Schools and education vocabulary

A list of French vocabulary words about school, education and the class room

Schools and education

French English

L'école (f)
L'écolier, l'écolière
La salle de classe
L'école maternelle
Le collège
Le lycée

Le baccalauréat
Le bac
Le brevet

Le cours
Le leçon
Le devoir de maison

The school
The Schoolboy, the schoolgirl
The classroom
The pupil
The student
The student
The nursery school
The secondary school (age 11 to 15)
The high school (age 15 to 18)

Equivalent to a university entrance (A-level)
short for baccalauréat
O-level diploma (age 14)


Class room subjects
French English

Anglais (m)
Allemand (m)
Chimie (f)
Biologie (f)
Français (m)
Géographie (f)
Histoire (f)
Instruction civique
Mathématiques (m)
Physique (f)

Civil education

(f) = feminine noun, (m) =masculine noun

School years and ages

  • L'école maternelle
    • Cours Préparatoire (CP) = 6 years old
    • Cours Elémentaire (CE1) = 7 years old
    • Cours Elémentaire (CE1) = 8 years old
    • Cours Moyen (CM1) = 9 years old
    • Cours Moyen (CM2) = 10 years old
  • Le collège
    • Sixième = 11 years old
    • Cinquième = 12 years old
    • Quatrième = 13 years old
    • Troisième = 14 years old
  • Le lycée
    • Deuxième = 15 years old
    • Première = 16 years old
    • Terminale = 17 years old
  • Université = 18 years old


School lessons generally begin at 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. with a two hour lunch break. Most schools start on Monday until Friday, on the Wednesday there are lessons only in the morning (Saturday morning has recently been stopped).

The baccalauréat is the most important and sort after diploma, normally taken at the age of 18, it will give university entrance. There are various forms of the baccalauréat with specialisations in science, French and even a "professional" version.

When people express their level of university education, one would say for example: Bac +3, for 3 years of university studies, Bac +5, for 5 years of university studies.

Most French schools are not equipped with sports grounds or complexes such as in the UK and there is very little inter-school sport competitions. However there are physical education lessons to keep the kids active. School children will practice their sports such as football, judo etc out of school hours and quite often on the Wednesday afternoons.