Learn English – What is ‘Back to School’ like in America?

It’s August and many teachers, families and students are getting ready for a new school year. Watch this video to see what happens at this time of year. At the end, some of my friends share what they are most excited about or looking forward to.

T- 39 – Back to School – 2 August 2019

Hey there, this is Maria from English without Fear. Well, it’s almost time for the new school year. It’s back to school soon. So what makes ‘back to school’ so special in America? Watch, listen. And you’ll find out.

So what is ‘back to school’?  What happens here in America? Well, the first question to answer is: When does the new school year began? When does school start? 

That’s a difficult question because the answer is it depends. It depends on what? It depends on where you live. It depends on whether you attend, whether you go to, public or private school. And it just depends on the school. For example, here in Huntsville, Alabama, which is in the south of the United States school starts next week, the first week of August! I think that’s early. It starts for some private schools and all the public schools in Huntsville. But other private schools in Huntsville begin the second week of August. And in Virginia where I used to live, school didn’t start in the public system until after the first holiday in September. So, it really just depends on where you live, your city, your county, that kind of thing.

Well, what do families do to get ready for back to school? What are some of the traditions? Normally, kids, children look forward to getting perhaps new school clothes, new shoes, because their feet have grown. They might get a new lunch box or a new backpack. Some schools…. they might need a computer. That is a big investment. So parents spend a lot of money.

What else do they do? For the younger kids, they often go and meet their teacher.  Or, the students new to a school, get to come and visit the school before it starts. Parents start putting their children to bed earlier because school in America starts very early, especially the high school, the upper levels. What else? Oh, depending on how old a child is, he or she might need shots in the arm, innoculations. Or, they might actually need a physical exam in order to start school or, in order to do a school sport.

Some schools actually start sports and clubs before the first day. Marching band starts before school starts. Football, American football, for one sport – the practices start a few weeks before the first day of school. So, lots of things are happening around this time. Teachers are going back and setting up their classrooms. There’s a lot of activity, a lot of excitement in the air. 

This is the first year in 28 years, perhaps, that I am not getting ready to go back to school. I retired as a classroom teacher in March. So, this is strange for me. But the new ESL program teaching people English, the program where I volunteer at a local church, that starts up next week. So, I have a back-to-school sense, a back-to-school structure, as well. 

What do children look forward to with back to school? Well, the little ones, they look forward to going to ‘big school’. Maybe they have watched brother and sister go off to school and now they get to wear a backpack and carry a lunch and go to school, as well.

It might be the first time a child rides the bus to school. That’s a big deal. If a student is in middle school, that is, they are 11,12 or 13 years old. They look forward to having a locker where they keep their books and their backpack and their gym clothes. And they look forward to changing classrooms and having a different teacher for each subject. A math teacher, an English teacher and art teacher, something like that. The older kids, the kids who are in high school – well, the ones who are 14 and starting high school, they look forward to choosing at least one class in their schedule. They might select or choose or pick….band. They might pick…. drama. They might pick …..computer aided design, something like that. It is called an elective. 

And the oldest kids, the seniors, the 12th graders, maybe they have parking privileges. They get to drive a car to school and park in the school parking lot. That’s a big deal. 

Well, what about you? What’s it like where you come from? What is ‘back to school’ like? Tell me about it. Leave me a comment below this video.

And to close out ‘Back to School’ in America, I’ve asked a few of my friends to tell me one thing they are looking forward to: 

  • One thing I’m looking forward to the school year is to learn my multiplication facts.
  • Hi, Maria. One of the things I’m most excited about the new school year is meeting new people who are going to be teaching in our building. Thanks for asking. Have a great summer!
  • I’m looking forward to toys, at school. 
  • For this new school year, I am most excited about seeing my students and meeting new students.
  • I am most excited about learning new math.

Well, this is Maria from English without Fear. Talk to you next time! 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *