Language policy

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

With these aims in mind, the IB has instituted its language policy to provide a framework that will ensure that the IB's values and aims in relation to access and multilingualism 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 five levels of linguistic support: two for working languages and three for access languages (see below for definitions).

The policy also provides guidelines to schools implementing the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Primary Years Programme (PYP) in languages not supported by the organization.

Support given in particular languages 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 comparable high quality in all the supported languages.

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, management and academic committees.

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 services needed for the implementation of the programmes. Currently the IB’s three 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, mainly to support teachers, as specified in the language policy. 

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

Levels of support

The following table is an overview of the support provided at each level. For more details of the actual materials and services provided at each level, please refer to the IB language policy document

Language framework of the IB

Working languages

Access languages

Level 1

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

Level 3

  • Selected materials and services in one or more programmes 
    • Dual Language Diploma Programme and special Diploma Programme projects: all services and materials (including assessment) in selected subjects 
    • MYP and PYP: full curriculum materials (no assessment services) 

Level 2

  • All services and materials in some but not all programmes 

Level 4

  • Limited services and materials in one or more programmes 
  • No assessment services 


Level 5

  • Bilingual glossaries of programme terminology for the MYP and PYP 

Reference documents

IB language policy (97.2 kb, PDF)
Language summary table (88 kb, PDF)