classroom vocabulary

if you’re learning english, you need to know lots of words related to being in class. we’ll start with some of the most common everyday classroom words.

teacher, student, group, partner, team, class, classroom, subject, course, subject
question, answer, right, wrong, try, guess, check, correct, true, false, get
test, quiz, exam, homework, essay, assignment, paper
listen, watch, read, hear, think, wonder, imagine, dream
ask, speak, say, type, write, sing, dance, draw
know, play, practice, feel, click, touch, press
present, search, find, receive, send, submit, share

a class is a period of time (usually an hour or two) but a course is a group of classes on days, weeks or even months (every monday, for example). the subject is what you study (math, drama, literature, etc).

let’s put some of those words in practice sentences. (start with these then make some of your own.)

the teacher asks the student a question.
the answer is right.
the test is tuesday.
listen to the story and write an essay.
read this poem and draw a picture about it.
find a partner and present what you think.
what is your favorite course?
if you don’t know the answer, guess and check it with your group.
search for your topic and share something with the class.

the word “right” in english is an interesting one to think about. it can mean the direction (the opposite of left) or the judgment (the opposite of wrong) and the only difference is its context.

it’s also important to be able to talk about the subjects you are studying. there are many specialized study areas but here are some of the most common in schools and colleges.

art, dance, drama / theater, media, fine-arts
biology / life-science, chemistry, geology / earth-science, physics, science, health
english, lit[erature], [creative-]writing, public-speaking, liberal-arts, journalism
languages (french, chinese, japanese, korean, german, spanish, russian, hebrew, arabic)
history, social-studies, anthropology, sociology, archaeology, geography
math[ematics], philosophy, tech[nology]
music, choir, band, orchestra
shop, woodworking, metalworking, gym

what subjects are you taking this year?
i’m taking english, history, math, chemistry, biology and drama.
sounds like fun! i have french, english, tech, math and geology.
we have english together. can we be partners?

what do you have today at school?
first lit then biology. after that, french, chemistry and band.
that’s a busy day! i have math then geography, history and shop.
you have a busy day, too.
let’s study this evening then watch a movie.
sounds great.

we talk about “taking” and “having” classes but this use of the words comes from a curious place. the idea is that the class is valuable and its information is like a physical object. as a result, in english, the phrasing is to “take” a class, a course or even a degree. on any day, it is common to “have” a class the same way you can have an apple or a book.

while you’re in the classroom, there are many objects you’ll need to talk about.

board (chalkboard / blackboard / whiteboard), chalk, marker, eraser
paper, notebook / exercise-book / pad, pencil, pen, pencil-case, crayon, colored-pencil
book, text[book], screen, projector, desk, table, chair, binder, clipboard, hole-punch
computer, laptop, tablet, phone, backpack, bag, locker
clock, bulletin-board / notice-board, map, calendar, globe
calculator, compass, protractor, ruler, stencil
glue, scissors, stapler, pin, staple, tape, paperclip, box
highlighter, magnifying-glass, paint, paintbrush
flask, funnel, beaker, test-tube

do you have an extra pen?
no but i have a pencil if you need one.
great. i left my backpack in my locker.
do you have your text?
no but i don’t need it for this class.

can you use your phone this class?
no but you can use your laptop or tablet.
i didn’t bring mine.
i guess you’ll have to write on paper today.
i have a pen and a couple of notebooks.
great. the questions are on the screen.

take the paint and paintbrush back to your desk.
can i have some paper, too?
sure. are two sheets enough?
i think i’ll need three.
do you have a stencil?
yes. i cut it out with scissors. it’s in my backpack.
don’t forget to clean up when you finish!

the idiom “extra” originally came from the word meaning “beyond” but it now means “supplementary” and it’s used as either an adjective or adverb like “an extra piece of paper” or “extra-special”. sometimes it becomes part of another word but keeps the same meaning like in “extraordinary” (more than ordinary) or “extraterrestrial” (beyond earth).

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thank you for reading. your eyes have done me a great honor today.