Canadians have a considerable advantage when it comes to learning French. The country is officially bilingual, with laws requiring products and a number of services to have options in both French and English. Go to a grocery store and you’ll see nearly every product’s ingredients listed in both English and French - flip through your channels and you’ll quickly find a French news channel in whatever province you reside.

Our education also supports students heavily in the acquisition of French. Most students receive core French programming starting in grade 4, where kids are mandated to have a set number of French teaching hours every year. The core French program is incredibly rigorous, and students must be assessed on report cards for their learning. Parents that want their kids to have an even more exhaustive French program can enrol their kids in French immersion classes from Kindergarten, where the instruction takes place in French entirely. You’ll also hear options for extended French, boutique classes, and camps promoted widely in English-speaking Canada - Canadians love French and are eager to see their kids become proficient. 

a student takes delf exam
Have you considered challenging the DELF? Source: Unsplash.

Learners of French also have the unique opportunity to visit and immerse themselves in French society, thanks to our largely French speaking provinces like Quebec and New Brunswick. Not only can you visit these provinces without leaving the country or changing currency, you can be fully immersed in communities where few other languages are spoken so widely. As many linguists and learners will tell you, the best and most efficient way to learn a language is to be fully immersed in media and with other speakers where you are forced to listen and communicate in the new language. Learning French in Canada is ideal for any student of the language!

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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Do Most Students Continue Learning French in Secondary School?

The short answer to this question is ‘yes’ - thousands of Canadian secondary school students choose to learn French every year. Many are mandated to take French courses up to a certain grade, but students often continue to pursue their French study well beyond high school. 

We can hardly be surprised, then, that so many grade 12 students are ready to take exams for French proficiency. Having a French qualification opens so many doors in the future for young adults, from careers in government and politics to international business and travel. When you have a French qualification, you can also strengthen your applications to take French programs offered by the government and other public institutions.

What is the DELF?

The DELF, or Diplome d’etudes en langue Francaise, is a certification for French language abilities for non-native speakers. In other words, you can take the DELF if your first language is any other language. If you grew up in English speaking Canada, for example, and did not attend a French language school, you are likely a good candidate for taking the DELF.

The DELF is recognized in over 165 countries around the world as a certificate for French language proficiency. It was created by France’s national Ministry of Education to assess the competency of French language learners. The DELF is also aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

The DELF should not be confused with the DALF, which aims to certify French proficiency for advanced speakers of French that are looking to get into university. The DALF assesses French language competency for speakers who are fluent and are looking for certification to show they can engage in academic level situations.

Are All the DELF Tests the Same?

No - there are 4 different DELF assessments you can take, and there are adaptations for children, teens, and adults. The chart below summarizes the different DELF tests and how they correlate to the CEFR.

CEFRLevel DescriptionDELF
A1Language users with basic ability for simple interactionsDELF A1
A2Language users with ability for social communicationDELF A2
B1Language users that can manage with some independence in most situations encountered during travel.DELF B1
B2Language users who can communicate in most situations, can argue, develop an opinion or viewpoint and negotiate.DELF B2
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Why Should I Take the DELF in Grade 12?

The senior years of secondary school can feel like a time of high pressure for a lot of students, as the decision you make for after high school will have effects that extend long into the future. If you’re in grade 12, or have a loved one at that age, you are probably wondering what to do to have the greatest amount of options in post secondary. 

For students that have taken French all through secondary school, the DELF is a great way to see all that effort finally recognized. In many secondary schools, French becomes an option after grade 9, and many kids prefer to abandon a study of French altogether. If you happen to be in that unique group that takes their French language learning to the next level, the DELF will enable you to show that it was all worth it.

A teen considers taking DELF
Challenging the DELF in grade 12 can lead to a new post secondary pathway. Source: Unsplash.

Signing up for a DELF assessment, or challenging the DELF, is a great way for grade 12 students to see the years they have put into French study recognized on a global scale. It recognizes your competency in French and gives you lifelong certification, which looks great on a resume when applying for different jobs. 

If you’re in grade 12, and you successfully challenge the DELF at Level B2, you will have many more options for university study. You can use the B2 for acceptance into most public French universities, which makes it an incredibly worthwhile pursuit if you want to study abroad.

Imagine how incredible it would be to study somewhere in France, and enjoy everything that the country has to offer? Beautiful and historic urban scenery, romantic countrysides, and fine food, bread, and pastry around every corner. You’d have a university life millions only dream of! 

Mastering French listening and speaking for the DELF test is a challenge - make sure you are prepared so you can get the best score.

Do I Need to Qualify for the DELF?

The short answer is no. To take the DELF, you will want to be prepared for the level you are taking to ensure that you will be successful, and simply sign up at your school or local testing centre. If you are not sure which level to take, ask your French teacher what they would recommend and you can select accordingly.

What Are the Best Ways to Learn French?

Now that we understand what the DELF is, we can think about how we can best learn French so we are prepared to challenge the DELF when we are ready. So what are the top ways to become proficient in French in Canada?

Take your French Classes Seriously

French can be a tough subject to learn in English speaking Canada because kids don’t always take it seriously, especially in the younger grades. Once French becomes optional, however, you will find that your classes are filled with much more serious students that are truly interested in achieving proficiency.

Make the most of your French classes at whatever level you are at, and you will get the most from your teachers. Your French teachers are an incredible source of knowledge and will be excited when they see your enthusiasm for the language and culture. Ask questions during class, engage in as much conversation with them as possible, and you’ll see your French skills flourish.

Travel to a French Speaking Region

You live in Canada, so take advantage of all that it offers in the way of French language and culture. When you travel to an area where French is primarily spoken, you will be compelled to use all the French phrases and vocabulary that you have, and even learn some new words from listening and observing the world around you.

Did we mention that Quebec is stunning? Montreal is a bustling, metropolitan city filled with beautiful museums, galleries, and amazing places to eat. Check out the iconic area of Old Montreal, which looks like a scene out of Europe. Head further east and you will see the glorious walled settlement of Quebec City, with cobbled roads, cozy restaurants, and seldom a word of English. Just north are the gorgeous hills of Charlevoix, with plenty of outdoorsy fun to keep the whole family engaged.

Make Time for Independent Study

It may seem like extra work, but making time for independent French study can ensure that you understand the nuances of verb tense, grammar, and reading. Set aside time every day to do some reading in French, whether it is a novel, news articles, or even picture books from your local library. You could also spend time watching French movies or media, which will help you strengthen your listening skills - even cartoons can help!

As boring as it may sound, those French grammar books you can get at your local bookstore can do wonders for your writing. French verb tenses can get complex, and you will want plenty of extra practice to learn exactly where to place those accents. Bookstores like Indigo, or even your local neighbourhood shop, are great sources for grammar texts. Make sure you have your Bescherelle verb book handy - you’ll need it when you start writing.

a notebook and pencils.
Practice writing and test taking skills before the DELF. Source: Unsplash.

Hire a Private French Tutor

Why not combine your independent and school study with the help of a French tutor? Of course, we recommend that you use Superprof.ca to find the best French tutors who can guide you in your independent study or help you ace your French courses in Secondary. French tutors will come with a good understanding of your province’s French curriculum, and will have the fluency to provide you with accurate and detailed feedback on your oral, writing, and reading skills.

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.

How do I Prepare for the DELF B2?

Successfully challenging the DELF B2 starts with having a strong base of French learning all the way through school. You’ll probably want to know if you have what it takes - so getting DELF B1 certified might be a good way to practice.

The most effective way to secure your success is to hire a private tutor from the Superprof site. Superprof gathers together the top DELF tutors in Canada, and can connect you with a private instructor who is skilled at communicating in French and understands the test. They will know how you can achieve the highest scores, what the best practices exercises are for every area of the test, and plan a supplementary French program that is tailored to your needs as a French student.

Private French tutoring may seem like a luxury, but in truth it is one of the best investments you or your family can make into your learning. If you live in an area or region or Canada that is largely English-speaking, a private French tutor can provide those moments of focused French conversation that you need to be proficient in the language. Ask anyone who has learned another language well and they will likely tell you that it wasn’t from grammar books or readers - they may help - but ultimately it’s times where you must communicate automatically that you develop language competency.

On Superprof, you’ll get to choose from a variety of tutors with different backgrounds as French speakers or learners. You’ll be able to compare rates between one another, and contact individuals to see if they can work with your schedule and help you achieve your DELF goals.

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.

What Can I Use French for in the Future?

With multilingual skills, especially in French, you will be well-equipped for a variety of careers and travel experiences that you simply cannot have as a monolingual.

With French skills, you can work internationally in other French speaking countries and provinces, in anything from retail to education and business. Canadian government jobs also, in many cases, require French speaking skills as you will have to work in both official languages in a government office. 

Eiffel Tower
There are so many perks to studying French. Source: Pexels

Becoming a French teacher is also a popular job for people with French degrees. Teaching is one of the most rewarding and sought after jobs in Canada, with great pay, benefits, and unparalleled holidays. School boards are typically always in need of French teachers, so you’ll likely be able to get a job much quicker than your English speaking counterparts that do not have the qualifications to teach a core French class.

Travel is another way to use your French skills in a practical manner. When you travel to a French speaking country or region, and can speak the language, you will gain an appreciation for the place that you wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s so much easier to meet locals, to get around, and request services. 

As a French speaker, you will also become part of the Francophone community, which can lead you to making new friendships and connections you wouldn’t have otherwise. Join meetup groups, visit your local Alliance Francaise, or take classes that will further enhance your skills.

Maintain your French skills and you will be surely thankful in your adult life!

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

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Colleen

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