1. chickpea

    chickpea Senior Member

    Denver, CO
    English - US/Peru

    I'm proofreading an English into French translation on education, where the translator has translated "third grade" as CE2 and seventh and eighth grades as cinquieme and quatrieme. I was just wondering whether this particular grading system was specific to one French-speaking country or whether it would be understood universally by most Francophones. If not, which education system do these terms belong to? Canadian? European French?


  2. minamona Member

    Finnish, French-France
    it's French (France) only
  3. funnyhat Senior Member

    Michigan, U.S.A.
    American English
    I believe that in French Canada, the grades are numbered the same way as in the United States (troisième année for third grade, quatrième année for fourth grade, etc.).
  4. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Did you see this thread from our Resources sub-forum? ;)

    School system
  5. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    The resources above are great. However, I wonder, even if one has a chart to see equivalences between the French system and the American educational systems, the best way to translate a particular grade. For example, if I am talking about an American student in 11th grade in the US, is it better to say that he or she is "en première", which would seem to imply that the student is in a French-style school, or is better to say that he or she is "en onzième année (du système américain)" or something like that, which makes it clear that the student is in an American-style school?

    In fact, I notice that people say "il est au lycée" or "quand j'étais au lycée" to refer to someone's high school experience in the US, but I've always wondered if this isn't somewhat inaccurate, since a US high school is neither a "lycée" nor a "collège". Any thoughts on this?

    Merci d'avance.
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  6. Kajeetah

    Kajeetah Senior Member

    French - France
    In Belgium, "en première" could mean CP (première primaire) or 5ème (première secondaire, le secondaire commence un an plus tard en Belgique)
    I think I would say "onzième année", if the US system is clear to the reader, and if the reader can be a Belgian or a Canadian or a Swiss too.
    Or "onzième (équivalent US de la première)" if the reader is French.
    I hope what I wrote is understandable!
  7. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    This is very helpful, Kajeetah. Thank you.
  8. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    It can be difficult to separate the matter of translation from the matter of establishing equivalence. The readers of a translated document many not understand that the translator lacks the necessary information about the two educational systems or is simply not qualified to evaluate a student's academic progress... but that is what is required to establish degree equivalency. (And whether or not US 11th grade is actually equivalent to première in terms of a student's subject mastery and skills acquisition is another question entirely!)

    Personally, I would provide factual information and leave interpretation to the reader. As the reader may not know that there are 12 years in the US system -- and as the French count their years in the opposite direction, with higher number years corresponding to younger students -- I think I would say that the student is en avant-dernière année du lycée américain. This is a statement of pure fact with (hopefully) sufficient context to allow the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.
  9. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    My primary concern at the moment, since I am not doing professional translations, is guiding my beginning French students (at a university) on how to talk about preschool, elementary school, junior high, and high school, in the context of their life stories. So the end reader is me, although hypothetically, it would be great for them to know how to explain all of this to a native speaker of French who may not be familiar with the US's educational system.

    In any case, thank you so much for your feedback, jann.
  10. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    As a related question...how would one express a range of years? For example, I went to Johnson Elementary School from 3rd grade to 5th grade?

    Je suis allé à Johnson Elementary School de 3ème année jusqu'à 5èeme année.

    or in the French system..I went to "l'École XYZ" from 2ème to terminale
    Je suis allé à l'École XYZ de 2ème jusqu'à la terminale"

    Merci d'avance.

    [To moderators - I would have put this in a grammar forum, but I thought it was also closely related to this vocaublary issue.]
  11. minamona Member

    Finnish, French-France
    That's right. But for France, you would say "de la seconde à la terminale". And that would correspond to 10th to 12th grade in high school. For 3rd to 5th grade, you would need to say "du CE2 au CM2".

  12. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Excellent, thanks for the context. In this case, why not use the opportunity to teach your students about the French (or Belgian, or Québécois) educational system, and have the students do their own "conversions" (based on the typical age of the students in each year)? Then they can use the French names of the school grades. You're not worried about actual academic equivalence here!

    Minamona has answered your question about stating ranges of school years -- note that you need the definite article before each. :)
  13. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Merci, Minamona y jann.

    This information is very helpful.

    Just to make sure - if I use the American system, I also need the definite article?
    Je suis allé à Johnson Elementary School de la 3ème année jusqu'à la 5ème année.
    Last edited: May 7, 2013

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