To fulfil the requirements for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, all students must study a Group 1 subject, that is, a Language A1. The Language A1 programme is a literature course studied in the first language of the student or the language in which the student is most competent. This will normally be the language of the environment to which the student has been exposed from an early age or for an extended period. (Related terms are mother tongue, native language, and home language.)
Over eighty different Languages A1 have been offered for examination through the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) policy of mother tongue entitlement for its international candidature. This policy promotes oral and written communication skills, and respect for the literary heritage of the students first language, while providing complementary international perspectives through the study of World Literature. To this end, even though the Language A1 programme is restricted to only those languages with adequate printed literature, it also allows for the study of oral art forms. This is to ensure that students whose Language A1 contains a substantial amount of oral literature are not unduly disadvantaged. Such students are allowed to include texts of oral literature in their courses provided the works chosen are of merit and are available in reliable transcription and/or in other recording.
Language A1 is offered at both Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL). Where no teacher is available, a student may be allowed to study his/her particular Language A1 as a self-taught candidate at SL only. The number of works studied and skills assessed are comparable across all Languages A1. The teaching and assessment of any particular Language A1 will be conducted in that language.