Gymnasium vs. Realschule

English translation: grammar school; comprehensive (British English)

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
German term or phrase:Gymnasium; Realschule
English translation:grammar school; comprehensive (British English)
Entered by: Rowan Morrell

11:05 Jan 29, 2003
German to English translations [PRO]
Bus/Financial / Curriculum Vitae; German Educational System
German term or phrase: Gymnasium vs. Realschule
In a CV I'm doing, it says the guy went to a "Gymnasium" for three years, followed by a "Realschule" for another four.

I'm inclined to leave the German terms "as is", as there is really no absolutely exact English equivalent for them. But I would like to at least offer a brief explanation as to what they are to facilitate the prospective employer's understanding. At the moment though, I can't seem to find any clearcut distinction, even though I have looked up the dictionaries and previous KudoZ questions.

TIA for any assistance you can provide.
Rowan Morrell
New Zealand
Local time: 08:16
Explanation
Explanation:
The difference is primarily one of aptitude. There are three different schools at the secondary level, Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium. The Gymnasium almost invariably has an Oberstufe (sixth-form), Realschule sometimes does and Hauptschule almost invariable doesn't.

In 'Facts about Germany', they are translated as 'elementary', 'secondary' and 'grammar' respectively.

Essentially, the most gifted children go to the Gymnasium, and the least academically gifted to the Hauptschule, where the emphasis is more on vocational training.

I have a diagram that explains this which I can e-mail if you send me your adddress!

HTH

Mary

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Note added at 2003-01-29 11:43:22 (GMT)
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Both Realschule and Gymnasium would start at about age 10, so if he went from Gymnasium to Realschule, he must have gone downhill. Essentially the top stream from 10-14 then down a stream for 14-17 (unless he did Oberstufe at Realschule, which is fairly unusual!) ...

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Note added at 2003-01-29 12:09:40 (GMT)
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The Fachoberschulreife would sound reasonable as a qualification. This would entitle your chappie to enter, you guessed it, Fachoberschule! Defined as a \'college specialising in particular subjects\'. This is lower-level than the Hochschulreife, which is a certificate of general aptitude to enter higher education ...

Confused? You should be ...
Selected response from:

Mary Worby
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:16
Grading comment
Man, this stuff makes my head spin! But I think I get it now. Mary's answer explained it most clearly, so she gets the points.

I'm not sure where Sylvie comes from (she disagreed with the first answerer), but I have always understood a grammar school to be a secondary school (though it appears it may be a primary or intermediate school in the USA).

The names of educational institutions are a constant nightmare to translate. Even in different English-speaking countries, they can cause confusion. For example, in New Zealand a "college" is a secondary school where you go for five years before moving on to a tertiary institution, while in the USA a tertiary institution is called a college! Our "college" is the Americans' "high school"! But I digress. A good example though of how the names of educational institutions can mean quite different things even in countries that more or less speak the same language.

Back to the question at hand: I've pretty much settled on "grammar school" for "Gymnasium". Reading Mary's explanation and looking up "grammar school" in the Oxford dictionary (we don't really have grammar schools in NZ, so I wasn't totally sure what exactly it was), "grammar school" seems the best bet.

I'm a bit less sure about "Realschule". Am tempted to just say plain "secondary school", but might go with "comprehensive" - again, after reading the explanations on here and consulting the trusty Oxford.
I will be using the German term with the English in parentheses.

Thank you all once again for your assistance - I think it's time for a cup of tea and a lie down now!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
3 +8Explanation
Mary Worby
5 +1grammar school vs. intermediate school
Uschi (Ursula) Walke
5nur zur Info
Sonja Schuberth-Kreutzer
4grammar school vs regular secondary school
David Kiltz
4Gymnasium: grammar school (according to Heymanns)
Jonathan MacKerron
3 -1my thinking
gangels


Discussion entries: 2





  

Answers


19 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
grammar school vs regular secondary school


Explanation:
I know it's not 100% either but then...
Grammar school is, I think, the closest thing because it has the (historical) Latin aspect in it. Perhaps you could say "intermediate secondary school" for Realschule since the "Hauptschule" used to be the "regular" continuation of the Grundschhule. Oh my, notoriously difficult :-)

David Kiltz
Local time: 22:16
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in pair: 24

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  sylvie malich: wait a minute, where I come from grammar school goes from grades 1-6. // Add: I'm from Canada.
55 mins
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21 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Gymnasium: grammar school (according to Heymanns)


Explanation:
Realschule (comprehensive secondary school with possible university preparatory level)

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Note added at 2003-01-29 11:32:02 (GMT)
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in the US we used to differentiate between vocational and college prep curricula in high schools - this about as close as we can get to explaining the German system, i.e. secondary school leaving certificates that allow college, and those that don\'t

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Note added at 2003-01-29 11:35:27 (GMT)
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Rowan, no matter which translation you choose, I\'d leave the German original and put the translation in brackets

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Note added at 2003-01-29 11:42:47 (GMT)
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To further complicate things, the Handbuch der Int. Rechts- und Verwaltungssprache\" defines Realschule as follows:
\"generally for pupils aged 10 to 16, in Berlin 12 to 16, after completion of the Grundschule, involving altogether ten years attendence at school; leaving certificate give entry to Fachoberschule or to an employment with training; formerly Mittelschule with leaving certificate known as Mittlere Reife\"
So now if we\'re not totally confused....

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Note added at 2003-01-29 15:56:56 (GMT)
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Comment on Mary\'s contribution: In the US, grammar school mostly signifies elementary school (according to Webster), while secondary school signifies high school, ergo Gymnasium. But of course I know the systems are quite different in the UK, NZ etc.

Jonathan MacKerron
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 5577
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26 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +8
Explanation


Explanation:
The difference is primarily one of aptitude. There are three different schools at the secondary level, Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium. The Gymnasium almost invariably has an Oberstufe (sixth-form), Realschule sometimes does and Hauptschule almost invariable doesn't.

In 'Facts about Germany', they are translated as 'elementary', 'secondary' and 'grammar' respectively.

Essentially, the most gifted children go to the Gymnasium, and the least academically gifted to the Hauptschule, where the emphasis is more on vocational training.

I have a diagram that explains this which I can e-mail if you send me your adddress!

HTH

Mary

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-01-29 11:43:22 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Both Realschule and Gymnasium would start at about age 10, so if he went from Gymnasium to Realschule, he must have gone downhill. Essentially the top stream from 10-14 then down a stream for 14-17 (unless he did Oberstufe at Realschule, which is fairly unusual!) ...

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-01-29 12:09:40 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The Fachoberschulreife would sound reasonable as a qualification. This would entitle your chappie to enter, you guessed it, Fachoberschule! Defined as a \'college specialising in particular subjects\'. This is lower-level than the Hochschulreife, which is a certificate of general aptitude to enter higher education ...

Confused? You should be ...

Mary Worby
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:16
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 2770
Grading comment
Man, this stuff makes my head spin! But I think I get it now. Mary's answer explained it most clearly, so she gets the points.

I'm not sure where Sylvie comes from (she disagreed with the first answerer), but I have always understood a grammar school to be a secondary school (though it appears it may be a primary or intermediate school in the USA).

The names of educational institutions are a constant nightmare to translate. Even in different English-speaking countries, they can cause confusion. For example, in New Zealand a "college" is a secondary school where you go for five years before moving on to a tertiary institution, while in the USA a tertiary institution is called a college! Our "college" is the Americans' "high school"! But I digress. A good example though of how the names of educational institutions can mean quite different things even in countries that more or less speak the same language.

Back to the question at hand: I've pretty much settled on "grammar school" for "Gymnasium". Reading Mary's explanation and looking up "grammar school" in the Oxford dictionary (we don't really have grammar schools in NZ, so I wasn't totally sure what exactly it was), "grammar school" seems the best bet.

I'm a bit less sure about "Realschule". Am tempted to just say plain "secondary school", but might go with "comprehensive" - again, after reading the explanations on here and consulting the trusty Oxford.
I will be using the German term with the English in parentheses.

Thank you all once again for your assistance - I think it's time for a cup of tea and a lie down now!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Joanna Mimmack: The only reason for Realschule following Gymnasium would surely be that he twice had to repeat a year (sitzenbleiben) and thus had to leave the Gymnasium. What do others think?
14 mins

agree  Jonathan MacKerron: yes, it is odd indeed
16 mins

agree  Nicole Tata: nice clear (?) explanation - sounds to me as if his grades were no longer good enough for the Gymnasium so he had to/chose to leave
57 mins

agree  Jennie Sherrick, MA
1 hr

agree  Martin Hesse: also w/ Nicole
1 hr

agree  AngieD: or he might just have wanted to change "down"!
1 hr

neutral  Uschi (Ursula) Walke: Sorry Mary, but Fachoberschulreife does not entitle you to enter a Fachoberschule, it means you have graduated from it and enter a Fachhochschule. Crazy language, isn't it?
6 hrs
  -> No need to apologise Uschi! Complex business, isn't it - I was working by analogy with 'Hochschulreife' but apparently it's not consistent! ;-(

agree  Kaiya J. Diannen: both generally accepted as "secondary school" but definitely a difference in scope/aptitude; most likely a 'downward' transfer; might want to refer to college prep s.s. vs. comprehensive s.s.?
13 hrs

agree  Tey Lyn
15 hrs
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): -1
my thinking


Explanation:
grammar school = grades 1 - 6

Realschule = secondary school

Gymnasium = junior college

but these can only be approximations

gangels
Local time: 14:16
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in pair: 5551

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  Kim Metzger: Gymnasium is an academic secondary school. A junior college is attended by high school graduates.
5532 days
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
grammar school vs. intermediate school


Explanation:
just to add to the confusion:

These are the terms used in 'Facts about Germany' (1999) for Gymnasium vs. Realschule in 'Tatsachen über Deutschland' (1997), published by the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government. Mary referred to the books already, they are good and for free. Try your German Consulate.

Unfortunately they don't publish the German version any more. (as far as I know).

Since your clients schooldays Mittelschule, Realschule and Handelsschule have been replaced by the Fachoberschule.

The student with Fachoberschulreife (former Mittlere Reife) qualifies for further education at a college, now called Fachhochschule (University for applied sciences).

Would he/she have finished Gymnasium with 'Hochschulreife' he/she could study at a 'proper' university.

I have 2 young relatives in Germany who went the Gymnasium-Realschule-Fachhochschule-way because of lack of interest in Algebra and Latin.

HTH





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Note added at 2003-01-29 17:37:45 (GMT)
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Yes,graduating from Realschule means Fachoberschulreife, a ticket to a college or the so-called university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule).

Uschi (Ursula) Walke
Local time: 06:16
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in pair: 492

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Mary Worby: Just FYI, found a later edition of 'Tatsachen' on Amazon (didn't know you could get them free!) Selling for €25 the pair (German and English) ;-)
27 mins
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516 days   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
nur zur Info


Explanation:
In Bayern begann die Realschule zu meiner Schulzeit erst mit der 7. Klasse. Nach der Grundschule (4. Klasse, 10 Jahre alt) konnte man also nur auf die Hauptschule oder aufs Gymnasium. Nach der 6. Klasse konnte man von beiden Schulen auf die Realschule wechseln.
Soweit ich weiß, hat sich das seit kurzem geändert und die Realschule beginnt nun auch ab der 5. Klasse. (bin mir nicht ganz sicher)

Sonja Schuberth-Kreutzer
Local time: 22:16
Native speaker of: German
PRO pts in pair: 70
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