French Language Proficiency Tests: Guide to DILF, DELF and DALF
Non-native French-speaking or non-French-speaking international students wishing to study in French-speaking countries would need to pass a French proficiency test. These tests can also apply to students who wish to study French courses in Non-French-speaking countries.
The point is, French proficiency tests are needed for a number of reasons including applications for a visa to Canada or France.
Internationally recognized French proficiency tests
There are two major tests of French language proficiency. Known as Test d’évaluation du français (TEF); it is organized and awarded by the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris, CCIP.
The CCIP is basically the premier Chambers of Commerce for the Paris region. Apart from protecting the interests of businesses in the city of Paris, it helps the government administer the French proficiency test.
The major French proficiency test is made up of 3 compulsory sections and 2 optional sections.
The mandatory categories are:
- Listening and
These must all be taken at the same time.
The optional categories are
- Writing and
These can be taken at different times
How the various sections are timed (source)
Levels or steps of French proficiency tests
For those opting for the DELF, there are two levels. These are levels A1 and A2 for beginners and B1 and B2 for intermediate level French.
For those who believe their French proficiency is above the beginner and intermediate levels, there are also two levels. These levels, C1 and C2 advanced French fall under the DALF test type.
A third level under the DILF is not too common and falls under the introductory or pre-beginner level or DILF and is dubbed as A1.1
Types of French proficiency tests
Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF) is known as Diploma in French Language Studies in English. This is the test that should be of most use to basic level French-speakers or people who are learning to speak French.
When applying for jobs or university admission in France or French-speaking countries, a DELF certificate is one of the most important documents to have.
Generally, most programs in French universities whether at the undergraduate or graduate level require a DELF diploma at the B2 level. Though some programs accept B1 as the minimum standard.
Diplôme approfondi de langue française (DALF) or Diploma in Advanced French; as the name implies, it is the certification for advanced French speakers. This test is similar to DELF in structure but it is not always done in the same venue or at the same time.
There are two levels of DALF tests; levels C1 and C2.
Most postgraduate master’s and doctorate levels require C1 test as one of the admission prerequisites.
C2 level proficiency is rare to take for non-French-speaking people. This is because getting a C2 diploma requires many years of living and working in a French-speaking environment while at the same time conversing in the language for the same number of years.
In other words, a C2 diploma means one has already graduated from a French University or a course taught in French.
The Diplôme initial de langue française or Initial Diploma of French language test is the most basic level of French. This test is suitable for somebody just coming to grip with the language.
This test was developed for migrants to France who are not fully literate in their own native languages. This test, therefore, is not suitable for study abroad students.
How to apply and take the tests and fees
After you have decided the test that best suit your needs as an international student, check this website to see the test centers close to where you live. From there, it is easy to sign up for the test online
The registration fees vary from center to center. But the lowest signup fee is about $100 and reaches up to $250 for the DALF test in some centers.
Check here for more information on DALF and DELF French language proficiency tests.