GRIN - A comparison between the English and the German education system (2023)

Essay, 2015

5 Pages, Grade: 2,3


Anna Berghe von Trips (Author)


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A comparison between the English and the German education system

Anna Berghe von Trips

The aim of every country is that graduated students should be able to acquire knowledge not only about reading, writing and calculating but also about the political present as well as the history of the world. Furthermore they should learn about sciences like physics, biology, chemistry and also about creative subjects such as music and arts. Every country has its own way to achieve this goal .

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This essay describes the way of the English and the German education system to reach this goal and focuses on the differences between the primary and secondary stages. The first part will analyze the structure of the German system followed by an explanation of the English system. Afterwards a comparison between the academic year, the organization of the schools by the government and how schools adopt the national curriculum standards will be taken, as well as a normal day at school differs in the two systems. At the end a personal conclusion about the topic will be drawn. In Germany school is compulsory from the age of six, starting with the Grundschule, till the age of 16 when students finish the 9th grade. The general education however starts earlier with Kindergarten which is not mandatory. The parents have to pay for it and can therefore decide wether their child should attend it and if so, for how long before going to primary school. This institution is more about learning social skills rather than academic. After the Kindergarten the compulsory part of the education system starts. At the age of six children attend the elementary school, called Grundschule, consisting of Grade 1 to 4. The taught subjects are all the same in the whole country. For the main subjects besides physical and religious education, the classes have only one teacher.

When finished the fourth grade every student gets a recommendation by the teacher what kind of school-form to attend, depending on their academic performance over the last four years. The decision between one of the four existing, progressing schools - named Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium and Gesamtschule, each with a different academic level - marks the beginning of secondary education in theGerman system. The writing of the teacher counts as suggestion helping more the parents than the children to make this choice forming the academic way of their child.

The vocational-oriented Hauptschule, consisting of grade 5 to 9, is for students with average abilities. It teaches the same subjects as the Realschule and the Gymnasium but in a slower pace and to a lesser extent. Given that schools in Germany are compulsory for nine years, the student can finish his secondary education with the ninth grade in the Hauptschule, but should enroll to a vocational school combined with an apprenticeship. The Realschule consists of Grade 5 to 10 and leads to a higher vocational school. When the student got good enough grades, there is also the possibility to finish the tenth grade and change to a Gymnasium to get the Abitur. The Gymnasium consists of Grade 5 to 12 or 13, depending on which state you go to school. It leads to the Abitur and prepares the students for university. The education contains a minimum of two languages, classical or modern, mathematics, natural sciences, and general knowledge about history and politics. The last two or three years depending in which state you go to school are the Oberstufe, where students of the Realschule come in if they want to do the Abitur. The Gesamtschule is a comprehensive school and can only be found in some states, but it got more popular over the last years. It replaces the Real- and Hauptschule and teaches the Students on every ability levels through to 10th grade when they finish with the Mittlere Reife, the degree of a Realschule.

The higher education differs for every student depending in which profession they want to work later, however there are several varieties of universities, vocational trainings and apprenticeship which would be to much to explain for the length of this essay. Completing the picture of the comparison between the two education systems, the structure of the English education will be outlined in the next paragraph.

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Schooling in England is compulsory between 5 and 16, but most children begin to go to preschool from age two to four, which is the same education stage like Kindergarten in Germany. Afterwards the primary school starts consisting of grade 1 to 6, then the students normally move on to the secondary school, also called middle school. It is a comprehensive school, consisting of grade 6 to 11, and ends with the General Certificate of

Secondary Education, short GCSE. This exam consists of a series of eight to ten subjects which can be chosen, only mathematics and English are obligated. After the student graduated from middle school, the compulsory part of education is over. At this point there is the choice between an academic or vocational track, however most pupils stay at school to get their A-Levels, which are obligated to enter a university. They can be done in a sixth form college or at a comprehensive school that offers them. A less popular possibility than secondary school followed by a sixth form college is grammar school. Focused on a more academical level it is comparable with the Gymnasium in Germany, it consists of grade 7 to 13 and in the end the students take their A-levels. It is also possible to take the GCSE in grammar school and move to sixth form college. When primary and secondary education is complete, there are a lot of possibilities for the students to get trained for their desired profession such as universities or vocational training.

After the summarized overview of the English and German education system, a few differences have emerged: First of all the compulsory education in England starts at the age of four or five, in Germany children start at the age of six. Another main thing which differs is the interference of the government in educational matters. In England the government centrally runs the schools and the local institutions organize the more detailed things, whereas in Germany the education system is run by the states individually. This is the reason why there is no national curriculum standard to be found in Germany. Something else that comes to mind while comparing the two systems is the academic year. In England the scholastic year starts in the end of August or the beginning of September and is divided in three terms: autumn, spring and summer. Each with a half term break and one big holiday in summer which takes six weeks. In Germany it is a little bit more complicated. They also have six weeks of summer break and school also starts in August or September according to the particular state. Throughout the year there are five shorter holidays, normally one or two weeks long. They take place in autumn, over christmas, in February, over easter and Whitsun. Between the holidays there are usually five to eight weeks of school. Subsequent to the differences in the shaping conditions for the schools, peculiarities can also be found in the everyday school-life. One big difference are the clothes: In England it is mandatory to wear uniform, it is even the typical picture for the country that comes to mind when one thinks about English schools. In Germany on the other hand it is rather uncommon to wear a certain uniform.


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Excerpt out of 5 pages


A comparison between the English and the German education system
University of Constance
Advanced Integrated Skills
Anna Berghe von Trips (Author)
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english, german
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Anna Berghe von Trips (Author), 2015, A comparison between the English and the German education system, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • gueston 11/6/2017

    Sorry, this essay does not fulfil my expectation of a short systematic comparison. It summarises available facts in a very common way. Why should readers spend 2.99 € ? Proposal: share it for free and start a blog or discussion about the two education systems.

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What is the difference between German and US education system? ›

The biggest difference between the American school system and German school system are the grades. Germany doesn't have the major and daily grades system, or final exams and the end of the semester. And they don't have multiple choice tests.

Why the German education system is better? ›

The German educational system is known to have high job security, specialized teachers, free of charge, low youth unemployment rate, the lessons that suits the students' learning style, available special schools & manual work that's recognized positively.

What is the German education system known for? ›

The quality of German education is world-renowned for a reason. It's well-organized and designed to be highly accessible to all students allowing them to continue studying up to the university level regardless of a family's finances. All German states offer the same school systems and education system.

What is the structure of German education system? ›

The public system is divided into three general levels: elementary, secondary, and higher education. There is also a public system of special schools for students with disabili- ties. Although private educational institutions exist in Germany, they play only a sup- porting role.

How is the German school system different to the English? ›

Some US vs Germany School Differences

More like a college schedule, with some classes three times a week, while others are only two days a week. German students attend school for 187-190 days in an academic year, depending on the state. The school year in the US lasts 180 days.

What are the similarities between German and American schools? ›

The second similarity between American and German school systems is that both countries require a foreign language to graduate high school. The last major similarity in both German and American schools is that they both are free to the public, and of course there are private schools that require pay.

Is Germany better than us for education? ›

Germany is an excellent option if you're looking for affordable and high-quality education. If you want to be in an English-speaking environment and have the opportunity to travel within America, the USA is a good choice.

Is German more efficient than English? ›

Thus, for example, a slow and very complex language like German manages to rate as slightly more efficient than fast-paced Japanese. And it comes in third after English, which garnered first place, and Chinese, which came in second.

What are the pros and cons of learning German? ›

Let's take a look at the most obvious and significant pluses of studying the language.
  • It Can Boost Your Career.
  • More Companies Would Consider Your Candidacy.
  • German Makes It Easy to Learn Other Languages.
  • Alter View on Languages.
  • German is Difficult.
  • There Are Many Versions of German.
  • You Need to Hire a Good Teacher.
Apr 5, 2021

Why is education free in German? ›

Why is education in Germany free? Germany has always believed that education should not be commercialised and this is why the country has a multitude of public universities that provide academic programmes at no tuition fee but only minimal administrative or semester fees.

What is school life like in Germany? ›

German students at public schools normally attend school in the morning. Classes normally start between 7:30 and 8:15 a.m. and can end between 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. Class periods are normally 45 minutes long with a short break in between.

What is the German word for education? ›

Ausbildung (f.)

The word Ausbildung refers to education for a more specific purpose (such as attaining a degree or diploma).

What is Germany's education system ranked? ›

The world education rankings from the OECD are out. The UK is slipping down in maths, reading and science, and has been overtaken by Poland and Norway, this major study of 65 countries reveals today.
World education ranking.
Country NameGermany
Reading score497
Maths score513
Science score520
66 more columns
Dec 7, 2010

What are the main differences between English and German? ›

Easily the most obvious difference between English and German is how complicated it is to learn articles. The fact that the German language has multiple versions of each article is incredibly unusual for an English speaker. Most European languages have two genders for their articles, but German has three.

How does German compare to English? ›

Close Language: German

This is why English and German share a great deal of vocabulary. All of this overlap in pronunciation and meaning means that despite German's complicated grammar, English and German are still considered 60% lexically similar.

What are the similarities between English and German? ›

English and German use the same 26 letters of the modern Latin alphabet, so you have a head start when reading and sounding out words in the other language as there is no need to adapt to an unfamiliar writing system. The only shock to English eyes might be the umlaut on the vowels (Ää, Öö, Üü) and the Eszett(ß).

What are some differences between Germany and America? ›

Cultural Differences between the USA and Germany
English you is used for everyone, making no distinctions for social standing or levels of formality and informality.Like almost every language other than English, German makes a distinction between the formal you (Sie) and the familiar you (du). More…
10 more rows

What is the difference between American and European schools? ›

The main reason for the difference is that high schools in Europe don't have gymnasiums or athletic fields. Actually in Europe, high schools are only a building and everything is in it. In Europe school days are a bit longer than American school days. In the United States school starts around 8am and ends around 2pm.

Is British education better than German? ›

The quality of education in UK is better since UK houses the best institutions in the world for higher education. However, Germany offers several other perks such as free education and countless scholarships for students. So, the choice entirely depends on the student.

Does Germany have a good education system? ›

Germany is known around the world for providing excellent education and offering plenty of courses. The German higher education system is well known for high standards and enjoys a good reputation.

Which country has the best education system? ›

No. 5: France
  • United States. #1 in Education Rankings. No Change in Rank from 2021. ...
  • United Kingdom. #2 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Germany. #3 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Canada. #4 in Education Rankings. ...
  • France. #5 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Switzerland. #6 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Japan. #7 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Sweden. #8 in Education Rankings.

Is Germany good for children education? ›

Germany is a great place to study and has much to offer your child. German universities have an excellent reputation around the world – a reputation that has endured for hundreds of years. This might explain why Germany is one of the most popular destinations for international students.

What is the most efficient language to learn? ›

The 7 Best Languages To Learn
  1. Spanish. Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language after Mandarin, and not a surprise at the top of languages to learn. ...
  2. German. ...
  3. Arabic. ...
  4. Mandarin. ...
  5. Portuguese. ...
  6. Russian. ...
  7. French.
Oct 19, 2022

Which is easier to learn English or German? ›

Some parts of German grammar are particularly tricky for English speakers to get to grips with, but German grammar is actually arguably easier to learn than English grammar because it follows set rules that are laid down by the three regional authorities, in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (with small differences ...

Why German is easier than English? ›

What makes German pronunciation easy is clear rules. While in English, there are a lot of irregularities, German is much more straightforward. Once you learn all the rules, you can use them for the whole language. German also doesn't have silent letters like French.

What are the difficulties in learning German? ›

German grammar is complex, can get frustrating at times, and will probably take a while to master. Most learners struggle with grammatical cases (to be fair, they can be a pain even for native speakers). But once you've understood how useful they are, you'll see why it's worth the work.

Are German students friendly? ›

Germany is a paradise for study abroad aspirants. Germany's excellent education system offering degrees in numerous fields from top ranked universities at extremely affordable rates with innumerable job opportunities is something that attracts students from all over the world.

What are the benefits of German? ›

What are the advantages of learning German?
  • A gateway to great economic powers. ...
  • Access to Top-Ranked Universities. ...
  • A language of high-end business. ...
  • Large speakership. ...
  • Easy to learn for English speakers. ...
  • Plenty of culture in the German language. ...
  • Inexpensive education. ...
  • Start young!

Is it true that education is free in Germany? ›

Undergraduate costs to study in Germany

Although you can study for free at public German universities as an undergraduate, there is a charge per semester for enrolment, confirmation and administration. This is typically no more than €250 (~US$290) per semester, but varies depending on the university.

What do German students do in their free time? ›

In 2021, around 94 percent of the German-speaking population aged 14 years and older said they watched TV. Other popular pastimes included listening to the radio and surfing online.

Is education free in Germany for everyone? ›

The cost of studying in Germany is free in Public Universities. However, students would be required to pay an administration fee at the start of every year/ semester. This is a negligible amount. The Germans take their education system very seriously and have everything calculated to the last cent.

What age do German students finish school? ›

What age do you graduate high school in Germany? The age of graduation depends on which school type or educational “stream” the student is placed in. Gymnasium students graduate at age 18. However, Realschule students can graduate at either 15 or 16.

How many hours do German students spend in school? ›

Parents contribute occasionally towards equipment costs, although schools provide most materials free of charge. There are between 20 to 30 hours of schooling a week, increasing as the children get older.

Are German students stressed? ›

German pupils exhibited a mean level in academic stress. However, clinically disturbed adolescents (N=77) reported the highest levels in academic stress, compared to non-conspicuous adolescents.

What is student called in German? ›

[ˈstjuːdənt] (Univ) Student(in) m(f) , Studierende(r) mf; (esp US, at school, night school) Schüler(in) m(f)

What do Germans call their teachers? ›

In Germany, the age of the student determines how to address a teacher. For example, at pre-school and kindergarten, kids use Du (which means you) together with their surname. Later on in secondary school, this changes to Herr and Frau (the male and female form of mister and mistress, respectively).

What is the German word kinder? ›

The word kindergarten comes from the German language. Kinder means children and garten means garden. The term dates back to the 19th century. Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) started the first kindergarten, Garden of Children, in 1840.

What are the top 3 education systems in the world? ›

Countries With Best Education System in the World 2022. United States. United Kingdom. Canada.

Is Germany better than US for education? ›

Germany is an excellent option if you're looking for affordable and high-quality education. If you want to be in an English-speaking environment and have the opportunity to travel within America, the USA is a good choice.

Does Germany recognize US degrees? ›

Academic degrees can be recognised by the Central Office for Foreign Education ("Zenteralstelle für auländisches Bildungswesen" or ZAB). The ZAB maintains a database (anabin) where you can see whether your degree is recognised in Germany. You can directly apply for the recognition of your certificates at ZAB.

How is the US education system different from the education systems in other countries? ›

The children in the United States tend to begin attending school later, than kids in other countries. According to the research, most of the students in France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom started education by the age of four years, while in the United States it is the age of six (Sparks).

Who has the best education system in the world? ›

No. 5: France
  • United States. #1 in Education Rankings. No Change in Rank from 2021. ...
  • United Kingdom. #2 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Germany. #3 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Canada. #4 in Education Rankings. ...
  • France. #5 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Switzerland. #6 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Japan. #7 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Sweden. #8 in Education Rankings.

Are schools in England better than America? ›

Based on national average statistics, most children educated in a British style are a year or more ahead of their US counterparts in math and language.

What is the difference between American and British school system? ›

In the US system, less emphasis is placed on examinations and students study general subjects until the end of high school, which is Grade 12, the UK equivalent of Year 13. In the United States, most children attend preschool part-time, but state-provided education does not start until Kindergarten (Year 1 in the UK).

Does Germany accept American immigrants? ›

The standard residence permit allows foreign nationals to move to Germany for a limited period. This period of stay can be extended and can be transferred to a more permanent residence permit if the applicant has successfully attended an integration course and passed the exam.

Is a US high school diploma accepted in Germany? ›

A US high school diploma alone does not allow you to study in Germany. We will assess your certificate using the specifications issued by the “Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen” (Central Office for Foreign Education – ZAB).

Can a US citizen study in Germany? ›

A student visa is official permission by a foreign government to live and study in that country. All U.S. passport holders planning to be in Germany for more than 90 days (for example, students planning to study for a semester or year) will be required to obtain a residence permit instead of a visa.


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