IB ab initio Languages (SL)

Spanish Ab Initio (SL), French Ab Initio (SL), German Ab Initio (SL), Mandarin Ab Initio*(SL)

Course description

These courses are primarily aimed at beginners, with a real desire to learn a new language, perhaps from a different linguistic family to those studied in the past.  The main focus is on learning how to communicate and understand the language in everyday situations.  Students also explore aspects of the target-language culture such as food, leisure, customs and traditions. The course will examine topics that include: the individual in society, education and work, town and services, food and drink, leisure and travel, the environment, health and emergencies.

* Due to the level of difficulty, Mandarin Ab Initio is only open to students who have already attained GCSE grade A, or equivalent.


No prior knowledge of the target language required, except for Mandarin.

A real desire to learn a new language is key.

The course moves quickly so students need to be organised and keep their work up to date.

To achieve top grades, students need to be prepared to dedicate time to learning new vocabulary and grammar. 

A willingness to spend some time in a country where the language is spoken during the course would be beneficial.

Assessment structure

Paper 1: Reading (1hr30) 30%

Paper 2: Writing (1hr30) 25%

Coursework (250-350 words guided writing) 20%

Oral: Individual interview 25%

Potential careers

Language qualifications can lead directly to careers in the business world, travel, tourism, literature, journalism and the media, translation, diplomacy or teaching. However, the real value of studying languages lies in the skills you acquire: understanding other world perspectives, being sensitive to different cultural values and knowing how to communicate positively with others are all crucial if you are to flourish in an increasingly international world.  Many top employers value language graduates highly, simply because they have developed the interpersonal skills to connect and interact with others.

Contact for further information

Dr RS Kirkham: rsk@wellingtoncollege.org.uk