Where is it?
What is it?
The certification of the level of French is an official proof of the linguistic level for people whose mother tongue is not French.
Certification is required to:
- enrol at university (minimum level B2 or C1)
- take a University Diploma (DU) (minimum level depends on the course)
- apply for French nationality (minimum level B1)
- apply for an initial 10-year residence permit (minimum level A2, except for beneficiaries of international protection).
There are several ways to certify your level of French:
- Official level tests: French evaluation test (FET), French knowledge test (FKT)
- Diplomas: Initial diploma in French language (IDFL), Diploma in French language studies (DFLS), Advanced diploma in French language (ADFL)
How to do it?
The first step is to choose which test or diploma you want to take.
The certifications presented here are all based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL), which means that an A2 level at the DFLS = an A2 level at the FET = an A2 level at the FKT.
There is no easier or more complicated certification to pass.
Each has its particularities:
Issued by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry, recognized by the French Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports, recognized internationally (especially in Canada).
Format: multiple-choice questions (choose the correct answer from several options). Written and oral comprehension on the computer, written expression on paper to write two everyday life texts, face-to-face oral expression with two role plays on everyday life situations.
It is not necessary to know your level before registering.
Price: between €170 and €190
Validity: 2 years
Issued by France Education International and recognized by the French Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports.
Format: multiple-choice questions (choose the correct answer from several options). Oral comprehension, written comprehension on paper or on computer, written production to write 3 texts on daily life, face-to-face oral production on subjects of daily life.
It is not necessary to know your level before registering, the difficulty increases as the questions are asked.
At the end of the exam, it is possible to have a different level in each test, depending on the correct answers and the number of points.
Price: between €150 and €180
Validity: 2 years
Issued by the French Ministry of National Education, recognized internationally: the Initial Diploma in French Language (IDFL), is for complete beginners and newcomers to France level A1.1, the Diploma in French Language Studies (DFLS), is for all audiences at level A1 - A2 - B1 or B2 , the Advanced Diploma in French Language (DALF), is for adults in a university or professional situation at levels C1 - C2 .
Format: oral comprehension, written comprehension and written production on paper in a collective room, face-to-face oral production with 2 examiners on subjects of daily life and thematic subjects, depending on the level.
You must choose the level of the exam before registering: the questions, the time and the tests are adapted to the level chosen.
Price: from 150€ to 250€
How to choose ?
- DFLS and ADFL have an academic format, the exercises are longer. It is important to know the method and to prepare, which is why this diploma is suitable for students or people with specific preparation. The price is generally higher, but you only take the diploma once (it is valid for your whole life, whereas the results of the FET and FKT are valid for 2 years).
- If you have taken lessons regularly for a period, the DFLS is an interesting option to confirm the level reached.
- If you do not have the time or the possibility to prepare for the DFLS exam, the FET and the FKT are shorter and the instructions for the exercises are simple to understand. The subjects of the FET are broader.
- If you do not know your exact level of French, it is best to take the FET or FKT.
It is advisable to prepare before taking the test or the diploma, to have a better chance of passing. Doing several “mock exams” (taking the exam under the same conditions as the official exam) is essential to fully understand the organization and the skills you need to work on.
Several solutions exist:
- Course in a training center
There are many training centers that offer French lessons and exam preparation.
The prices are different depending on the number of hours and the course format (group or individual). The price of the exam is usually included in the total price.
In some cases, it is possible to use the Personal Training Account (PTA) to pay for the training. > To read: the Refugees.info sheet “Using your CPF”
- Course in an association
The associations generally offer free courses (or only the registration fees have to be paid), in groups, by volunteer teachers.
Some associations can register you and sometimes even help you pay part of the price of the exam.
To find an association, ask the town hall of your city or click on “French lessons” and write your city on the home page of Réfugiés.info.
- Private lessons
You can look for an independent teacher who will help you prepare for the exam.
Check that the teacher knows the certification methods, to have lessons adapted to your objective and your level.
The courses are paid and individual.
You then have to register at an exam center and pay.
- Work alone
There are websites with exercises that look like official tests and exams, for example:
There are also many French as a foreign language (FFL) books with exercises and mock exams.
It is also advisable to read and listen to documents from everyday life and current sectors (news, podcasts, newspapers, radio programs, on the environment, new technologies, education, etc.) and to have conversations with French-speaking people to practice speaking.
Train yourself to stay focused between 30 minutes and an hour and to understand an audio document after a single listening.
How to choose?
- The choice depends on your availability and your budget. If you work full time, try to find evening or weekend classes.
- If you have time, it is advisable to take lessons to fully understand the methods and ask questions to a teacher.
- The sites for working alone are complementary to the courses to continue to progress, and practice every day.
- The most important thing is to stay motivated!
If you have taken courses in a training center or an association, registration is taken care of, either in the same center or in another examination centre.
If you have not taken a course in an establishment, you must contact an examination center near you.
The exam schedule is different depending on the region, type of exam, exam center, time of year. This can be once a week or once a month, so contact the center as soon as you are ready to take the exam.
It is the examination center that will give you the date, the price to pay, the steps for registration. Each center decides on its conditions, do not hesitate to contact several examination centers if you wish to compare.
Here is the list of exam centers:
During the exam:
- listen and read the instructions carefully,
- stay as focused as possible, especially during the oral comprehension test,
- manage time to be able to finish the tests and to proofread and check the answers,
- adopt a formal language level.
What happens next?
Level B1 spoken and written is required to apply for French nationality.
Here are the official proofs accepted for the language level:
- a diploma of knowledge of the French language at least equivalent to B1 level ( DFLS B1, DFLS B2, ADFL C1 or C2, etc.),
- a certificate of the FKT (French Knowledge Test) or the FET (French Evaluation Test) "Integration, Residence and Nationality" issued for less than 2 years with level B1 orally and in writing.
- a diploma or professional title passed in France equal to or higher than level 3 of the national nomenclature of training levels (CAP, BEP, BTS, etc.),
Please note that not all professional titles and certificates of professional qualification can be used to justify the level of French in the naturalization file. To check if your diploma or professional title is recognized AND is at least equivalent to level 3, you can use the France Competences search engine.
The certificate must specify that the studies were followed in French and that the diploma corresponds to at least level 3 of the national classification of training levels.
> To read: the Réfugiés.info sheet "Having a foreign diploma recognized in France".
You can use the certification of your level of French to send an application:
- to a university,
- to a University Diploma (UD Passerelle),
> To read: the Refugees.info sheet "Doing a DU Passerelle"
- to a job offer...
In any case, do not forget to indicate it on your CV.
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