The DILF, DELF, and DALF French Proficiency Tests

Official French Proficiency Certifications

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DILF, DELF, and DALF are a set of official French proficiency tests administered by the Centre international d'étude pédagogiques. DILF is an acronym that stands for Diplôme Initial de Langue Française, the DELF is the Diplôme d'Études en Langue Française and the DALF is the Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française. In addition to allowing you to opt-out of a French university's language entrance exam, having one of these French certifications looks good on your CV.

If you are interested in obtaining an official document proclaiming your French language skills, keep reading.

Test Difficulty Levels

In regards to advancement, the DILF is the primer certification for the French language qualification and precedes the DELF and DALF. Although the DILF, DELF, and DALF are the French equivalent of the English proficiency test TOEFL, the Test of English as a Foreign Language, there is is quite a difference between these two testing systems. The TOEFL certification, which is offered by Educational Testing Services, requires that candidates take a two to four-hour test, after which they receive a TOEFL score indicating their level of proficiency. In contrast, DILF/DELF/DALF certifications consist of multiple levels.

Rather than give test takers a score, DILF/DELF/DALF candidates work to obtain one of seven diplômes from the Ministère de l'Éducation Nationale, de l'Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche:

  1. DILF A1.1
  2. DELF A1
  3. DELF A2
  4. DELF B1
  5. DELF B2
  6. DALF C1
  7. DALF C2

Each of these certificates tests the four language proficiencies (reading, writing, listening and speaking), based on the levels of the Cadre Européen de Référence pour Les Langues. There is no score for the tests; the French speaker's proficiency is identified by the highest certificate s/he has obtained.

The diplomas are independent, meaning you do not need to take all seven. Proficient French speakers can start at whatever level they qualify for, however advanced the level might be. Younger French learners are offered similar, but separate, tests: DELF, Version Junior and DELF Scolaire.

Studying for the Tests

The DILF is for non-francophone candidates who are 16-years-old or older. On their website, sample tests are available for listening, reading, spoken and written French comprehension. If you're considering taking this test, you'll be able to get a sneak peak of the materials on which you'll be tested by visiting the DILF website

Access is also provided to DELF and DALF test takers to sample topics according to each test level. Current information regarding test dates, test fees, test centers and schedules is also information on the site, as well as answers to frequently asked questions. The tests can be taken in about 150 different countries, providing convenience and accessibility to several French learners. 

The Alliance Française and many other French schools offer DILF, DELF and DALF preparation classes as well as the exams themselves, and the Centre National d'Enseignement à Distance offers correspondence courses in DELF and DALF preparation.