100+ Essential school vocabulary in French + PDF

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

How about learning essential school vocabulary in French? After all, Summer holidays are over and it's time to go back to school. It may be the right moment to learn useful French vocabulary like école (school), université (university), la rentrée scolaire (school opening), or basics like saying teacher in French.

In this post, you will learn school vocabulary terms related to the education system, people, objects, school supplies, subjects, places, verbs about schooling as well as common phrases used in a French classroom context.

For your information, in the vocabulary lists, (f) refers to a feminine word while (m) is for masculine.

If you are running out of time, you will find a downloadable PDF at the end. Feel free to download it for reading later.



 

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French school vocabulary list


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What are the types of schools in the French education system?


The way schools are named in the French education system is of course different from the English. Here is the French to English translation of categories of schools in France.

  • la crèche : day nursery (UK), child care center(US)

  • l'école maternelle (f) : kindergarden

  • l'école primaire / le primaire : primary school

  • le collège : middle school or junior high

  • le lycée : high school

  • l'université : university or college

  • l'école supérieure : graduate school

How do you say teacher, principal, or student in French?


When talking about school, you might want to know how to say teacher in French or the words for classmate, student for instance. Here is a list of the people you can find in a French school.

  • Le professeur (m), la professeur (f), la professeure (f) : teacher

  • Le professeur principal : head teacher

  • L'enseignant (m), l'enseignante (f) : teacher

  • Le proviseur : principal for high school or secondary school

  • Le directeur : principal for primary school

  • Le surveillant : school supervisor

  • Le maître (m), la maîtresse (f) : kindergarten or primary teacher

  • L'instituteur (m), l'institutrice (f) : primary teacher

  • Les élèves (m, f) : pupils, students

  • Les écoliers (m), les écolières (f) : schoolboys, schoolgirls

  • Les collégiens (m), les collégiennes : middle school students

  • les lycéens (m), les lycéennes (f) : secondary school pupils or high school students

  • Les étudiants (m), les étudiantes (f) : students

  • Les camarades de classe (m,f) : classmates

  • Le bibliothécaire (f,m) : librarian

Take note that for the word professeur, the feminine can be professeur or professeure. Both are accepted.






How to name classroom objects in French?


In a classroom, just like in a house, it is common to find desks, chairs, whiteboard/blackboard, markers, or even chalk in traditional classes. But, how to say all these classroom objects in the French language? Let's have a look at this list of school items found inside a classroom and you will be able to describe easily a classroom in French.


  • Le bureau : desk

  • Les chaises (f) : chairs

  • Le tableau : the board

  • La corbeille à papier : paper dust bean

  • Les posters (m) : posters

  • La craie : chalk

  • L'éponge (f) : sponge


List of common school supplies or les fournitures scolaires in French


Les fournitures scolaires or School supplies/school stationery in English are very useful vocabulary especially if you are joining a French school or university. Here is a list of the most common school supplies in French with their translation.



  • un cartable : a schoolbag

  • un sac à dos : a backpack

  • une trousse : a pencil case

  • un livre : a book

  • un cahier : a notebook

  • un livre : a book

  • un stylo : a pen

  • un crayon : a pencil

  • un crayon de couleur : a coloured pencil, crayon

  • un taille-crayon : a sharpener

  • un feutre : a felt pen

  • une règle : a ruler

  • une gomme : an eraser

  • une équerre : a square

  • un compas : a compass

  • une calculatrice : calculator

  • un classeur : a folder

  • un rapporteur : a protractor

  • des ciseaux : cisors

  • un tube de colle : a glue stick

  • un ordinateur : a desktop computer

  • un ordinateur portable : a laptop

  • un manuel : a textbook

  • un marqueur : a marker

  • un surligneur : a highlighter

  • une ardoise : a slate





Common French verbs used in a classroom context


When referring to school verb terms, we think about verbs like aller (to go) à l école, words for communicating in the classroom like those for giving commands.

Below is a list of classic French verbs used in a classroom.

  • écouter : to listen

  • écrire : to write

  • lire : to read

  • calculer : to calculate

  • compter : to count

  • regarder : to look, to watch

  • répéter : to repeat

  • expliquer : to explain

  • étudier : to study

  • rendre ses devoirs : to turn in one's homework assignment

  • aller à : to go to or to attend

  • passer un examen : to take an exam

  • réussir à un examen : to pass an exam

Be aware of these English - French false friends : passer un examen and to pass an exam have different meanings.



How to talk about school subjects in French?


The word for School subjects in French is les matières scolaires. The subject learned will strongly depend on the type of school in which you are. For example, someone who is in primary school will have simple subjects like calculation while a secondary student might be having chemistry, sciences, ... The list of school subjects below is certainly not exhaustive but gives you an idea of the English school subjects' counterparts in French.


  • le français : French

  • l'anglais : English

  • l'espagnol : Spanish

  • les mathématiques (maths) : maths

  • la physique : Physic

  • la Chimie : chemistry

  • les sciences : science

  • l'histoire : History

  • La géographie : geography

  • l'Éducation Physique et sportive (EPS ) : PE

  • la musique : music

  • L'art : art

  • le théatre : drama

  • l'informatique : computer science

Common French phrases and sentences in a classroom context

In a classroom context, knowing how to ask questions and some common French phrases or sentences is a great asset as it will help you communicate better in French, to express clearly your worries and any possible need for clarification. Here is a list of the most often used ones.


  • Quelle est ta matière préférée? => What is your favorite school subject?

  • Comment sont les profs dans ton école? => How are the Teachers in your school?

  • Je ne sais pas. => I don't know

  • Je ne comprends pas. => I don't understand.

  • J'ai une question. => I have a question.

  • Vous avez compris ? =>Have you understood.

  • Oui, j'ai compris. => Yes, I understood.

  • Non, je n'ai pas compris. => No, I did not understand.

  • Vous pouvez répéter s'il vous plait? => Can you repeat please?

  • Comment on dit .... en français? => How do we say ... in French?

  • Ouvrez vos livres à la page ... => Open your books at page ....

  • Ouvrez vos cahiers. => Open your notebooks.


Places at school you should know

If you are are looking for names of places we can find in a school, this French vocabulary list will come handy.

  • la salle de classe : classroom

  • le bureau du proviseur/directeur ; the principal office

  • L'infirmerie : the school nurse station

  • le terrain de sport: sports ground

  • Le gymnase : gymnasium

  • La bibilothèque : library

  • la cantine : canteen

  • le resto-u ou restaurant universitaire : university refectory/canteen

  • la cour de récréation : playground

  • l'amphithéâtre : amphitheater

  • Les toilettes: toilets


Final point


Wow! Lots of vocabulary!!! I know, but I felt like it might be interesting to know more about school vocabulary in French in a detailed manner, especially when most students are going back to school.

I will be making some flashcards available soon to help you review.

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