The first set of vocabulary and phrases you need to master for the TOEFL is the one related to studying in a US university or college.
Not sure what the difference between university and college is? This post explains it all.
Read this post before taking the TOEFL to get all the basic vocabulary you'll need to speak or write about student life and respond to questions related to US educational stakes. (les enjeux de l'enseignement supérieur)
Learn all about honors (mentions), community colleges and Yvy League schools in this post and get ready for the TOEFL questions about education and studying in the US.
college vs university
College: A College is a school that grants a bachelor’s degree. It is also an undergraduate division or school within a larger university.
A university can also offer graduate programs or curricular (cursus).
College (not the College) is different than the French college.
What French people call "le college" is in fact junior high school.
What US people call College is the equivalent of University (or "la faculté" ou la fac) in French.
Be aware that the term FACULTY does not refer to "la fac".
Rather (au contraire), the term the faculty designates the members of the academic staff of a university.
In plain words, the faculty designates the teachers and professors in a university.
You can never use the term Faculty to say university.
In the US, colleges can be integrated to a university or be independent (like community colleges for instance).
A university will offer graduate courses.
Graduate courses are classes for student who already hold a college degree but want to obtain a more specialized certification (in law, management or business for instance).
When you graduate from High school (lycée) you take an exam called the SAT to get into college.
When you graduate from college, you become a graduate student and may either apply for graduate programs or enter the work force (le monde du travail).
Student housing - logement, résidence étudiants
Dorms (dormitory): résidence étudiante
Freshmen usually stay in dorms in their first year.
Learn more about dorms and student life in the article from the huffington post that lists the 10 coolest dorms in the United-States.
On campus housing is often reserved for freshman.
Subsidized housing: logement subventionné
off campus housing: logement à l'exterieur du campus
Amenities or facilities: équipements installations
The college amenities are very convenient (pratique).
Housing office: an administrative office for residence halls and off-campus rentals
Accommodations: temporary housing
ex: Attention to all seminar attendants, the university is not able to provide accomodations for the night. Here's a list of nearby establishments that offer short-stay accomodations.
Accomodation also means a special attention or modifications to a process for a specific person or group of persons (aménagements)
ex: If you'll be needing special accomodations due to a disability or other health-related problems, please contact us via email.
Utilities: monthly bills for recurring services such as electricity phone and internet (this term excludes the rent- le loyer).
a rent: un loyer, un bail
a lease: un bail
to rent: louer
for rent: à louer
sublet: sous location
to mate: s'accoupler (pour les animaux)
enrolling in university or in a class
To enroll: to register for a class or at university
to register: s'inscrire
to sign up: s'inscrire
to subscribe: s'inscrire, souscrire, prendre un abonnement, s'abonner
Enrollment or admission office: the office at a university where you register or enroll for classes.
I’ve decided to enroll in a computer class this semester.
Elective course: an optional academic course
In the most US colleges and universities, a curricular will offer elective courses (classes you may choose to register for, or enroll in) and mandatory classes also called “requirements” which are required in order to graduate.
For instance, during the first year of law school you must complete certain requirement classes such as introduction to contracts or torts and choose from a number of elective courses to complete your curricular (for instance computer law) and get all the credits you need.
Be aware that elective doesn't mean optional. You do need to take courses to fulfill your credit requirements but you may choose among/from a selection of different elective courses.
Tuition fees: frais d'inscription
ex: The tuition fees sky-rocketed last year. Consequently, many students had to take out more loans/to borrow more money/ to pay for their education.
tuition hike: an increase in the fees for education.
ex: I can't afford another tuition hike. If there is another tuition hike, I'll have to drop out from college.
To take out a loan : contracter un emprunt
Other ways to say "fee":
Charge -> there is an additional charge for the cleaning service. How much do you charge for private tutoring?
Fare -> the fare to take the ferry is quite high during peak hours
Costs -> the cost of having an education is so high that many students have to take out student loans to finance their classes.
Others work part time either on campus or off campus to make ends meet (joindre les deux bouts).
grants: funds for research or study.
to grant: to give, to afford someone a some of money or a right
Women were granted the right to vote in the US in 1920
Women were afforded the right to vote in the US in 1920
scholarships: funds granted to students to cover all or part of tuitions fees
stipend: a sum of money granted to someone or an organisation that will be applied towards a particular project.
student loans: emprunts étudiant
studying at university
To attend: participer à un cours, prendre part, être inscrit
Attendant : une personne qui participe ou qui assiste ou dont le travail est de fournir un service client (flight attendant)
Un personne invités (guest) et qui a acceptée l’invitation.
RSVP (répondez s’il vous plait); cet acronyme est employé en anglais
ex: I forgot to RSVP but my name should definitely be on the guests list.
Blackboard, whiteboard, smartboard:
The foregoing words all designate the wide screen on which a teacher will write elements of her course to highlight certain points.
Smartboards are connected to a computer and allow both writing on the board and showing entries from the computer on the same board.
Study date: a date in which a group of students gather to study
Study lounge: a quiet area in a dormitory or in a library where students can go to study.
exams: papers, midterms and grades
To assess (evaluate) students, teachers use different techniques.
Class participation (how active you are in class and the quality of the responses you give) are one way of assessing class attendees.
Another way is to ask student to write a paper, that is a research report on particular topic or subject.
paper or term paper: an take home exam in the form of a research and writing assignment that will be marked (or graded).
Assignment: devoir, travail à faire et à rendre au professeur
ex: I have a math assignment to turn in. J'ai un devoir de math à rendre.
to turn in: rendre un devoir
Other assessment means (autres méthodes d'évaluation)
open-book test/exam: exams for which you may bring books and consult them as you take the exam
pop quiz: a quiz given without prior notice or warning.
short-essay test: a test with questions that require a short written response (up to one or two paragraphs).
Midterm: an exam that is given in the middle of the term (usually half-way (à mi-chemin) through the semester). (= un partiel)
Final: the last examination of an academic course.
Finals can be in the form of a paper or of an on-site test depending on the course and on the professor.
A draft : a preliminary copy of a paper or any other document (like a contract for instance)
To draft: appeler, tirer au sort
draftees = les appelés à l’armée
to grade: to assign a mark to a paper or exam or class participation of a student (note). Grades in the US range from A to F but can also be evaluated in percentage. A 99% score on a math test would correspond to an A +.
An F corresponds to the verb to fail and means that you haven't succeeded in that class. Very often you can't graduate (obtain your degree) if you have failed a class. You therefore will need to take the class again or enroll in another class to make up (rattraper/ compenser) for the failed one.
curve: a grading system that relies on a curve distribution where a few As and a majority of Cs followed by a small amount of failing grades are given to students. In this grading system only a small number of students will get As.
(c'est la notation qui s'approche le plus du concours en ce qu'elle n'autorise qu'une distribution limitée de A).
ex: the test will be graded on a curve, meaning I'll need to do extremely well, and in any case better than most other students to get an A.
Grade point average: a scale (une échelle) on which grades are calculated. (GPA) -> prononcé: gee pee ey
Le premier champ lexical à connaitre pour le TOEFL est celui qui à trait à l'université et à la vie estudiantine.
Le terme "college" aux Etats-Unis désigne les quatres premières années de l'enseignement supérieur sanctionnées par un diplôme intitulé "Bachelor's degree".
On ne dit pas "the college" mais College.
Lisez ce post avant de passer le TOEFL pour obtenir tout le vocabulaire de base dont vous aurez besoin pour parler de la vie étudiante et répondre aux questions du TOEFL sur les enjeux de l'enseignement supérieur aux Etats-Unis.
Découvrez comment on dit mention en anglais (honors), sachez faire la différence entre un college, community college et Ivy league university.
College student designation by year:
freshman: a freshman is a first year student in college.
Make sure you use the plural "freshmen" when you are talking about first-year students in general.
sophomore: a second-year college student
junior: a third-year college student (this is the year when you declare your major, the area in which you want to specialize in).
senior: a fourth-year college student (this is the final year at the end of which students graduate)
Class of 2016 (la promotion de 2016) graduated in May 2016.
Class of 2017 (la promotion 2017) will graduate in May 2017.
ivy leagues vs community colleges
Ivy league schools are universities and colleges that are considered (deemed) the best schools in the United-States. Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkley and Penn State are considered Ivy League schools.
UC universities are all located in California. The C in UCLA stands for California.
Community colleges are local colleges that offer higher education courses and diplomas for a lesser fee than private universities. They are less prestigious than Ivy league schools but the most brilliant students from these schools can apply for a transfer to another school after completion of their first year.
Asking for extensions
Extension: When you ask your teacher for an extension, you ask for additional time to complete an assignement (devoir) that would otherwise be due at an earlier date.
I’ve asked for an extension on my term paper but the teacher refused to grant me one and said I needed to learn to organize my time more efficiently (in a more efficient fashion/way).
In this official trailer (bande annonce) of the CBS series Madam Secretary, a woman Professor, Mrs McCord is chased by a student who needs an extension. She asks him to come see her during office hours.
But the student responds that her office hours don't realy work for him (meaning they are not convenient). He then tells her that he will be needing an extension on his paper (more time to complete/finish it) and goes on to explain that his parents are in town and that they are very needy (high maintenance, dependant).
To be called on -- meaning (se faire interroger)
To be called on by the teacher. When you are called on by the teacher, you are asked to answer a question, usually as part of an assignment.
ex: I got called on in English class -> I was asked to participate by the teacher or invited to respond to an oral question from the teacher.
To call on a student means to ask a specific student in class to respond to a question.
Watch this video to get trick to avoid being called on by the teacher.
To call the roll: read the names on a class roster in order to check attendance (faire l'appel)
A field trip: a trip for observation and education
ex: The history class usually takes several field trips to the museum
Other meanings for the word “field”:
What field do you plan on working in?
Field = domaine
This class is so easy, I'm gonna have a field day at the exam.
Due: expected on a certain date
ex: I have a paper due tomorrow, I’ll have to pull another all-nighter if I want to complete (finish) it on time.
Other meanings of due: cause, reason for
ex -> Due to bad weather conditions, the flight was delayed.
The field trip had to be cancelled due to low class attendance (participation)
Class attendance: participation au cours
ex: That teacher has the lowest attendance record of the university. Students are just not interested in her class. Plus, I've heard she's realy boring.
troubleshooting = problems issues you may experience at university
To expel: to dismiss someone from class or university
ex: Tom cheated on his math exam. As a consequence, he got expelled from the school /as result, the school expelled him/ the school dismissed him.
on probation = to be on probation means you are going through a trial period during which you need to improve either your behavior (comportement) or your grades (note) before disciplinary action.
home-sick: many freshmen (première année) feel lonely, (suffer from loneliness). They are sometimes isolated and feel home-sick during their first year as this is usually the first time they are away from their home and family.
to pull an all-nighter: to study at the last minute and all night long to get ready for an exam or to complete an assignment (usually a paper).
to cram: to study at the last minute.
ex: Why don't you study on a more regular basis instead of cramming the night before the test?
to get behind in class: to fall behind, to have a lot of work to catch up.
to hit the books: to study very hard.
I have to hit the books tonight to get ready for the midterm. I'll probably have to pull an all-nighter.
To drop out of high school or college or university is to withdraw from that institution
to drop a class is to withdraw (se retirer) from the class.
Other meanings of to withdraw
to withdraw means to take or pull out something.
When you withdraw money, you go to the bank or the ATM (= DAB) enter your pin code and ask for a certain amount or sum of money.
When you withdraw from negotiations, you decide you will no longer participate to the discussion. It usually means the deal will not go through (the contract will not be concluded).
At the library (bibliotheque)
To check out
You can check out from a hotel
You can check out at a store (meaning you pay for the items you want to purchase)
And you can also check out books from the library meaning that you borrow the books for a certain period of time during which you may either bring them home or study on location (on site).
Carrel: a private study space in the library
Stacks: a place in the library where most of the books are shelved.
Library fine: a sum owed to the library for returning books past the due date (late).
on reserve: a book that you can view on site at the library but can't take home
university staff: what are faculty members?
The term "faculty" designates all academic (teaching) staff members. It does not encompass (englobe, include) administrative staff members or counslers.
Faculty member: a teacher in a college or university. The term "the faculty" designates all teachers and other academic staff members but excludes the administrative staff.
Tenure: an academic rank that guarantees permanent status (chaire de professerat, chaire universitaire).
Professor McCord will have to get her Ph. D to qualify for tenure.
Here are the main faculty members by order of ranking.
Dean: le doyen ou le président de la faculté
Professor: a college or university teacher
Associate professor a college or university teacher who ranks above an assistant professor and below a professor
(associate ne se traduit pas par associé mais collaborateur)
Assistant professor a college or university teacher who ranks above a lecturer and below an associate professor
A Lecturer: a junior professor without tenure, or somone who occasionnaly gives classes at university on specific aspects but who is not on the university's payroll (qui ne fait pas partie des effectifs).
Other faculty positions (postes) available at university
Assistantship: an opportunity for a graduate student to teach or do research in exchange for a stipend
Academic advisor A person, usually a professor, who helps students make decisions about their academic programs.
graduation (diplomes) and honors (mentions)
The term graduation has several meanings.
to graduate means to successfully complete all courses of a curricular and to obtain a degree that attests to such competion.
A graduation or gradution ceremony occurs when you've successfully completed all courses of a curricular. On this occasion you wear a cap and a gown and are remitted your degree by the dean.
I am an undergraduate student at UCLA. (this sentence means that you are currently a student in college).
You may also say: I'm an undergrad at UCLA.
I'm graduating in May (this sentence means that you are in your last year of college or graduate school, depending on where you are studying, and that you will obtain your degree at the end of the school year).
In another context, to graduate means to mesure, to evaluate and lay down the different steps or levels of something.
Commencement: a graduation ceremony
ex: On commencement students wear caps and gowns
At the end of the ceremony, graduate students throw their hats in the air.
Degree: an academic title awarded to a student who completes a course of study
Diploma: the certificate of completion of a degree
To major in: se spécialiser dans une matière.
I majored in environmental studies.
A major: a field of study chosen as an academic speciality
My major is social studies.
To declare (a major): to make an official decision about your field of specialisation. Most students declare their major field of studies in their 3rd year (junior year).
Dissertation a thesis that is written in fulfillment of the requirements for a doctorate (Ph.D)
number of pages: more than 100
thesis: a written research report in partial fulfillment of a graduate degree.
number of pages: over 20
Dean’s list : a list of the best students at a given university, students who obtained honors (mentions)
He made the dean’s list and obtained very high honors
honors : mentions.
Voici les types de mentions pour les universités qui délivrent des diplômes rédigés en latin.