Perhaps one of your favorite ways to relax is by reading French literature, we can only imagine how enticing the stories and content would be. Or that your friends consider you a maestro when it comes to speaking the French language, but does that officially make you a francophone?
Sadly not. Your love of French literature is not enough to convince authorities that you can proficiently use French in every situation. If you want to study in France or other French-speaking countries, or you want to work there, you will need to provide the authorities with proof of your proficiency in the use of French, which you can achieve by sitting for the DELF Exams.
The DELF/DALF, the TEF, and TCF are exams designed to assess and test the ability of non-native speakers to understand the French language and the exams are internationally recognized.
Most prominent universities in France and other French-speaking countries around the world such as Canada all require that you pass these exams before they accept you as a student. Such is true even for flying across the border for work. To be granted a work visa, some countries demand you sit and pass one of these exams to start working for their companies.
The exams are not going to be anything like the Junior or SSCE French exams you went through. Here, you may listen to audios and respond to questions orally as part of the tests, and you will be tested in all four areas of language learning, namely; reading, writing, listening and speaking.
The exams are of different levels ranging from beginners to advanced French speakers. You are to choose the one that is right for you, depending on your level of proficiency.
To prepare yourself for the exams, you can begin taking French classes at the centers running these exams, they have expert French teachers and provide training before the DELF exams. Example of such place is the Alliance Francaise in Lagos, and Institut-Francaise located in Abuja.
Or you could find a private French tutor with whom you could take one-on-one French lessons. That approach ensures the focus of the teaching is solely on you the learner, the attention of the French tutor is not divided between many students but geared towards the improvement of one.
Another favorable thing with this approach is that the teaching is personalized to suit your learning style, and you are taught at your own pace, there is no need to rush, which is important because this gives you the opportunity to improve as an individual.
A Closer Look At Different French Exams Available To Nigerians
The Test Du Connaissance Française (TCF) is an internationally recognized French exam designed by CIEP in France. Getting a good score in this exam can get you accepted into most universities in France.
There are instances where you can take the exam online, and the result is valid for two years. In Nigeria, there is not much emphasis on the TCF exams, most people rather just take the TEF.
Test d'Evaluation Du Française, or simply, ‘French Assessment’, is another French exam that Nigerians can take part in to have their knowledge of French tested according to European language learning standards, namely, France's.
The TEF CANADA is used by the Canadian immigration authorities to evaluate the level of French one has, before being admitted as a worker in Canada. It is also valid for a few years. You can re-sit the exams as many times as you want but you will have to pay every time you re-sit.
You can use any of the exams listed above to apply to a higher institution of learning in any French-speaking country. The school or immigration board will specify which of the exams they recognize and if there are any further stipulations they will let you know via their website or email.
However, to stay up to date you might want to get involved with checking Nairaland forums and other social sites that are dedicated to helping people travel abroad for studies and work.
The Nairaland forum has threads that discuss this kind of topics to help anyone who needs the info, and it is frequented by people who have already done the exams, hence the advice you will find there are quite useful and relevant.
Learning French in Nigeria is quite easy if you know the right places to look, nor is the budget for learning the French language prohibitive.
What Is The DELF Exams?
DELF is an exam by the Ministry of National Education in France, it is used to assess an examinee's ability in the French language, and it is used to test all aspects of the language, which are reading, writing, listening and speaking.
After you sit for the exam you are awarded with a diploma by the Ministry of National Education in France, and it is valid for life, unlike TEF and TCF. Of course, like the others, it is internationally recognized and in fact, the most sought after.
You might be confused between DELF and DALF. The two are sometimes used interchangeably (albeit incorrectly), and always mentioned alongside each other, but the main difference between them is this; DELF is designed to test beginners and intermediate French learners, while DALF is designed to test advanced French learners.
So DALF is a senior cousin of DELF. All together they have 8 categories, DELF has 6 categories, DELF A1, DELF A2, DELF B1, DELF B2. And DALF has the remaining 2 categories, DALF C1 and DALF C2.
Since you are allowed to take any category of the exam suitable for you, the DELF is separated by age groups to accommodate little kids as well as adults. The difference is that the questions for the kids might seem a little silly for you. But they are basically testing the same thing at the same level.
There is the DELF Prim for children aged 6-11 years, and there is DELF Junior, for 12-16 year olds and finally the DELF Pro, for adults, it has a more business approach to it and is the one you will need to become a professional in France or any other French-speaking country. The DALF is only taken by adults.
DELF A1 And A2
This is for those taking French for beginners, their talent in the language is enough to let them identify their surroundings. They can communicate a few things especially personal information such as their name and address.
This exam is largely testing those with a basic knowledge of French.
DELF B1 And B2
This is for intermediate or average French learners who can keep a conversation going on any topic regarding their everyday life. A person capable of this level of French is good enough to apply to most schools abroad, you are considered a francophone at this stage.
The image below from the Institut-Francaise of Nigeria has a summary of each level of the DELF exam, and alongside it is the estimated amount of time you should expect to spend sitting for each exam.
The Highest Levels Of French Exams: DALF
As explained, the DALF exams is the advanced version of the DELF, it comprises of the other two remaining levels of the exams, the C1 and C2.
DALF C1 And C2
In this exam, the examinee should be able to hold conversations in fluent French and express their opinions on complex political, philosophical and social studies issues.
They can use French for academic and professional purposes.
Tips For A Successful Exam
Determine The Exam You Need To Take
Choose the appropriate exam for your age, for an adult that would be between the ordinary DELF or the DELF Pro. If it’s your child that is taking the exams you and their tutor can help them determine the best exam for them.
Note, only with the highest levels of proficiency in the French language can you hope to sit and pass the C1 and C2 exams.
Contact The Exam Center
To write the exams you will need to find the exam center nearest to you. They will provide you with information about the exams, such as the date of the exam, timetable, etc.
There are a few of them scattered across Nigeria in both the North and South regions. For instance, there is the Institut-Francais for French learning in Abuja, and Alliance Française located in Lagos and six other states including Port Harcourt and Benin City.
Hire A French Tutor
This is a logical step every prospective examinee should take, getting yourself or your child a French teacher will greatly benefit you. With the right teacher, you can learn all aspects of the French language equally, and ask about any part of it you find difficult.
The French lessons will be tailored to your needs, so for someone that is preparing for DELF exams like yourself, the French lessons will be geared towards achieving that goal.
Never been introduced to the French language? Get all the tips, tricks and info you need on learning French in Nigeria.