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How To Say "High School" In Spanish

When it comes to learning a new language, understanding common terms and phrases used in educational contexts is essential. If you are wondering how to say "high school" in Spanish, this article will provide you with the translations, regional variations, and meanings associated with this term. We will explore different ways to express "high school" in Spanish and delve into the nuances of regional dialects. Additionally, we will include IPA phonetics for a better understanding of pronunciation.

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What is "High School" in Spanish?

In Spanish, there are several translations for "high school" depending on the region. Some of the most common translations include: 

  • Colegio (IPA: /koˈle.xjo/)
  • Instituto de enseñanza secundaria (IPA: /in.stiˈ ðe en.seˈɲ se.kunˈda.ɾja/) 
  • Secundaria (IPA: /se.kunˈda.ɾja/) 
  • Bachillerato (/ba.tʃi.ˈʎe.ɾ
  • Liceo (IPA: /li.ˈθe.o/) 

—Actually, the most accurate and relevant translations are "colegio" and "bachillerato".

Meaning of "High School" in Spanish

The term "high school" refers to the educational institution that follows primary or elementary school, typically catering to students in their teenage years. These are the meanings for the words mentioned above:


  • Educational establishment for children and young people.
  • School building.
  • House or convent of a congregation or religious institute for studies. 


  • State secondary school.
  • Scientific and recreative institution.


  • State secondary school.
  • Technical educational institution.
  • Scientific and cultural institution. 

—While "liceo" and "instituto" can be used as synonyms in Spanish, there are differences. "Liceo" typically emphasizes a more comprehensive and academic curriculum, with a focus on humanities, social sciences, and languages. It aims to prepare students for university education and focuses on subjects like literature, history, philosophy, and foreign languages. 

On the other hand, "instituto" often offers a more specialized curriculum with a focus on technical or vocational education, preparing students for practical careers or immediate entry into the workforce. The subjects taught in instituto can include technical courses, such as computer science, engineering, health sciences, or business.


  • Secondary education studies that precede higher education.
  • Academic degree or title corresponding to baccalaureate studies. 

—Bachillerato, which is the equivalent of high school education in Spanish-speaking countries, holds significant importance for various reasons:

  • Academic Preparation: Bachillerato provides students with a well-rounded education that serves as a foundation for higher education. It offers a comprehensive curriculum covering subjects such as mathematics, sciences, humanities, languages, and social sciences. 

  • Access to Higher Education: Bachillerato is a prerequisite for admission to universities and higher education institutions in many Spanish-speaking countries. 

  • Specialization Opportunities: In addition to the core subjects, bachillerato often offers different areas of specialization or tracks, such as sciences, humanities, arts, or technical/vocational subjects. 

  • Personal and Social Development: Bachillerato is not just about academic knowledge; it also fosters personal growth and development. It promotes critical thinking, problem-solving skills, research abilities, and communication skills, enabling students to analyze complex issues and express their ideas effectively. 

  • Certification and Employability: Successfully completing bachillerato grants students a diploma or certificate that validates their secondary education. This certification is often required by employers as proof of educational attainment, demonstrating a certain level of knowledge, dedication, and perseverance.

  • Personal Fulfillment and Lifelong Learning: Bachillerato plays a crucial role in promoting lifelong learning and intellectual curiosity. It encourages students to explore diverse subjects and areas of knowledge, nurturing a love for learning beyond formal education. 

Enseñanza secundaria

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How to Say "High School" in Spanish: Sample Sentences

Here are five sample sentences you can use to say "high school" in Spanish:

  • ¿Dónde está el instituto de enseñanza secundaria?

(Where is the high school?)

  • Mi hijo va a comenzar el colegio el próximo año.

(My son will start high school next year.)

  • En mi país, asistí a un Liceo para la educación secundaria.

(In my country, I attended a Liceo for high school education.)

  • ¿Sabes si el Colegio ofrece actividades extracurriculares?

(Do you know if the High School offers extracurricular activities?)

  • Mi hermana quiere estudiar en un liceo en Venezuela.

(My sister wants to study in a High School in Venezuela.)

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Learning how to say "high school" in Spanish is an essential step for anyone interested in understanding the educational landscape in Spanish-speaking countries. This article has provided various translations and meanings, highlighting regional variations such as institución educativa secundaria, colegio, and bachillerato. Remember that the exact term used may depend on the specific country or region. By expanding your vocabulary in educational contexts, you will be better equipped to communicate and navigate academic discussions in Spanish. ¡Buena suerte!

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