DILF, DELF & DALF: What are they and which one is right for you?

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What are the DILF, DELF and DALF French exams?

The Diplôme d’Ẹtudes en Langue Française (DELF) is the official diploma for French as a foreign language. If you want an official certificate to demonstrate your proficiency as a French speaker, DELF is the most widely recognised French exam.

There are no grades: you either pass or fail and there is a DELF certificate for every CEFR level. The diplomas are independent so you can take whichever exam you feel most qualified to pass.

DILF, DELF and DALF are really all part of the same diploma scheme - there are historic reasons for there being three different names, but since 2006 the diplomas correspond to the CEFR levels and the old names are really just artefacts from when they did not.

Which exam is right for me?

Absolute beginners can take the ​​Diplôme Initial de Langue Française (DILF) exam which covers CEFR level A1.1 (survival French, what we call A0 here at Progress with Lawless French), but since this exam can only be taken in France, it's much less well-known and not as useful.

If you’re starting from scratch and motivated by having to pass an exam, then you might consider taking this but otherwise, you can probably safely skip it.

At the other end, advanced students can take the Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française (DALF) exams which cover CEFR levels C1 and C2.

The DELF exam is made up of four diplomas based on the CEFR levels (A1, A2, B1, B2), which are all independent, so you could take the B2 exam without taking the previous levels.

Why get a DELF or DALF Diploma?

Most people studying French outside of France will have passed exams in their home country - exams which are all different. DILF, DELF and DALF are standard certificates that are more portable than GCSE or A level French, or whatever exam you may have taken at your school.

What’s more, DILF, DELF and DALF have a one-to-one correlation with the now-standard CEFR language proficiency levels, A1.1 through to C2, which makes them extremely straightforward to interpret. They're a great thing to have on your CV!

If you're at school, then there's probably little advantage to doing these diplomas over any French exam your school offers, but if you're an adult and are considering working in a French-speaking country, or you just want something to work towards to help focus your study, then you might consider trying to get one of these diplomas.

If you’re wondering approximately which level you might be at right now, you can sign up to Progress with Lawless French to take our placement French test for free which will give you a rough idea of your CEFR level.

Please note, our initial French level test will test your French grammar - mostly writing. But don’t worry, inside Progress with Lawless French we have many more French practice resources that can help you with your French study in all areas once your level is established.

What do the DELF and DALF exams cover?

The exams for each level are split into four skill sections: reading, writinglistening and speaking.

Each section offers a maximum score of 25 points, making a total of 100 points for the whole exam. The pass mark is 50 points, but you must also get a minimum of 5 points in each section to pass.

Use the links below to learn what you can expect from each exam, tips to study for each section, what they cover and how to effectively practice for it:

How much does it cost to take a DELF/DALF exam and how long is it?

Outside France, the cost of registering for each diploma is set by the Department for Cooperation and Cultural Affairs (SCAC) of the French embassy and the National Commission.

Within France, the price of these diplomas is set by the local education offices, so you'll need to contact the examination centre where you would like to take the diploma. To give an idea, here are the 2021 prices and durations for DELF and DALF exams set by the Institut Français in London:

Diploma

Fee

Duration

DELF A1

£75

1h15

DELF A2

£80

1h30

DELF B1

£95

1h45

DELF B2

£110

2h30

DALF C1

£175

4h15

DALF C2

£170

3h30

Where can I take a DELF/DALF exam?

These exams are offered in centres around the world. You can find out the centres for your country on the official France Education International website. (NB: if you're in the UK, choose "Royaume-Uni" as the country).

If I fail a DELF/DALF exam, can I retake it?

You can take a DELF/DALF exam as many times as you need to until you pass, but you must wait 60 days between retakes.

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