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As a student, you might be wondering why the IB offers 2 unique English subjects – Language and Literature (Lang/Lit) and Literature (Lit). While there are quite a few similarities between these 2 subjects, they are fundamentally two different courses.

In this blog post, we will dive deep into these 2 subjects to see what set them apart from one another.

Subject Focus

In Literature, you will focus solely on literary texts, such as Macbeth. You will be exploring the nature of literature and learning to do literary criticism.

In Language & Literature, you will focus on both both fiction and non-fiction. You will be exploring the nature of language. As such, you will be studying a broad range of texts, including advertisements.

Works studied in SL and HL

Now that you understand the main difference between the two courses, let’s look at the table for the summarized distinctions between works studied in SL and HL.

Lang/Lit

WorksSLHL
Works in translation (from a prescribed list of translated texts [PLT])One textTwo texts
Works originally written in the language studied (from a prescribed list of authors [PLA])One textTwo texts
Texts chosen from a variety of genre, source, mediaTwo textsTwo texts
Total texts studied:Four TextsSix Texts

Literature

WorksSLHL
Works in translation (PLT)Three textFour texts
Works originally written in the language studied (PLA)Four textsFive texts
Texts chosen from a variety of genre, source, mediaTwo textsFour texts
Total texts studied:Nine TextsThirteen Texts

Assessment for SL and HL

From the summarized table below, it is clear that both subjects follow very similar assessment formats.

Language & Literature

ExternalFormatSL (%)HL (%)
Paper 1Written analysis of unseen non-literary texts3535
Paper 2Respond to one out of four questions, writing a comparative essay based on two literary works studied3525
HL Essay1200-1500 word essay on one literary/non-literary work studied-20

InternalFormatSL (%)HL (%)
Individual Oral (IO)Oral response on one literary work and one non-literary text. The work and text selected must have a clear connection with the global issue.3020

Literature

ExternalFormatSL (%)HL (%)
Paper 1Written analysis of two unseen literary texts. One is always a poem and the other is a prose extract from a novel or short story.3535
Paper 2Respond to one out of four questions, writing a comparative essay based on two literary works studied.3525
HL Essay1200-1500 word essay on one work studied.-20

InternalFormatSL (%)HL (%)
Individual Oral (IO)Oral response on one work originally written in the language studied and one work studied in translation. The work selected must have a clear connection with the global issue.3020

Should you study Language & Literature or Literature?

The 2 courses share the following similarities:

  • Expectations of language usage, of level of analysis and of critical reflection are the same across the two courses.
  • Both subjects focus on exploring language in cultural contexts.
  • Both courses use similar assessments.

So, how do you choose which English subjects to take? Well, it really depends on your preference. Remember, you will be enrolled in this course for two years, so you need to choose the course that you’ll enjoy.

That being said, you need to also analyse your strengths and weaknesses. You may enjoy exploring language in general, but you could be better at analysing literary texts. You may not necessarily enjoy it, but it’s just something that you’re really good at.

Ultimately, they are both IB subjects, and regardless of which subject you choose, you’ll have to put in the effort and work hard to do well.

Trial Class Registration

Need help with the IB? Prep Zone Academy provides one-to-one tuition in a wide range of subjects at both the SL and HL levels. Our team of all-star trainers offers undivided attention throughout these sessions in addition to a fully personalized curriculum that is specifically tailored to meet your personal goals. Our trainers will work closely with you to help you achieve your goals, whether you wish to work on specific weaknesses or prepare for the upcoming assessment.

Additionally, parents will receive personalized feedback after every lesson, so they are always informed of what is being taught in class. Sign up for a trial lesson today to experience the Prep Zone’s difference!

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Michelle

Author Michelle

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