Grade 12 is one of the biggest years of education for most Canadian students. It’s the year we graduate high school, signalling an end to our mandatory schooling. Students in grade 12 typically have to make major decisions in life - the year also looks ahead to new beginnings and increased independence. Do you go to university or college? Travel or work? Take a year off or go straight into the next school? 

And then, of course, there are all the major events that come with the final year of high school: prom, graduation, post-secondary applications, and perhaps even a big trip for your senior year. Students taking French or French immersion programs will also have the added stress of taking the DELF that year. DELF is an important test that can enable French speaking grade 12s to attend a French university. There are several components to study for, but many students will want to focus on preparing for the areas of reading and writing.

learn french for beginners high school
Grade 12 is a momentous year for most students. Source: Unsplash.
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What is DELF? 

DELF stands for Diplome d’etudes en langue Francaise. There are four certificates in the DELF that recognize the French competencies of non-native speakers: A1 (elementary), A2, B1 and B2 (independent). Many students choose to challenge the DELF because it provides lifelong recognition of their efforts to learn French. Countries all over the world recognize DELF, and it is aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). In grade 12, the DELF is a popular undertaking for students because DELF B2 certification is recognized by French-speaking universities - if you have the certificate, it is accepted that you will be able to take academic courses in French.

Needless to say, the DELF B2 would mean that you are communicating and comprehending French at an intermediate to an advanced level. At this level, you can create arguments in French and defend your opinion, and have some degree of spontaneity in you linguistic skill. 

There are two more certificates that measure the abilities of advanced French - the DALF C1 and C2 - which are for fluent, advanced French speakers.

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.

What is the DELF Test Like?

The DELF takes 2.5 hours to complete and is comprised of a 30 minute listening comprehension section, a 1-hour Reading section, a 1-hour Writing section, and a Speaking section lasting 20 minutes scheduled separately. Each section is scored at 25 points, adding to a total test score out of 100. To pass, you must get at least 5/25 in each section, and a total of 50 marks out of 100 overall. 

DELF Test
What is the DELF like? Source: Pexels.

Registering for the DELF starts with determining which level you will challenge: grade 12 students will likely pick either B1 or B2, though B2 will have the most use value for applying to university. If you’re not sure which test to choose, discuss with your French teacher. They will know your level and advise you with what your best course of action is.

Students in grade 12 can usually sign up for the test at their secondary school, or your French teachers can direct you to an assessment centre near you. Let’s take some time to focus on the DELF B2 Reading and Writing sections, which are the longest and possibly the most challenging.

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

Reading Section

The Reading part, or compréhension écrite, will assess your comprehension of two different texts. One text is an exposition, typically on a topic relating to France or the Francophone speaking world. The other text typically states an opinion or is more argumentative. You will be asked different types of questions, such as short answer or multiple choice. You will also have to explain your answers referencing evidence from the readings.

Writing Section

The writing task, or production écrite, will ask you to write a response to a prompt. The prompt may be a letter, a debate, or even a film review. The length of the response should be 250 words. While that may not seem like a lot, it’s important to note that your performance will be assessed for linguistic and discourse criteria. Below are the specific components of each:

Linguistic: breadth of vocabulary, appropriateness of vocabulary choice, spelling, grammar, and grammatical complexity.

Discourse: relevance of response to task requirements, sociolinguistic appropriateness, clarity of content, capacity to argue a position, and coherence and cohesion.

In other words, it won’t simply be enough to show up and write a paragraph. You need to intentionally meet complex criteria that reflects a fairly advanced French language speaker.

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Émilie
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Basile
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Basile
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Ritika
5
5 (7 reviews)
Ritika
$32
/h
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1st lesson is free!
Jose
5
5 (32 reviews)
Jose
$24
/h
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1st lesson is free!
Émilie
5
5 (20 reviews)
Émilie
$66
/h
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1st lesson is free!
Domy
4.9
4.9 (20 reviews)
Domy
$35
/h
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1st lesson is free!
Suzanne
5
5 (18 reviews)
Suzanne
$35
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson is free!
Brune
5
5 (12 reviews)
Brune
$60
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson is free!
Namita
4.9
4.9 (16 reviews)
Namita
$40
/h
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1st lesson is free!
Basile
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4.9 (16 reviews)
Basile
$30
/h
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1st lesson is free!
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What are the Best Ways to Prepare for French Reading?

As you might imagine, you probably can’t simply walk out of your grade 12 French class with all the practice you need to be successful in the reading section. It’s important to remember that literacy in any language is fairly complex. We read for different purposes, sometimes simply to decode and in other cases we are actively constructing meaning and forming opinions. Some texts are designed for easy and quick consumption, while others are written to be scrutinized closely. 

Thankfully, if we have fairly strong skills in reading English literature you can easily transfer that skillset to French reading. How is this possible? When we read in the language we are fluent in, we are doing so much more than simply understanding what those words mean. We are analyzing, deconstructing, making inferences, and more - which are skills that are not specific to any language. So if you do read a lot in English, you are probably going to be a good reader in French.

That’s not to say, however, that we can simply walk into a French reading test and feel confident that our English skills will prepare us to do the work. To be prepared for a French reading test, you will want to have an extensive French vocabulary so you can understand words automatically and decode new words we may encounter with context. Read French as often as you can, ideally dual language books so you can quickly reference the meaning of the word. Turn on French subtitles when watching a movie or TV show in English so you can pick up new words, or turn on the French dub and watch with or without subtitles.

Consult samples of the DELF online so you can see exactly how the reading in French comprehension questions are phrased. Create your own comprehension questions for texts, and practice answering them, making a point to use evidence. Make a list of French sentence frames and inference words so you have a clear formula for stating your answers on a test.

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 are the Best Ways to Prepare for French Writing?

The French writing component of the DELF will also require some preparation before the test date as you will want to have mastered not only the grammar basics but be able to articulate complex ideas in French. The preparation you do in reading will help you with writing, as you acquire additional vocabulary from engaging with different texts.

 french alphabet pronunciation writing.
Practice your French writing skills before taking the DELF. Source: Unsplash.

Make sure you take the time to go through some writing samples from the test in previous years so you can get a strong sense of what to expect when it’s your turn. Remember, the skills you use as a writer in English will come in handy here: use the same techniques as you would on an English writing exam. Take the time to brainstorm your writing ideas and plan your responses to ensure your writing is cohesive.

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

Should I get a Tutor to Help me with French Reading and Writing?

Considering that the DELF can be a pretty high-stakes assessment -and that advanced French skills are required - you should probably consider getting some extra help to be successful for the test. Tutoring is one of the best ways to target your preparation for the DELF reading and writing components. Superprof.ca is one site where you can be sure to find some amazing options for a DELF tutor. The website is easy to use, and you can quickly and easily search options and compare different rates. 

A tutor from Superprof can help you by providing focused instruction and feedback on the areas you need to improve the most. They can hold you accountable to completing additional reading and writing exercises, coach you on how to strategically use your time when taking the test, and curate some practice exercises that will enable you to get the practice you need.

Another great advantage of having a tutor is the convenience they can offer. A tutor can meet you online, in person, at times that don’t interfere with your busy schedule. They can increase sessions as your test date approaches, and plan a schedule of work that will prepare you for the test over time so you aren’t cramming at the last minute.

Tutoring can be one of the best investments you and your family can make in your education. With so much on the line for the future, you’ll wonder why you never considered it before. Check out Superprof.ca today!

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.