Everything you need to know about the DELF exam

Many people take French lessons for fun. But for professional purposes, an official certificate proving the level that you have achieved and offering evidence of your skills is often required. You might be studying French just because you want to, or you might need to learn the language to enrol at an educational institution or find a job. The DELF often offers a good solution.

But what exactly can you gain from the DELF? What precisely does it include, and what value does it hold for learners? Why should you study for the DELF in France? What’s the optimum way to prepare for the DELF exam to give yourself the best chance of success? We’ll answer all of these questions below.

Which is the right option: the DELF or the DALF?

It’s worth noting, first of all, that the DELF, or Diplôme d'études en langue française (French Studies Diploma) covers four different levels (A1, A2, B1 and B2). More advanced students (at C1 and C2 level) can opt to take the DALF, or Diplôme approfondi de langue française (Advanced French Studies Diploma). This is a genuine qualification which is valid for life, not a test like the Test de Connaissance du Français (French Knowledge Test) or TCF.

Level A1 (“introductory” or “discovery”) covers introducing oneself and asking and answering basic questions, and also assumes an understanding of common expressions. Learners who have reached level A2 (“intermediate” or “routine”) should be capable of understanding and engaging in discussion on everyday topics (shopping, asking for information, etc.). Level B1, known as the “threshold level”, assesses candidates’ abilities to recount events in the past, express their opinion or handle an everyday problem (explaining a late arrival, persuading someone, etc.).

DALF C1 is aimed at advanced users who are capable of discussing “complex topics” and who can deal with “long and demanding texts”.

If you want to register for the DELF examinations, the first step is to contact your nearest centre (there are more than 1,000 test centres around the world, so you’ll have plenty of choice!). You will then need to complete a registration form, supply various supporting documents (copy of your identification and so on) and pay. In France, the fees range from €100 to €150, depending on the level of the exam you want to take.

 

What is a good mark in the DELF?

You must obtain a mark of at least 50 out of 100 points to pass the DELF – this is known as the “pass mark” (“seuil de réussite”). Note, however, that if you score less than 5 out of 25 in any one of the four skill sections, you will not pass!

To give you an indication, it takes 60 hours to reach level A1. To progress from level A1 to level A2 will take around 120 hours of learning. The length of time it takes to reach the other levels varies: 150 hours to go from A2 to B1; 200 hours from B1 to B2 and 250 hours from B2 to C1. Obviously, these figures are only a guide, since it all depends on the type of course chosen, each student’s capacity to learn, the degree of linguistic immersion, and so on.

The DELF examination aims to assess four skills: oral comprehension (listening), written comprehension (reading), oral expression (speaking) and written expression (writing). Each skill is marked out of 25 points, giving a total of 100 points. How long do the exams last? That depends on the level, of course, but by way of example, at level B1 the written tests last for a total of 1 hour and 55 minutes, and there is an individual oral test lasting 15 minutes. In terms of marks, a total score of 75/100 is considered to be a good result.

Is the DELF difficult?

The teachers at the Centre International d’Antibes will teach you the right approach to ensure success in your examinations. Drafting an introduction, identifying an issue, developing a plan and using logical connectors appropriately are all skills that need to be learned! You’ll soon be familiar with the ten tips on preparing for a French exam. Working consistently, organising what you want to say, including relevant examples and improving your knowledge of French-speaking media sources are all good habits to adopt. You will do regular exercises that are specific to the DELF so that you can practise effectively, and you will be given all of the information you need to ensure that you are ready when the time comes.

If you choose the Centre International d’Antibes and the DELF preparation courses in France, you will have the opportunity to converse with native speakers everyday and immerse yourself in French culture – a major advantage if you want to succeed. After being assigned to classes open also to students who are not studying for the exams, students registered for the DELF regularly practise DELF oral and written exercises. Intensive preparation in the form of regular “mock” examinations helps students to monitor their progress in the four skills of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). So coming to France and the French Riviera is the perfect way to prepare for this exam!

 

Is it worth taking the DELF?

Why take the DELF when there are also other tests that assess what level you have reached? It’s certainly true that the DELF’s role is to give you a detailed understanding of your language skills. In other words, it is the ideal tool for conducting an objective self-assessment. First and foremost, however, it is a recognised, official qualification that will enable you to access many universities.

Once you realise that there is no time limit on the validity of this qualification, it’s very clear that the DELF is a real asset for student and professional mobility. It’s also worth remembering that if you want to apply for French nationality or a French residence permit, DELF is a valuable advantage. Finally, what better way to enhance your CV and snag the job of your dreams than being able to say that you have successfully passed the DELF examinations?

DELF preparation course

 

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