If you’ve made the decision to take the DELF in grade 12, you are about to embark on a journey that could change the course of your life. With certification for your competencies in French, you can now access a world of learning and work you might not have had otherwise.

Of course, you will need to pass the test first - which is no easy feat. If you are like most students taking the DELF B2 or even higher, you are probably wondering what you can do to succeed. Passing this test can mean you can get into a French speaking university, so you’ll want to ensure you have strong, advanced French skills.

how to learn french
Attend a French university or college. Source: Unsplash.

Learning French, as you will know, is not easy, especially when it comes to listening and speaking. Why? If you live in an area of Canada that is predominantly English speaking, it’s hard to find organic opportunities to interact spontaneously with other people in French outside of your classes. If you live in an area within a French community, like Quebec, you have a considerable advantage as you can simply go to the store or a cafe to hear and speak to others in French. In areas like Toronto, Vancouver, or Edmonton, you will have to be more intentional and strategic to find such moments.

If you are looking for more ways to improve your listening and speaking skills and prepare outside of your high school French classes, it may be time to try some new approaches as your test date nears. Let’s find out what we can expect when taking the DELF Listening and Speaking sections. We will then explore the best ways to prepare for these components so you are ready when it’s your turn to take the test.

Have you taken French all the way through grade 12 or taken French immersion? Make sure your work has been recognized by challenging the DELF after high school.

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What are the DELF Listening and Speaking Sections Like?

The DELF is a 2.5 hour exam with a 30-minute Listening component and a Speaking test 20 minutes long. The other two hours are spent on completing Reading and Writing Sections. If that sounds daunting, remember that the DELF certification is lifelong so it will be well worth the work you put into studying. 

The Listening Test

Since we know that most grade 12 students will be challenging the B2, we will focus on what to expect on that particular test. The Listening test, or Compréhension de l’oral, is made up of multiple choice and short answer questions in French checking how well you understood 2-3 audio texts. As you can imagine, you will want to listen carefully to the recordings - so make sure you are focused and well rested that day. 

You may hear different French accents from different French-speaking countries or regions of France. For this reason, it’s a good idea to prepare by listening to different accents so you can understand the different nuances and inflections. The first audio text will be played once, and the second will be repeated as it will be more complex. You’ll know what the questions are before the test starts and get some time after to write your answers. When you have the chance to preview the questions, make sure you take the time to read them carefully.

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Get lots of listening practice for French. Source: Unsplash.

The Speaking Test

The B2 Speaking test, or Production orale, requires the test- taker to state and defend their opinion based on a short document that is designed to stimulate a reaction. Prepare for this section of the test by gathering a list of words useful for articulating a point of view and for demonstrating logic and reason. Create sentence frames, and practice formulating opinions on different topics so you arguing will feel natural by the time you take the test.

Studying for the DELF takes planning, practice and time. Make sure you are preparing for the DELF with all the right strategies and methods.

You will get 30 minutes time to prepare and choose between two prompts. Remember that the text is meant to be grounds for discussion and for you to develop a clear point of view. If possible, always pick the one you can answer easily and know most about. You will be more likely to succeed if you know your topic well. 

You will then share your perspective in a monologue to two examiners, who will ask you questions that will require your to defend your point of view. You will be assessed analytically in the following areas:

-Lexis, Morphosyntax and Phonology

-Topic Handling

-Linking of ideas

-Ability to respond appropriately to interlocutor input

Should I Hire a Private French Tutor to Prepare for DELF?

Hiring a private tutor is a great way to prepare for the DELF, and also happens to be incredibly convenient and effective. You can learn French online with a tutor, or organize to meet them in person. Of course, we recommend that you use Superprof.ca to find an amazing DELF tutor.

Superprof tutors offer the best way to learn French for the DELF test because they target instruction based on your needs. If your focus is the Listening and Speaking sections, they can find audio texts for you to analyze and support you in writing a strong answer. They can provide you with sample prompts from which you can create an opinion, and ask you questions as the test official would on your real exam day. A tutor can give you feedback specific to your performance, and tell you exactly what to do to enhance your presentation.

In many cases, French tutors from Superprof will specialize in the DELF specifically and have successfully challenged it at different levels. They will tell you the best strategies for preparing your answers, and provide you with templates and models you can use as the basis for your own responses.

Finding a DELF tutor on Superprof couldn’t be easier, thanks to it’s easy to navigate website. You can compare tutors, find a rate that works within your budget, and find someone who can work with your schedule. You may choose to meet your tutor weekly, and increase sessions as the test draws near, and design a course of study that suits your needs and learning style. 

Have you brushed up on your reading and writing skills for your upcoming DELF exam? Find out how to prepare for these sections efficiently and effectively.

What are the Best Ways to Practice Listening and Speaking in French?

Beyond your regular French classes and tutoring, you’ll find plenty of ways to practice for the DELF. Here are some easy ways to work French listening and speaking into your daily routines.

Watch Lots of TV

Yes - watch plenty of TV, and movies too, in French of course! Because the French-speaking world is vast, you can easily find great sitcoms, dramas, movies and even reality TV in French thanks to sites like YouTube and Netflix. We all know watching TV and movies is fun, but can also be a great way to squeeze in some listening practice. 

There are tons of kids shows you can watch too, for simple storytelling, or make some time to catch the news. Every province in Canada will get access to CBC French, which can be a great place to start. If you feel like you are struggling to catch every word, start small and listen for key ideas and use context to learn new vocabulary. Try watching a show with captions off, or re-watch movies several times with subtitles so you can really get to know its script and practice your listening skills.

Listen to Podcasts

Audio is another great way to practice French listening, so tune into some French podcasts to see if you can follow the discussion. You may find this daunting, so start with small increments of time and see how many words you can recognize. Over time, as your listening skills improve, you will have an easier time listening to French.

You might also consider audiobooks as an alternative to podcasts. Listen to the story first in English, and then listen to it in French. Follow along with the actual book if possible! Again, re-listen to the audio so you can get the most from the experience.

Practicing for the DELF exam can be a lot of work. Learn how you can get all the practice you need while still having fun.

Spend Time with Other French Speakers

Speaking can be a tough element of French to learn since you will want the company of a native or generally fluent French speaker to work with. Going back to the topic of tutoring, why not use your tutor to practice conversation, debate, and discussion from time to time? You can easily find a tutor with whom you can establish a goal of simply talking.

Another way to find French speakers is to join a French speaking meetup group where everyone’s goal is to speak French. You could also visit your local Alliance Francaise, which hosts social events in French you can attend and get that valuable speaking practice in.

Women talking
Spend time with lots of other French speakers to practice talking. Source: Unsplash.

Travel

Quite possibly the best way to learn French is to travel to a place where the entire society speaks and interacts in the language. If you can make it to France, that’s obviously wonderful, but you can get some great practice by visiting a French community or provinces like Quebec and New Brunswick.

Are you thinking about taking the DELF exam? Qualifying for the DELF is much easier than you think. 

Head to Montreal and you will find yourself in a cosmopolitan city filled with fun, culture, and plenty of amazing restaurants. You will hear French everywhere you visit. The same goes with Quebec City and areas of New Brunswick - French is spoken all over the place, with English speakers standing out. When you travel and are forced to interact and communicate just to get basic things done, you will be surprised to see how much better you get at speaking instantaneously in conversations.

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Colleen

Colleen is a Toronto-based educator, mom and freelance writer who believes in lifelong learning and strong coffee.