Introduction to the DELF/DALF

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October 12, 2013

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While most French language learners are contented with studying just the very basics, there are those high-aiming ones who prefer to go all the way and get a certification of their proficiency.

If you happen to be one of these far-sighted and high-reaching individuals, let us give you a hearty pat on the back as we collectively say “good for you!

The following discussion should be of high relevance to you since we will talk about the DELF/DALF and give you an introduction of what to expect.

Delf Dalf

But first, what is the DELF/DALF?

The DELF or Diplôme d'études en langue français  (which literally means Diploma in French Studies in English) is an official certification given by France's National Ministry of Education to non-native French speakers after completing a set of proficiency tests. It is valid for life and is recognized anywhere in the world.

The DELF certification is based on four different reference levels: A1,A2, B1, and B2.

A – Basic language user

A1 – Beginner

A2 – Elementary

B – Independent user

B1 – Pre intermediate

B2 – Intermediate

Beyond the B2 level, it is already certified by the DALF with two more high-proficiency levels: C1 and C2.

C – Proficient user

C1 – Proficiency

C2 – Mastery

The different levels correspond to the proficiency level of the exam-taker, and since these exams are all independent of each other, you don't need to take all levels. You can take the level which you think suits your current proficiency (or confidence level!)

The highest certificate you get will determine your level of proficiency in French.

DELF is available in three different categories of exams based on the age and current academic level of the exam-taker. The exams are similar, but properly tailored to be age-appropriate.

  • DELF Prim – for primary school students (up to A1 level only)
  • DELF Junior et Scolaire – for secondary school-aged students
  • DELF Tous Publics – for the adults

What are the different sections of the DELF exams?

The exams are divided into four categories: listening (to assess oral comprehension), reading (to assess written comprehension), writing (to test written expression), and speaking (to test oral expression).

1st Part: Listening

For this part, the examinee has to listen to some recordings and after which, he or she has to answer a series of comprehension questions based on the recordings. The selections to be played vary in length and number of times played, depending on the level of the examination.

2nd Part: Reading

For this section of the exam, the examinee will be given pieces of written material followed by a set of comprehension questions. The texts to be read by the candidate vary in length depending on the level of the exam.

3rd Part: Writing

For this part of the exam, the difficulty level once again varies. A1 examinees will be asked to fill out simple texts. A2 examinees will be tasked to describe events in their life as well as write simple day-to-day expressions.

B1 examinees need to express a viewpoint through an essay or article. Finally, B2 examinees will need to write down an argument or opinion similar to that of B1, but with higher scope.

4th Part: Speaking

The last part of the exam is to be taken separately from the first three, and this involves talking one-on-one with an examiner. The degree of difficulty in the conversation would still be based on the level of the exam being taken, and the tasks range from simple discussions to defending an opinion.

Most exam-takers would find the reading and writing part relatively easy. The difficulty is often in the listening and speaking part. For this reason, constant practice in listening and talking skills are always advised to those who are planning to take the DELF. You can do this  by regularly conversing with native French speakers.

In order to pass the DELF exams, you need to get a minimum rating for all four sections (reading, writing, listening, speaking). The exam totals 100 points with 25 points for each section. To pass in a certain section, the minimum score is 5/25. To pass the whole exam, you need a total score of 50 out of 100.

Why should you take a DELF exam?

If you're not yet sold out on the idea of getting a DELF certification, here are some (awesome!) reasons why you ought to be considering it:

  • The certification is officially recognized everywhere in the world!
  • It will look super great on your CV!
  • It is an official recognition of your kick-ass French language skills.
  • It doesn't expire and you can use it until the rest of your stay on this earth.
  • Nothing says you're fluent with a language than having the papers to show for it!
  • It opens up opportunities for you in French-speaking countries.
  • It is accepted in French universities (B2 level and higher).
  • It supports your claim that you are an awesome, highly-accomplished individual (and that you rock in speaking French!)
  • It can help you in advancing your career.

So if you're now all pumped and and ready to prepare for a DELF certification, you can check out this link for the official DELF/DALF site. We can help you in your preparations too! Just check out the pages of this website on how we can help you in your French language studies.

Do you have any questions about DELF exam? Do not hesitate to contact me in the comment section.

Best of luck!

About the author 

Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Instagram

  • Hi Fredric, I’m wondering if you could advise me on something. I want to become a French teacher in a secondary school. Are the DELF qualifications enough to allow me on to a PGCE to teach at secondary level do you know? Or are they just the equivalent to maybe an A level qualification. I appreciate you may not know a lot about PGCE and teacher applications but do you know of anyone who has gone on to teach after completing a diploma?

    Kind regards,
    Nicolle Alfei

    • Hello Nicolle, I think the DELF is just a diploma that proves your proficiency in French. I don’t think it is enough to become a French teacher. But I am not familiar enough with the english recruiting system for teachers. Perhaps you should check on some linkedin groups or online communities. Sorry if I cannot help you enough.

    • I am a certified French teacher in North Carolina. To teach in a public school in the USA, the DELF does not matter; you have to take the ETS certification exam. Different states accept different passing scores for certification.

      I hope this is helpful.

  • Bonjour Frederic! Bientot je vais passer l’examen Dalf C1, mais j’ai des problèmes. D’abord, c’est difficile pour moi d’écrire la synthèse. J’ai peur d’échouer à l’examen d’écrit

    • Bonjour Gullu, vous avez des cours avec quelqu’un ou à l’alliance française? Il faut lire les journaux de manière régulière et essayer de comprendre les structures des phrases. Si vous lisez un petit peu chaque jour vous devriez pouvoir être capable de mieux imiter le style d’écriture des journalistes.

      Si vous souhaitez de l’aide vous pouvez toujours me contacter. J’offre des cours pour les gens qui veulent étudier le DELF et DALF.

  • hi fredric… i am from india and i am learning french from my university (Delhi Unviersity).. actually i am lil confuse abt the career in french after diploma.. so will you please describe me something abt it.. i’ll be very thankful for that..

    • Hello Himanshu, actually I am not sure I can help you with that. I am not a career adviser. Perhaps you should contact your university orsome alumni. Moreover it depends the country where you live. I know some people having a great career with a French Language or Literature Major but in general they tend to have a MBA or master degree in business. That’s all I can do for you, sorry 🙁 . But perhaps I can write an article later. 🙂

  • Bonjour Frederic,

    Je suis Suyog de l’inde. Je vous ai déjà téléphoné en ce qui concerne mon francais. Je peux le lire et l’ecrire mais c’est difficile l’parle et l’ecoute en le prononciation. Pouvez-vous l’aide moi comment je peux l’améliorer ?

    • Bonjour Suyog. Vous pouvez écouter la radio. Cherchez sur google RFI français Facile. Pour pratiquer l’oral il faut avoir quelqu’un avec vous je pense. Je ne donne pas de cours gratuit, je donne des cours https://www.talkinfrench.com/tutoring/. Sinon il faut que vous trouvez quelqu’un sur un site de correspondant/”language partner”. En cherchant sur google vous pourriez trouver des sites.

  • Hello Frederic,

    Would you please tell me what is the equivalent of the former A5 and A6 level to the actual DELF curriculum?
    I need to pass the DALF C1 in order to enroll in a French university. I took the A5, A6 exams more than 10 years ago. I’m quite scared about the difficulty of the C1 level. How can I prepare for it? Merci bien.

    • A5 and 6 = DELF B2 . Check it out this document . For DALF C1, you really have to prepare it in a different with the DELF B2. You should focus extensively on enriching your vocabulary but more importantly to ARTICULATE your ideas in a meaningful way. I think the most difficult part is the written part here, you need to do an essay in a “French Way”. The format is pretty unusual for foreigners so I recommend you to spend a good amount of time on practicing it. Buy a book related to that is a must and if you can take a class in an alliance française it will be great. Do not hesitate to read a lot of articles on different topics to get ideas/perspectives and of course some new vocabulary. If you need more advices just let me know. Good luck! 🙂

  • Hello there,
    Just a simple question. Do exam-takers have the right to a French-French dictionary during the DALF exam? Thank you.

  • Bonjour Frederic !

    Regarding to the DELF/DALF, did you know about the TCF (Test de Connaissance du Francais) ? I haven’t taking the DELF/DALF test yet because my French prof suggest me to take TCF rather than DELF. I was taking the TCF and there is no speaking section on the test. the whole test (comprehension orale, maitrise des structure de la langue, et compherension ecrite) doing in sub-ordinateur !

    according to you, which one is the best certification ? DELF/DALF or TFC ?
    Merci encore !

    • Bonjour Casella,

      Yes I know well the TCF. I am not a big fan of the TCF since it does not quizz you on the most important part. SPEAKING!

      DELF/DALF is a better certification.

  • Hi Frederic, are any of your pod classes mostly or all in French? I’ve clicked on a couple and seems like it is mostly you speaking in English about French culture. I’d like to find pod lessons at an intermediate level primarily in French. Thanks!

  • Bonjour Fredric,

    Im Fiona from Malta and Ive A1 and A2. I did A2, a year ago. Would be possible for me if i do B1, perhaps i do the exam of december of next year? I need to do revision first about the grammar.

    Is there a lot of difference between between A2 and B1? And with this certificate Diplome Etat B1, what kind of career or job can you do with it? Or is just as you said that proves that you know french? It is equivalent to TFIL and Telt (to teach english)?

    Cordialment ,

    Fiona Gusman

    • Would be possible for me if i do B1, perhaps i do the exam of december of next year? Yes, if you study seriously it should not be a problem.
      Is there a lot of difference between between A2 and B1? Yes the gap is big between each exam.
      It’s just a certification, not a diploma. I don’t think B1 is good enough to claim that you are fluent in French. B2 yes.
      It is equivalent to TFIL and Telt (to teach english)? No, you need a different diploma.

  • Thank you for all you have posted!
    And also for the package.
    I’m taking the b2 exams, this year.
    Do you have any syllabus available?

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