Language policy

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The International Baccalaureate® (IB) is committed to supporting plurilingualism as fundamental to increasing intercultural understanding and international-mindedness, as well as to providing access to an IB education for students from a variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

With these aims in mind, the IB has developed its language policy to provide a framework that will ensure that the IB's values and aims in relation to access and plurilingualism are reflected in the organization's activities.

The IB language policy defines the ways in which the IB provides support to schools and teachers for the implementation of its programmes in different languages. It defines four levels of linguistic support: one for working languages and three for access languages (see below for definitions).

This support is reviewed on a regular basis and, if certain conditions are met, the level of support may be increased or decreased. The organization aims to provide materials and services of consistent high quality in all the supported languages.

In certain conditions, schools may be authorized to implement an IB programme in a language other than an external working language. They should however be mindful of the implications of such implementation. See Programme implementation in languages other than IB working languages (PDF, 133 KB).

Internal working language

The organization's internal working language is English, in which most operational and development activities take place. It is also the language of its governance.

External working languages

The IB's working languages are languages in which the organization communicates with its stakeholders and in which it is committed to providing all the content, services, platforms and applications needed for the successful implementation of one or several of its programmes. Currently, the IB’s three external working languages are English, French and Spanish.

Access languages

The IB's access languages are languages that the IB has identified as being of strategic importance to meet its access goals and objectives to develop a more inclusive and diverse IB community. The organization provides selected services and documentation in those languages, primarily to support classroom teachers.

For the list of current IB access languages and their respective levels of support, refer to the language summary table below.

Levels of support

The following table is an overview of the support provided at each level.

Language framework of the IB

External working languages

Access languages

Level 1

  • All services and materials in the four programmes
  • High-level communications

Languages included: English, French, Spanish

Level 2

Selected materials and services in one or more programmes, essentially for classroom teachers. 

  • For the Diploma Programme, this includes assessment services and systems for the supported subjects. Instances of the dual-language Diploma Programme (DLDP) fall under this level.
  • For the MYP and PYP, this means the provision of all curriculum content. This does not include content aimed at the programme coordinator or school leadership team, nor any assessment services.

Languages included: Arabic (MYP, PYP), Chinese (MYP, DP TOK), German (DLDP), Korean (DLDP), Japanese (DLDP)


Level 3

  • Small amount of content provided, to assist schools in their own translations of IB material.
  • No assessment services

Languages included: Chinese (PYP), Korean (MYP), Indonesian (PYP), Turkish (PYP)


Level 4

  • Bilingual glossaries of programme terminology

Languages included: Indonesian (MYP), Turkish (MYP)

Schools own translation

IB World Schools and Candidate schools may request the authorization to translate IB material (see Rules for use of IB Intellectual Property, section 4 Translating IB materials).

Request for additional language support

Schools wishing to formally request additional language support at subject or programme level should do so by contacting their IBWS manager.