The two DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française) diplomas are official certifications awarded by the French Ministry of Education to prove the fluency of non-French-speaking candidates in the French language. Not to be confused with the DELF, which tests levels A1, A2, B1, and B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, the DALF is split into two independent diplomas for levels C1 and C2, the two highest levels of French proficiency.
This article will explain the differences between the DALF C1 and C2 and how best to prepare to take the tests.
Be sure to check out our other blog posts on the DALF system and how to prepare for winning results!
The DALF system is one of the language tests required to prove French abilities mainly for immigration purposes, but also university admissions and professional and personal reasons.
The two DALF diplomas are completely independent so are the prices. This means that you can register for either test, depending on your level, i.e. you don’t need to earn the lower levels to attempt the DALF levels. You can take the DALF in countries and cties all around the world such as in the UK, in Paris or in Québec.
For both of the DALF tests, all four language skills are assessed: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Note: As of 2020, candidates no longer have the choice of fields of expertise of interest (Social Studies/Humanities or Science). Subjects are of general interest, i.e., no specialized knowledge is required.
Differences between the DALF C1 and C2
Language learners at level C1 can use and comprehend the language independently. They can express themselves fluently and spontaneously using an expansive vocabulary and can choose the appropriate expression to introduce their points of view. They can produce clear, well-structured discourse orally and in writing without hesitation employing controlled use of structures.
The DALF C1 is divided into four different parts for the four language skills:
|Test level: C1||Duration||Max. score|
Multiple-choice questions about your comprehension of various audio recordings:
- One long recording (lasting approximately 8 minutes) of an interview, class, speech, etc., played twice
- A collection of short recordings, which may be news stories, commercials, short interviews, etc., played once. Together lasting 10 minutes
|40 minutes||25 points|
Multiple-choice questions about an idea text, either literary or journalistic. 1,500 to 2,000 words long.
|50 minutes||25 points|
Two tasks in this part of the test:
- Recapitulate a collection of printed documents, about 1,000 words total
- Draft an essay with supporting arguments based on these documents.
|2 hours 30 minutes||25 points|
Speech based on a collection of printed documents, improvised (unprepared) discussion with the jury.
|30 minutes, |
1 hour preparation
The entire DALF C1 test lasts 4 hours. Your combined score of all four sections is out of 100, and you must score higher than 50/100 to be awarded the DALF; any score of under 5/25 on any of the four sections is eliminatory.
C2 users’ proficiency in the language is illustrated by precision, appropriateness, and fluency of expression. C2 candidates are capable of using the language for academic and advanced-level purposes.
Like the DALF C1, the C2 level assesses all four language skills, but combines the Listening & Speaking into one part, and Reading & Writing into the second part:
|Test level: C2||Duration||Max. score|
|Listening & Speakings|
This portion of the test is divided into three parts:
- Speech summarizing the contents of one recording, which is played twice
- Speech representing your point of view of the issue in the recording
- An improvised (unprepared) debate with the panel of examiners
|30 minutes with 1 hour preparation||50|
|Reading & Writing|
Structured essay based on a collection of printed documents totaling 2,000 words in the form of an article, opinion column, summary report, speech, etc.
|3 hours 30 minutes||50|
The entire DALF C2 test lasts 3 hours and half.
Prepare for the DALF tests
Even if you feel you already speak French fluently, you shouldn’t neglect to prepare fully for the DALF tests! Like all standardized tests, the DALF tests follow a strict format as described above, so you should practice in these areas to get an idea of the test timing and save yourself unneeded stress on test day!
The online exam preparation platform GlobalExam provides free practice questions, audio recordings, and grammar and vocabulary exercises to fine-tune your French abilities as you prepare.
We provide two preparation modes: Training, where you can focus on the individual language skills tested in the DALF, or Exam mode, which offers full-length DALF simulations so you can experience the time pressures and get a feel for the test under actual conditions.
Plus, get a progress tracker: just enter your target score and exam date and you’ll get a personalized revision schedule to remain motivated, track your progress in real-time, and watch your score rise!