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Education vocabulary

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When I was a kid the expression that I hated the most was 'back to school.' At the end of the summer, shops that sold children's shoes or school bags would advertise to parents in their shops  'back to school' products. It was a reminder to parents that they might need to buy new things for their kids as the new academic year was about to start. For me, it was an unwelcome reminder that the summer holidays were almost over and I was soon to be locked up in school for most of the day.

Now that I have long since left school, I can appreciate what a good experience I had. I was taught so much that now I regret not listening more when I had the chance.

Today we take a look at some of the vocabulary that is linked to education.

school subjects

These are the lessons that student's typically study in high school (or secondary school as it often called in Britain):

Business Studies: Here you learn about how the business world works.

Drama: A class where you can try acting and learn about the theatre.

Economics: Here we learn about how trade, industry and money is organised in the world.

Geography: The study of the world's land, rivers, mountains, weather and how it all works.

History: The study of the past and how past events shaped our world.

Mathematics (also Math in USA; Maths in UK):The study of numbers, shapes and spaces.

Physical Education: Learning how to play sports and getting some exercise.

Religious Education / Studies: The study of belief sytems and God.

Science: Usually this subject is taught in three fields:

  • Biology: The study of living things like plants, animals and humans.
  • Chemistry: The study of different substances and how they interact.
  • Physics: The study of matter and energy and how they affect each other.

education vocabulary

Boarding School:(noun) A type of school where students live as well as study.

'During my first few weeks at boarding school I missed my parents a lot.'

Cheat: (verb) To act in a dishonest way to get what you want.

'The student cheated by writing the answers on his hand and looking at them during the test.'

Co-educational: (noun) A school that has both male and female students. A schools for just boys (or girls) is called a single-sex school.

'I think co-educational schools helps students to form better relationships with members of the opposite sex in later life.'

Coursework: (noun) Coursework is the work done by students that contributes towards their overall grade, but which is assessed separately from their final exams. Coursework can, for example, take the form of experimental work, or may involve research. It can comprise of  dissertations,  reports or essays.

'I get nervous when I take a test. I prefer to do coursework because I have a long time to do it and I can do it at my own pace.'

Enrol: (verb) To enrol means to join a course. In American English it is spelt enroll. The noun form is enrolment (enrollment US)

'To enrol on this course you need to be here on 7th January to do the paperwork.'

Fail: (verb) To fail means that you did not pass your test. You did not get the necessary grade / score. Failure is the noun form.

'40% of students failed the test. The other 60% passed.'

Qualification: (noun) A qualification is the official proof that you have successfully completed a course or that you have the necessary skills.

'What academic qualifications do you have? Do you have a degree?'

Retake: (verb / noun) As a verb retake means to take an exam you  failed in the past for a second time. As a noun retakes mean the exams which are held again for students who did not pass them the first time around.

'Retakes will be held in February for all those students who did not get 40% on the last test.'
'Don't worry you will be able to retake this exam if you don't pass.'

Revise: (verb) To revise means to study before a test. This word is used in British English. In American English study or review is used. Revision is the noun form.

'I'm going to stay in tonight and revise for Monday's test.'

Semester / Term: (noun) Both of these words are used to mean the periods of the school year. The school year is usually divided into three terms / semesters: Spring, Autumn and Winter.

'At this school each semester is 12 weeks long.'

Link: English courses

Link: Business English - the language of business meetings

  • I hated ___ in school. I find learning about the past boring. I could never remember the years that things happened.

  • My favourite subject is ___. I'm very good with numbers.

  • We learned how rivers are formed today in ___.

  • In ___ we had to wear special glasses because we were using dangerous chemicals.

  • If you don't want to cut open dead frogs then you shouldn't take ___.

  • She tried to ___ on her test, but her teacher caught her and she was kicked out of school.

  • Only students who are ___ on this course may enter the classroom.

  • There will be no way to ___ this test if you fail.

  • You should spend at least 2 hours a day ___ for your test.

  • To work for this company you need a university ___.