French Proficiency Tests and Certifications
French is one of the most beautiful romance languages spoken by millions of people across more than 30 countries of the world. Learning French opens up numerous opportunities to study, work, or even live in French-speaking nations.
If you are already studying the language or plan to do so, you can give your language skills, global recognition by appearing for certain exams. While you can appear for French proficiency tests voluntarily, in order to explain your language abilities on your résumé, certain certifications are mandatory if you wish to gain employment, residence permits, and citizenship or university admissions in French-speaking countries.
There are multiple French proficiency tests. The validity of your results, acceptance of the diploma by various government and private bodies, exam fees differ based on your purpose for taking the test.
Here is a list of various French proficiency tests, certifications, and diplomas that one needs to appear for and pass successfully to work, study or live in Francophone regions.
The DILF (Diplôme Initial de Langue Française), DELF (Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française) and DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française) are official certifications awarded by the French Ministry of Education, gauging your French proficiency. These certifications are valid for lifetime and can be used for school records, college applications or to be included in professional skills.
The tests are administered worldwide by CIEP (Centre International d’Études Pédagogiques). The tests are designed for both children and adults; and consist of proficiency levels set by the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR).
- DELF Prime (for children aged 8-11)
- DELF Junior (for children 12+)
- DELF Scolaire (for children)
- DELF Pro (to assess French proficiency in the work environment)
- DILF A1.1
- DELF A1, A2
- DELF B1, B2
- DALF C1, C2 (DILF A1.1 to DALF C2 are only for adults)
The test pattern covers four main language skills- listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Candidates are assessed on all of these skills before receiving a combined result for the whole test. It is not necessary to appear for all levels or in the same ascending order. You may choose to appear for the DELF A2 or DELF B1 directly; if you think you have the proficiency level for it. You are also permitted to appear for more than one diploma at a time during the same exam session. Once you pass the DALF C1 test, you will not have to take any language entrance test required for admissions in French universities.
The DELF and DALF exams are conducted across 164 countries in over 1000 exam centres worldwide.
Le Diplôme du français professional (DFP)
DFP is a diploma intended for students and personnel in business, administration, legal, scientific, or hospitality and tourism industries where they have to be able to communicate and work in a French-speaking environment. The test is issued and evaluated by the CCIP (Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Paris). The exam is composed of professional specialization in various domains. The DFP tests correspond to the DELF B1, B2, and C1, C2 levels designed by the CEFR.
The specializations are
- DFP affaires A1 to C1
- DFP Tourisme et Hotellerie B1
- DFP Scientifique et Technique B1
- DFP Secrétariat B1 and B2
- DFP Juridique B2
- DFP Medical B2
Like the DELF exams, DFP test sessions are held multiple times a year, and the registration process is similar to that of other DELF and DALF examinations.
The Test d’Évaluation de Français (TEF)
TEF is an exam that seeks to assess a candidate’s French language proficiency for those who wish to study, travel or migrate to France and naturalize as a French citizen in France or Canada.
A TEF certification is required for students enrolled in a French university. It is also a prerequisite for economic immigration to Canada, according to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada rules.
The TEF is internationally recognized by French academic institutions, employers, and universities in France, Canada, and other Francophone countries.
The tests are conducted every month, but some of them may be held only a few times a year. Similar to the DELF and DFP, there are various types of TEF exams that you need to appear for, depending on your objective.
- TEF Study (mandatory for international students enrolled in the first year of a degree course at any French university)
- TEF for resident card in France (not required if you have completed the DELF A2)
- TEF ANF (to get French citizenship, mandatory for naturalization application and recognized by the French Ministry of Interior)
- TEF Canada (for immigration to Canada and to receive Canadian citizenship)
- TEFaQ (for immigration to Quebec)
The TEFaQ or Test d’Évaluation du français adapté pour le Québec is another type of TEF test, required specifically for immigration to Quebec province in Canada.
All the TEF exams (except TEFaQ) have four modules, similar to the DELF exam pattern but the TEFaQ has only two. The Canadian language proficiency level is on the same scale as that of the DELF/DALF exam assessment language benchmark and the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB). The CLB is a Canadian 12- level benchmark created to assess language proficiency, similar to the six levels made by CEFR. So, a CLB level 7, for instance, is equivalent to a DELF B2 level. Unlike the DELF result/score that is valid for lifetime, the TEF exam scores are only valid for two years from the date of appearing for the test.
Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF)
DELF or TEF are not the only options for you if you wish to study or live in France or migrate to Canada. The TCF is another French proficiency test whose results are recognized by French universities and French and Canadian immigration authorities.
Similar to the various types of TEF exams, depending on the purpose, there are five types of TCF exams
- TCF (for personal, professional or academic reasons)
- TCF for French nationality
- TCF DAP (for first-year undergraduate students studying in France)
- TCF for Canada (for permanent residency in Canada)
- TCF for Quebec also called TCFQ (for PR in Quebec province of Canada)
There is a difference in the method of assessment/evaluation of the DELF, DALF exams, and that of the TEF and TCF exams. The latter is one single test where you will be awarded points based on your language proficiency.
The DELF and DALF exams allow you to choose a proficiency level in which you would appear for the exam, and you will receive a diploma for that level. Needless to say, if you have a DELF B1 or B2 level certification, it shows that you already have the DELF A1, A2 language proficiency. Hence, it is not necessary to appear for each and every exam. If you appear for the TCF or TEF exams, you will receive a score based on the CLB assessment method.
Additionally, it is very important to find out in advance from the concerned authorities, what tests you need to appear for; so that you have the correct certifications that are recognized by the academic or immigration authorities that you will be giving them to. For example, the TCFQ and the TEFaQ, are the only test certificates valid for immigration to Quebec. Also, this is the only exam whose results are valid for the Quebec Federal Skilled Worker Program.