How to prepare for DELF
Diplôme d'études en langue française, is a diploma issued by the French Ministry of National Education. It is an official document that confirms the French language skills by the CECR levels (A1, A2, B1, B2).
DELF can be useful to you for various reasons: for immigration or admission to a French university. Also, it has a very significant plus: it is termless.
！ Exams are held two (sometimes three) times a year on the same days around the world. If you missed a day or failed, you will have to wait for the next six months to try again.
📝 What parts does DELF consist of?
DELF, like all exams like it, has four parts, namely Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Duration: 2h 30m. Each competency is rated at a maximum of 25 points. To successfully pass the DELF, you need to cross the threshold of 5 points for each competency, and score at least 50 points in total.
- Listening - 5 points.
- Speaking - 10 points.
- Letter - 20 points.
- Reading - 25 points.
In total: 60 points and the threshold for each competency is passed.
💭Knowing this will allow you to focus on competencies that are strong for you during preparation, realizing that the missing competence can always be compensated for.
Choosing between level A2 or B1, or B1 and B2 and realizing that you are ready well - choose the level higher. Better to get 55 points in B2 level than 90 in B1 level.
Registration starts a few months before the exam, so you should decide when you will take the exam and register. For the exam, you only need a passport and pens (pencils).
I will divide this section into four parts, where I will describe in detail what this part is, how to prepare for each of them.
🖤 Compréhension de l’oral (Listening)
Format: Listening takes 30 minutes. Consists of two exercises: test part and open answers. As sources are used, most commonly, parts of various socio-political discourses, interviews, television and radio programs, etc.
- Official Materials
- Any news items, for example France 24
- Exercises with Savoirs
- Listening Preparation Tutorials all levels (login:acces.libre pass:acceslibre2020).
- Someone likes to watch youtube bloggers, but their French is more conversational and does not fit the format: Natoo, bref., Ina Société.
It is difficult for an unprepared person to understand French because all words merge into a single stream and it is difficult to separate words. Therefore, phonetics and listening are inextricably linked with each other.
To prepare for the listening, I have written an entire post with tips on how to prepare better.
🖤 Compréhension des écrits (Reading)
Format: Reading takes 60 minutes. Consists of two exercises: a test part and open-ended answers with explanations. As sources are used, most commonly, articles from magazines and newspapers.
Since I know English, I have noticed that reading is one of the easiest parts for me. Many words are similar, something can be understood from the context. Even when I passed B1, I scored about 22 points, although I did not prepare for this part.
There won’t be much advice for this part, just do the exercises from official sources and read more during preparation. It all depends on the vocabulary, of course (and a little intuition).
- Official Materials
- Read news articles and research various sources (I’ll cover this in the paragraph about speaking).
🖤 Production écrite (Writing)
Format: Writing takes 60 minutes and your essay should be 250 words. Most commonly, you need to write a letter, less often - criticism. The letter is written to the mayor, director, senior managers, etc.
Oddly enough, spelling is important, but it doesn’t make up your entire score. A very important role is played by structure. Writing, even grammatically perfect, but all over the place will not score high.
For example, we have a topic (assignment):
Vous vivez en France dans une zone piétonne du centre-ville. Le maire de votre ville a décidé d’ouvrir certaines des rues de cette zone à la circulation des autobus pendant la journée. Comme représentant(e) de votre immeuble, vous écrivez une lettre au maire pour contester cette décision en justifiant votre point de vue.
Once you see the assignment, you need to understand the following:
Who are you? Who are you writing to? For what reason?
and from this, a further plan is drawn up.
You also need to give the pros, what the pedestrian zone is good for, the cons of the car zone, and your solution to this situation (this is very important).
Plus, the letter should have an introduction, conclusion, and formal phrases of greetings and goodbyes (examples below). On this site you can find more information on what are the most important points for writing a good letter: 10 conseils pour la production écrite B2
My advice: take the time to write 3-5 letters to learn how to write structure and memorize introductory constructions. You will memorize them and on the exam, you spend time only writing arguments. Everyone always doesn’t pay attention to writing during preparation, but it’s 25 points.
🖤 Production orale (Speaking)
So we got to the most difficult, stressful, and interesting part for me. Speaking.
Format: 30 minutes to prepare. Answer 20 minutes maximum: of which 8-10 minutes is a monologue and the rest is “debate”. You blindly choose two themes, choose one of the two to prepare. You can write a short plan of the answer on a piece of paper and use your notes during the monologue.
In addition to the vocabulary that examiners expect to hear, the monologue should have structure and sources. It is very important.
The monologue is composed of three-four parts:
- Introduction and initiation into the plan.
- Presentation of arguments (usually three) and their defense.
- Personal experience.
You can find the template for the structure of your monologue here.
In the introduction, it is very important to mention the source, problems, choose your position on the topic and highlight the plan for your further answer.
🔸Arguments and defense
The arguments are based on the following principle:
- Tout d’abord, [Argument] + [Explication].
There may be two or three, depending on the complexity of the topic and how well you understand it.
Personal experience doesn’t always have to be accurate. Naturally, examiners will not dig your bio, checking your words. Just come up with something if there was no suitable experience.
Don’t forget to make a conclusion on your topic.
I advise you to memorize the structure. Even if you come across a very unfortunate topic, just presenting the structure will take at least 3 minutes and save you from shame. The correct structure also allows you to score 7 points.
- How to prepare to speak if you don’t have French people in your house?
Take topics (any, for example from the sources below):
And based on this, compose a monologue (it is also in the document). Prepare the text well, work with it. This is very important because it will make it easy for you to learn it later. For example, it is better not to translate unknown words, but to look for definitions in Larousse. It will also allow you to expand your vocabulary. After that, you need to try to retell the monologue or even memorize it.
For example, I learn a monologue and then tell it to imaginary listeners, pillows, or a window. Aloud. I noticed that when dubbing out loud, the text is very well remembered. I learn two monologues a week on average.
You can then take the official DELF topics and compose your monologues based on the sources. It helps a lot. Do monologues on different topics, even the most meaningless and complex ones. You never know what will happen on the exam
Preparation for the exam is always very difficult, it takes a lot of time and effort. Remember that this will end and the sooner you come to the desired result, the sooner all textbooks can be burned.
P.S. If you have a free hour and a half, headphones, and a desire to find out your current level of French, you can take the TCF.