DELF and DALF are French proficiency tests offered by the French Ministry of Education and the Council of Europe.

On clearing the test, candidates obtain a diploma, which places them at different fluency levels in French as per the European guidelines.

There are also similar tests for other languages, such as German and Italian, under the Common European Framework.

These tests are categorized into six stages, which begin from A1 and go on till C2. And each level tests for a particular aspect leading to French fluency.

The DELF French test is used to test the beginner, and intermediate levels, where A1 and A2 denote essential fluency and B1 and B2 are used for intermediate fluency.

And on the other hand, the DALF exam tests the fluency of advanced speakers, marked by C1 and C2.

Three postcards from Paris, France
The DELF exam tests candidates from the beginner and intermediate levels, while the DALF exam tests more advanced speakers with C1 and C2 proficiency. Each level certifies for a certain level of fluency (Source: Pixabay)
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Why Should I Take These Tests?

If you're looking to work or study in France, these diplomas will prove to be useful for you. Even if your job or college doesn't necessarily require them as prerequisites, they're still helpful since they'll boost your chances for future employment.

While you can learn French on your own, these diplomas certify that you are fluent in the language when you're applying for a job or a degree program.

If you wish to take either of the DELF DALF exam, you must choose the right one according to your motives. Remember that neither test counts as a placement test, and it does not ascertain your fluency.

Instead, you must decide on the desired proficiency level and sign up for the corresponding test and diploma that validates that level.

For example, if you take a B2 test and fail it, you will be illegible for a B1 diploma. Or, if you take an A2 test, you will not get a B1 certification.

That is why candidates must choose the right test. However, it is better to be cautious and sign up for a more straightforward test — one that you know you can pass.

If you go for this approach, you will choose a lower certification than having none at all. And once you've obtained a lower diploma, you can aim for the higher one afterward.

To know which test you should take, read the descriptions we have mentioned below and try to zero in on a category you feel fits you best.

You can also try some practice tests to see how you score and use this experience to decide which one to apply to.

But before that, let's see what the difference between DELF and DALF is?

DELF

The DELF diploma, or Diplôme d’études en langue française, is the test most French learners in the United States and worldwide prefer to attempt.

Since this covers levels A1 to B2, it is broad-based and extensive for beginners and intermediate learners.

Candidates can take four exams within the broader DELF definition, choosing between:

  • DELFA1
  • DELFA2
  • DELFB1
  • DELFB2

Each test corresponds to the proficiency level of A1, A2, B1, B2, respectively.

The DELF French certification is one of the most valuable diplomas to obtain if you plan to apply for French jobs, study at a French university, or acquire French nationality.

If you're applying for undergraduate or graduate degrees, you will need a B2 diploma, but some programs might permit a B1 diploma too.

Most workplaces in France also require their employees to have a B1 or B2 diploma if they aren't native speakers and the job involves speaking French.

DALF

The DALF, or “Diplôme approfondi de langue française,” is usually for advanced French speakers. It is similar to DELF, although much more advanced, and tests candidates for the C1 and C2 levels.

It is offered by the same testing authority that offers DELF, but not all DELF test centers offer DALF testing. Finding a higher-French class in the USA will help you prepare for this test with ease.

A DALF diploma is helpful if you're looking to apply for most masters or doctorate programs conducted in French. This is because many universities require certification for non-native French speakers.

However, C2 diplomas are rarely taken since by the time a person reaches that proficiency level, they've already acquired another degree in French.

Obtaining a C2 diploma requires immersive learning, which means a C2 speaker has worked or studied in a French environment already.

Taking the DELF or DALF adds authority to your resume since these diplomas are recognized globally and are considered highly valued by employers in France and Europe.

By taking these tests, you can get certification for your French-speaking skills and boost your chances at employment and education.

The glass pyramid at the Louvre at night
Paris is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But to live there and find employment, you need to be able to communicate with the locals. A DELF DALF exam is the best certification to confirm proficiency in the French language (Source: Pixabay)

What Are The Different Levels Of Proficiency?

To help you decide which proficiency level is for you, we've described the differences between each:

DELF A1

DELF A1 is used to test the learner's rudimentary knowledge of the French language, and the certification shows that they are fluent at a basic level. At this stage, a person can speak about themselves and their immediate surroundings.

DELF A2

DELFA2 is an upgrade on the A1 but is still used to test the fluency of an introductory French speaker who can talk about more varied topics, such as day-to-day tasks, and exchange work-related information.

This one ascertains that an individual can handle conversational French.

DELF B1

DELFB1 tests French learners who have already achieved communicational skills in the language. They can interact with others at this stage, hold discussions, give their opinions, and deal with daily situations comfortably.

Hence, this level verifies their ability to speak and write in more descriptive contexts.

DELF B2

DELFB2 speakers can hold discussions, construct arguments, defend their opinions, and negotiate for themselves.

At this point, they can be considered close to fluent and are well-suited for regular interactions with French speakers.

DALF C1

DALFC1 speakers are fluent and can express themselves in French independently without needing any prompt or guidance.

They are aware of idiomatic phrases and have the vocabulary of native French speakers. Furthermore, they can hold conversations and make proper use of the French language, making them indistinguishable from native French speakers.

DALF C2

DALFC2 speakers are at the top hierarchy of French speakers. Their use of the French language is marked by literary fluency, where they can show that they can use French for academic, scholarly, and conversational purposes.

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Testing Pattern

Both the DALF and DELF exam judge candidates on four skills:

  • Oral comprehension
  • Oral expression
  • Written comprehension
  • Written expression

Additionally, they are graded out of a total score of 100 for both DELF and DALF.

Each of the four sections comprises 25 points, and a candidate must score at least 50 points to qualify for the diploma. However, the four sections have different time allocations and formats.

For the DALF speaking section, candidates will have a 20-minute presentation and an interview, while for the DELF, they will have to answer the invigilator's questions.

To learn more about the formats of DELF and DALF, find additional information at their official website.

A landscape shot of the Eifel Tower and the Paris skyline
Numerous French undergraduate and graduate programs require students to pass the DELF exam and prove their B1 proficiency to qualify for admissions. Therefore, these exams are crucial for any American aspirants for French universities (Source: Pixabay)

Preparing For The DELF/DALF EXAM

On average, you should expect to prepare for at least 9-10 months before you're due to take the exam. That is if you keep one lesson per week with your tutor.

The frequency and time duration of your prep can vary if you take fewer or more lessons. The main thing is to stay consistent with your learning.

Although DELF and DALF vary by their levels, the format remains quite similar, more or less. However, since DELF has such a broad range of scope, there are more specialized test versions.

Firstly, the DELF Prim is geared towards elementary school children and features:

  • 1
  • A1
  • A2

It is meant to be an ice-breaker to initiate children who have just started to learn French.

​Meanwhile, DELF for schools is intended for teenagers between 12 to 18 years old, and it is composed of the four regular stages from A1 to B2 meant to guide young learners in the French learning process.

After candidates have decided which tests suit them the best, they must sign up with a testing center.

DELF and DALF are conducted in more than 150 countries, where they can sign up online and choose their testing center according to their location.

The registration fee might vary from center to center, starting at $100 for the lower levels and going up to $250 for the advanced levels.

Keep in mind that the Alliance Française offers DELF and DALF classes, and candidates can find sample papers for each proficiency level online.

Prepare For DELF And DALF With The Help Of A Professional

For a more personalized and interactive French learning experience, candidates can take private French lessons.

With private lessons, candidates can avail flexible schedules and set up a tailored learning program with their teacher, which may suit their learning needs better.

Superprof makes it easy for French learners in the United States to connect with certified French teachers near them and train in whichever proficiency level they wish to obtain a diploma.

Sign up with Superprof and start your DELF DALF exam preparation today!

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