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100+ Essential school vocabulary in French + PDF

Updated: Mar 29

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.

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 notebo