DELF / DALF — What’s the difference?

DELF / DALF — What’s the difference?

22 May 2023
Posted in: Languages

One of the biggest challenges for people moving to France for work or school is learning French as a foreign language. DELF (Diploma of French Language / Diplôme d'études en langue française) / DALF  (Advanced French Studies Diploma / Diplôme approfondi de langue française) are proficiency diplomas issued by the French Ministry of Education and recognised worldwide. Non-French speaking students are recquired to pass a DELF exam to prove their French language skills.

To get ready before taking your DELF / DALF exam, you can choose to study a DELF or DALF preparation course online with City Lit.

This article explains the differences between the two diplomas, helping you find out which is the most suitable for your needs.

What do DELF and DALF stand for?

  • DELF stands for Diplôme d'études en langue française or Diploma of French Language.
  • DALF stands for Diplôme approfondi de langue française or Advanced Diploma in French Language.

DELF vs DALF: What is the difference?

DELF / DALF both certify the language proficiency of people that speak French as a foreign language. The main difference between a DELF and DALF is that the DALF is a more advanced diploma than the DELF. Both DELF and DALF are divided into different levels that correspond with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.


What is DELF?

The DELF is a certificated French language diploma for adults. It’s divided into four levels that correspond with the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages from beginner to upper intermediate: DELF A1, DELF A2, DELF B1 and DELF B2.


DELF Level

CEFR Level


A1 — Beginner


A2 — Elementary


B1 — Low-intermediate to intermediate


B2 — Upper intermediate

Who is DELF suitable for?

The DELF diploma is suitable for everyone, regardless of your French language proficiency. However, it's most beneficial to select the right diploma corresponding with your level of proficiency or goals. The 4 levels allow you to choose and work towards achieving the level of proficiency that is suitable for you and your goals.

For example, to gain French nationality and become a naturalised citizen you need to pass the DELF B1. Whereas if you want to study a degree at a French University, you need to pass a DELF B2 or DALF C1.

Where is DELF certification recognised?

DELF certifications are recognised worldwide by French-speaking universities and international employers.

When you have passed your DELF, it is a lifetime certification.

How long does it take to prepare for a DELF exam?

This can depend on the intensity and length of the course you are taking and whether it is structured or self-paced.

For example, here at City Lit we offer a French language courses to help you prepare for the most advanced DELF exam. Our DELF course is taught live online across 32 sessions in just under 10 months.

More intense courses from other providers can be as short as 4 weeks.

Courses are usually timed so that the course is completed in time for you to sit the next exam. However the DELF exams have individual registration deadlines, so check each of the dates carefully to see how much time you have to prepare for your course.

What is the DELF exam like? (What do DELF exams test?)

The DELF exams mark you out of 100. They assess you on four key areas. These are French reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. All DELF exams last for over an hour.

On the City Lit DELF B2 course, we help you prepare for the exam with two mock exams during the course. Also, while you can study a DELF course online, all DELF exams are held at the French Institute.

How does the oral part of the DELF exam work?

For the spoken section of the DELF exams, you need to prepare and deliver a presentation to an exam panel. The exam lasts for 30 minutes, and you can choose the topic you would like to discuss.

When you have finished speaking, the panel will ask you several questions about your presentation.

What level do the DELF exams test? (in relation to CEFR levels)

The DELF exams assess you on the first four levels of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). These levels are A1, A2, B1 and B2.

Which DELF exam should I take?

Your previous knowledge and experience of French determines which exam you enrol on. If you have no prior understanding of French, it is advised to study an A1 ‘Beginner’ course. If you studied French for GCSE, a B1 or B2 course may be more suitable.

If you know your CEFR level or you’ve studies French here at City Lit, then you can use the table below to determine which DELF exam is suitable for you.


CEFR Level


City Lit course level

B2 — Upper intermediate


Level 4

Level 3 Upper

B1 — Low-intermediate to intermediate


Level 3 Lower

Level 2 Upper

A2 — Elementary


Level 2 Lower

A1 — Beginner


Level 1 / Beginners

You can also find more detailed information on the France Education International website to help you determine your level. Please note that the website is in French, so you’ll need to use your browser to translate the text to English if you’re not proficient at reading French.


What is DALF?

DALF is a certificated advanced diploma that is suitable for anyone looking at studying at a higher education institution in France or in French.

Please note, if you want to study a master’s degree in France, you need to have passed a DALF C1. You also need to pass an assessment interview to study a DALF. But, if you are a continuing student, you may not need to.

Like the DELF, the DALF requires you to purchase numerous resources to fully take part in the course. The DALF courses all have individual registration deadlines, so like the DELF, check each for information on when you need to enrol.

Where is DALF certification recognised?

The DALF is recognised around the world and is a lifetime certification. The DALF is an advantage for people who are interested in applying for larger French companies, where employees often speak fluent French.

What level do the DALF exams test? (in relation to CEFR levels)

The DALF exams assess you on the last two levels of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). These levels are C1 and C2.

Which DALF exam should I take?

If you have passed the DELF B2, you can move straight onto studying a DALF C1. If you are a confident French speaker and have lived in France, a DALF C1 is also a suitable exam to study. You are only able to take a C2 exam if you have passed your C1 exam or have an equivalent level. You can check our list of DALF courses to find out which is the right one for you.


CEFR Level

City Lit course level



Proficient (most advanced level)

French 5




French 4/5



How long does it take to prepare for a DALF exam?

Like the DELF preparation courses, DALF courses are different in length depending on the provider. Intense courses can be as short as 9 weeks whilst part-time flexible courses have a longer duration.

Here at City Lit our part-time DALF C1 and DALF C2 courses are 32 weeks long with 1 session per week. After this time, you should be prepared to sit your DALF C1 or C2 exam with confidence. You will study in several ways, such as role play, group work, games, as well as access to audio-visual resources.

What is the DALF exam like? (What do DALF exams test?)

The DALF exam marks you out of 100. You are assessed on four key areas. Like the DELF these are reading, writing, speaking, and listening. But the skills are linked together for the C2 exams. These are reading and writing, followed by speaking and listening. The DALF exams last for over 3 hours.

How does the oral part of the DALF exam work?

The oral section of the DALF exam is much like the DELF exam. You need to prepare and deliver a presentation to an examiner or panel. You can choose which topic you would like to present, then the examiner will ask you a series of questions about your presentation. The oral assessment lasts for 60 minutes.

What are the most challenging aspects of the DELF and DALF exams?

The most challenging parts of the DELF and DALF exams, are based around pronunciation and grammar. The DALF C2 is also very demanding, requiring lots of remote study, compared with the DELF and DALF C1 courses. Students can also struggle with:

  • Tenses
  • Pronouns and complements
  • Subjective verbs
  • Subjunctive and active words

10 tips to get a good score

Passing your DELF and DALF are the aim for everyone who enrols on their course. To give you some added confidence, we have compiled 10 Tips which should help you on your way to a good score.

  1. Know your main weaknesses as this will help you prioritise; you are learning more effectively.
  2. Find mock tests and use them to revise. This way you get used to the exam formats and the questions you may be asked.
  3. Begin reading, listening, and watching more French resources in your free time. This way you can learn in a more relaxed style than just textbooks.
  4. In the exam, if you do not know the answer to a question, skip it, then come back to it later. Even if you do not get it right, you can spend more time on the question your more confident with, than those you do not.
  5. Study and work together with fellow students, friends as well as your family. This way you can stay motivated while revising.
  6. Work out your time management. As the DELF and DALF courses are very time consuming, making sure you have enough time in your day to study is vital.
  7. Immerse yourself in French culture as much as you can. If you have time and do not live in France, why not visit for a couple of days. Living in the country itself is great for developing your language skills.
  8. Practise your presentation when you can. You'll be timed when delivering your presentation so make sure you pace yourself and speak clearly. Speaking aloud also allows you to improve your pronunciation.
  9. Build up speaking and listening skills gradually. So you have a better grasp on the language, listen to slower pronunciation first. If you try and speak too quickly too soon, you can easily get confused or mispronounce words.
  10. Practise as much as you can, wherever you can. Practising all aspects of the exams really help you understand the form and eliminate nerves.