The Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française (the short-form of which is DALF) and the Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française (the short-form of which is DELF) are diplomas that certify fluency in French language skills.

The French Ministry for National Education organizes the DELF and DALF; therefore, they are considered the pinnacle of validation for French language skills.

These are part of six individual diplomas, and their validity lasts for the entirety of the person's life, unlike certain English counterparts.

The Centre International d'Etudes Pédagogiques (CIEP for short) develop the certificates for DALF and DELF in which the six levels of the "Common European Framework of Reference for Languages" (also known as CEFRL) are aptly reflected.

Additionally, these examinations have been readily available across 175 countries around the world as of 2019.

If you are not from France and are considering taking the DELF DALF exam, this article will tell you all that you need to know:

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About The DELF And DALF Exams

A woman wearing a graduation cap and gown, proudly holding out a red diploma
The DELF diploma is awarded by the French Ministry of Education. Hence, it is highly valued worldwide. There are four different levels within the DELF exams, and you get a separate diploma after passing each level (Source: Unsplash)

Mind you, the DELF and DALF diplomas aren't easy to obtain; candidates need to pass the necessary examinations to get their hands on them.

These act as assessments of your French communication skills and test whether you are fit to apply them in real-life situations – the documents you receive authenticate that experience.

And if you're in America, you can find several French tutors who can guide you on how the DALF and DELF exams will go and help you study for them.

Most even offer the first lesson for free, allowing you to study from some highly experienced tutors and check whether they are the ideal fit for you.

Who Should Take The DELF Exam?

Students usually take the DELF exam because it is suitable for those learning languages at any level. There are several other reasons why students generally attempt this exam.

For instance, if you are looking to get your bachelor's degree studying at a French university, you will need to pass the DELF B2 test to start as a freshman.

Suppose you want entry into the National Institute of Bakery and Pastry (INBP). In that case, you will have to take an entrance exam – similar to the DELF B2 – which is why it is recommended to take a DELF preparatory course.

Some public sector jobs within Switzerland also require different DELF certifications.

What does the DELF Diploma Cover?

The DELF diploma is designed to cover the primary four levels of the language learning course set by the CEFRL. These levels are the A1, B1, A2, and B2 levels – equal to the elementary level up to the upper intermediate level.

What The DELF Exam Is Like

There are four different exams, one for each level. And you will be tested on the following four areas, which are all covered in separate papers:

  • Reading: adds up to a total of 25 marks
  • Writing: adds up to a total of 25 marks
  • Speaking: adds up to a total of 25 marks
  • Listening: adds up to a total of 25 marks

The exam total comes up to 100 marks. If you want to pass any level of the DELF exam, you need to score at least 50/100 and a minimum of 5/25 within each exam area.

Here are the time limits of each paper:

  • The DELF A1 lasts for an hour and twenty minutes
  • The DELF A2 lasts for an hour and forty minutes
  • The DELF B1 lasts for an hour and forty-five minutes
  • The DELF B2 lasts for two hours and thirty minutes

How Does The Speaking Section Of The Exam Work?

During the oral exam, candidates will have thirty minutes in which they will need to prepare a well-rounded debate surrounding a specific topic. Once you have presented your argument, you will face a round of questions.

Where Is The DELF Diploma Recognized?

The DELF diploma is valid worldwide. Its validation stems from the French Ministry of Education; hence it checks all the official requirements.

Who Should Take The DALF Exam?

The DALF diploma will be helpful to those wishing to pursue higher studies in French or France, as the certificate will prove you possess the necessary language skills for the course, and you won't have to take a separate French test.

Remember, to apply for a master's program at a French university; you will need to clear the DALF C1 exam.

You can also attempt the DALF exam to improve your French language skills as a valuable addition to your resume. Moreover, if you like working autonomously, you will enjoy the topics within this course.

DALF is also considered the go-to diploma for those wanting a job at a company where the employees need to be fluent in French.

This is true for several big Swiss, Belgian, and of course, French companies. There are also many public-sector jobs in Switzerland that require certain levels of DALF.

What Does The DALF Diploma Cover?

With the DALF diploma, you cover the last two levels established by the CEFRL, which are the C1 and C2 levels.

What The DALF Exam Is Like

There are two separate exams for each level. In the C1 test, you cover four areas within different papers which are:

  • Reading: adds up to a total of 25 marks
  • Writing: adds up to a total of 25 marks
  • Speaking: adds up to a total of 25 marks
  • Listening: adds up to a total of 25 marks

The exams come out to a total of 100 marks. Therefore, to pass the C1 or C2 levels, you will need 50/100 and a minimum of 5/25 in each area of the paper.

The C2 test is a little bit different as it tests on a combination of modules:

  • Writing and Reading: adds up to a total of 50 marks
  • Listening and Speaking: adds up to a total of 50 marks
Two women having a conversation
Listening and speaking are a critical part of any language exam, especially the DELF DALF exam. Both these sections are worth 25 marks each, and you should take special care when preparing accordingly (Source: Unsplash)

As is the case with the other sections, you will have to score at least 50/100 to clear this exam. Furthermore, the time limits for the DALF exams are:

  • The DALF C1 lasts for a total of four hours
  • The DALF C2 lasts for a total of three hours and thirty minutes

How Will Speaking Section Of The Exam Take Place?

During the speaking section of the DALF exam, you will be given sixty minutes to prepare an argument on a single given topic. The examiners will then ask you questions after you have shown you have presented.

Where Is The DALF Exam Recognized?

The DALF diploma is also recognized globally, being a diploma officially issued by the state of France.

What Is The Difference Between DELF And DALF?

Both these exams essentially categorize you according to different levels of your French language ability.

DALF is a more advanced level diploma and shows that you understand the French language on a higher level.

Altogether, DALF and DELF cover six levels decided by the CEFRL, from the A1 level to the C2. More specifically:

  • The DELF consists of A1, A2, and B1, B2 levels, equating to the elementary and intermediate stages
  • The DALF consists of the C1 and C2 levels, which are considered advanced

The exams will be different at each level, but they essentially cover four main areas:

  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Speaking

As explored earlier, the DALF C2 is different from the other levels as it combines two out of four skills into one section and the same for the other two as well.

Are The DALF And DELF Exams Challenging?

The challenging aspects of either exam may be perceived differently by each student. However, the areas that seem to be most objectively challenging are grammar and pronunciation, specifically:

  • Pronouns, Articles, and Complements
  • Verbs that take être or avoir
  • Verbs taking the subjunctive
  • Passive/Active and the subjunctive
  • Tenses, as well as tense concordance within subordinate phrases
A close-up of a page from a French book
A great way to prepare for the DELF exam is to immerse yourself in French culture. Make sure to converse primarily in French, watch French shows and movies, read French blogs and newspapers and listen to French podcasts (Source: Pixabay)

This may seem daunting but do not worry. You can take one-to-one guidance from one of Superprof's highly rated tutors, who will make sure to keep your learning style in mind while teaching you so that you can confidently attempt the exams.

Will These Tests Determine My French Language Abilities?

Keep in mind that the DALF and DELF French tests are internationally recognized and are utilized by most foreign education ministries as an evaluation scale for prospective students.

Tips To Help You Ace the DELF DALF Exam

There are several things to keep in mind when preparing for French tests, but these are some essential tips that, if you follow, can help you ace the exam:

  • Register for the test in advance and plan ahead
  • Make sure you understand the exam formats
  • Make sure you know the grading system
  • Make a note of the areas where you are having difficulty
  • Read the preparation guides for the exams
  • Solve any preparation exercises you can find online
  • Make sure to understand what is considered appropriate and formal in French
  • Know how to connect sentences properly
  • Take mock tests for practice
  • Focus on improving your vocabulary by reading French texts
  • Take French classes or hire a private and certified French tutor who can guide you

Now, You Are All Set

Now that you know what the DELF definition is and what the exams are all about, you can consider which applies to you and whether or not you need the specific certifications.

And if you need additional help, you should contemplate hiring a private tutor to assist you across the finish line.

Superprof offers users a comprehensive directory of DELF and DALF instructors. Perhaps, the best part is that most of them provide the first lesson for free; hence you can choose one that you resonate with!

Happy learning, au revoir!

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