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IB: Texts in Translation: Writing A Reflective Statement

Word count: 400

Marks available: 3


  • Double spaced
  • Full title of interactive oral and text used
  • Your name, house, tutor
  • The date

Read the details below to give you a clearer understanding of what is required:

How was your understanding of cultural and contextual considerations of the work developed through the interactive oral?

 n.b. Note the specific version of this question used for your current IO and text i.e. the final three chapters of ‘The Reader.’

“Context” refers to all possible contexts. It is intended to embrace the cultural underpinnings of the works by looking at specifics such as:

  • The time and place in which the work was written
  • Information about the author (particularly as it relates to the way in which the author’s ideas as presented in the work do, or do not, accord with situations in the contemporary society)
  • Philosophical, political, economic and social contexts
  • Ideas that the students themselves bring to the work
  • The role of the translator
  • Reception and criticism at time of publication and today
  • Filmic and theatrical interpretations
  • Techniques used by the writer which might relate to context.

Here are a few more questions you might like to ask yourself:

  • What was easy to understand and what was difficult in relation to social and cultural context and issues
  • What connections did you find between issues in the work and your own cultures and experience?

“Developed” is the other key word in the question. It is a personal statement that is most likely to be written in the first person, and should be an honest account of the evolution of understanding.

The criterion by which students are assessed uses the same words as the question on which the reflective statement is based. If they answer this honestly and fully, then they should be able to achieve the three points.

It is advisable for students to take notes during the interactive oral discussion to assist them in writing the reflective statement.

Think about how some of the TOK questions you have explored relate to the subject of context:

  • What knowledge of literature can be gained by focusing attention solely on the work itself, in isolation from the author or the social context?
  • What knowledge of literature can be gained by focusing attention on its social, cultural or historical context?
  • Does familiarity with literature itself provide knowledge and, if so, of what kind—knowledge of facts, of the author, of the conventions of the form or tradition, of psychology of cultural history, of oneself?

How to structure your Reflective Statement


A strong and specific opening statement relating to your contextual area.

A reference to how you first brought you area into the discussion

Middle section:

Discuss the flow of the discussion and how, specifically, it developed your understanding of the play and of how your contextual area relates to other contextual areas mentioned by your peers.


Pick out the most interesting point raised in the discussion and how it relates to the question

Key words and phrases to use in your Reflective Statement:

My point was developed by…who stated that…

An interesting question was raised when…

This shed new light on…

I came to a new understanding of…

The discussion took a new direction when…

For a modern audience…

A turning point in the discussion came when…

I came to new understanding of…when…

Whereas previously I had thought…this point made me consider…

This led me to consider…this made me think…

All your points need to be SPECIFIC and GROUNDED in the text and context of the play.  Please avoid sweeping generalisations e.g. Women were inferior to men in Ancient Greece.

Sample Reflective Statement

Question: How was your understanding of cultural and contextual considerations of the work developed through the interactive oral?

Work used: Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

During the discussion, several articles were presented to the class. The subjects brought to light were the Russian economy during the 1850s, serfdom, and the question of whether Turgenev was obsolete or not. The articles on the Russian economy explained the state of transition the Russian economy was in during the mid-1850s. Prior to this period, there were members of the society called serfs. These were essentially slaves who worked on the fields of rich peasants, or the upper class. However, at this time Russia began to move away from serfdom.

After this discussion, it would appear Turgenev places great importance on the time, place, and culture of his novel, as serfdom and the existence of social classes are a predominant feature in Fathers and Sons. I found this discussion interesting, as it clarified some aspects of the novel. For example, in Fathers and Sons, Nikolai is a relatively well off land owner, and he ‘owns’ many serfs. However, as the system begins to evolve, the serfs and their owners have some trouble adjusting to the new system of land ownership. The serfs are misbehaved and irresponsible, and these aspects of the culture and context form the setting of the novel.

The article on the ‘Turgenev Question’ was interesting as well, because it highlighted some of Turgenev’s techniques, and what he’s famous for. According to the article, the art of Turgenev is in understatement: he manages to capture large philosophical, social, and historical movements as manifested in everyday life.

This can indeed be seen in Fathers and Sons. Turgenev paints a picture of commonplace Russian life with characters like Nikolai Arkady, Pavel, Bazarov and Fenichka, using barely any overly dramatic devices. Yet, through the characters’ thoughts and interactions with each other Turgenev explores ideas such as familial relationships. Furthermore, he portrays other aspects of Russian life, including the wide gap between social classes and the idea of young people rejecting all authorities.