School child wearing a backpacl

A Simple Guide to Talking About School in French

Whether you’re navigating a new French class, preparing for the speaking portion of a test like the GCSE or making friends with French-speaking students, it’s important to know lots of school vocabulary.

In this post I’ll give you a list of useful school-related vocabulary, with more than 100 words for people, places and things you’ll need to know for talking about school in French.


People at School


L’étudiant / L’étudiante – Student

Le/ La camarade de classe – Classmate

Le professeur  – Teacher/Professor

L’entraîneur  – Coach

L’infirmier / L’infirmière – Nurse

Le proviseur / Le chef d’établissement – Principal or Headmaster

Le proviseur adjoint – Vice Principal

Levels of Schooling


L’école  – School

L’école public  – Public school

L’école privée  – Private school

L’école de langue – Language school

L’école maternelle – Preschool

L’école primaire  – Primary school

Le collège  – Middle school

Le lycée  – High school

L’université / la fac – College

 L’université is the official term for “college,” but many French people casually refer to college as la fac.

Je suis à la fac cette année. (I am in college this year.)

L’école supérieure de troisième cycle – Graduate school

Le doctorat – Doctorate degree

La faculté de médecine  – Medical school

La faculté de droit  – Law school

Je vais au / à la – I go to …

Je vais au lycée.  (I go to high school.)

Je vais à la fac de médecine.  (I go to med school.)



Le cours préparatoire or CP  – First grade

Le cours élémentaire 1re année or CE1 – Second grade

Le cours élémentaire 2e année or CE2  – Third grade

Le cours moyen 1re année or CM1 – Fourth grade

Le cours moyen 2e année or CM2  – Fifth grade

La sixième  – Sixth grade

La cinquième  – Seventh grade

La quatrième  – Eighth grade

La troisième  – Ninth grade

La seconde  – 10th grade

La première  – 11th grade

La terminale  – 12th grade

La première année d’université – First year of college

La seconde année d’université  – Second year of college

La troisième année d’université – Third year of college

La quatrième année d’université – Fourth year of college

Être en – To be in [grade]

Mon fils s’appelle Daniel. Il est en CM1.  (My son’s name is Daniel. He is in fourth grade.)

Je suis en première année à l’université. (I am in my first year of college.)

School Subjects


Le français – French

L’anglais – English

L’espagnol – Spanish

L’allemand  – German

Le latin – Latin

Les maths  – Math

Les sciences  – Science

L’éducation physique  – PE

L’histoire  – History

La géographie  – Geography

La biologie  – Biology

La physique  – Physics

La chimie  – Chemistry

L’algèbre  – Algebra

La géométrie  – Geometry

Le calcul – Calculus

Les arts plastiques  – Art

La musique  – Music

Le théâtre – Theater

La chorale – Choir

L’orchestre – Band

La littérature – Literature

L’écriture créative  – Creative writing

La médecine  – Medicine

Le droit  – Law

J’ai … maintenant.  – I have … now.

Je dois partir! J’ai chimie maintenant.  (I have to leave! I have chemistry now.)

J’ai espagnol à 9h. (I have Spanish at 9am)

Je suis un cours de…  – I am taking a course in…

Je suis un course d‘écriture créative cette année. (I am taking a creative writing course this year.)

Note that the verb used here is suivre (literally, “to follow”), not être (to be).

J’aime…  – I like…

J’aime le théâtre. C’est mon cours préféré!  (I like theater. It is my favorite class!)

Je n’aime pas  – I don’t like …

Je n’aime pas la géographie. C’est barbant! (I don’t like geography. It’s boring!)

Rooms in a School Building


La salle de classe  – Classroom

Le bureau – Office

Le bureau du proviseur  – Principal’s office

L’infirmerie  – Nurse’s office

Le gymnase  – Gym

La cafétéria / la cantine – School cafeteria

Le resto-U – University cafeteria

La résidence universitaire – Dormitory

Le laboratoire / le labo – Laboratory

L’amphithéâtre / l’amphi – Lecture hall

School Supplies


Le cahier / le carnet – Notebook

Le manuel  – Textbook

Le classeur  – Binder/folder

Le stylo – Pen

Le crayon  – Pencil

La calculatrice  – Calculator

L’ordinateur – Computer

Le portable – Laptop

Le sac à dos  – Backpack

Le surligneur – Highlighter

La gomme  – Eraser

La craie  – Chalk

Le marqueur – Felt tip marker

L’éponge  – Eraser for the chalkboard or whiteboard

La colle  – Glue

Les crayons de couleur  – Colored pencils

Les crayons gras  – Crayons

La règle  – Ruler

Les fiches  – Index cards

La gamelle  – Lunchbox

Le papier  – Paper

Le papier millimétré – Graph paper

Le correcteur fluide  – White-out

Les ciseaux  – Scissors

L’agrafeuse  – Stapler

School Assignments


Le devoir  – Assignment/paper

Les devoirs – Homework

Yes, a specific assignment and homework in general (which may include multiple assignments) are differentiated simply by making the word plural. Languages are weird, aren’t they?

L’interro  – Quiz

L’examen  – Exam/test

L’attestation de DELF /DALF – DELF/DALF certification

If you study abroad or study at a language school, you might try to earn your DELF or DALF certification.

DELF stands for Diplôme d’études en langue française, or “Diploma in French Studies.” DALF stands for Diplôme approfondi de langue française, or “Diploma in Advanced French.”

Le discours  – Speech

Le diplôme  – Degree

J’ai un diplôme en… – I have a degree in…

J’ai un diplôme en pédagogie de langue française. (I have a degree in French education.)

À rendre…  – Due

Mes devoirs de sciences sont à rendre demain.  (My science homework is due tomorrow.)

Désolé, je ne peux pas sortir ce soir. J’ai un long devoir à rendre cette semaine. (Sorry, I can’t go out tonight. I have a long paper due this week.)

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