While many students fret about memorising vocabulary and sentence structures, there’s more to mastering the IB Chinese B SL writing paper than simply regurgitating idioms in the hopes that it adds flair to your writing. In fact, learning the conventions of each text type is equally as important. In this blog, we’ll break down the basic conventions of a diary entry and how to structure one in response to a past paper question.
你的中国朋友邀请你到他/她的家庆祝一个中国传统节日。这次经验令你印象深刻，也让你对中国文化有更多的了解。写一篇日记，谈谈你对这次经验的想法和感受。(Your Chinese friend has invited you to their house to celebrate a traditional Chinese festival. This experience has impacted you deeply and has deepened your understanding of Chinese culture. Write a diary entry, explaining your thoughts and feelings about this experience.)
Before we even begin to dive into content, there are some defining structural features you should include to emphasise to your examiner that you are indeed responding to the question and writing a diary entry. For example, all diary entries have a conventional header to abide by:
For a question like this, you may decide to focus on Chinese New Year which began on the 16th of February, 2018 in Hong Kong. Therefore, you’ll want to pick a date sometime around then.
The rest of the piece should follow the basic format of a diary entry, with an introduction, main body, and conclusion summarising your feelings and thoughts of your recent experiences.
Below is a rough skeleton of how the rest of your piece should be structured:
The introduction should provide context to the experience, including key details such as where and when you went, who you were with, what you were doing and why you did that particular activity. It’s helpful to rephrase the details you’ve been given in the question so that your response is focused and the examiner knows that you understand the question.
The main body is the opportunity to show off your knowledge about the topic. You’re at liberty to include any details you choose, but make sure you mention things specific to the question. For example, if you choose to write about Chinese New Year, include activities such as watching the Lion dances with your friends, watching fireworks, wearing red, or even the traditional Chinese food items you ate and their significance. It’s details like these that will demonstrate knowledge and understanding, as well as maximise your score in Criterion B (Message).
In your conclusion, specifically because this is a diary entry, always remember to summarise your opinions and feelings towards the experience you’re writing about. This especially pertains to the November 2017 question, which specifically asks for your thoughts and feelings of the question – therefore you have to ensure you respond to the demands of the question to maximise your score. The question specifically states that this experience impacted you deeply and enhanced your understanding of Chinese culture, so include that in your conclusion as part of your summary to once again demonstrate knowledge and understanding. What did you enjoy about the experience? What have you learned? How did it make you feel? What are your takeaways? These are all helpful questions to bear in mind and respond to when writing a diary entry! Remember that what differentiates a diary entry from the other text types is that it’s far more personal, so don’t be afraid to provide some insight into how you felt or how you reacted to these traditions and customs you never knew about before to make the piece more authentic.
Overall, while a diary entry may seem to be one of the more straightforward text types to comply to due to it’s personal and subjective nature, remember that has its own unique structure to adhere as well and requires much more personal reflection in order to score highly across all three criteria!
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