Words with Secrets

> Where do children go when they go to school?

Where do children go? To escuela (school)? Back in the day it was where children of all ages studied. In some Latin American countries this word is still used as an educational center where children study (it is usually a public center for young children). However, in Spain it is almost never used in this sense.

Where do children go in Spain? The youngest, from 0 to 3 years old, go to guardería (nursery). Then there are two big educational cycles:

Preescolar or Infantil (Preschool), from 3 to 6 years old (3 years)
Primaria (Primary
), from 6 to 12 years old (6 years)

Secundaria or ESO (Secondary), from 12 to 16 years old (4 years)
Bachillerato (Spanish Baccalaureate like High School), from 16 to 18 years old (2 years)

The first cycle, from 3 to 12 years old, usually takes place in a separate building called colegio (public or private), while the building where the second cycle is taught, from 12 to 18, is called instituto, or IES (Institute of secondary education).

Each stage has its own numbering of courses. In Spain the phrase *Estudio en octavo (I'm in the eighth grade) has no sense:

6 y.o. primero de primaria 1st grade
7 y.o. segundo de primaria 2nd grade
8 y.o. tercero de primaria 3rd grade
9 y.o. cuarto de primaria 4th grade
10 y.o. quinto de primaria 5th grade
11 y.o. sexto de primaria 6th grade
12 y.o. primero de secundaria
(o primero de ESO)
7th grade
13 y.o. segundo de secundaria
(o segundo de ESO)
8th grade
14 y.o. tercero de secundaria
(o tercero de ESO)
9th grade
15 y.o. cuarto de secundaria
(o cuarto de ESO)
10th grade
16 y.o. primero de bachillerato 11th grade
17 y.o. segundo de bachillerato 12th grade

Baccalaureate is not obligartory. After finishing ESO, Spanish students can hacer una FP (Formación Profesional = Vocational training). Those who have finished the Baccalaureate can enter a university if they pass the state exams that were previously called Selectividad, and are now called EBAU (Evaluación del Bachillerato para el Acceso a la Universidad = Baccalaureate Assessment for University Access). If they get a high grade, they can choose prestigious studies.

The word carrera refers to university education, although it is now formally called grado (degree), and it can be done in 4 years. Those who want to continue studying do a Máster (Master's), and those who aspire to do scientific research, hacen un doctorado (do a PhD).