French Education System: Demystifying Schools in France

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  • Post category: French Parenting / Moving to France
  • Post author: Nassie Angadi

If you are planning a move to France , you may start to look into the French education system if you have children. And right then, you are immediately hit with an alphabet soup of initials: CP, CM, CE1, etc.

French people refer to the school years with these acronyms, which to an outsider makes no sense at all.

In the U.S. and in France, school starts with compulsory kindergarten, then elementary school, middle school, high school, and higher education. In the US though, it is relatively straightforward, with 1st grade, 2nd grade, up to 12th grade, and graduation. Congratulations you are fully up to speed, easy peasy!

Well, the French have never found a topic that they have not managed to complexify. Pre-school and kindergarten is actually for 3 years, and just wait till you get to the primary schools and junior high.

french school in Paris

From secondary education, private schools, bilingual curriculums and vocational schools, the system is filled with acronyms and scholastic cycles that is not the easiest to decipher.

So let’s demystify the schools in France and the education system, shall we? Allons-y!

The school year in France starts in September and ends the 1st week of July . In general, schooling is free in France.

Parents only pay for the lunchtime canteen, as well as if they use the early morning drop-off or late evening pick-up services. These services are income-based and tax credits are available as well. The average cost is as cheap as €1-7/day.

Parents receive aid to send their children to school for supplies, clothing, etc. Allocation de rentrée scolaire  (ARS) is an income-based allocation available for children aged 6 to 18 from modest families. It is approximately €400/year per child.

Unlike the U.K., students across France don’t wear school uniforms, at least not in public schools. In addition, boys and girls are not separated.

preschool playground in france

i. Maternelle (Preschool)

First off, we should note that schooling for all French children is mandatory in the calendar year the child turns 3. This means if your child is born in December, he will be entering school at 2 years and 8 months old.

Thus in the chart below, when it says “age”, it means the year that that child turned that age.

To translate into American schooling standards, Moyen Section is pre-school, Grand Section is kindergarden, and little 3 year old Petit-Sectioners would still be in nursery.

Don’t be fooled however, Petit Section in France is not just a child-care nursery . French three-year-olds learn to sing the alphabet, to count, to draw, etc.

There are a lot of nursery rhymes and french songs , before moving to poetry as they move into primary school. They also do activities with their class such as going swimming , riding a bike in the school courtyard, etc.

If there are a lot of really young children (i.e. children born at the end of the year), the town will open a TPS or Toute Petite Section for the really littles.

The first day of class is known as the Rentrée , and it is such a big deal that many offices give their employees the day off to take their (small) children to school.

School starts at around 8:30am every morning and continues until 4:30pm. There is a 2-hour break in the middle of the day for lunch and recreation.

Lunchtime canteen: Lunch time is considered part of schooling, and French schools take it quite seriously. No picky eaters allowed here. From a young age, children are introduced to a wide variety of healthy meals and taught to try everything.

If the child has an allergy, the parents have to get a PAI from the school doctor authorizing them to send lunch with the child. Some schools also allow parents to pick up children for lunch to eat at home. Here is a maternelle and primary school sample menu:

French school menu featuring healthy salads, elaborate main dishes, desserts, and afternoon snacks

☞ READ MORE: French food that all kids will love

Wednesdays: Most preschool and primary school students don’t have school on Wednesdays. It is supposed to be the day for extra-curricular activities, to rest, etc. There was a move in 2018 by the government to insist on Wednesday morning classes, however, the teacher unions and parents protested.

This led to some towns having school on Wednesday mornings and reducing hours on other days, while other towns did not.

For working parents who cannot keep their children home each Wednesday, or pick their kids up at 4:30pm, there are the leisure centers.

Each town offers a centre de loisirs (activity and leisure center), where parents can drop off their children on Wednesdays at a minimal cost that is based on income levels. In real terms, the cost is around €5-20/day including lunch.

These leisure centers are in the same school that the child attends, with animateurs watching the kids and proposing a variety of activities. These leisure centers are also open in the mornings for parents who need to head to work early in the morning.

These centre de loisirs hold a variety of craft activities, sports , dance, and other programs based on the age of the child. They also sometimes do field trips to nearby farms, the cinema, museums, etc.

English: Most public maternelles in France start a dose of English instruction, about 45 minutes once a week.

Grading: All the children get a report card twice a year, at half-term before the Christmas holidays, and at the end of the year in June .

Parents must give their approval for child to move up a grade. At the end of each year, parents receive two forms for the Poursuite de Scolarité . The first form is the Proposition du conseil des maîtres with the decision of teacher and school to either promote the student or keep him/her behind. Parents have a few days to approve or appeal the decision.

A few days after that, parents will get a 2nd form with la décision of Conseil des maîtres . This decision can then also be approved or appealed by the parents to the Appeals Commission and the School Board. You can read more about French preschools here.

Homeschooling: Homeschooling is legal in France although not widely encouraged. The Mairie in your town will require you to make an annual declaration, as will the  rectorat  (school inspector). Parents must cover roughly the same curriculum as a French school.

French Education System: Demystifying Schools in France 1

ii. École primaire (Primary school)

The French primary school operates on cycles. Maternelle is the first cycle , and from there CP to CE2 is the 2nd cycle where children are expected to learn the fundamentals.

Handwriting still matters in France. Kids in maternelle are taught to draw in boucles (curls) and by CP they are taught to write in cursive. Students are expected to master the cursive and write beautifully.

Along with beautiful handwriting, la dictée (dictation) is also a big part of French learning. Unlike English, French is a language with a lot of accents and hidden sounds and accords. As such, learning to write with the teacher dictating a paragraph of French literature is part of the culture.

Along with dictation, students study classic French poets and their most famous poems in school, and at times are expected to be able to memorize it and recite it in class. The idea is to listen to understand “the diversity of language”. You can read some examples of French poetry for kids here.

As they get older, they start to move from having one teacher for all the subjects, to specialized teachers for each subject. Similar to other countries, the emphasis is on reading, writing, maths, science, language, etc.

In the 3rd cycle , from CM1 to the 1st year of Middle school, the emphasis is on “consolidation of knowledge”.

Study Hall: Starting in primary school, children are offered an accueil des études (study hall), where they can do their homework afterschool while waiting for their parents. It usually lasts an hour, after which they can join the regular centre de loisirs.

There are two types of study hall, étude surveillée and étude dirigée . Etude surveillée is supervised study hall, where the child works somewhat independently on their homework, rather than waiting to get home to do it.

Etude dirigée, on the other hand, is more of a directed study hall for students in difficulty, who would benefit from small class size and more personal attention. The type of study hall offered depends on the school.

☞ READ MORE: Top French books for Children (by age)

Fieldtrips: Beyond classroom learning, students are offered Class Verte or Classe Blanche , which are experiences outside the classroom.

In Classe Verte (green class) is exploring the countryside, with activities such as hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, etc.

Classe Blanche (white class) is usually for skiing and snow-related activities. Students who live the French Alps usually also have day trips to nearby ski resorts in winter as part of their schooling.

These classes are usually in primary school, but are also sometimes offered for Grand Section in maternelle or middle school students. These can be daytrips or overnight trips over 1-3 weeks, where the entire class is expected to participate.

The teacher accompanies the trip with regular lessons in the morning, and the afternoon used to concentrate on the physical activities.

Foreign Students: Foreign students who don’t speak French are provided a teaching assistant through Français Langue Etrangère (FLE) .

In addition, children who have learning or physical disabilities are provided special assistants to help them navigate the system ( Services d’éducation spéciale et de soins à domicile ).

French Education System: Demystifying Schools in France 2

iii. Collège (Middle school)

Collège in French is not “college of higher education” as we know it in North America, but actually middle school. Here finally the French drop the acronyms and the U.S. equivalent of 6th grade is the sixème ( 6ème ) in France.

In junior high (collège) and secondary school (lycée) , the schedule is much more variable depending on the school. Older middle school and high school children will have varying hours at school based on the classes they are taking.

Some schools have classes on Wednesday, for a 1/2 day or full day, while others even have classes and exams on Saturday mornings.

Applying to Middle school: Not all middle schools offer a full range of courses, so French students apply to get into the middle school of their choice.

School years 5ème to 3ème are part of the 4th cycle of French education, known as the deepening cycle .

Languages: In 6ème, students pick one of two foreign languages that they will study through the rest of their scholastic career. Known as Langue Vivante 1 (Living language 1), the most common languages chosen are English, German, Spanish or Italian.

The following year, in 5ème, they will pick the 2nd language, known as Langue Vivante 2 , amongst the choices offered at their middle school.

Grading: Starting in collège , the French grading system becomes quite hard. A 12 out of 20 is considered a pretty decent mark. Unlike North America, where a good portion of the class is expected to be in the 70%-90% range, this is not the case in France.

Redoublement , meaning to redoing the scholastic year, is not uncommon in France. In addition, there is no social stigma to doing so. This is especially the case for the scholastic years that are at the end of a learning cycle (in CE2, 6ème, 3ème).

A child will be held back if he cannot demonstrate the necessary competence in that cycle. The idea is to have the student catch up before he gets any further.

BREVET: At the end of 3ème, French students must pass an exam known as the brèvet , which includes testing on French, mathematics and other subjects. It is an important test, but not an important test, as everyone is expected to pass the brèvet.

Middle schools are judged on their ability to get their students to pass the Brèvet, so French families will often decide what neighborhood and what school to send their children to, based on the brèvet results.

☞ READ MORE: Top French comics for the young and young at heart

deauville beach poster

iv. Lycée (High school)

The 5th cycle of the French school system is the lycée and it is all about preparing French students for the future.

Applying to High school: The courses offered at the high school will be based on the type of high school diploma that the student is working towards. After the brèvet at the end of middle school, students must apply to one of 3 types of high schools:

Boarding Schools: While boarding schools are common in the U.K., they are not common in France, especially in big cities. However, in the French countryside where the closest middle school or high school may not offer all the classes the student would like, boarding schools are available.

These schools are called internats , and offer a variety of options such as full days with meals, overnight stays, etc.

Field trips: High school students are also offered trips in France and around the world, depending on the town’s resources. Recent trips in high schools in Paris have been to China, India, New York, etc.

BAC Exams: At the end of high school, students must sit the BAC. The BAC is similar to the American SAT, in that it is a nationwide exam that all French students must pass to move on to higher education.

While the SAT is usually one exam, the BAC is a series of exams over several days in a variety of subjects, depending on what the student has chosen.

Unlike the U.S. or U.K., one of the subjects that is mandatory in France is philosophy. It is obligatory in the final year of high school, to emphasize “the learning of freedom through the exercise of reflection”.

The first exam in the BAC series of exams is always philosophy. Here is a recent question from that exam:

Est-il possible d’échapper au temps ? – Is it possible to escape time? Essay Question on BAC exam

The official grading for the BAC shows at what point the student can earn a “mention”:

There are also several technical diplomas for high school students who specialize in technical areas such as the Brevet de technicien supérieur (BTS) or Le brevet des métiers d’art (BMA), etc.

☞ READ MORE: Facts about French schools

v. International Language Sections

All throughout the schooling system, from maternelle to high school, there are International sections with options such as American English, British English, Dutch, Arabic, Japanese, etc. working towards the International Option Baccalaureate (OIB).

These international sections allow students to study certain subjects in a foreign language of their choice. Both French and foreign students can apply to them, but in cities like Paris, the competition is tough. (The earlier the child applies in their scholastic career, the easier the chances are to get in.)

The workload in the “other language” is on top of the regular French workload, and the chances of the student getting in depends on their high scholastic abilities as much as their fluency in the other language.

Call me CEO t-shirt in black

vi. Universities and Higher Education

Once students have their BAC in hand, they are able to apply to a series of public universities and institutions across France. When you see job applications in France, they will refer to having “Bac +5” etc. This means that the person completed studies for 5 years after the Bac, meaning that they have 4 years of university and a Master’s degree.

Universities are generally free in France and every French student is guaranteed a spot somewhere, along with a student bursary from CAF (a govt department).

More interestingly, some schools like the National School of Public Administration  ENA , actually pay the students a stipend of around  €1700/ month  to attend. Competition is tough to get in, and students are required to work for the government for 10 years after graduating, or they pay those funds back.

Grandes écoles : The best students, however, will aim to get into one of the grandes écoles . These schools are quite exclusive, and the equivalent of the American Ivy League.

Students don’t get in immediately after high school but spend 2 years doing private courses known as “preparatory classes”, or  prépas , so they can sit for an entrance exam ( concours) .

Entrance into one of the Grandes écoles is meant to grant the student a surefire job and a high flying career.


So is the French school system similar to schooling where you are from? If you enjoyed that article, you may enjoy reading more about living in Paris . A bientôt!

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French Together – Learn French

The complete guide to the French school system

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What is school like in France? It’s a question you might find yourself pondering as you study French and get to know more about French culture.

In some ways, French school is like school in many places in the world, including the US and UK – but there are a number of key differences, including a few that give some interesting insights into French culture as a whole.

Explaining just about any country’s education system is a complex task, since there are so many different aspects to look at. The French education system in particular is known for being complicated when it comes to things like different categories and types of diplomas and tests.

Hopefully, this article will give you a good overview and some important takeaways about school in France and the French school system.

French school vocabulary

Before we start discussing the French education system, there are some words it might be helpful to know – or words you might already be wondering how to say. How to say “school” in French, for example.

When you think about it, there’s a lot of vocabulary related to school, from school supplies, to types of exams, to traditions. But when talking or learning about school in France, here are a few that are especially useful. 

Note that you’ll find additional vocabulary, including school grades/levels, diplomas, and more, in the sections of this article that focus on them.

l’école – school. This is a general word for school in French, but as you’ll see in later sections of this article, schools of different levels have different names, just as they do in many other places (nursery school, high school, etc.).

un professeur/une professeur(e) (often shortened to prof )– teacher. This is the general word for “teacher” in French. It used to be exclusively masculine, even if the teacher was a woman. But in recent decades, it’s become accepted to use it with a feminine article when talking about a female teacher. In Canadian French especially, to people may add an “e” to the end when referring to a female teacher, as well: une professeure .

In France, teachers are usually referred to by their first names until collège (middle school/secondary school). Then, they’re referred to as Monsieur or Madame [Last name].

un maître/une ma î tresse – a teacher in preschool/elementary school. Teachers of younger kids are usually referred to this way. Their students usually refer to, or, in preschool/nursery school, call them, by their first name.  By elementary school, to be polite, they will usually just call them Maître or Ma î tresse when addressing them directly, but will still use their first name, for instance, to say who their teacher is.

un instituteur/une institutrice – a more formal, less common term for an elementary/primary school teacher.

un directeur/une directrice – the principal/headmaster or headmistress of a school.

la rentr ée – back to school. This can refer to the first day back at school or the general back-to-school period. La rentr ée is also used as a general term for a return to the routine after summer vacation, so you will see it in other contexts, as well.

la cantine – the cafeteria or canteen/dining hall.

les devoirs – homework. If you’re in French class, you probably already know this word quite well!

la r é cr é ation/la r é cr é – recess.

l’étude – study hall.

les notes – grades or marks.

la classe – class/classroom.

un cours – a class (for middle and high school/secondary school).

un examen – a test.

une interrogation (often called une interro ) – a quiz.

faire l’école buissonnière – to skip school.

sécher un cours – to skip a class.

le centre de loisirs –after school program/vacation program. This usually includes activities as well as free playtime, and sometimes a study hall option or sports options.  During school vacations, the centre de loisirs is a sort of (optional) day camp for preschool and elementary school kids.

We’ll cover many other French school vocabulary words throughout this article. You can also find more school-related French words here .

Basic facts about the French school system

A person's hands carefully hold a ruler and a pen on a notebook.

Public (state) education in France is compulsory for children aged 3-16.

Until recently, it was 6-16, but that changed in 2019. So, if you’re reading an older source on French education, keep that in mind.

Another big change is that, as of the 2020-2021 school year, people aged 16-18 who have stopped their studies are required to be employed or involved in an internship or volunteer work .

Public (state) and university education in France are free or extremely affordable.  

All state-run primary and secondary education in France is free. This includes la maternelle (preschool/nursery school). People from countries where  preschools/nursery schools are private and expensive will probably be impressed by this (I know I was, not to mention grateful).

In fact, one of the principles of education in France seems to be affordability. Even universities, which do charge tuition, only charge a few hundred to a few thousand euros per year. There are some universities that cost more, but these tend to be private ones that, interestingly enough, aren’t usually considered as prestigious.

There aren’t really “good” and “bad” public (state) schools in France.

Some French high/secondary schools are known for their high level of academic achievement and for carefully selecting students (this is similar to the high school system in New York City, for those familiar with it). Or there might be schools where outside problems like crime rate or poverty contribute to the general environment.

But generally speaking, because of the strict way school is viewed, the rigorously upheld national curriculum, and the fact that in the early years of their careers, teachers are usually required to teach in other French regions besides their native ones, French schools are fairly uniform when it comes to their quality. Again, there can be some exceptions, but the actual level of education in public schools tends to be perceived as the same, at least in my experience.

A major principle of French public (state) schools is la laïcité (separation of church and state).

Students aren’t allowed to wear religious symbols (although a very subtle one, like a small necklace pendant, may be tolerated) or clothing, and no religious holidays are celebrated or even particularly discussed at school.

In some cases, there may be a school celebration or play around Christmastime, but even this tends to be referred to as an “end-of-year” celebration. That said, in this predominately Christian country, some schools may put up a small Christmas tree, and classes and after school activities may involve Christmas-themed coloring pages or crafts, but it’s never particularly overt and these decorations never feature religious symbols like angels, a manger/creche, etc.

Although education is compulsory until age 16 in France, an estimated 64% of students stay in school until age 18.

A little over 50% of them will continue to university or an apprenticeship.  

More than 80% of schools in France are publics (public schools (US)/state schools (UK)).

Most of the remaining 20% of schools in France are private schools (public schools for our UK readers). A majority of them are run by the Catholic church, but they tend not to be intensely religious. One of the reasons for this is that French private schools can be sous contrat – that is, affiliated with the state, including for the payment of their teachers’ salaries, if they follow certain rules, like adhering to the national curriculum. 

Homeschooling (usually called le homeschooling ) is legal in France, but very rare.

Only about 0.3% of school-aged kids are homeschooled here.

There is a standard national curriculum for every grade/level.

Grades/notes in french public school are based on a maximum of 20 points ..

So if a student gets a 20 on a test or assignment, they got a perfect score.  10/20 is usually considered at least a passing grade.

Starting as early as CP (1 st grade/1 st year), it’s common for French students to have to memorize poems and recite them in front of the class.

Each student may have to recite a poem, or a student might be randomly called upon to do it.  It’s kind of terrifying, but it also leads to many French people knowing at least a few lines of famous poems by heart.

School supplies are very standardized and important.

One of the strangest things for me when I started teaching in French elementary schools is how each child has the same kind of supplies (even though some of these, like backpacks and folders, can be personalized), and how they use them in the same way.

For instance, if you ask an elementary school child to write something down, they’ll often take out an ink pen and make a neat line with a ruler to head their paper. Students have many different kinds of notebooks (a school planner, a notebook of poems and texts to memorize, etc.) and folders, and overall are encouraged to be very organized and precise.

French students still learn cursive.

In certain places, like the US, many schools have stopped teaching cursive, but in French, it’s still taught – even from kindergarten/year 1 ( grande section ). In fact, handwriting is a big part of French learning.

The types of French schools

There are five types of French schools, although some may be combined, especially in areas with a small population.

Note that kindergarten/year 1 is grouped with preschool/nursery school, and not elementary school, like it usually is in the US.

The five types of French schools are:

  • la maternelle (preschool and kindergarten/nursery school and year 1) for students age 3-6
  • l’école élémentaire (elementary school/primary school) for students age 6-11
  • le collège (middle school (including ninth grade)/secondary school) for students age 11-16
  • le lycée (high school/secondary school) for students age 16-18
  • l’université , often called la fac (short for la faculté ) (university/college) for students 18 and up

These schools cover three main categories of education:

  • l’école primaire (primary school). This includes la maternelle and l’école élémentaire .
  • l’école secondaire (secondary school). This includes le collège and le lycée .
  • l’enseignement supérieur (higher education) – l’université .

We’ll look at the equivalents of each grade/level a little further on.

The French school year, week, and day

A class of young children wearing backpacks walks somewhere. We see them from the back.

The French school year starts in early September and usually finishes around the first week of July.

Up to university level, students have a two-week break every six weeks or so.

There’s one in mid-October to early November ( les vacances de la Toussaint ), one in mid-December to early January ( les vacances de fin d’année ), one in February ( les vacances de février ), and one in March or April ( les vacances de printemps ). Additionally, there is a two-month summer break ( les vacances d’été / les grandes vacances ).

There are also a lot of holidays on the French calendar, including three in the month of May alone. Add to this the very likely possibility that there could be a teacher strike or a strike that affects teachers’ ability to come to the school (like a transportation strike, for instance), a teacher being sick and the school not being able to find a substitute, teacher workdays, and so on, and you will discover that while kids in French schools work hard, they do, luckily, get a pretty decent amount of time off.

French students from maternelle through lycée go to school five days a week (Monday-Friday).

School times and schedules can vary a bit, especially as kids get older, but generally speaking, school starts between 8 and 9am and ends anywhere from 3-4:30pm. Kids might stay at an after-school program until as late as 6:30pm.

If you’re reading or watching something that dates to pre-2008, you may notice that the school schedule was a bit different. Before that time , schools were open on Wednesday mornings, and then also also on Saturday mornings.

The idea was to give kids a bit of a mid-week break, as well as time to pursue extracurricular activities (more on that in a bit). But as a working parent, I cannot imagine how complicated it must have been…or how annoying to have to wake up early on a Saturday to get your kid to school for a few hours…not to mention to have to have part of your Saturday blocked.  Fortunately, that’s no longer the case today.

There are no longer classes on Saturday mornings, but typically, maternelles and écoles élémentaires still only offer classes on Wednesday mornings until lunchtime. Parents can sign students up for after school programs and activities that allow them to stay at the school for the typical amount of time if they prefer, or if they need to due to work.

French school life

Here are some important things to know about school life in France:

French students in public (state) schools don’t wear uniforms.

French students in public (state) schools don’t have an equivalent of something like the pledge of allegiance, morning prayer, etc., most french public (state) schools don’t allow students to bring their lunch from home..

Students either eat at the la cantine (cafeteria/canteen) or go home for the allotted lunchtime (usually an hour or two).

Meals served in French schools are usually considered decent to good quality.

I’ve heard that in a way, meals served in French schoools are a form of education, exposing students to many traditional French dishes. As early as la maternelle , children eating in the school cafeteria also start learning things like how to cut their meat, how to drink from a real glass (as opposed to a plastic one), etc. These are some of the reasons why my son eats at the school cantine – he gets to try traditional French meals it may not occur to me to make at home, and he reviews and brushes up on his table manners .

French schools aren’t closely tied with extracurricular activities or dances.  

In places like the US, school is a huge part of students’ lives, especially as they get older. Many activities, including music, sports, debate club, the school newspaper, yearbook, and so  on, are organized through the school and take place on the school grounds. But this isn’t the case in France.

For the most part, in France, school is school. You will have physical education or art or music classes during the day, but if you want to do more than that, you’ll have to sign up with an outside after-school program.

This also means there isn’t a sense of “school spirit” or “the big game” that you see in a lot of American TV shows (and experience in real life if you go to an American school). French schools also don’t organize school dances or have yearbooks, or even graduation ceremonies in most cases.  The idea behind this, I think, is that school is about academics: the French are very serious about students being there to learn and do their work.   

French education and activities are as affordable as possible.

Each year, based on their income tax, families are given a tarif familial . This determines how much they’re charged for things like school lunches, field trips (although some of these are free) and other activities, supplies, etc. 

Is bullying an issue in French schools?

A teenage boy in a blue hoodie holds his hands over his face and appears to be upset or crying.

Bullying exists in French schools but, in a way, on a lesser scale than in some other places.

Bullying ( le harcèlement ) does, unfortunately, happen in French schools. But it’s not the sort of systematic thing it is in the US, where the bully is a stock character in every high school-set TV show, and the results of real-life bullying often make news headlines.

This said, there have been bullying-related suicides in France, and there are anti-bullying campaigns and helplines. The issue is addressed by school administration. But most French people I know don’t seem to have had problems with bullying (or to have been bullies) when they were in school, and it doesn’t seem like the sort of shared, expected experience that it does in countries like the US.

It’s fascinating to me that there is no exact French word or phrase for “school bully”. I think that this shows two important things about French culture:

1. It’s a bit tougher, maybe some would say more “tough love”, than the culture in places like America. For instance, while a bully would be the only one to make fun of you for not getting a good grade, or generally being “stupid”, many French teachers will point out a student’s inadequacies (at least academically), and friends and acquaintances will liberally correct each other. When I taught in French elementary schools, this was pretty shocking to me.

2. A more old-school “stiff upper lip” mentality still predominates. This is changing, as people become more aware of the effects of bullying and as victims speak out and express themselves on social media and elsewhere. But as with many problems that cause strong emotions or difficult, complex feelings, the idea in French culture is to try to accept it and certainly not to air it out in public.

This said, these are general observations, at a large-scale level. Many parents of kids who are being bullied will take action of some kind, whether that’s confronting the kid or their parents themselves (although schools discourage this), talking to school administrators, or at least considering getting their child psychological help if it’s needed (though therapy is fairly rare and often thought of as strange or unnecessary in mainstream French culture). 

What is each year (level) of school called in French?

Most French students are in school for fifteen years (not counting university) – from petite section at age 3, to terminale at age 18.

Here are the French school grades/levels and their equivalents in the US and UK. For anyone unfamiliar with these school systems, I’ve also included the age a typical student would be in each grade/level.

Note that there are three types of French lyc ée (high school/secondary school). These are:

le lyc ée g én éral – the typical high school you might be thinking of, where students take academic classes in many different subjects.

This said, students in these schools choose a path of study based on their major areas of interest/what they want to major in in university. So some will have more emphasis on math courses, while for others it will be foreign languages or literature, etc. The system is a bit complicated to us outsiders, especially since there are subdivisions. This Frenchman’s account of being a student at a typical French lycée gives some interesting insights. And as he advises, the Wikipedia entry on the baccalauréat  exam also provides some helpful information. The French entry goes into even further detail.

le lyc ée technique/lyc ée technologique – This high school (or sometimes just a high school curriculum) focuses on applied technical or technological studies alongside academic ones. Areas of study include laboratory sciences, applied arts, management, and hospitality industry studies.

le lyc é e professionnel – vocational school. That is, a school that mainly focuses on preparing and teaching students who plan to go to work directly and don’t need or want to pursue their studies into university. Subjects include construction-related work, agriculture, and clerical positions.

Students at all three types of lyc ée will have to take some kind of exit exam , usually a variant of le baccalaur éat . This will determine if they can go to university (and which university will accept them), or, in the case of some lyc ée professionnel exit exams, like the CAP ( certificat d’aptitude professionnelle ), if they’re qualified to do a particular job or set of jobs.

What to know about French universities

We see the body of a student in a t-shirt and jean jacket. She wears a backpack and carries some school books and a binder over one arm.

French universities are always called “ université ”, not college .

But you may see this word associated with older forms of higher education in France in the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and even around Revolutionary times.

Usually, though, coll è ge means “middle school” in contemporary French.

A university is usually referred to in everyday language as la fac .

This is short for la faculté (school division of a university). The pronunciation of this word may sound a bit obscene to the unprepared Anglophone ear, as this funny, iconic, and NSFW scene from the hit French movie L’Auberge espagnole delightfully illustrates , but when you listen to it more carefully (as you should when the French-speaking character pronounces it), you’ll realize that it really does have a short “a” sound.

Not all French universities are considered equal.

This doesn’t necessarily mean in terms of the excellence of their faculty, but in terms of their funding and prestige.

Any French university will have a certain standard of academics that’s perfectly respectable. But French universities are often no-frills affairs when it comes to funding. There are also no special events like graduation ceremonies and such, and there aren’t donors who regularly gift the school with new wings and materials.

On the other hand, the Grandes Écoles are exclusive, extremely prestigious French universities that students full of academic, career, or political ambition strive to get into. They’re the rough equivalent of Ivy League schools in the US, but unlike an Ivy League school, a Grande École will only have about 200-300 graduates per year.

Unlike countries where your diploma will only take you so far, it’s been observed that every French president has always graduated from a Grande École, not some regular university.

As this article points out, the French university system can be seen as elitist . But at least even the Grandes Écoles only charge a few thousand euros for tuition, which allows them to be accessible based on academic merit, rather than economic earnings (and keeps students debt-free).

So, there are good and bad sides to the system.

After graduating from lycée , most students who want to enter a Grande École will take one to two years of classes préparatoires first.

Affiliated with a lycée and usually called by a singular, shortened name, prépa , this is an incredibly intense year or two of studies, with at least 30 hours a week of work, plus oral exams.

Prépas are organized into different areas of studies , but all of them are intense and challenging.  I know someone who took a year of prépa before going to a prestigious engineering school. He says it was the hardest year of his life, even harder than taking classes at the Grande École he then got into. He just worked and slept.

The reward for this work is getting into a good school and then, hopefully, getting a good job that lets you earn a good living or even fulfill your most ambitious desires, like becoming head of state.

That said, as with any prestigious school, a diploma is a diploma; it depends on what you choose to pursue afterwards. My friend, for instance, went to a Grande École and currently has a well-paid IT job. He’s very happy, but it’s not like his academic career automatically made him the French president or one of the richest people in the country.

La Sorbonne is not considered the best school in France.

Internationally, the best-known French university is probably La Sorbonne, officially known as l’Université de Paris today. Established in the Middle Ages, it was the first university in Europe, and is one of the oldest in the world. Still, while you can get a quality education at La Sorbonne, it is not a Grande École.

When it comes to universities in France, cost does not equal quality.

There are many private French higher education organizations that (like many of their counterparts in the US) are more focused on making money than on education.

These schools are usually very pricey, but have no prestige among the French. As a general rule, the higher the cost of a university/higher education institution in France, the less its diplomas are actually “worth”, although there are a few exceptions. If you’re thinking about studying in France, be sure to research any private institutions you’re considering.

French diploma equivalencies

Most French universities offer a three-year program to get the equivalent of an undergraduate degree in the US or UK. 

But there are a lot more French diplomas than that, and sometimes it can be confusing to find their equivalents in another country’s education system.

Let’s look at the most common French diplomas you’ll come across, and their equivalents in the US and UK.

• un DEUG (two-year university diploma) – Associate’s degree (US)/Diploma of Higher Education (UK)

• une licence – (a three-year undergraduate degree) – Bachelor’s degree

                Licence dans un domaine littéraire : BA/Bachelor of Arts

                Licence dans un domaine scientifique : BSC/Bachelor of Science/B.S. degree

• Master 1/ Maîtrise – Master’s Degree

• Master 2/ DEA : A degree given one year before postgraduate studies. There is no precise equivalent for this in the US or UK, as far as I can find, so it still generally corresponds to a Master’s Degree.

                Master dans un domaine littéraire : MA (Master of Arts)

                Master dans un domaine scientifique : MSC/MS (Master of Science)

                Master dans les affaires : MBA (Master of Business Administration)

• Doctorat : Phd/doctorate

This helpful webpage lists a few more specific French diplomas , as well as certain documents and certifications, along with their UK and US equivalents (when applicable).

French school milestones

We see the upper torsoes of two high school students at a desk looking at notes in a notebook.

You may live in a country where school is full of major events. I know that’s certainly the case in the US, where I grew up. Finishing each kind of school can, in some places, be the reason for a celebration or even a ceremony at the school itself. There are school dances, competitions, sports, and more, and of course, when you graduate from high school, there’s the iconic cap and gown ceremony where you receive your diploma.

But that’s not really the case in France. As I’ve mentioned before, the French are very serious about education. Kids may have fun at school, but there isn’t a really fun or “big deal”/ “good job” spin on things. Add to that the fact that most activities like extracurricular sports, clubs, and so on, aren’t associated with schools directly, there are no dances, and there aren’t many big school events.

This said, it may depend on the school, and of course, there can be exceptions. French preschools and elementary schools often host end-of-year carnival-style parties, for instance, and some put on concerts or plays as well.

One thing that does shape the school experience for French students are two important exams.

The first is le brevet des coll èg es , a major test taken at the end of collège (middle school) and the rough equivalent to the GCSE’S under C Grade or GNVQ Intermediate in the UK. There is no US equivalent.

The biggest French school milestone is taking le baccalaur éat , usually called le bac . This exam covers multiple subjects and includes written and oral sections, as well as some parts that may require demonstrating skills (in sports, for example). A student’s overall score and some of the minor subjects covered will differ depending on their area of study.

Le bac is the rough equivalent of A levels in the UK. As for the US, many sources say le bac is similar to AP exams, but personally, since all French high school students have to take it and it influences college admissions, I consider it similar to the SAT’s. The SAT’s are a standardized test covering a limited range of subjects, but when it comes to cultural impact and pre-test jitters, that’s the best match for le bac .

Le bac has many variants and a complex scoring system that I won’t go into in this brief overview of the French education system, but if you’d like to learn more about le bac , I’d recommend this detailed resource.

The biggest difference between le bac and AP or SAT exams, though, is that le bac also determines whether or not you can graduate lyc ée. In that sense, you can think of it as your high school diploma or a certificate of completion.

The results of the bac are posted on lists in front of the school. French students go to find their scores, then, hopefully have reason to celebrate, and that’s it – lycée is finished. There is no graduation ceremony.

University in France does seem to be a similar experience to US and UK schools, in that students still find ways to have fun, and things are a little more open in terms of scheduling – even though there’s still a lot of hard work.

At the end of post-graduate studies, students write and defend (present) un m émoir (thesis/memoir/ dissertation).  If the jury of academics approve, they and the family members and friends that the student has invited will often finish the presentation with a small celebratory ap éro (snacks and drinks).

At the end of some university cycles, there may be une remise de diplômes (graduation ceremony). Students would typically wear business or formal attire, rather than a cap and gown or other traditional clothing. But graduation ceremonies aren’t especially common.

Overall, you could say that the motto for school in France is “it’s not personal, it’s business.”  Whether they’re 3 or 23, French students’ priority is to learn. Fun is something that may happen but it’s not considered an intrinsic part of the educational experience, nor are emotional events like marking milestones.

This doesn’t mean that school in France is a totally joyless affair. You only have to look at comedies old and new that are inspired by the French school experience, including the iconic Le Petit Nicolas and the relatively recent movie Les beaux gosses (sort of like a French Superbad ) to see that there are plenty of laughs, good memories, and nostalgia tied to French academic life.

What is school like where you live? What do you like and dislike about the French education system?

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Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. She has taught English and French for more than ten years, most notably as an assistante de langue vivante for L'Education Nationale. She recently published her first novel, Hearts at Dawn , a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling that takes place during the 1870 Siege of Paris. You can read about her adventures here , or feel free to stop by her website .

12 things you should know about French schools

12 things you should know about French schools

Insurance for your child, long lunch breaks, no school uniform and enrolling in school – here are 12 things you should know about French schools

1. Nursery school is called maternelle and children start at the age of 3

2. Primary school is called école primaire and children start in September of the year they turn 6 – so children born in 2010 all start primary school in September 2016

3. Middle school is called collège and children attend from the age of 11 to 15.

4. Secondary school is called lycée where students from the age of 15 spend 3 years studying for their baccalauréat – the equivalent of A levels in the UK.

5. If a child doesn’t achieve the grades they will have to repeat the year (redoubler) – this is much more common in France

6. You will have to enrol your child in a French school – take their birth certificate, medical records, your passport and proof of address to your mairie

7. School pupils don’t wear a school uniform

8. Pupils get a long lunch break and either eat at the school canteen which offers freshly cooked healthy meals or go home for lunch – no packed lunches in France!

9. Parents must take out insurance for their children , called assurance scolaire, for school trips, sport and extra-curricular activities. This costs between €10 and €35 and covers any damage your child might do to school property and loss of belongings.

10. Schools are strictly secular (expect faith schools) so there won’t be any nativity plays

11. You have to provide all stationery and equipment, except textbooks, for your child but you can apply for and income-dependant grant to pay for these. This is called Allocation de Rentrée Scolaire and you can apply for it at your local CAF (Caisses d’Allocation Familiales)

12. The school day in France starts at 8.30 and finishes at 4.30 with a long lunch break. Some schools close on Wednesday afternoons which is when children participate in extra-curricular activities

More on the French education system:

A guide to the French education system

10 differences between French and British schools

Higher education in France

Ian Moore: back to school in France

5 tips for moving to France as a family

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France’s Nursery and Primary School System: Maternelle & Ecole Primaire

Essential Reading

France’s Nursery and Primary School System: Maternelle & Ecole Primaire

For families looking to relocate to France with young children, the French primary school system may be very different to that of their home country. Here is a practical guide to schooling in France for children between the ages of 3-11 years old.

Nursery School and Primary School in France

The French primary school system is generally well-known for its very good quality of instruction. Both, the école maternelle ( nursery School) and école primaire (primary school) consist of 24 hours of instruction per week.

Schools, along with their local commune (local administrative unit) may decide to organize these 24 hours into a four-day school week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) or chose to include a half-day on Wednesday morning.

Wednesdays are generally used for sports activities and other interests outside of school, as well as homework.  French schools give students homework from a young age and this can be more substantial than your child may be used to.

Which French School Zone?

France is divided into three school zones: A, B & C- which have been defined by the Ministry of National Education and is dependent on the region of France you will be living in and its corresponding regional educational authority.

Zone A : Besançon, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, Limoges, Lyon, Poitiers

Zone B: Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Lille, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Nice, Normandie, Orléans-Tours, Reims, Rennes, Strasbourg

Zone C: Créteil, Montpellier, Paris, Toulouse, Versailles

The dates of school holidays per region may also be found on the ministry website.

École Maternelle ( Nursery School)

  As of September 2019, the French state declared it mandatory for children to attend école maternelle from the age of 3.

The classes at maternelle are organized in the following structure:

French Class         Age

Petite Section             3-4

Moyenne Section      4-5

Grande Section          5-6

École Primaire (Primary School)

  Children attend école primaire between the ages of 6-11. Even the smallest of communes will have access to an école primaire.

The classes are organized in the following structure:

French Class                     Age

Cours Préparatoire (CP).           6-7

Cours Élémentaire 1 (CE1)        7-8

Cours Élémentaire 2 (CE2)        8-9

Cours Moyen 1 (CM1)                9-10

Cours Moyen 2 (CM2)              10-11

French Primary Eduction: What Are Les Cycles?

During the course of your child’s primary education, you will come across les cycles or key stages of education to ensure uniformity of instruction across the schools. The idea is for subjects and topics to be taught and revisited during each three-year cycle in order to reinforce learning.

Cycle 1: Also known as Cycle des apprentissages premier , covers the Petite, Moyenne and Grande Sections of école maternelle

Cycle 2: Cycle des apprentissages fondamentaux , covering CP, CE1 and CE2 in école primaire

Cycle 3: Cycle de consolidation, covers CM1, CM2 of école primaire as well as 6ème (seixième)- the first year of secondary school

La Cantine (School Canteen)

Écoles maternelle and primaire have cantine facilities for the children. The food is normally delivered by a catering company and is generally of a high quality. Children are served three courses, with greater efforts being made to serve vegetarian food too. If your child has food allergies or does not eat certain foods due to religious/cultural reasons, these are noted upon inscription and respected.

Private or public school in France? What’s the difference?

If you are from the UK, the term may be confusing. However, public schools in France are state schools. The standard of education across both public and private schools is generally comparable and French primary education has a good reputation.

A difference you may find with your home country is that French private schools are subsidized by the French State and as such are an affordable option. Parents or legal guardians pay school fees based on a sliding scale, dependent on your level of household income and siblings being at the same school at the same time.

French private schools have a certain amount of liberty in organizing their schedules. Private schools for example may decide to take le pont , taking an additional day as a holiday when it falls between two bank holidays or close to the weekend.  Public schools are required to keep to the State published holidays.

The majority of private schools in France are Catholic schools, although families not required to be practising Catholics. School’s schedule one hour per week to teach Catholicism, however, you may opt for broader humanity studies if preferred.

The majority of écoles primaire have active parent-teacher associations, known as l’association nationale de parents d’élèves . These associations play an important role in the fundraising for school facilities and trips and are a great way to meet other parents too.

Studying in France?

From nursery through secondary school to higher education, university, and foreign exchange study programs—FrenchEntrée is here to answer all your back-to-school questions. Visit our Education zone for more on studying in France and the French school system, or find out more about raising children in France in our Family zone .

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french parents boycott homework

French parents to boycott homework

A group of French parents and teachers have called for a two-week boycott of homework in schools, saying it is useless, tiring and reinforces inequalities between children.

They say homework pushes the responsibility for learning on parents and causes rows between themselves and their children. And they conclude children would be better off reading a book.

"If the child hasn't succeeded in doing the exercise at school, I don't see how they're going to succeed at home," said Jean-Jacques Hazan, the president of the FCPE, the main French parents' association, which represents parents and pupils in most of France's educational establishments.

"In fact, we're asking parents to do the work that should be done in lessons."

Homework is officially banned in French primary schools, and has been since 1956. But many teachers ignore this and send children home with exercises to do. Older children often spend up to an hour each evening doing homework, and longer at the weekend or on Wednesdays when most schools close.

Catherine Chabrun, president of the teachers' organisation Co-operative Institute of Modern Schools (ICEM), says homework also reinforces inequalities.

"Not all families have the time or the necessary knowledge to help their offspring," she said.

The protesters calling for the ban say no one is contesting the idea of children being given "devoirs" – or exercises – just that they should be done during the school day and not at home. "Teachers don't realise the unbelievable pressure they are putting children under," said Hazan.

The question of whether young children should do homework has been a matter of fierce debate and disagreement in France since 1912. The anti-homework campaigners stand little chance of banning it, even for two weeks, but their blog , which has already had 22,000 visits in the past fortnight, hopes to put the perennial controversy back on the political agenda.

On the blog, Mado, the mother of a young pupil in her first primary school class (aged 6-7), writes: "My daughter is completely stressed … often she doesn't have time to finish her homework and she is afraid of being told off." She signs off: "Thanks for your blog. I feel less alone!"

A statement from the FCPE said: "Either a pupil has understood the lesson and succeeded in doing the exercises in class, in which case homework is a waste of time and stops them reading, for example, or they haven't understood and it's not at home in the absence of a teacher that they're going to do better."

Not all parents agree. Myriam Menez, general secretary of PEEP, another school parents' association, told Le Parisien giving primary school children homework prepared them for secondary school."Of course it has to be reasonable, but going back over a lesson is the best way of learning things," she said.

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Pencils Down? French Plan Would End Homework

Eleanor Beardsley

Eleanor Beardsley

do french schools give homework

As part of an effort to overhaul education in France, President Francois Hollande is proposing the elimination of homework. Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

As part of an effort to overhaul education in France, President Francois Hollande is proposing the elimination of homework.

In the name of equality, the French government has proposed doing away with homework in elementary and junior high school. French President Francois Hollande argues that homework penalizes children with difficult home situations, but even the people whom the proposal is supposed to help disagree.

It's 5:30 p.m. and getting dark outside, as kids pour out of Gutenberg Elementary School in Paris 15th arrondissement. Parents and other caregivers wait outside to collect their children. Aissata Toure, 20, is here with her younger sister in tow. She's come to pick up her 7-year-old son. Toure says she's against Hollande's proposal to do away with homework.

"It's not a good idea at all because even at a young age, having individual work at home helps build maturity and responsibility," she says, "and if it's something they didn't quite get in school, the parents can help them. Homework is important for a kid's future."

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Toure lives with her son, her little sister and her mother in public housing near the school. On the surface, it seems just the sort of family environment that might put a child at a disadvantage. Yet Toure says she sits down with her son every night, even though she's in law school and has her own studies.

"Poor people want homework because they know that school is very important, and the only chance — the only possibility — they have to give their children a better life is if their children succeed at school," says Emmanuel Davidenkoff, editor-in-chief of L'Etudiant , a magazine and website devoted to French school and education.

An Educational Divide

Davidenkoff says the Socialist government doesn't seem to understand the concerns of the working and middle class and in the name of equality, got it all wrong.

do french schools give homework

President Francois Hollande argues that homework puts poor children at a disadvantage, but others argue the extra work is needed to help those students succeed. Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

President Francois Hollande argues that homework puts poor children at a disadvantage, but others argue the extra work is needed to help those students succeed.

"Mostly, wealthy people don't want homework because when the kids are at home, they make sports or dance or music. They go to the museums, to the theater. So they have this access to culture, which is very important," he says. "In poor families, they don't have that, so the only link they have with culture and school is homework."

Elisabeth Zeboulon sits in her office over the playground. Today, she's the principal at a private, bilingual school in Paris, but she spent most of her career in French public schools. Zeboulon says the centralized French education system doesn't leave much room for trying different teaching methods.

"The kids are very different from one place to another, from one school to another, and we don't have much way of adapting," she says. "And whenever they start saying, 'Well in this place we could do this, in that place we could do that,' then you have a lot of people coming up and saying, 'Look, it's not equal.' "

Infusing Happiness

Cutting homework is just part of an effort aimed at making primary and secondary school a happier, more relaxed place for children. The school week will be lengthened — currently, French children have Wednesdays off — but the school day will be shortened. Kids get out so late here there's no time for extracurricular activities. Basically, French school is a grind, says Peter Gumbel, author of a scathing book on the education system in France.

"There's an enormous amount of pressure, and it's no fun whatsoever. There's no sport or very little sport, very little art, very little music. Kids don't have a good time at all," he says. "And it's not about building self-confidence and encouraging them to go out and discover the world. It's much more about, sit down and we'll fill your empty heads with our rather dull and old-fashioned knowledge."

There's another big reason the French government is making changing school policy a top priority, Gumbel says.

"The French are discovering — to their horror — that their performance internationally has been declining over the last 10 years. The French actually are performing [worse] than the Americans in reading and science," he says.

This is a huge shock, Gumbel says, to a country that long considered itself an education pioneer.

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How the French Do School

Wherein the end probably justifies the means..

Reading time min

How the French Do School

Julia Breckenreid

By Robert L. Strauss

When my wife and I moved to Cameroon, we had two choices for our then 5-year-old daughter: the American school on the other side of town that cost $10,000 a year, or the French school around the corner that cost $2,000. It was, as the French might say, a decision sans cerveau. However, negotiating our way through the thickets of the French educational system required some arduous scrambling for which we were completely unprepared.

For example, American school grades ascend logically from 1 to 12. Not so the French. Their system starts with a long sequence of at first meaningless abbreviations that evolve into a NASA-like countdown. Even Francophones often need refresher classes on what these abbreviations mean.

We also learned that while standardized testing provokes the passion of religious debate in the United States, the French have long since determined how best Jacques et Jeanne should learn to read—which is pretty much that every student in every French school everywhere in the world should be turning the same page at more or less the same instant. Miraculously, this seems to work: nearly all holders of a French sixth grade education know the difference between the passé composé and the imparfait, whereas most American recipients of PhDs in English do not.

Additionally, the French do not play loosey-goosey with grade assignments. If a newly enrolled child will turn 5 at two minutes before midnight on December 31, he goes into CP. If the child's birthday falls on January 1 at two minutes past midnight, then it's Grande Section. Point final.

Unlike Americans, the French do not assume that parents are likely to be more responsible than their children. With rare exceptions, parents are all but banned from the classroom. This has the remarkable effect of freeing up hundreds of hours a year for teachers to concentrate on their students rather than on the neuroses of their students' parents.

Parents are still expected to be involved in their children's education by initialing the nearly daily directives pasted into each student's texte du jour. Although I am not sure what the sanctions are for noncompliance, I believe they are severe and may include having to spend several hours in the close company of dedicated smokers of Gauloises and Gitanes— non-filtre.

The French also do not make the mistake of believing that the effectiveness of schooling is directly related to the number of hours in the classroom, the amount of homework assigned or the weight of a child's cartable (schoolbag). During our daughter's first five years of French schooling in Cameroon, she had about 10 hours of homework—total. This had my wife gravely concerned for her future. To me, it seemed just about right and reminded me a bit of my own elementary school days, except without the snow.

For parents, the real challenge begins in September with preparation for the rentrée. This involves purchasing all the materials enumerated in long, grade-specific lists. Parents must also present them to the teacher before opening day so that they can be assessed and any deficiencies identified and rectified.

For the non-French parent, deciphering some of the supplies can be as complex as conjugating irregular French verbs in the pluperfect subjunctive.

Never wishing to cut their vacation short by a single day, the French can be counted on to lay siege to supply stores just before the rentrée. The closest cinematic equivalent would be the Oklahoma Land Rush as staged by Ron Howard in Far and Away —but without the wagons and horses. Comparatively speaking, a clearance sale at Filene's is a stroll in the park as parents rifle the shelves looking for the protège-cahier grand format violet, a thin, textured plastic notebook cover that is always out of stock. (My thinking is that all French retailers are in cahoots and in mid-August gather in a room filled with smoke, Armagnac and lingerie models where they decide to send every protège-cahier grand format violet to one store and every cahier grand format to another store located as far away as possible in the same municipality. In this way, every vendor is assured of his piece of liberté, égalité, fraternité. )

This year I was able to find all of the required supplies at a single store—except for the protèges-cahiers grand format violet, vert and  jaune. That required stopping at several other stores, most of which turned out to have plenty of protèges-cahiers petit format  in the missing colors but not in grand format.

Fourth Grade Shopping List:

  • Four notebooks of 192 pages, in large format, with large, ruled squares. Daily notebook to be covered in red, evaluation notebook to be covered in yellow, literature notebook to be covered in green, and English notebook to be covered in purple.
  • One notebook of 96 pages, small format, large-ruled squares, for essays, to be covered in green.
  • One notebook of 48 pages, small format, large-ruled squares, for liaison, to be covered in pink.
  • One notebook of 48 pages, small format, large-ruled squares, for practical work, to be covered in violet.
  • One daily work calendar book.
  • One small pad.
  • One plastic pocket envelope with a leaf.
  • One portfolio.
  • One large format binder with four dividers (for history, geography, science and social studies).
  • Two 50-page packets of A4 paper with large-ruled squares.
  • One packet of white “Canson” in large format with a paper weight of not less than 120 grams.
  • A flat, plastic ruler.
  • A flat, plastic angle.
  • 10 brightly colored paper sleeves. Do not write the child's name on them.
  • Five sheets of tracing paper.
  • Five sheets of millimeter paper.
  • A box of pens including five blue pens, two black pens, two green pens and one red pen.
  • A scissors with rounded ends.
  • One small chalkboard.
  • A box of chalk.
  • A towel for wiping.
  • A box of 12 colored pencils (“European norm”).
  • A box of 12 felt-tip pens.
  • A finely tipped #10 paint brush.
  • A regularly tipped #10 brush.
  • A ream of A4 paper of not less than 80-gram weight.
  • A role of plastic (for covering textbooks).
  • A pot of glue.
  • A schoolbag.

Finally fully equipped, I reported to Maîtresse Véronique, who dutifully ticked each item off her long list. When, at the end of each of the first three days of school, we asked our daughter what she had done in school that day, to no surprise she answered, “We wrote our names on our supplies.”

Someday an American entering the French system for the first time will rally other parents to petition the French Ministry of Education to revise what is clearly a regressive, nonegalitarian tax on the families of school-age children. After spending several years failing to move the French bureaucracy a millimeter, this American will then take it upon herself to form a company that will bundle all the materials required for each grade in a single box that includes all the correct sizes and colors of protège-cahier. A large political debate will then break out among the French, who will agonize over who was responsible for letting an American undermine a vital aspect of their cultural heritage while wondering what they can do to stop the onslaught.

On the brighter side, once parents have purchased everything, they can look forward to having nearly no involvement in their children's education for the rest of the year aside from three short meetings with the teacher before each of the major holidays. Our daughter's generally favorable evaluations haven't prevented my wife from worrying that by the time she reaches Terminale she'll be 13 years behind her American contemporaries. Most parents, however, seem to be comfortable with the French system. After all, nearly every French-educated child knows that Canada is a large North American country, whereas most American children believe it is simply a hockey association.

On the downside, the French approach to childhood education can engender a certain parental lassitude. Last year, for example, despite streams of red ink adorning my daughter's cahiers, I remained unconcerned because her teacher was unconcerned. Only much later did I learn that fourth-grade students are required to write all uppercase letters in red and all lowercase letters in blue. How this benefits anyone other than the Bic family, I have no idea. But as long as the French continue to produce marvelous butter and excellent pastries at reasonable prices, I couldn't care less. It seems, after all, a small price to pay for having a well-educated child.

ROBERT L. STRAUSS, MA '84, MBA '84, formerly Peace Corps director in Cameroon, is a writer and consultant in Madagascar.

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The French School System Explained 👩🏼‍🏫

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

This is always a problem for my students. Understanding the French school system, l’école française, knowing which grades are which is a real nightmare. So here is a post that should make things easier. I wrote the equivalent grades in the US/UK school system, and the age of the students for reference.

Navigating the French school system and the equivalent US/UK grades can be tricky. Here’s an explanation of each French grades as well as related French school vocabulary and French school supply vocabulary.

How to Say School in French?

School, the generic term is l’école ( feminine , singular).

Leyla aime aller à l’école. Leyla enjoys going to school.

Now let’s see the different French school levels.

graphic with the names the French education system

How to Say Preschool in French?

Preschool is l’école maternelle (la maternelle). Attendance to preschool is not compulsory in France.

Here are the different French preschool grades:

  • La petite section de maternelle ou PS (3 ans) = Nursery.
  • La moyenne section de maternelle ou MS (4 ans) = Pre-K (Reception UK)
  • La grande section de maternelle ou GS (5 ans) = Kindergarden (Year 1 UK)

Read my thoughts about switching from an American to a French preschool system .

How to Say Elementary School in French?

Elementary school in French is “l’école primaire”, or “le primaire” and it is compulsory in France. This means that in France, kids 6 and up must go to school (see the paragraph below about homeschooling in France). 

Here are the different French elementary school grades:

  • Cours préparatoire ou CP (6 ans) = 1st Grade (Year 2 UK).
  • Cours élémentaire 1re année ou CE1 (7 ans) = 2nd grade (Year 3 UK).
  • Cours élémentaire 2e année ou CE2 (8 ans) = 3rd grade (Year 4 UK).
  • Cours moyen 1re année ou CM1 (9 ans) = 4th grade(Year 5 UK).
  • Cours moyen 2e année ou CM2 (10 ans) = 5th grade (Year 6 UK).

Les écoliers = elementary school children L’école is often used to talk about elementary school in French.

The teachers are called traditionally “ le maître ” and “ la maîtresse ” (be very careful with this word since it means “elementary school teacher” AND “a (woman) lover”… go figure…)

In elementary school in France, a main teacher teaches several “ matières (f)” such as le français, les mathématiques, la géographie, l’histoire, les sciences …

School Children Age in France

The age indicated in this article is the minimum age you are supposed to be when entering that grade.

Of course, it’s a bit flexible: Leyla is from November, so we had a choice: she could have been one of the youngest or one of the oldest in her class. With the agreement of the school director, she joined CP at 5, turning 6 in November and therefore finishing that grade age 6.

It could be the contrary as well: kids entering CP at 6, turning 7 that year: it’s the majority of the cases.

And some kids also repeat years (this is called “redoubler” in French).

Of course, there are always unique cases.


– Here we are! – Not already?!

What is the French Word for Middle School?

After elementary school, French kids start what we call “l’enseignement secondaire”.

It starts with “le collège” – Middle School. Kids usually attend Middle school in France from age 11 to 16. Some kind of formal education is compulsory in France till 16.

Here are the various French middle school grades:

  • La sixième (11 ans) = 6th grade (Year 7 UK).
  • La cinquième (12 ans) = 7th grade (Year 8 UK).
  • La quatrième (13 ans) = 8th grade (Year 9 UK).
  • La troisième  (14 ans) = 9th grade (Year 10 UK).

The collège ends with a test called “ le brevet “.

Kids attending middle school are called “un collégien, une collégienne”

There are several “professeurs” (un professeur, always masculine even when referring to a woman teacher.

Camille est un bon professeur , but in slang, you can say “un/mon prof” or “une/ma prof”)

Middle school is also referred as “le premier cycle des études secondaires”.


Collège in French vs College in English

Watch out for the common French mistake:

  • le collège = middle school
  • la fac, la faculté, l’université = college

Confusing indeed!

The best way to memorize these kind of subtleties is to learn French in context. My beginner level audiobook  A Moi Paris L1 has a chapter about middle school (ch 17), and in my intermediate audiobook method  A Moi Paris L4 chapter 1 describes a typical day at a university.

Both French audiobooks clearly explain French and then illustrate the new grammar/ vocabulary points with a level-adapted bilingual French story recorded at 2 levels of enunciation (enunciated and modern).

do french schools give homework

A new approach to learning both traditional and modern French logically structured for English speakers.

More Details & Audio Samples

High School in France

High school in French is called “le lycée”. Students are about 16 to 18 years old.

Le lycée can be in general studies, with some specialty as in languages or sciences, leading to the diploma of Baccalauréat général (commonly called “le bac” – do say the “c”), or prepare you for a special trade (hairdresser, a cook, mechanic…) leading to CAP or BEP diplomas – you can stop at 16 years old – or to a Baccalauréat technologique.

Studies in France are compulsory until you reach 16 years old, but they can be in school or in some kind of study/apprentice program.

High school in France is sometimes referred to as “le second cycle des études secondaires”.

Here are the various French high school grades:

  • La seconde (15 ans) = 10th grade (Year 11 UK).
  • La première (16 ans) = 11th grade (Year 12 UK).
  • La terminale (17 ans) = 12th grade (Year 13 UK).

collège vs. college in French

Higher Education in France

Higher education in France is generally called “l’enseignement (m) supérieur”.

French students then go for “des études supérieures” (higher studies) à la fac, à l’université (watch out this is college in French…) or in les Grandes Écoles (the French Ivy League: SciencePo, HEC, more … ).

You need to have le baccalauréat to get into these schools, and Les Grandes Écoles often require that you have “une mention” (honors of the jury) to get in, or that you pass a special test.

Homeschooling in France

Homeschooling in France is often called “Le homeschooling”. We also say “l’école à la maison” ou “la scolarisation à domicile”. Homeschooling in France is not illegal, but quite rare.

Most children that are home-schooled in France are so because their parents are traveling, or because the kids have a medical condition.

Homeschooling parents have to register with the French school authorities and potentially face yearly inspections/evaluations to make sure the children keep up with French educational standards.

How to Say to Take a French Class in French ?

In French you cannot say “French class”. Your class is not French itself: it’s a class about the French language. Saying “French class” is an idiom in English.

So translating word by word and saying: “une classe française” is a mistake.

So here are a few possible translations to talk about your French class:

  • “Je suis un cours de français” (of the verb “suivre”: ‘to follow’) I’m taking a French class
  • “Je fais partie d’une classe de français”, I’m enrolled in a French class
  • “J’adore ma classe/mon cours de français”, I love my French class
  • “Je déteste ma prof de français” I hate my French teacher

In any case, to say “French” for a class, it’s “ de français “, never “français/française”, which is my point :-)

More about how to translate  French and France in French .

How to translate ‘I study French’ in French

To say ‘I study French’, here is what you can say:

  • “J’étudie le français” I study French The name of the language is “le français”, and it’s masculine.
  • J’étudie la langue française I study the French language “La langue” being feminine, the adjective “française” is also in the feminine.

Now let’s review the French school vocabulary we saw in this article and add additional French school terms.

French School Vocabulary

  • La maternelle = preschool
  • L’école primaire = elementary school
  • Le collège = middle school
  • Le lycée = high school
  • L’université, la faculté (la fac) = college
  • Un écolier, une écolière = elementary school child
  • Le maître, la maîtresse = elementary school teacher
  • Un collégien, une collégienne = middle school child
  • Un professeur = teacher – always masculine
  • Un prof, une prof = teacher, common slang
  • Un lycéen, une lycéenne = high school child
  • un étudiant, une étudiante = a student
  • Les vacances – always plural in French – vacation
  • La rentrée (des classes/ scolaire) – 1st day back to school
  • Faire ses devoirs – to do one’s homework
  • Suivre un cours de français/ une classe de français – to take a French class – watch out, you can’t say “un cours français/ une classe française”, it’s a class OF French (language) in French, the class itself is not French – more in this blog article.
  • l’APEL – association des parents d’élèves (parent association)
  • Le directeur, la directrice – principal
  • La cantine – the cantine / cafeteria
  • La récréation (la récré) – recess
  • L’étude – study hall
  • Une colle – detention
  • Se faire coller – to be sent to detention
  • Les notes – grades

20 French School Words For Supplies

  • Les fournitures scolaires (f) – school supplies
  • Un classeur – a binder
  • Un cahier – a notebook
  • Un livre – a textbook
  • Un agenda – an agenda
  • Une feuille de papier – a piece of paper
  • Une copie double – I don’t know how to say that in English… it’s 2 pieces of paper together, so 4 sides total – we use them for exams
  • Une trousse – a pencil case
  • Un crayon (à papier / de couleur) – pencil / color pencil
  • Un feutre – marker
  • Un stylo, un bic (say the c) – a ball-point pen
  • Un stylo plume – an fountain pen (ink) – yes, French kids still use these!
  • Un effaceur – ink eraser + marker
  • Une gomme – an eraser
  • Une calculatrice – a calculator
  • Une règle – a ruler
  • Un tableau – black/white board
  • Une craie – a chalk
  • Un sac à dos – backpack
  • Un bureau – desk (un pupitre is quite old-fashioned)

Voilà, I hope you’ll find this article useful.

I post new articles every week, so make sure you subscribe to the French Today newsletter – or follow me on  Facebook , Twitter  and  Pinterest .

You may also enjoy:

  • My thoughts comparing French and American preschool systems
  • Back to School Poem

Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 23+ years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

More Articles from Camille Chevalier-Karfis

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A bit of French culture

  • French table etiquette
  • Being a polite house guest in France
  • How to ask where is bathroom in French?
  • What to do if you are sick in France?
  • French school system explained
  • Catholic mass prayers in French
  • Madame or Mademoiselle?
  • How to dress in Paris?
  • Paris Subway audio guide

French Traditions Even wonder how the French spend these holidays?

  • Christmas in France
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French children are promised an end to homework

Middle-class children get help at home, while less fortunate children fall behind, the French education minister said

Parents will no longer face the “poisonous” task of helping their children with maths or grammar under a French government plan to ensure that homework is done at school.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, the education minister, said his scheme to end the traditional homework routine would reduce social inequality and help to bring about a harmonious mood in families by ending the tension that often arises as parents seek to persuade children to complete their assignments on a Sunday evening.

He said in an interview with Le Parisien that all schools would be forced to organise after-hours homework clubs run by retired or practising teachers, or by university students. He wants to make sure that by the time pupils go home they will have finished all their

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15 interesting facts about french schools.

Bertine Heyward

Bertine Heyward

Modified & Updated: 31 Dec 2023

Published: 30 Dec 2023

Modified: 31 Dec 2023


French schools are known for their rich history, rigorous education system, and unique cultural practices. From kindergartens to universities, the French education system places a strong emphasis on academic excellence and personal growth. In this article, we will explore 15 interesting facts about French schools that highlight the distinct features and traditions of their education system. From the iconic school uniform to the celebrated “La Rentrée” (the return to school) tradition, these facts will give you an insight into the fascinating world of French education. Whether you’re a student, a parent, or simply curious about different schooling cultures, join us as we delve into the intriguing realm of French schools.

French schools have a longer school day compared to many other countries.

French schools typically have a longer school day, with classes starting early in the morning and finishing in the late afternoon. This extended schedule allows for a more in-depth curriculum and more time for extracurricular activities.

School lunches in France are a serious affair.

In French schools, lunchtime is not just about eating; it is considered an important social and educational time. Students are provided with nutritious, multi-course meals that include a variety of dishes such as salad, main courses, cheeses, and desserts.

French schools follow a strict uniform policy.

Uniforms are mandatory in most French schools, promoting a sense of equality among students. The traditional uniform consists of a specific color scheme and style, varying according to the grade level and school.

French students have shorter summer vacations.

In France, the summer vacation period is relatively short, usually lasting only about eight weeks. This allows for a more consistent learning schedule throughout the year and helps prevent significant gaps in students’ knowledge.

All French schools teach English as a mandatory subject.

English is taught from a young age in French schools, starting as early as the primary level. This aims to provide students with strong language skills and enhance their opportunities for international communication and career prospects.

Homework is not common in French primary schools.

In French primary schools, the emphasis is placed on learning through activities and immediate feedback. Therefore, homework is not commonly assigned, allowing students to have more time for extracurricular activities and family time.

French schools strongly promote physical education.

Physical education, or “EPS” (Education Physique et Sportive), is a highly valued part of the curriculum in French schools. Students participate in various sports, aiming to instill a healthy lifestyle, teamwork, and discipline.

French students learn multiple foreign languages.

In addition to English, students in France typically learn at least one other foreign language. Common choices include Spanish, German, Italian, or even Latin.

French schools focus heavily on a well-rounded education.

French schools prioritize a broad spectrum of subjects, including humanities, sciences, arts, sports, and technology. This approach aims to provide students with a comprehensive education and foster their individual interests and talents.

Exams play a crucial role in French schools.

Exams, such as the Baccalauréat (commonly known as “Bac”), are significant milestones in French education. These exams assess students’ knowledge and determine their readiness to progress to higher education.

French schools have a strong emphasis on arts and culture.

France is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, and French schools strive to preserve and promote it. Art, music, theater, and literature hold a prominent place in the curriculum, fostering creativity and artistic expression.

School trips are an integral part of the French education system.

French schools regularly organize educational trips and outings to museums, historical sites, and cultural events. These excursions provide students with hands-on experiences and enhance their understanding of various subjects.

French schools have a rigorous grading system.

French schools use a numerical grading system ranging from 0 to 20, with 10 being the passing grade. Teachers provide detailed feedback on students’ performance, enabling them to monitor their progress closely.

French schools encourage critical thinking and debate.

The French education system places a strong emphasis on developing analytical and reasoning skills. Students are encouraged to question, discuss, and debate various topics, fostering independent thinking and intellectual growth.

French schools prioritize civic education.

French schools incorporate civic education into their curriculum, teaching students about democracy, citizenship, and social responsibility. This helps develop a sense of community and prepares students to actively participate in society.

In conclusion, French schools have some truly interesting aspects that set them apart from other educational systems around the world. From their focus on academic excellence to the emphasis on arts and culture, French schools offer a unique and well-rounded education for students. The extensive school lunch system, the absence of homework, and the centralized organization of education are just a few of the fascinating elements that contribute to the success of French schools. The strict disciplinary policies, the rich history of education in France, and the emphasis on learning multiple languages also make French schools stand out. Overall, the French educational system is a reflection of the country’s values and commitment to providing an exceptional education to its students.

1. Are French schools only for French citizens?

No, French schools are open to both French citizens and foreigners. However, there may be different admission procedures and requirements for international students.

2. Is learning French mandatory in French schools?

Yes, learning French is mandatory in French schools. It is the primary language of instruction, and students are expected to become fluent in French during their schooling.

3. Do French schools have uniforms?

Yes, most French schools require students to wear uniforms. The typical uniform consists of a blazer, shirt or blouse, and trousers or skirt.

4. What subjects are taught in French schools?

French schools cover a wide range of subjects including mathematics, sciences, humanities, foreign languages, art, music, and physical education.

5. Do French schools have extracurricular activities?

Yes, French schools offer a variety of extracurricular activities such as sports clubs, art clubs, music ensembles, and theater groups.

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How To Understand The Confusing French School System

By: Author David Issokson

Posted on Published: January 12, 2023  - Last updated: August 3, 2023

How To Understand The Confusing French School System

French school system, grades and diplomas explained

Are you moving to France and wondering what to expect from the national school system? Or just curious about teaching in a country that birthed Voltaire, Monet, and the language of Molière?

We look at how the French education system works with intriguing comparisons to the US. You might be surprised at the differences and the occasional similarities.

Table explaining the French school system; French grades and US equivalents.

Is the French education system any good?

Let’s start with a question every transatlantic parent will worry about: is the French school system good?

The short answer is yes.

Any country that produced 71 Nobel Prize winners (4 th overall, globally) must be doing something right.

But the French school system is far from flawless. The OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) places France just 26 th of 41 assessed countries in 2023.

However, PISA looks at more than educational skills. For reading, literacy, math, and science, France scores a respectable 494, above the OECD average of 488.

For comparison, the US is ranked 8 th globally and scores just one point higher (495) for core skills.

French Schools: Understanding The French Education System

What’s differences will American students notice?

Ask an American in France about the French vs. American school systems, and several differences are regularly mentioned. It’s a mixed bag of stuff that matters and things that are simply surprising. We’ll let you decide which:

  • Schooling in France is highly centralized, and curriculums are consistent across départements.
  • There are no school board elections. Parents may join a group organizing school activities, like the annual kermesse (summer fete,) but have little influence on teaching.
  • French teachers teach – they are rarely involved in after-school activities.
  • Schools in France are strict, and the teacher-student relationship can be very formal.
  • School days are longer in France but include a full or half day of closure on Wednesdays.
  • There are no yellow school buses. Free or subsidized buses are typically provided up to 15 years old.
  • There is no dress code for any age.
  • French children have unnervingly neat handwriting drilled into them from a young age.
  • University education is essentially free in France.

École means school in French

The school system in France

Behind those headline differences, there is some info that every parent should know when moving from the US to France.

Education in France is compulsory from 3 to 16 years old. The law was changed in 2018, reducing the mandatory starting age from 6.

Public schools in France are free and secular. Stationery and other ancillary costs are out-of-pocket costs. Insurance is required for sports and school trips, and a copy of the certificate will be requested.

At primary level, you will find private, typically Catholic, schools. Private schools in France are cheap, around €300 annually. Many are in demand, with a higher teaching reputation.

There are very few private schools at the high school level. Most are expensive international schools located in cities with large expatriate communities, notably Paris.

The choice of public schools is determined by geography, and parents have little say in which schools their children attend. Consequently, private tutoring is widespread.

Between 16-18, educational paths are chosen. The French school system is geared towards graduating with a baccalauréat (aka, le bac ). It is broadly equivalent to a High School Diploma.

There are three academic and eight technical baccalauréat, in addition to vocational equivalents.

At 16, it is possible to opt for a course only offered at a preferred lycée . This explains why some teenagers suddenly develop a keen interest in Latin or ancient Greek history.

The four stages of schooling in France

There are four stages of education in the French education system , discounting post-18 education (university or vocational colleges):

École maternelle (preschool and kindergarten) – for children aged 3 to 6. This is typically provided at an école primaire and prepares kids for primary teaching.

École élémentaire (primary school) – The first stage of measured education for children aged 6 to 11. Children follow a teaching curriculum from this point, which includes a second language.

Collège (Middle School and Junior High) – pupils aged 11 to 15 follow a broad program of study.

Lycée (High School) – further secondary education until age 18, although students can leave at 16. The final two years teach narrow baccalauréat subjects.

Grading – France vs. American Education system

Another clear difference between French vs. American school systems is how grades are described.

The first three years of school (3-6) are known as the first cycle, or La Maternelle (kindergarten.) Equivalent to preschool/kindergarten in the US.

At the primary school level, grades are named rather than numbered. The terms loosely describe the level of learning, which starts with CP, or cours préparatoire (preparatory,) stretching to CM 2 ( cours moyen ) at age 11 (5 th grade.)

For college-age upwards (11+,) numbers take over, but in reverse. The US counts up from 6 th grade, and the French system counts down from 6ème . The final year (i.e., 12 th grade) is terminale (final.)

Universities in France

A world-beating feature of the French education system is that public universities are free for residents and international students.

There are some annual admin fees, typically €170 (Undergraduate) and €243 (Master’s,) but that’s a drop in the ocean compared to university fees back home. Private universities in France are more aligned, averaging €10,000 per annum .

There are 140 universities in France, the EPSCP – Éstablissement public á caractére scientifique, culturel et professionnel (Public Establishments of a Scientific, Cultural or Professional Character).

83 are public institutions, and the remainder is elite Grands éstablissements public , like the illustrious Sorbonne.

Those numbers exclude the famous Grandes Écoles – uber-elite private universities akin to the Ivy League, with specialist teaching. For example, the Institut National Du Service Public (formerly the École Nationale d’Administration) teaches much of France’s political class.

La Sorbonne: A prestigious university in Paris.

French degrees vs. US degrees

The annual QS rankings place 13 French universities in the top 500 globally. However, this is eclipsed by US universities, with 12 in the world’s top 25 alone .

A French degree still opens doors. And since 2004, they’ve been easier to compare internationally, when France adopted Le système LMD : Licence – Masters – Doctorate . This corresponds to Bachelor’s-Master’s-Doctorate.

In the past, you would have seen the qualifications tied to a baccalauréat . A Licence , for example, was Bac+3 ( baccalauréat plus 3 years of further study.)

Now, the system allocates degree level and length of study. An L3 is a 3-year licence , equivalent to a Bachelor’s.

An L2 is equivalent to an associate degree in the US.

Master’s degrees are studied for one or two years: M1 or M2.

PhDs are broadly comparable to doctorates in the US but focused on training for research, incorporating other components in addition to a primary thesis.

France uses the Bologna Process, participating in the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System ( ECTS .) ECTS facilitates transfer and comparison between degrees issued by European universities.

How long is the school day in France?

Search online, and the most common observation is that school hours are longer in France.

A typical school day in France is from 08:30 to 16:30. Excluding breaks, a school week delivers 24 hours of lessons.

The biggest shock for many is that école élémentaires are usually closed on Wednesdays. And collége and lycée are typically closed on Wednesday afternoons. Efforts to remove this parenting inconvenience invariably hit a brick wall with teaching unions.

A local périscolaire (extracurricular) may be the solution for young children. It’s essentially a kid’s club, open when schools are closed. It is a lifeline for working parents with young children and is usually subsidized and inexpensive.

School vacations in France

Vacations are cherished in France. Parents may have generous workplace allowances but must contend with long school vacations totaling 16 weeks over 5 different periods. That’s in addition to jours fériés (public holidays) that fall outside vacations.

There are three teaching zones in France, each with different vacation start and end dates to stop the beaches from getting too crowded.

The school year in France begins on the 1 st of September, following the 8-week vacances d’été (summer vacation.) Even for non-parents, La rentrée signifies the end of summer fun. Or perhaps a moment to sigh with relief.

Lunches in French Schools

We round out our guide to the French school system with the obligatory section about food, namely school lunches. The French love of food and dining etiquette begins at school.

Schoolchildren have 1-1.5 hours of lunch. Primary school children often pop home for a nap.

When they’re old enough, most children eat at the school canteen and enjoy hot, varied multi-course meals.

Lunches vary in price and level of local subsidy, usually €3 to €5. Quality is high, including starters, mains, cheese, and desserts. And wine ( only kidding .)

Here’s a taster — don’t look if you’re hungry, as it all looks delicious!

There’s no junk food on the menu, except on the occasional Friday. Only those with special diets can bring their own lunch, with prior permission.

Final thoughts

US parents living in France will discover there are many, many subtle differences comparing French vs. American school systems. We’ve only scratched the surface. But hopefully, this guide to the French school system has answered your most burning questions and at least highlighted the major differences.

Discover more:

  • French classroom vocabulary and phrases
  • List of school subjects in French
  • French school vocabulary

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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Education in France

Primary and secondary schools in france - from "maternelle" to "lycée".

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  • French life › French school system

From kindergarten to high school – Part 1 of a guide to the education system in France

  • Higher education in France
  • Studying in France
  • French school holiday dates
  • French ministry of education website

No more phones in school...

The different types of school: (taken by age of pupils):, ecole maternelle (kindergarten) and creches ;, ecole primaire, or ecole élémentaire:.


Lycée professionnel:

Lycées: les classes préparatoires., public and private schools in france:.

Catholic infants' school

The baccalauréat and grading:

Grade distribution and grade inflation, education in france, 2: higher education, pre-school, primary, secondary.


France's Hollande promises pupils ‘no more homework’

French President François Hollande pledged to ditch homework on Tuesday as part of wide-ranging reforms aimed at improving standards for over-worked French pupils, especially those in disadvantaged areas.

Issued on: 10/10/2012 - 16:46 Modified: 11/10/2012 - 07:27

French President François Hollande potentially won the hearts of millions of future voters on Tuesday when he announced plans to abolish homework and reduce the number of pupils forced to repeat school years.

The comprehensive reforms will also increase the number of teachers across the country, boost aid to disadvantaged areas and target absenteeism. The school week would return to four and a half days rather than four – a change introduced under the former administration as a cost-cutting measure.

“Education is priority,” Hollande said at Paris’s Sorbonne University on Wednesday. “An education programme is, by definition, a societal programme. Work should be done at school, rather than at home,” in order to foster educational equality for those students who do not have support at home., he added.

He also promised incentives for teachers willing to work in “difficult areas”. Children will also be able to attend school at an earlier age in highlighted zones.

Following his election in May, Socialist Hollande vowed to make education a key focus of his five-year term and outlined his proposals in the speech on Tuesday. He has promised to employ some 60,000 teachers over five years, after Nicolas Sarkozy cut tens of thousands of jobs during his own mandate.

French children’s test scores are above the European average, but they suffer some of the longest working days on the continent, leaving school only at 5pm or 6pm.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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  • François Hollande

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What is the high school experience like in France?

(asked by Thomas from the US)

And what does the educational picture look like for immigrants and minorities?

You have two interesting questions here. One is going to be easy to answer, the second one much less, and sadly I won’t be able to answer in details to the second part.

Let’s start with the high school experience in France. I’m going to try not to compare it too much to the US (for a change). First, in order not to alienate the rest of the readership when I don’t have to, and second because I have no personal knowledge and experience of high schools in the US (I’ve never even set foot in one). All I know about them is what I saw in movies and more important, what my American friends and students told me.

So here is how life in a high school in France is. Let’s start with “it’s not fun.” French high school students learn a lot of things in high school, so they study a lot, they also prepare for the Baccalauréat, which is a huge deal. Even if -in retrospect and too many university degrees later- I think it’s quite easy to pass, when you’re in high school, you don’t have that perspective, and in any case, getting the Baccalauréat is still a major milestone in the life of a French person, even if nowadays that milestone is more symbolical than anything else. In high school, there’s also this feeling that this is when your future is getting decided, as how you’ll fare in high school will more or less decide what type of school you’ll end up in after high school, and thus what degree you’ll get and in the end what job you’ll be stuck with for the rest of your life. Even if this quite far from the truth, when you’re in high school, this is what you feel will happen to you.

You must also know that high school students in 11th and 12th grades (Première and Terminale in French) have a major, and even in 10th grade (Seconde), most students take elective classes that more or less match the major in which they want to get into the following year.

Here is the more or less typical day/semester/academic year of a high school student. At least this is how it was in the 80’s and 90’s but I doubt it has changed much since.

Students have roughly between 25 and 30 hours of class a week (depending on their major). They don’t get to chose which courses they take, depending on their level and their major they’ll have so many hours of French, Math, History, Geography, 2 or 3 foreign languages, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Philosophy, Economics, Physical Education, etc. Keep in mind that your major just influences how many hours of each you’ll have and what are the topics studied, but every major will have classes from all of the topics aforementioned, at least for 10th grade –as you don’t have a major yet- and 11th grade. In 12th grade, you’re usually done taking some of the classes totally unrelated to your major. Also, French ends in 11th grade and Philosophy is only in 12th grade, but for everyone.

If I remember correctly here are the classes I had in high school (I can’t remember how many hours of each I had, sorry):

10th grade – Seconde: French, Math, History, Geography, English, Russian, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Physical Education, Computer Science (as an optional class). 11th grade – Première (Natural Sciences major): French, Math, History, Geography, English, Russian, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Physical Education, Computer Science (as an optional class). 12th grade – Terminale (Natural Sciences major): Philosophy, Math, History, Geography, English, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Physical Education, Computer Science (as an optional class).

When I was in high school, the possible majors were those: -(A1) Literary Major: emphasis on French, Philosophy and Math. -(A2) Language Major: emphasis on French, Philosophy and 3 foreign languages. -(A3) Art major: emphasis on French, Philosophy and either Music or Painting (in my high school, in other high schools other arts were available). -(B) Economics Major: emphasis on French, History, Geography, Economics. -(C) Science Major: emphasis on Math, Physics and Chemistry. -(D)Natural Science Major: emphasis on Math, Biology and Chemistry.

Those were the main majors. There was also a Managing Major (G) about which I don’t remember much (it was subdivided in 3 “submajors” with emphasis on Accounting, Economics, and I can’t remember what.) There was also a bunch of much more specialized majors (F1-12) , not offered everywhere, and that represent a small percentage of the people (I think I’ve met only one or two people that have graduated with those majors in my life).

Since I graduated from high school things have changed, with less majors (only L, S and ES), but more subdivisions within the majors and/or minors. And as I don’t know about the changes too well, Wikipedia is coming in handy (and if you can read French, the French article is even more detailed).

Students, usually have class from 8AM to 12PM and then from 2PM til 5PM (that’ll change from school to school, but I feel that’s the most common schedule). Students go to school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays all day long, and on Wednesdays and Saturdays, during the morning only. If you do the math, you’ll see that that amounts to 36 hours a week, so sometimes students will finish earlier some days, or start later or various combination of those, depending on their schedule, class, major, etc.

After school, students usually go home to do homework, and that can be two or even more hours of studying every day.

So as you can see, there isn’t much time for fun, except on the week-ends.

But it’s true that we have a lot of vacation too. The academic year starts the first or second week of September. Around November 1st there’s usually a one-week break, then two weeks for Christmas/New Year’s, after that, there’s another one or two weeks in the middle of Winter, finally two weeks in Spring (around Easter time). The school year normally ends at the end of June (that calendar is the same for elementary and middle schools too by the way), but 10th and 11th grades have little to no class in June, as the month is almost entirely devoted to 12th graders that review their courses of (in theory) the past three years (really, just the past year) and then take the different exams that constitute the Baccalauréat (that we in everyday conversation shorten by Bac). You also need to keep in mind that during all of those seasonal breaks, students don’t just chill and hang out. Teachers give them a lot of homework to do during those.

The concept of “Class” is also different from other places. A Class in France is not all the people that are at the same level as you, but it’s a group of about 30 people with whom you’ll take most if not all of your classes. It means that French high school students spend about 30 hours a week with the same people from September to June. In the end, you get to know them pretty well, and they can become friends for life or if you don’t get along with each other, a big problem. Sometimes these classes will stay more or less the same from one year to the other, so not only you’ll spend most of your time with the same 30 people, but this can last more than a year. On the other hand, you rarely know the other people that are in the same grade as you but not in that group of 30 or so students.

Also, a French school is a place where you study and learn things. Little to no emphasis is put on anything else. French high schools don’t have sports teams (the Physical Education class is kinda a joke (a bad joke if you’re not athletic and/or don’t already practice a sport out of school) and the arts are very little represented. Those activities are usually performed by the students on Wednesday and/or Saturday afternoons (or some nights after class) in clubs or organizations that have no affiliation with the school whatsoever.

There are no cliques either in French high school, at least not as clear cut and well defined as they can be in the US. Of course, people tend to gather and make friends according to common affinities, but nothing as drastic as in the US. For example, I guess my friends and I were quite nerdy/geeky, but we were not social outcasts (for the most part) and we had good friends among other social groups in the school, even the “cool kids.” I guess because you spend so much time with your class, pretty much everybody will belong to at least two (more or less well defined) groups. On the one hand, you’ll be friends with people with whom you have similar tastes and interests, and they can belong to any class in the school (usually they’re your old friends, your friends of friends, and well, people with similar interests that you meet in the school) and on the other hand, you’ll also be friends with the people in your class (at least the ones you’re getting along with) regardless of their out-of-class “groups and affiliations.”

Generally speaking life in high school is a pretty hard one, because not only you’re in that age where you’re confused with a lot of things (they call that being a teenager), but you also must study hard, have lots of exams, have to make choices that will impact your future, stress over whether or not you’ll pass the final exams or not (and passing if far from being a given), etc. Concerning passing exams, and this is valid at pretty much any level of education, remember that in France, when you take an exam it’s not about what grade you’ll get, it’s about whether you’ll pass it or not, and passing can be very hard (the equivalent of getting an A (or at least a B+) in the English speaking system).

When I hear about Americans saying that High School was the best time of their life, I sometimes can’t help but stare at them in disbelief.

That’s pretty much it for the French high school experience (well, I’m sure I forgot tons of important things, but the comments are here for that).

Concerning how kids from the immigration fare in high school, well, that should deserve its own topic, unfortunately I don’t have much knowledge on the topic, and as data based on ethnic origins are illegal in France, it’s hard to find reliable numbers on the issue.

All I can say here is that it’s much harder for them, for cultural and social reasons (as usual?) In my time (80’s-90’s), very few of them actually even made it to high school (remember that in France not every kid go to high school, a number of them go to vocational school, where they learn a job, when they’re not good enough in middle school), but it is my understanding that much more have access to high school nowadays. I guess I’ll try to expand when I get to talk about immigration someday.

More Questions Answered:

  14 responses to “what is the high school experience like in france”.

do french schools give homework

Oh, high school… I left it just four years ago, and I'm glad I left it.

I'd like to had that proms and bals and this kind of event organized by the school do not exist at all here. High school -and more generally school- is, as David said, a place for studying and little else. Of course there is teenager drama and who is seeing who, but it is not the main focus of the people (and for the people whom main focus it is, you won't see them beyond Seconde for many).

It's true there's no defined clique - people will hang together (when not in class) if they have mutual friends or if they're part of the smokers, and sit next to each other in class if they're friends (many people where I went to high school already knew each other before high school), or have forgot their books or are in the same class and end up knowing each other. I was in première and terminale L, and as there was only one L in my high school, I was with the same people for two years -while I didn't befriend all of them, we were an unit and knew each other. I also had friends in other classes. But there was/is the 'L classes are slackers' and 'S classes are brainies'(I don't remember anything about ES though).

One thing that I don't think exist here is the lunch table drama. The tables aren't reserved - there was just the ones for the teachers, the rest was 'first one out of the food line choose'.

All in all, from what I got from friends in the US, US high school and French high school are nothing alike.

If you know a lot of Americans who say high school was the best time of their life, you know the wrong Americans!

-Alix, thanks for the extra info.

-Panda, I should clarify. The people that told me that, and by that they really meant that they somehow like life in high school better than life in college. In the US, high school seems to be no responsibilities, not much studying and lots of having fun, and college is lots of studying, responsibilities, etc. In France, it's almost the other way around, you study in high school, and then you have fun in college.

While clearly the French high school experience is mainly academic , I don't think the US high school life is that of no responsibility, mostly fun. In the US, it really depends on what is important to you and if you want to go to college. But true, largely the American high school experience is a social right of passage (prom, school plays, year books, high school sweetheart, football games, etc.)

What baffles me about the US high school experience is this thing of 'extracurriculars' - I only really started to think about them and find it odd when I was applying to American universities a long time ago, when I lived there. (In the end I didn't go.)

I honestly don't understand why people think it matters that you were in the school marching band or played hockey or ran a club - the reason they're called 'extracurricular' is because they're not on the curriculum - they're hobbies , for God's sake! But apparently they are important for US university applications? Though I don't understand why - surely your academic capabilities are what makes you suitable for a particular course or institution? What has your award-winning cheerleader routine to do with it?

really? there are actually people out there who had the best time of their lives in high school? It wasn't torture for me but I'd rather not go back to it.

I had fun but never went to the wild parties that are in movies. Instead it was maybe a movie and some ice cream with friends on a Saturday. I was too busy with a year round swim team, marching band, concert band, my church youth group, girl scouts, french club, national honor society… oh yeah, and classes.

I was also sort of oblivious to the hierarchy of cliques. I knew who the "cool" kids were but I didn't care about them, I had my own friends.

-Nathalie. The thing with extracurricular activities is that the very philosophy of what is education in both countries and different. In France (and England?) a school's goal is to teach academic knowledge to kids ans students, and academic knowledge only. In the US, it's more about learning in general, even things we don't consider "school content" because they're not academical.

In theory, the American system sounds better (and let's face it, it is at the university level), but in high school, it almost always means that the academic aspect of school is not important enough.

Why are those important when you apply to an University? Because an American university has nothing to do with a French one. Being in college in the US is not only about studying to get a degree, but really being part of a community. So, it makes sense that "recruiters" care whether the student has a life and what kind of life he/she has. That, and also the fact that is you have hobbies, that usually means you don't spend all of your free time at the mall and/or doing drugs (I caricature a bit, but not that much) and that you're already an active member of society and a well-rounded person. And in that context it makes sense (even if it doesn't in a French one… be careful, here, you're almost guilty of what you sometimes criticize: people judging other cultures through their own cultural references).

Being born and educated in Romania, in the cold war 80s I can say that everything David sayd here ( I mean about 100%) stands for the Romanian educational system as well ( you see, it was copied in 1800 afer the french one and still has the same chractersitics). I remember how hard we studied to pass the exams to the eitte high schools and I remember how many hours I had to learn… To get what today people say it's an "A" was extremely hard. To get to a top university after highschool was also incredibly hard… Think about that - 60 places to be occupied and 1300 candidates. If one wanted to be one of the 60, then , besides the hours in school some hard working at home was requirred. I don;t remember going to many dances but I remember damn well laerning a lot. My major was in what we call "real "- maths, physics,chemistry… I was in the best class , "D", and the competition was indeed hard. Almost everyone in my high school class went to top universities in Romania and some went UK , Italy or Germany. In what friendship and friends are regarded ,yes,here it was just the same.

As a high school student now (I'm in my first year) I can say that cliques arent there anymore. But that aside, the education at my school is VERY intense. We start school at 8 and have various classes until 2:15. We have 7 periods and the schedule rotates. So one might have math, english, biology, language(i have french), latin, history, then a free period which changes each day (music, art, gym, or a study). As you progress in your high school career you can choose to either take another language, or take some other subject (Chemistry, Statistics, Etc.) My school is based on studies so there's no chance for slacking off. If you have enough credits and take enough AP courses you might even get credits for College!

Also Prom, and other social events are pretty important

Right now i'm a junior in high school(america) and i'm definitely reluctant to admit that i didn't know high school was regarded as fun by so many! My school really pushes it's students, I have never had a break in which i didn't have to do an assignment for school-including summer. And as for sports and extracurricular activities, i feel its because it really takes devotion to dedicate that much extra time to you school outside of homework, and it allows you to make friends. What colleges really value in america is leadership skills and openness to new experiences- anyone can passively study for exams, what colleges want is students that actively interact with their peers, which tends to promote academic excellence. Also extracurriculars are a great way to meet people with similar interests. I agree that cliques dont really exist anymore, but then again, its hard for them to in a school of around 4500 students and three different campuses. Personally, i HATE high school, but the french club i participate in give me something to look foreword to during the week.

In response to the American high schoolers who commented on this post, when I was in high school (American), I also thought school was extremely difficult. Now that I am in an American college, I can look back and see that the work I did in high school was not nearly as rigorous as I thought. It is all just perspective. I can now compare it to my college work, which is much more difficult and requires more of my time than high school work. Knowing a little information on the French high school system, I would say American high schools are much easier, but that I prefer the American system because we can go into college having absolutely no idea what we want to major in, and allow our interests to guide us into a speciality.

Do the students move from classroom to classroom in French highschools? Or do the teachers change classrooms rather than the students?

I'm sure some high schools have their own ways of functioning, but it's my understanding that it's pretty random. Sometimes the students move from classroom to classroom, sometimes it's the teachers, most of the times, it's both.

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A Simple Guide to Talking About School in French: Subjects, Rooms and More

School and education is one of the most common talking points for French learners.

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.

That’s exactly what I’ll give you in this post, with more than 100 words for people, places and things you’ll need to know for talking about school in French!

People at School

Levels of schooling, school subjects, rooms in a school building, school supplies, school assignments, and one more thing....

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)


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


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.)


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!)


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


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


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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do french schools give homework

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  2. 3 Simple French Homework Solutions

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  4. French Education System: Demystifying Schools In France

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  2. School French vs Real French

  3. French schools and differences in the USA #relatable #france #expatlife #europe #americanabroad


  5. Greg reminded the teacher to give homework in the weekends



  1. 28 Facts about French Schools

    Most preschool and primary school students don't have school on Wednesdays. It is supposed to be the day for extra-curricular activities, to rest, etc. There was a move in 2018 by the government to insist on Wednesday morning classes, however, the teacher unions and parents protested.

  2. Schools in France: A Guide to the French Education System

    The French school system can seem confusing for expat families but Catharine Higginson's indispensable guide will help take you through the different stages of your child's education, from 'maternelle' to 'lycée', and the exams they will sit in France. Every educational system has its advantages and disadvantages and like any other, the French system is not without its detractors.

  3. French Education System: Demystifying Schools in France

    Collège (Middle school) Collège in French is not "college of higher education" as we know it in North America, but actually middle school. Here finally the French drop the acronyms and the U.S. equivalent of 6th grade is the sixème ( 6ème) in France. French School Grade. U.S. Equivalent.

  4. The complete guide to the French school system

    In some ways, French school is like school in many places in the world, including the US and UK - but there are a number of key differences, including a few that give some interesting insights into French culture as a whole. Explaining just about any country's education system is a complex task, since there are so many different aspects to look at.

  5. The French education system: a guide for expat parents

    Education in France. In France, education is compulsory for children between the ages of three and 16 and consists of four cycles: Preschool (écoles maternelles) - ages three to sixPrimary school (école élémentaire) - ages six to 11Middle school - ages 11 to 15High school - ages 15 to 18Similar to other countries, parents can opt to send their child to a private or a public school ...

  6. 12 things you should know about French schools

    If a child doesn't achieve the grades they will have to repeat the year (redoubler) - this is much more common in France. 6. You will have to enrol your child in a French school - take their birth certificate, medical records, your passport and proof of address to your mairie. 7. School pupils don't wear a school uniform.

  7. Beginner's Guide to France's School System: French State Education

    The French School Syllabus: Primary and Secondary School ... Children are likely to encounter more homework and high expectations from teachers. On the other hand many children in nursery school and primary school, particularly those enrolled in schools outside of large urban centers, enjoy the benefits of small 'family atmosphere' classes ...

  8. France's Nursery and Primary School System ...

    The French primary school system is generally well-known for its very good quality of instruction. Both, the école maternelle ( nursery School) and école primaire (primary school) consist of 24 hours of instruction per week. Schools, along with their local commune (local administrative unit) may decide to organize these 24 hours into a four ...

  9. French parents to boycott homework

    Homework is officially banned in French primary schools, and has been since 1956. But many teachers ignore this and send children home with exercises to do. Older children often spend up to...

  10. 'Strict but a holistic education': How the French public school system

    In addition to having Wednesdays off, French pupils (and teachers) get plenty of holiday time - around 16 weeks a year. Strict teachers. Author Peter Gumbel refers to the French approach to ...

  11. The French education system

    The French education system. The French education system offers an inflexible approach to education; one where the teacher has absolute authority, tough grading and rote learning are the norm, where high academic standards are demanded in reading, writing and arithmetic. The French don't expect children to have 'fun' at school.

  12. Pencils Down? French Plan Would End Homework : NPR

    In the name of equality, the French government has proposed doing away with homework in elementary and junior high school. French President Francois Hollande argues that homework...

  13. Education in France

    School system in France. Education in France is organized in a highly centralized manner, with many subdivisions. It is divided into the three stages of primary education (enseignement primaire), secondary education (enseignement secondaire), and higher education (enseignement supérieur).Two year olds do not start primary school, they start preschool.

  14. How the French Do School

    The French also do not make the mistake of believing that the effectiveness of schooling is directly related to the number of hours in the classroom, the amount of homework assigned or the weight of a child's cartable (schoolbag). During our daughter's first five years of French schooling in Cameroon, she had about 10 hours of homework—total.

  15. The French School System Explained ‍

    Updated: Dec 19, 2022 This is always a problem for my students. Understanding the French school system, l'école française, knowing which grades are which is a real nightmare. So here is a post that should make things easier. I wrote the equivalent grades in the US/UK school system, and the age of the students for reference.

  16. French children are promised an end to homework

    French children are promised an end to homework. The education minister wants extra work to be done at homework clubs to end inequality. , Paris. Friday June 09 2017, 12.01am, The Times. Middle ...

  17. 15 Interesting Facts About French Schools

    The extensive school lunch system, the absence of homework, and the centralized organization of education are just a few of the fascinating elements that contribute to the success of French schools. The strict disciplinary policies, the rich history of education in France, and the emphasis on learning multiple languages also make French schools ...

  18. How To Understand The Confusing French School System

    The school system in France. Behind those headline differences, there is some info that every parent should know when moving from the US to France. Education in France is compulsory from 3 to 16 years old. The law was changed in 2018, reducing the mandatory starting age from 6. Public schools in France are free and secular.

  19. The French Education system

    Education is compulsory in France from the ages of 6 to 16, but a large majority of children start school well before the minimum age, often as young as two years old, and over 50% of 18-21 year olds in France are still in full-time education, or else following a vocational training course. Some 64% of all school pupils in France complete their ...

  20. France's Hollande promises pupils 'no more homework'

    French President François Hollande pledged to ditch homework on Tuesday as part of wide-ranging reforms aimed at improving standards for over-worked French pupils, especially those in ...

  21. What is the high school experience like in France?

    When I was in high school, the possible majors were those: - (A1) Literary Major: emphasis on French, Philosophy and Math. - (A2) Language Major: emphasis on French, Philosophy and 3 foreign languages. - (A3) Art major: emphasis on French, Philosophy and either Music or Painting (in my high school, in other high schools other arts were available).

  22. A Simple Guide to Talking About School in French: Subjects ...

    Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.) These 100+ French words for talking about school will help you navigate class, speak about your education and complain about homework. You'll learn how to refer to different subjects, rooms in the school, grades and more. You'll be ready to talk about school ...

  23. Do French Schools Give Homework

    Do French Schools Give Homework I work with the same writer every time. He knows my preferences and always delivers as promised. It's like having a 24/7 tutor who is willing to help you no matter what. My grades improved thanks to him. That's the story. 100% Success rate Why choose Us? 100% Success rate