The DALF C2, or Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française Niveau C2, awarded by the French Ministry of Education, is the highest achievable credential for French language skills for non-French candidates.
C2 refers to the sixth and top level of language ability in the CEFR, or Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. It demonstrates complete fluency and mastery of the language.
This article will present the structure of the DALF C2 test, some of the obstacles you may encounter, and how best to overcome these and prepare for winning results on your test.
The structure of the DALF C2
The DALF C2 evaluates all four language skills: reading comprehension, writing skills, listening comprehension, and speaking skills. Both the Reading & Writing section and the Listening & Speaking section are worth 50 points. To pass the test, you need to earn a minimum score of 10/50 per section and 50/100 overall.
Important: in the past, candidates were able to choose between two general exam subjects: Humanities or Sciences. However, as of 2020, this choice is no longer given and the subject matter of the test itself is of general interest, with no general field of expertise or interest required.
Listening & Speaking section
The Listening & Speaking section takes approximately 2 hours. The testing center will provide you with a monolingual (French) dictionary and note-taking materials. First, you’ll listen to a long recording lasting approximately 15 minutes twice with a 3-minute break in-between to organize your notes and plan your speech. Then, you’ll have 1 hour to prepare for the spoken portion of the examination.
There are three tasks associated with the recorded documents you hear. You’ll start by giving a 5-to-10-minute general summary of the recording. Next, you’ll assume a character role and give a 10-minute speech that combines ideas from the recording, opinions based on your role, and any personal points of view. Finally, while still in character, you’ll participate in a debate with the panel of examiners.
Reading & Writing section
The second main part of the DALF C2 is the Reading & Writing section. This part takes 3 hours and 30 minutes. Again, you’ll be allowed to use a monolingual (French) dictionary and scratch paper, and once again, you no longer have a choice of a general field of interest when it comes to the subject matter.
You’ll be given several documents on a common theme, which may include articles, editorials, cartoons, photographs, charts, or any other printed material. You’ll have to read and summarize these documents into a well-structured article, editorial, report, speech, or another structured document depending on the prompt you choose. This written synthesis should include approximately 2,000 words, but no less than 700, and should thoroughly answer one of the two prompts proposed.
Preparing for the DALF C2
If you’re planning on taking the DALF C2, your French skills should already be quite advanced. Regardless of your existing level, if you’re not familiar with the test format, you may run into problems on the day of the exam. Starting at least two weeks before your exam, set aside some time for preparation.
Listen to sample recordings, watch videos of candidates giving their oral presentations, and see how they are scored. This can be a great way to model your strategies on past test materials and candidates.
Practice taking notes in real-time, rehearse giving 5-to-10-minute summaries and 10-minute role-specific speeches. You may find that you need to clip your speech or add more examples to fit the time limits of the tasks.
Watch YouTube videos you’re interested in and practice summarizing and commenting on what you hear. Since the DALF C2 topics could be about anything of general interest, you’ll find lots of authentic audio recordings online to choose from and help you prepare.
Finally, prepare for the written portion of the exam by using past DALF C2 topics. You should have considerable experience in writing in French, so you may not need to take the full 3 and half hour simulation to write. Instead, practice creating outlines to plan your essay. This will help you develop the skills you need in writing a well-structured written argument.
Train with GlobalExam
While many language schools offer preparatory courses for the DALF C2, they may be difficult to fit into your personal schedule. Instead, you could choose to prepare online from the comfort of home with GlobalExam.
On the GlobalExam platform, you’ll get targeted exercises to pinpoint your strong and weak areas, plus vocabulary and grammar revisions to boost your French skills overall. Exercises are timed and you’ll get type answers to get a feel for the pressures of the test.
The best part is that GlobalExam gives you a personalized progress monitor so you can track your progress in real-time as you reach your target score. Get a full-length mock DALF C2 and DALF C1 test when you sign up for a free trial.