of each chapter contains skills-based activities that help students to explore these global contexts while simultaneously developing language competence:

1. Input: Reading/Listening

  • “Before reading/listening” activities that help students to contextualize and articulate prior experiences or knowledge.
  • A listening or reading text that relates directly to the specific topic and research question of each section.
  • Listening or reading comprehension exercises with specific references to the concepts and global contexts within the text.

2. Processing: Interaction

Follow-up interactive tasks such as discussion, debate and role-play, that reinforce students’ understanding of the global concept and subtopic under investigation and allow students to practice language related to them. 

3. Output: Speaking 

  • Internal assessment (Standard level) – guided analysis of a visual stimulus related to the chapter theme and global context.
  • Internal assessment (Higher level) – guided exploration of a literary extract related to the chapter theme and global context. 

4. Output: Writing

Writing tasks with guidelines and scaffolds to help students  write about the chapter theme and global context while also analysing and practicing specific text types.

5. Additional personal explorations

Students are also encouraged to make their own further explorations of global contexts while responding to these additional stimuli:

  • ‘TOK moments’ to investigate ideas from a TOK perspective.
  • ATL sidebars to encourage the development of cross-curricular skills.
  • Conceptual understanding sidebars to encourage students to think about the global concepts under review from the point of view of audience, context, variation, meaning, purpose.

Coming to enduring understandings

At the end of each inquiry, students will revisit the research question and in groups, or as a class, reflect on what they have learned, draw conclusions and come to enduring understandings about the world in which they live.

For instance, Chapter 5 concludes by asking: In this chapter what have you learned about today’s environmental and social challenges and the methods of overcoming them?

By encouraging English B students to articulate the life lessons they have learned, students can develop language and communication skills, and also become wiser and more curious about the world in which they live.

Students are then challenged to take their learning to a new, independent phase beyond the chapter by reflecting on the extent and quality of their learning:

  • What questions do you still have about the topic?
  • What more would you like to know about the subject?
  • How can you find answers to these questions?

Putting ideas into practice

Finally, in order to ensure that the lessons learned have practical applications, the concluding section of each chapter, 'Beyond the classroom', invites students to apply the ideas explored in the chapter to students’ own communities and beyond:

  • Creativity – using the communication skills developed in the chapter to assist local community causes.
  • Service – applying lessons learned to schools CAS projects and Service learning programmes.
  • Research – conducting further reading and personal reflection on the issues raised in the chapter.

Using these combined strategies students can engage meaningfully in first Anglophone and then global contexts while simultaneously developing communicative competence in English.

In this way, the English B Course Book pack exploits the use of global contexts to the full and, thereby, supports the IB’s mission “to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect”.  

Kevin Morley Cropped 170px

By Kevin Morley

An experienced international and state secondary school teacher, IB workshop leader and teacher trainer, Kevin Morley has worked extensively as an IB English Language examiner, on IB language curriculum review committees, and with a wide variety of governmental and independent educational agencies. Together with his co-author, Kevin has created the new DP English B Course Book pack, developed in cooperation with the IB.

How confident do you feel about applying a concept-based approach?

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Big thinking: Applying concept-based learning to DP and MYP language acquisition (YouTube video)

Expert IB author, workshop leader and educator Kevin Morley explores the notion of ‘concepts’ and their place in MYP and DP Language Acquisition courses, offering a number of practical strategies for language teaching.

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Explore new DP Language B Course Book packs from Oxford IB

Developed in cooperation with the IB, each new Course Book pack contains one print textbook and one enhanced online textbook – providing a wealth of digital content to support all aspects of the 2018 DP Language B syllabus, including the new listening assessment component.

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IB English B Course Book Pack: Oxford IB Diploma Programme (Print Course Book & Enhanced Online Course Book)

IB English B Course Book Pack: Oxford IB Diploma Programme (Print Course Book & Enhanced Online Course Book)

Print and online resources developed in cooperation with the IB

Author Kevin Morley and Author Kawther Saa'd Aldin

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Pack | 17/05/2018

Price:  £49.99 +VAT

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