How good is your French? When you take the French proficiency test, find out your precise level and competence.
Why, How, When, Where, and Which official exam should you choose between DILF, DELF, DALF, TEF, TCF Canada, TEF Québec, and TELC? Let’s find out in this comprehensive guide.
We all know there are endless advantages of language learning.
With so many great options, why study French? The real question is, why not?
With over 30 Francophone countries, French is among the most widely spoken, taught, and popular foreign languages globally.
French is an international language of aeronautics, architecture, dance, commerce, visual arts, theater, fashion, haute cuisine, and wine, to name a few.
It is also one of the valuable tongues in the business world.
From jobs involving speaking French to higher studies in France to immigration to Canada, the reasons to learn French are many.
Whatever your goal, the knowledge of French can open new doors and create infinite possibilities.
Table of Contents
- What is a French proficiency test?
- Why should you take official French Exams?
- Types of Diplomas to prove your French language skills
- 1. DILF (Diplôme Initial de Langue Française)
- 2. DELF and DALF
- How to Pass DELF or DALF?
- Where to take the DELF/DALF test?
- DELF/DALF Validity
- Different Types of DELF exams
- What is the difference between DELF Junior and Scolaire?
- Difference Between DALF and DELF.
- 3. TEF (Test d’Evaluation de Français)
- 4. TCF (Test de Connaissance du Français)
- 5. TELC
- Final Words on French Proficiency Exams
What is a French proficiency test?
The French proficiency examination evaluates how well you can use French to communicate in a real-life situation.
It measures the student’s capability in 4 French skills (Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening).
The French tests are the international standardized exams that check someone’s non-native French capability.
The concerned organization conducts these tests worldwide and follows the guidelines of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Language).
Why should you take official French Exams?
Are you considering learning French in India, or have you already achieved a certain level? If that is the situation, you might want to prove your worth by taking a French test.
Do you want to study in France, Canada, or any French-speaking country?
These diplomas are valid proof of knowledge of French to study in various Universities.
Most educational institutions accept it for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
While it may not be compulsory, many colleges prefer international students who possess these officials’ French certifications.
There is a growing demand for jobs requiring French.
You can use as proof of competence for employment applications in the companies where French language skill is prerequisite.
Since Diplomas of any French proficiency test are Universally recognized, It undoubtedly looks good on your resume.
The employers no longer indulge in guesswork; instead, the focus is on levels of fluency.
If you have been studying French for quite some time, you may want to find your exact level.
You can check your knowledge through the French proficiency test and plan for the next test. It is, indeed, a confidence booster.
Types of Diplomas to prove your French language skills
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level, you can assess your French capability by picking one of the French language tests.
While all are internationally recognized, the certificate or diploma selection depends on your personal or professional objectives.
Here are the widely acknowledged Diplomas and French proficiency tests you can earn.
1. DILF (Diplôme Initial de Langue Française)
If you are at an absolute beginner’s level in French, you can take DILF (Diplôme Initial de Langue Française).
The French ministries of national education and higher education issue the Diploma. It precedes the DELF and DALF.
DILF certifies that the candidate has an elementary level of French corresponding to level A1.1 of the CEFRL.
The test measures knowledge in 4 core areas: reading, oral, listening, and reading. The minimum age on the exam date is at least 16 years old.
There is just one caveat — You can take the test only in the French territory.
2. DELF and DALF
Do you want to check your French level?
Awarded by the French Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Centre International d’études pédagogiques (CIEP), DELF and DALF are the two most prestigious French proficiency tests for non-native speakers.
Each year, over 300,000 students enroll to take the DELF/DALF exams worldwide.
There are six levels of DELF and DALF.
- DELF A1: Breakthrough or beginner
- DELF A2: Waystage or elementary
- DELF B1: Threshold or intermediate
- DELF B2: Vantage or upper-intermediate
- DALF C1: Effective Operational Proficiency or Advanced
- DALF C2: Mastery or proficiency (Near-native)
The DELF (Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française) and DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française) are composed of 6 independent diplomas that correspond to the levels of the CEFRL.
Thus, you can register for the test of your choice, as per your proficiency level.
How to Pass DELF or DALF?
At each level, the exam evaluates four skills: listening, speaking, writing, and reading.
Each section comprises 25 marks. Therefore, to earn a diploma, you need a minimum score of 5/25 per module and an aggregate 50 of 100.
Where to take the DELF/DALF test?
You can take the DELF/DALF exam at one of the 900 approved test centers in 154 countries.
In India, the Alliance Française network conducts these exams in New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Trivandrum, Coimbatore, Goa, Pondicherry, etc.
DELF and DALF Diplomas have lifelong validity.
It means you don’t have to re-sit the test after a while to prove your fluency.
Different Types of DELF exams
Within the DELF category, there are SIX different tests.
(i) DELF Prim (ages 8-11)
DELF Prim is designed for children in primary school between 7 and 12 years old.
School-going young learners who are beginners in French as a Foreign Language can register for one of the three independent levels, namely A1.1, A1, and A2.
(ii) DELF Junior (ages 13 to 18)
DELF Junior is a specially adapted version for juniors and teenagers of the DELF diplomas.
The test structure is similar to the DELF for adults, but topics focus more on school-going students aged 13 and above.
The levels evaluate A1 to B2.
(iii) DELF Pro
It is the professional version of the DELF.
The DELF pro’s purpose is to assess the working professionals’ communication skills and students who play a vital role in a French-speaking atmosphere.
DELF Pro has four levels — A1, A2, B1, and B2.
(iv) DELF Scolaire
Like DELF junior, DELF Scolaire is also for adolescents from non-native French speakers.
Like all variations of DELF and DALF, it is also recognized globally and is valid for life.
What is the difference between DELF Junior and Scolaire?
Both are entirely identical. The only difference is the administration.
For instance, if there is an agreement between the French embassy and local educational institutions, you must take DELF for schools (DELF Scolaire).
On the other hand, if there is no such understanding, you have to consider DELF Junior.
(v) DELF (Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française)
DELF is for every French enthusiast above 17 years, and all four DELF diplomas correspond with a CEFR from A1 to B2.
The DELF test comprises four sections: Oral comprehension, Writing, Speaking, and Reading comprehension.
The candidates can choose the level that they think is closest to their level of skill.
The diploma is the same for DELF Junior and DELF Tout Public. As a matter of fact, the word “Junior” does not appear on the certification.
Therefore, it is impossible to differentiate between the two diplomas.
(vi) DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française)
The DALF C1 and C2 refer to as advanced or proficient. Since C2 is the highest level of the CEFR, DALF C2 is the highest French diploma as a foreign language.
Difference Between DALF and DELF.
The only difference between DELF and DALF is levels.
The DELF is directed towards A1 to B2, whereas DALF is meant for C1 to C2, the two highest French proficiency test levels.
3. TEF (Test d’Evaluation de Français)
Unlike DELF and DALF, TEF is the single test where your score will determine the points awarded for French language proficiency.
Started in 1998 by the Paris Ile-de-France CCI, TEF is helpful for several things, including work permits in Canada and France.
The TEF (Test d’Evaluation de Français) exam measures four French abilities: reading, listening, speaking, and writing.
All the varieties of the TEF test are valid for only two years.
There are five different types of French TEF examinations.
(i) TEF Études
Started in 2004 by the French Ministry of National Education, TEF Études (TEF for studies in France) tests your spoken and written French.
It is for international students who wish to pursue an undergraduate degree course at any French University.
The exam comprises four necessary tests: Written comprehension, Oral comprehension, Written expression, and vocabulary & syntax.
(ii) TEF Naturalisation
To become a French citizen, you can select TEF Naturalisation.
The French Ministry for the Interior recognizes this test for any foreigner who hopes to apply for immigration to France.
The test has four sections: written comprehension, oral comprehension, and written expression. Difficulty-wise, it is equivalent to B1.
(iii) TEF Carte de résident
The TEF Carte de résident (Resident Card) is a French proficiency test to verify A2 level oral and written proficiency.
It is useful if you want a resident card from the French government.
The test structure is similar to TEF Naturalisation. If you have passed DELF A2, you don’t need this one.
(iv) TEF Canada
Do you want to settle in Canada?
TEF Canada is the exam you need to pass and get additional points.
You need to get CLB 7 or above for this bonus point, which is more or less comparable to DELF B2.
The TEF Canada test ascertains the French skills of people who fall within the economic immigration program, especially for Canadian citizenship.
While you can take the exam in many countries, the number of seats and centers is limited.
Thus, interested candidates should register in advance.
(v) TEF Québec – TEFAQ
TEFAQ, or Test d’Evaluation du Français adapté pour le Québec, is another test for people who need proof of French knowledge, specifically for Quebec immigration.
The Quebec region of Canada does not use TEF Canada to examine the French skills for immigration.
Thus, you have to consider the TEF Québec test. However, only two modules are mandatory: Expression Orale and Compréhension Orale.
4. TCF (Test de Connaissance du Français)
TCF is another French language placement test for non-native speakers of French.
As a French language proficiency test, TCF functions the same way as TEF for those who seek emigration in Canada or France.
It is administered by the Centre international d’études pédagogiques (CIEP) on behalf of the French Ministry of Education.
Like TEF, It also has five kinds of tests.
It is a single test that consists of questions in order of increasing language difficulty. It ranges from level A1 to level C2.
TCF is useful for all purposes (personal, academic, or professional).
There are three obligatory (Listening, Proficiency in language structures, and Reading) and two optional examinations (speaking and writing).
(ii) TCF DAP
Do you want to pursue a bachelor’s program in France?
In that case, you can take TCF pour la Demande D’Admission Préalable (DAP).
It is needed for admission in the first-year undergraduate (L1) or architecture school student, provided that you don’t have DELF B2 or DALF diploma.
(iii) TCF for French nationality
Suppose you are applying for French nationality. In that case, you have to justify your French level by appearing for the TCF pour l’accès à la nationalité Française.
It is only valid for applying French nationality by marriage or naturalization.
TCF for French citizenship comprises two compulsory examinations — Listening comprehension and Speaking expression.
(iv) TCF Canada
If you would like to initiate the process for permanent economic immigration to Canada (outside Quebec). Then, TCF Canada can help you earn extra points.
TCF Canada comprises four compulsory parts — speaking, writing, listening comprehension, and reading comprehension.
The levels correspond to the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). You can earn bonus points only if you gain CLB 7 or more.
(v) TCF for Quebec
Regardless of nationality and mother tongue, anyone wishes to apply for permanent immigration in the Quebec provinces of Canada and take TCF for Quebec.
The Ministry for Immigration, Diversity, and Inclusion (MIDI) accepts this test.
The approved centers organize the test throughout the year.
Like all TEF and TCF, it also has a limited validity of two years. You can earn a maximum of 16 points.
The European Language Certificate or TELC is an international exam to gauge language competency.
The TELC GmbH – Foreign language tests are currently available in 11 lingos, including French, with over 80 different certificates.
The TELC also allows you to choose which area of the test you want to take in European languages.
For example, a general test for school-going students, professionals, and other tailor-made content. French has four levels (A1, A2, B1, and B2).
- A1 — Anyone can take this test after 100-150 hours of French study.
- A1 Junior — Same as A1, but for children about 12 years old.
- A2 — Anyone can take this test after 200-250 hours of French study.
- A2 Ecole — Same as A2, but meant for children age 12 to 16.
- B1 — This test is for those at the intermediate French level.
- B1 pour la Profession — Same as B1, but the test focuses more on various work situations.
- B1 Ecole — Same as A2, but meant for adolescents age 14 to 17.
- B2 — Anyone can take this exam that has achieved French competence at an advanced level.
Final Words on French Proficiency Exams
The French language acquisition can open the doorway to many new possibilities you might never have imagined.
Who knows, it could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.
To make your French eloquence journey worthwhile, you should contemplate taking the mentioned above French proficiency test.
Choose the one that suits you best. If you have questions, you can always ask in the comment section below.
Can I get a scholarship for a University education if I have all the certifications in French.
French certification can surely boost your chances, but it is not the deciding factor to get scholarship.
What is the cost for DELF or DALF certification exam?
The cost varies depending on the center. But usually, it’s between 9,000 to 12,000 for external students. Existing students of Alliance get a discount of 2,000 to 3,000 per test.
Can you suggest best online courses for learning French? I have knowledge of basic grammar and would like to focus on listening and speaking French
You can opt for any course where you can have face-to-face classes with a French teacher. These days, nearly all institutes, including our own LanguageNext, are offering online courses.
I want to go to France for a period of 2-6 months behalf of research work. Which exam I should clear?
Any level that you can clear. Also, it depends on your work. Some doesn’t require French, some B2.
I want to learn the French language. How long it will take to settle in Canada?
If you are seeking to immigrate to Canada, you can take one of the TEF or TCF test. You need CLB7 in all four sections to get additional points. Usually, it takes 2 years to prepare for it.