Learn French

French (le français, pronounced [lə fʁɑ̃sɛ] or la langue française is a Romance language of the Aryan language family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d’oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France’s past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

The Diplôme d’études en langue française (English: Diploma in French Language Studies), or DELF for short, is a certification of French-language abilities for non-native speakers of French administered by the International Centre for French Studies (Centre international d’études pédagogiques, or CIEP) for France’s Ministry of Education. It is composed of four independent diplomas corresponding to the first four levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: A1, A2, B1 and B2. Above this level, the “Proficient User” divisions are certified by the DALF. The examinations are available in three varieties: “DELF Prim” which is for Primary school students (only available at A1 level), “DELF Junior et Scolaire” which is aimed at secondary-school aged students and “DELF Tous Publics” which is aimed at adults. Each variety is worth exactly the same and results in the awarding of the same diploma, but the material is varied to ensure that it is appropriate for the target cohort. DELF certificates are valid for life and do not expire.


Exam sections

In the DELF examinations, the listening, reading and writing “Epreuves Collectives” are sat back-to-back in the afternoon, and the oral examination is taken separately.

Part one: listening

In this section the candidate is presented with a series of recordings, and asked to fill out some comprehension questions regarding the selection played. At levels A1 to B1, each selection is played twice, and range from a maximum of 3 minutes in length at the A1 level to a maximum of 6 minutes in length at the B1 level. In the B2 examination, candidates are presented with two recordings. The first recording is played twice and the second only once, with the total length of recordings being approximately 8 minutes.

Part two: reading

This section tests the candidates’ reading comprehension by presenting several short pieces of writing, followed by comprehension questions requiring simple filling (ticking, multiple choice, true/false) or a justified written answer. At A1 and A2 level, candidates are presented with several short texts or signs. At B1 and B2 levels, candidates are given longer texts, with the total length of B2 texts being around 1000 words.

Part three: writing

This tests the candidates written skills and again varies in subjects according to the level.

  • A1 – The first task is to fill in a document with required personal information. The second task is a simple text with a content of the daily life.
  • A2 – The first task is to describe a brief event or an experience. The second task is to write a text of expression of invitation, congratulations, application, giving information, justification etc.
  • B1 – Expression of the personal viewpoint in a given situation through an essay, a letter or an article.
  • B2 – Personal viewpoint and argumentation in a justified application, reply to message etc., much like at B1 level.

The required length of writing is 40 words for A1, 60 to 80 words for A2, 160-180 words for B1, and at least 250 words for B2.

Part four: speaking

At the A1 and A2 levels this section consists of a guided conversation where the candidate is prompted by the examiner, a short exchange of information on a defined subject, and finally a role-play between the examiner and the candidate.

At the B1 level it consists of a guided conversation, an interactive exercise, and discussion of a document designed to elicit a reaction from the candidate.

At the B2 level, the candidate is expected to state and defend an opinion, based on a short document designed to elicit a reaction.


Although the difficulty varies, the scoring of the DELF is identical at each level. Sections are scored out of 25, for a total of 100 marks per test. In order to pass, a minimum of 5/25 must be achieved in each section, and a minimum of 50/100 overall.

Duration of answering time

Exam Listening Reading Writing Total of Epreuves Collectives Speaking
DELF A1 20 mins 30 mins 30 mins 80 mins 5–7 mins and 10 mins prep.
DELF A2 25 mins 30 mins 45 mins 100 mins 6–8 mins and 10 mins prep.
DELF B1 25 mins 35 mins 45 mins 105 mins 15 mins and 10 mins prep.
DELF B2 30 mins 60 mins 60 mins 150 mins 20 mins and 15 mins prep.