What are the CEFR, the DILF, DELF, DALF, and the TCF and TEF?

Credits: Council of Europe

CEFR (or CEFRL) means "Common European Framework of Reference for languages". In French, we say CECR (or CECRL): "Cadre Européen Commun de Référence pour les langues".

The CEFR, which is a fantastic tool to teach and learn languages, starts at level A1.1 which is for absolute beginners, and goes up to level C2 for very advanced learners. 

The CEFR presents, for each level, guidance and references in all subjects concerning learning and teaching languages: grammar, vocabulary, oral understanding, oral expression, written understanding, written expression... 

It is a sort of guide that teachers can refer to in order to elaborate coherent progressions.

The Council of Europe had the idea of creating a CEFR in 1991, although this idea owes to the researches in language learning that took place since the 1960s, and a group of researchers started working on it in 1992. 

The first draft of the project was published in 1995. The second draft was discussed in 1997, then revised, and published in 1998. The last revision took place between 1999 et 2000, and finally the CEFR was launched in 2001 for the European Year of Languages. In 2018, a new volume was published.

The CEFR describes the acquisition of foreign languages in 6 levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2. A1 is also sometimes divided in two sub levels: A1.1 and A1.2. You can even see in certain language schools each level divided into four sub levels, for example B1.1 / B1.2 / B1.3 / B1.4. No system is better than another one. It all depends on each student's needs.

Credits: Council of Europe

Each level of the CEFR corresponds to an official French exam or test:

- A1.1 corresponds to an exam called in French the DILF.

- A1 corresponds to the DELF A1,

- A2 corresponds to DELF A2, 

- B1 corresponds to DELF B1, 

- B2 corresponds to DELF B2,

- C1 corresponds to DALF C1,

- and finally C2 corresponds to DALF C2.


- From A1.1 to A2: DELF Prim which is reserved for school children, 

- From A1 to B2:  DELF Junior

(- DELF Pro. Please note that I do not teach professional or business French.)

- The DILF, DELF and DALF exams are official exams from the French National School system (Education Nationale). Once you have passed this exam, you receive a diploma which has no limit of validity. Like for all diplomas, you may fail your exam, but you can retake it as many times as you wish.

- The TCF is a language test offered by France Education International (formerly called CIEP). It is a test, and not a exam for a diploma. In consequence, you can not fail it, as its purpose is to measure your level of French, not to give you a diploma. You take the test, and at the end you are informed of your performance and the corresponding level. It is valid for 2 years, and like the diplomas, you can use it (depending on the option you have chosen) for your immigration application, your nationality application, a job... You can also take it as often as you wish in order to measure your progress.

You can choose between the TCF TP (Tout Public, meaning all public) and the TCF "Integration, Residence and Nationality".

You can also take the TCF Quebec if you wish to immigrate to Quebec, or TCF Canada if you wish to immigrate to the rest of Canada.

The TEF is similar to the TCF in the sense that it is a language test too, and it is also valid for two years. The difference is that it is offered by the Parisian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

You can choose between the TEF and the TEF "Integration, Residence and Nationality".

You can also take the TEF Quebec if you wish to immigrate to Quebec, or TEF Canada if you wish to immigrate to the rest of Canada.

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