English-German Glossary: In der Schule (School)

Students in classroom during lesson

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What are the German terms used for and in school? If you are going to school in a German-speaking country, you will need to become familiar with these terms.

You will see the English term and the matching German one.

School and Education Glossary (A to L)


A, B, C, D, F (see grades/marks below)

ABCs, alphabet das ABC

absence (school) das Fehlen
unexcused absence unentschuldigtes Fehlen

absent abwesend
absent from class/school in der Stunde/Schule fehlen
to be absent, missing fehlen
She's absent today. Sie fehlt heute.
Why were you absent? Warum hast du gefehlt?

Kultur: The German Abitur (das) is a high school diploma or secondary leaving certificate (A-level), received after passing a written and oral examination during the 12th or 13th year of school (depending on the state). Die Matura is the Austrian equivalent. Also, see "graduation" below.

academic akademischwissenschaftlich
academic advisor der Studienberater/die Studienberaterin
academic year das Studienjahrdas Schuljahr

academically gifted/talented intellektuell begabt

academy die Akademie (-n), die Privatschule

administration (office) die Verwaltung

after school nach der Schule
before school vor der Schule

algebra die Algebra

alphabet das ABCdas Alphabet
alphabetically, in alphabetical order alphabetischnach dem Alphabet

answer (v.antwortenbeantworten
answer (n.die Antwort (-en)

   Er hat die Frage beantwortet.
He answered the question.

apple der Apfel (Äpfel)

art (subjectdie Kunstder Kunstunterricht

ask fragen
ask a question eine Frage stellen

assignment die Aufgabe (-n)

athletic field der Sportplatz (-plätze)
athletics der Sport (sing.)

   Kultur: Athletics in German schools is generally limited to P.E. and intramural sports. It is rare to have school teams that compete against each other. Competitive sports tend to be done in clubs rather than in school, which is more academic.

attend (school) (die Schulebesuchen
compulsory attendance die Schulpflicht
he has a poor attendance record er fehlt oft (in der Schule)


B.A./B.S. (see "Bachelor of.." below)
bachelor's degree der Bakkalaureusder Bachelor
Bachelor of Arts der Bakkalaureus der philosophischen Fakultät
Bachelor of Science der Bakkalaureus der wissenschaftlichen Fakultät

   Kultur: It is difficult to compare the different academic degrees in Germany with those in the Anglo-American system. An American "bachelor's degree" is closer to the German Magisterabschluss, even though Magister translates as "master." In a recent effort to become more international, some German universities now offer a B.A. degree in some fields, usually for six semesters of study. Also see the entries for a degree, M.A. and doctorate.

ballpoint pen der Kuli (-s), der Kugelschreiber (-)

band (musicdie Blaskapelle (-n), die Band (-s)

binder (loose-leafdas Ringbuch (-bücher)

biology (subjectdie Biodie Biologie
biology teacher der/die Biologielehrer/in

blackboard, chalkboard die Tafel (-)

boarding school das Internat (-e)
book das Buch (Bücher)

  textbook das Schulbuch/Lehrbuch

break, recess die Pause (-n)
after the break nach der Pause
short/long break kleine/große Pause
das Pausebrot sandwich eaten during the break

bus, coach der Bus (-se)
school bus der Schulbus


cafeteria die Mensa (Mensen) (univ.), der Speisesaal

   Kultur: Most German students go home for lunch around 12:30 or 1:00, so few schools have a cafeteria. In eastern Germany, it is more common to have a school lunch. At the university, the Mensa offers low-cost meals for students and faculty.

calculator der Rechner
pocket calculator der Taschenrechner
school calculator der Schulrechner
scientific calculator wissenschaftlicher Rechner

calculus der Kalküldie Integralrechnung

chair der Stuhl (Stühle)
chair (person), department head (m.der Abteilungsleiter (-), der Fachleiter
chair (person), department head (f.die Abteilungsleiterin (-), die Fachleiterin

chalk die Kreideder Kreidestift
a piece of chalk eine Kreide

cheerleader der/die Cheerleader (-)

   Kultur: Since interscholastic sports competition is rare in Germany, there is no need for cheerleaders. Although some American football teams in Europe have volunteer cheerleaders, most Germans only know about cheerleading from Hollywood movies and TV.

chemistry (class) die Chemieder Chemieunterricht

class (grade level) die Klasse (-n)
German class DeutschunterrichtDeutschstunde
the class of 2003 der Jahrgang 2003
in the 10th grade/class in der 10. Klasse (zehnten)

   Kultur: A German Klasse is a group of students that stay together for several years of school. Somewhat like a "homeroom" class, the students elect a Klassensprecher/in to represent the class. Classes have names like 9a or 10b referring to each class group within a grade level. A teacher who teaches two or more courses within a class group is the Klassenlehrer, sort of like a "homeroom teacher." Note: A class of instruction is Unterricht or Unterrichtsstunde, not Klasse, but it is held in a Klassenzimmer.

class register, roll book das Klassenbuch

classmate der Klassenkamerad (-en)

classroom das Klassenzimmer (-)

clock die Uhr (-en)

coach, trainer der Trainer
coach (v.trainieren

college die Fachhochschule (FH) (-n), das College (Engl. pron.)
College of Education pädagogische Hochschule

   Kultur: The Anglo-American term "college" is usually Hochschule or Universität in German. University departments or schools ("College of Arts and Science") are called Fachbereiche or Fakultäten in German. 

computer der Computer (-), der Rechner (-)
computer science die Informatik

correct (adj.richtig
correct (v.korrigieren
to correct tests Klassenarbeiten korrigieren

course der Kurs (-e), der Unterricht
honors course der Leistungskurs (-e)


degree (univ.der (akademischeGrad

   Kultur: One should not directly compare the different academic degrees in Germany with those in the Anglo-American system. Besides the degree differences, the university systems in the U.S., Britain, and Germany are very different in other ways.

department die Abteilung (-en), der Fachbereich (univ.)
department chair/head (m.der Abteilungsleiter (-), der Fachleiter
department chair/head (f.die Abteilungsleiterin (-nen), die Fachleiterin

desk der Schreibtisch (-e) (teacher, office)
desk die Schulbank (student)

dictionary das Wörterbuch (-bücher)

didactic didaktischlehrhaft

doctoral dissertation die Doktorarbeit

doctorate, Ph.D, die Doktorwürdedie Doktorarbeit
person with a doctor's degree der Doktorand
She's still doing her doctorate. Sie sitzt immer noch an ihrer Doktorarbeit.

   Kultur: Someone with a Ph.D. or Doktorwürde is entitled to be addressed as Herr Doktor orFrau Doktor. In the old days, a woman married to a Doktor was also called Frau Doktor.


education die Bildungdas Bildungswesendie Erziehung
College of Education pädagogische Hochschule

education(al) system das Bildungssystemdas Bildungswesen

educational Bildungs- (in compounds), pädagogischlehrreich
educational (school-related) schulisch

educator der Pädagoge/die Pädagoginder Erzieher

elective (subject) das Wahlfach (-fächer)
Italian is an elective subject. Italianisch ist ein Wahlfach.
Math is a required subject. Mathe ist ein Pflichtfach.

elementary school, grade school die Grundschuledie Volksschule (Austria)

elementary teacher, grade school teacher der/die Grundschullehrer(in)

e-mail die E-Mail (-s)
to e-mail, send an e-mail eine Mail absenden/schicken

eraser (rubberder Radiergummi (-s)
eraser (for chalkder Schwamm (Schwämme)

exam das Examen (-), die Klassenarbeit (-en)
final exam das Schlussexamen (-)
finals die Abschlussprüfung (-en) (univ.)


faculty der Lehrkörperdas Lehrerkollegium

felt-tip pen, marker der Filzstift (-e)

file (paperdie Akte (-n)
file (computerdie Datei (-en), das File (-s)
file folder der Aktenordner (-) (paper)
file folder die Mappe (-n) (loose-leaf)
file folder der Ordner (computer/paper)

final exam das Schlussexamen (-)
finals die Abschlussprüfung (-en) (univ.)

folder der Ordner (-), der Hefter (-), die Mappe (-n)

foreign language die Fremdsprache (-n)

   Kultur: In German schools, the most popular Fremdsprachen are Englisch and Französisch (French). Latin, Russian, Italian and Spanish are also offered in some schools. At the Gymnasium, students usually take two foreign languages, the "major" one for 8 years and a "minor" for 5 years, which means they become quite proficient. The typical U.S. practice of taking two years of a foreign language is a joke, and less than 1/3 of American students even do that. 

French (class) (dasFranzösischder Französischunterricht

freshman (9th grader) amer. Schüler oder Schülerin in der neunten Klasse

Friday der Freitag
on Friday(s) am Freitagfreitags

funding, funds (for educ., etc.die Mittel/Gelder (pl.)
basic funding die Grundmittel (pl.)
public funds öffentliche Mittel/Gelder (pl.)
private funding (for univ. researchdie Drittmittel (pl.)


geography die Erdkundedie Geografie

geometry die Geometrie

German (class) (dasDeutschder Deutschunterricht

globe der Globusder Erdball

grade, mark die Note (-n), die Zensur (-en)
She has bad marks/grades. Sie hat schlechte Noten/Zensuren.
She has good marks/grades. Sie hat gute Noten/Zensuren.
He got an A. Er hat eine Eins bekommen.
He got an F. Er hat eine Fünf/Sechs bekommen.

   German grading system: A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, F=5, F-=6

grade (level, classdie Klasse
in the 9th grade in der 9. (neunten) Klasse

grade school, elementary school die Grundschule

graduate (v.das Abitur ablegen (high school), absolvierenpromovieren (Ph.D.), die Abschlussprüfung bestehen (high school)
graduate (n.der Akademiker/die Akademikerin
high school graduate der Schulabgänger/die Schulabgängerinder Abiturient/die Abiturientin
graduate student ein Student oder eine Studentin mit abgeschlossenem Studium

   Kultur: The German university system does not have the same divisions between graduate and post-graduate study found in the U.S. There is no German word for "graduate student." It has to be explained as ein Student oder eine Studentin mit abgeschlossenem Studium.

gym, gymnasium die Turnhalle
gym (class) der Sportder Sportunterricht

gym/P.E. teacher (m.der Sportlehrer (-)
gym/P.E. teacher (f.die Sportlehrerin (-nen)


hall(way) der Gangder Flur

health, hygiene (subj.die Gesundheitspflege

higher education die Hochschulbildungdas Hochschulwesen

high school die Sekundarschule (-n)
academic high school (in German Europedas Gymnasium

   Kultur: There are many kinds of German secondary schools, each with its own curriculum and purpose. A Gymnasium has an academic curriculum leading to das Abitur (die Matura in Austria, Switz.) and college. A Berufschule offers a combination of trade skill training and academics. Other school types include: RealschuleGesamtschule and Hauptschule

high school diploma das Abiturdie Matura

history die Geschichte

homework die Hausaufgaben (pl.)

honors course der Leistungskurs (-e)
honors/dean's list eine Liste der besten SchülerInnen/StundentInnen
with honors cum laude


ink die Tinte (-n)

institute das Institut (-e), die Hochschule (-n)

instruct, teach unterrichten

instruction der Unterricht
math class/instruction der Matheunterricht

instructor der Lehrer


kindergarten der Kindergarten (-gärten)


language lab das Sprachlabor (-s)

learn lernen

letter (of alphabet) der Buchstabe (-n)

locker das Schliessfach (-fächer)

   Kultur: European schools, including Germany and Austria, don't have book lockers for students like those found in American secondary schools.

loose-leaf binder das Ringbuch (-bücher)
loose-leaf folder die Mappe (-n)

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Flippo, Hyde. "English-German Glossary: In der Schule (School)." ThoughtCo, Oct. 14, 2021, thoughtco.com/glossary-in-der-schule-at-school-4069167. Flippo, Hyde. (2021, October 14). English-German Glossary: In der Schule (School). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/glossary-in-der-schule-at-school-4069167 Flippo, Hyde. "English-German Glossary: In der Schule (School)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/glossary-in-der-schule-at-school-4069167 (accessed March 23, 2023).