Frequently Asked Questions

Does the French context present a disadvantage for Canadian candidates?  (Cultural references, higher level of language, rapid flow, European accent, choice of themes such as vacations, trains, Euros).

Initially, it may seem that this would be the case. However, for several years we have been observing that our students are managing very well. For the most part, the context enables them to accomplish the tasks without any bias.

The CIEP (Centre international d'études pédagogiques), an organisation appointed by the National Ministry of Education of France to create the exam, works hard to develop texts and activities that have an international scope and that can be adapted to all French-speaking countries.

When we prepare students for the exam, it is an extraordinary opportunity for them to learn more about the diverse culturesof the French-speaking world.

Is there a danger of creating confusion among our teachers, with regard to teaching methods?

The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) is a flexible tool that enables teachers to create targeted action-based activities that contribute to a strong development of linguistic skills among our learners.

How much time does a candidate have to write the test? Do time limitations create stressful situations for our candidates?

The DELF exams take place nationally. In order to respect various time zones, common start and end times are set up across the country.

The duration of the exam is appropriate to the skill level of learner. As well, like all good evaluation tools, it is possible to make adjustments. Provisions can be made for learners who have a diagnosed learning disability.

Are there trick questions on the DELF tests?

More and more in education, this practice tends to be condemned. DELF exams are made to be respectful of learners and aim to determine their true skill level. So, no tricks!

Does the test require knowledge that is not familiar to students and other candidates?

The CIEP uses authentic texts of general interest that correspond to the general knowledge of learners all over the world. The objective of the exam does not consist of validating knowledge, but rather aims at validating specific linguistic

Is the DELF primarily a test of memorization?

Not at all. The exam targets comprehension of both oral and written texts. All texts used during the exams are authentic and drawn from real life situations.

Are candidates allowed to have time to prepare for the listening, reading and writing components of the test?

Fundamentally, students must demonstrate their skills. During the exam, the point is to see the learner in action rather than in the preparation or planning stage. Criteria such as the extensiveness of the vocabulary and spontaneity are important and correspond to levels of competence according to the CEFR rubrics.

DELF and the DALF

Depending on the level, there is also the opportunity to listen twice to oral documents. During the interactive oral exam, the student will have time to prepare, just as he or she would for a job interview. In addition, the allotted time per competency allows ample opportunity for preliminary work as well as review.

Is the candidate permitted to have tools (such as a dictionary, grammar book, the Bescherelle) for the written portion of the test?

When preparing candidates prior to the exam, it is certainly important to allow them to use all tools available so that they can have as many opportunities for feedback as possible. However, during the DELF exams, candidates must demonstrate specific skills. For example, one of the written requirements for level B2 is a 250 word essay that demonstrates concise thinking, by the candidate, without tools. Dictionaries are allowed at the DALF level: C1 and C2.

What is the passing grade?

The total required passing mark for the diploma is 50%. It is important to understand that candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of success in all four competencies.

If one of the competencies is problematic (a mark below 5/25), then a candidate would not receive his or her diploma.

To properly understand the progression between the levels, it is important to consider each level as a developmental zone. If someone obtains 55% in B1, he or she will most likely take three more years to obtain a B2. However, if someone receives 90% in B1, he or she will probably pass a B2 more rapidly.

If a candidate does not attend part of an exam, he or she does not pass.

Are there links between the DELF and DALF tests and curriculum?

Already several provinces have harmonized their curriculum and program of studies with the CEFR descriptors. In other provinces, Ministries of Education are giving latitude to school boards in terms of use of the CEFR and the DELF.

  • British Columbia is proposing a very detailed approach for all second languages based on the framework levels.
  • All four Atlantic provinces are currently reviewing their programs in order to create a logical alignment with the framework principles.
  • In Ontario, new frameworks are being revised, and according to first drafts, there will be a marked effort to align directly with the framework
  • In Alberta, important initiatives are in place and have enabled the province to be a pioneer with the framework.
    • Such successes have taken place in Edmonton, Calgary, Grande-Prairie and now LETHBRIDGE.