Assessing your own skills is not straightforward, and many online tests give only a rough idea of a learner’s skills. For example, good pronunciation is vital, but it is difficult for students to evaluate their skills in this area.
Are there any official benchmarking tools which are recognised throughout the world? How can you find out what your own French level is? After completing a French course in France, what can you do to maintain your French skills and how can you practise the language once you are back in your own country?
For non-specialists, three levels are generally used to distinguish learners. At the first level are “beginner” students who have only just started learning. Once learners are able to communicate in a variety of situations, we describe their level as “intermediate”. Finally, students who can speak their target language fluently are considered “advanced”. But all of this is not sufficient to allow an accurate assessment.
Are you aware of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)? If not, then be aware that it offers a “common foundation”, encompassing a set of criteria for assessing the extent to which learners have mastered a foreign language. The framework, which has existed since 2001, is enormously helpful in education, since it addresses three key aims: “learning”, “teaching” and “assessment”.
Based on the CEFR, the DELF (Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française or French Studies Diploma) is a qualification awarded by the French Ministry of National Education and Young People. It is an internationally recognised qualification and does not have an expiry date. Candidates who prefer not to take the DELF can opt for the TCF (Test de Connaissance du Français or French Knowledge Test), which is aimed at students, interns and employees wishing to have their level of French assessed. Among other things, the TCF comprises three mandatory tests in the form of multiple-choice questions, and covers levels A1 to C2.
Level A, for “basic users”, includes an “introductory or discovery level” (A1) and an “intermediate or routine level” (A2).
A student at level A1 can “understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases” relating to everyday needs. He or she can also “introduce himself/herself and others”.
If you are able to discuss topics “related to areas of most immediate relevance” (recreation, shopping, work, etc.) and you can “understand sentences and frequently used expressions”, then you have reached level A2.
As for level B, this shows that the learner is an “independent user”.
It is made up of the “threshold level” (B1) and the “advanced or independent level” (B2). Level B1 is characterised by the ability to “deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling”. Other skills demonstrated by learners at this level are the ability to “describe experiences and events, dreams”, and to “briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans”.
Level C covers “proficient users” who are split into those at “independent level” (C1) and those who have achieved “mastery” (C2).
At this level, idioms and long texts no longer instil fear!
At the Centre International d’Antibes, you will take an online placement test to assess your skills and direct you to the most suitable class. This placement test saves time – once your test has been marked, you can start your French lessons in France from the very first day you arrive.
Our school offers classes from beginner level (A0) through to B2, allowing us to meet the needs of all students, including those who want to prepare for the DELF. You can also test your level of French for free online, using a series of questions devised by our teachers. Before booking a French course in Antibes, this test – comprising 20 questions – will give you an idea of your skills so that you can choose the most appropriate French course in France.
At the end of your stay or your online French course, your teachers will be able to advise you what to read (novels, magazines, etc.) to maintain your skills. In addition, our educational site, Le Français et Vous, offers exercises (grammar, phonetic, vocabulary and other exercises) and news about contemporary French culture (films, books, music and more). It’s perfect for refreshing your knowledge!