Bonjour ! Aujourd’hui on discute des astuces pour réussir le DELF B1. Have a look at these amazing tips to prepare well before the exam as well as to work smart during the exam.
The DELF (Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française) is a French language diploma issued by the Education Ministry of France. It certifies foreign students of their French language proficiency. If you are planning to reside in a francophone country, you will need to take the DELF exam.
A DELF B1 certification is based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This is an invaluable asset and an international recognition of your French language proficiency and can qualify you for study, work and multiple other opportunities in your career. Moreover, a minimum level of DELF B1 is required for people planning to obtain a permanent nationality in France or in Switzerland.
Here’s why I took and qualified a DELF B1 Test:
- I was already DELF A2 qualified but I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do with French other than teaching it as a foreign language in India. It was during my level B1 studies that my trainer guided me about the possibility of teaching English in France as a Teaching Assistant with a minimum qualification of DELF B1. This is what motivated me the most to take the DELF B1 exam.
- Considering the possibility of going to Europe with a DELF B1 and then honing my skills in teaching, I was sure that gaining proficiency in a foreign language had the possibility to open up more opportunities for my professional career.
- I was already falling in love with the French language, the French culture and with my dream of traveling in Europe while being paid to work there. This motivated me every single day to work harder and get that B1 certificate.
Here’s what a DELF B1 qualified learner can do in French.
In the exam, four of your French language skills are evaluated: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing.
NOTE: March 2020 onwards, there have been changes in the exam format for the Listening and Reading sub- tests. All open- ended questions have been replaced by MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions). However, this new format has not yet been implemented in all exam centers. Some centers have started providing the new format while others still use the old one. So you should be mentally prepared to deal with any format in your exam. It is really not a huge challenge, because anyway things are getting easier for you with this format. Even if you prepare as per the old format, the MCQ- type questions are bit easier to answer. So basically you are trained for a more difficult exam pattern whereas you find the new one comparatively easy.
Below is the blueprint of the old format of the DELF B1 exam:
Here are all the differences explained between the old and the new DELF B1 exam formats for Listening and Reading modules:
The new exam format will be slowly made active across the globe. To be sure, should reach out to your exam center to ask if the new format has been implemented there. For practice material for the new format, you may keep using the books Réussir le DELF B1 and Hachette Préparation à l’examen B1. Further, you may go to RFI Savoirs to find MCQ type questions. Here are some useful websites with transcriptions with French subtitles like Mediatheque, France2 and Le journal en Français facile.
The exam is of 100 marks (each module carries 25 marks). You need a minimum of 50 overall and a minimum of 5 in each module to qualify. However, it is always better to have a better score in each module. To work as per the above shown exam blueprint, you will need a few tips before and during the exam:
BEFORE THE EXAM
Ideally, one needs about a month for the DELF B1 exam- specific preparation phase to get acquainted and to practice the exam format. Here are some useful tips:
- First, before heading to your B1 preparation, go through my blog on exam preparation for DELF A1 and A2 and brush up your linguistic concepts (grammar, sentence formation, vocabulary, expressions, cultural knowledge etc).
2. Now you’re fit to move ahead with understanding the B1 exam format and starting to prepare for the same.
Here’s what you need to know about the individual tasks in each module:
PRODUCTION ORALE: SPEAKING
This is an “épreuve individuelle” (Individual test). In Speaking, you will have 3 tasks:
– A Guided Conversation wherein the examiner tries to get to know you better. This is a 2- 3 minute conversation. The examiner may ask you questions about you, your likes, dislikes, habits, hobbies and about things and people that surround you.
– A Roleplay/ Dialogue with the examiner (3- 4 minutes)- In this part, you will be given a daily life situation which may be formal or informal, and your task will be to negotiate, solve a problem or convince the examiner. This part is done “sans préparation” (without preparation)
– Expressing a point of view (5- 7 minutes)- This part is like a monologue wherein your task will be to discuss the positive/ negative points or cause/ consequence regarding a particular theme. You will be given 10 minutes to prepare this part. Finally, you come to a conclusion in which you express your opinion. In this part, you are generally suggested to not let the examiner talk because it is a monologue. Once you’ve finished, the examiner may ask you 2- 3 questions based on the topics and you will be expected to answer them.
TIPS FOR DELF B1 SPEAKING TEST:
1. Never forget to greet the examiner while entering and say goodbye while leaving. La formule de politesse is extremely important in French culture!
2. Request the examiner to repeat if you do not understand something. The examiners are instructed to rephrase for the candidate in case they are not able to understand something, so do not hesitate.
3. Be confident, calm and relaxed! Rather than feeling judged and unsure about what you speak, channelize your energy in believing in what you are speaking and speak it confidently. I’ve noticed some of my students tend to feel judged and conscious about speaking correctly because of which they end up being nervous and hence they struggle to come up with ideas. As long as you are able to express yourself with nice sentence structures without being under confident and blocking, the examiner will support and encourage you since you are a learner. My “Fake it till you make it” strategy really worked well for me in my DELF B1 Exam!
4. In order to be confident, revise your grammar and vocabulary in detail so you do not doubt what you are speaking.
5. Avoid mentally translating from any other language. Instead, try to use all the vocabulary and expressions you have available, practice rephrasing and reformulating and speaking differently when you feel you are unable to recall a particular word.
6. Do not be too harsh on yourself wanting to build a French accent. Remember, learning a foreign language is an act of extreme courage and so people from different backgrounds and different stories have different ways of speaking. As long as your French pronunciation is correct, nobody is going to judge you for your accent. So instead of focusing on accent, focus on pronouncing correctly.
7. For each specific task in the Speaking module, always strictly follow the structure that has been taught to you. This helps you remain disciplined while presenting and makes it easier for the examiner to follow you. If your structure is not organized, it will seem disorderly and difficult to follow.
8. Use a variety of synonyms, connectors, tenses, moods and other linguistic components to show the examiner that you are capable of bringing variety into your speaking.
9. Add examples. This will help you not only justify your stance but also to present according to the time duration of each task. The examiner gets to know through this that you are able to elaborate upon what you narrate. Remember, nobody is ever going to verify whether you are narrating a true story. You are being evaluated based upon your linguistic capability in French. So if you can’t recall a real- life experience, weave a story and narrate it to support as an example.
COMPRÉHENSION ORALE: LISTENING
This is an “épreuve collective” (collective test) in which you will listen to 2- 3 audios about daily life situations. Each audio has a duration of 6 minutes maximum and is played twice and you are expected to answer the questions on your sheet. Generally, I recommend my students to answer the questions in between the first and the second listening.
TIPS FOR DELF B1 LISTENING TEST:
1. You are given 30 seconds to a minute before the audio begins. Make sure to read all the questions quickly before the audio starts. Underlining the main keywords in the questions is a good idea to proceed with.
2. ALWAYS, I repeat, ALWAYS make use of the rough sheets that are provided to you. They’ve been provided to you for a purpose and their purpose in listening is to write down the keywords that you are able to grab from the audio. Write them down in a sequence as you hear because this helps you relate the keywords to the questions asked.
3. Do not try to obsess on trying to understand every single word in the audio. You will not have that much time. Instead, focus on keywords, write them down and make use of them to answer.
4. Do not worry about the keywords/ info that you have missed. Instead, focus on the further part of the audio to make sure you do not lose that info too because of being worried about the previous part.
5. For the old format, in case of subjective questions, do not write complete sentences. The keywords/ main idea is just enough. Moreover, spelling/ grammatical errors in this module do not affect your score as long as your keywords are correct.
6. Even if you’ve initially attempted your answers in pencil to save the possibility of making changes later, always write your final answers in pen. Answers attempted in pencil are not considered even if they are correct.
7. Always try to answer as many questions as possible in between the first and second listening of each audio.
8. After the second listening of the audio, try completing the remaining answers.
9. There is absolutely no negative marking in the test. So always make sure to answer every single question instead of leaving blanks.
COMPRÉHENSION ÉCRITE: READING
As per the old format, the Reading module of DELF B1 is to be finished in 35 minutes. The new format, however, is to be finished in 45 minutes. There are 2-3 reading passages related to which some questions are to be answered. The old format has a combination of open- ended questions and MCQs while the new format has all MCQs. Your aim is to identify and analyze important details in the texts based on which you answer the questions.
TIPS FOR DELF B1 READING TEST:
1. First, always read the text in detail. Some students make the mistake of reading the questions first and trying to skim through the text to find the answers and hence end up wasting time because the test design is such that it is not so easy for a learner to skim through a text and find answers. So always read the text first, then try answering the questions. Underline important keywords, if necessary. Then give a second reading to the text, this reading should be quicker though. This time you will notice that you are able to understand the text better, so now you could answer the remaining questions and make changes in the previous ones, if needed.
2. There is absolutely no negative marking in the test. So always make sure to answer every single question instead of leaving blanks.
3. For the old format, in subjective questions, do not waste time writing full sentences. The keywords/ the main idea is sufficient. Also, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors do not affect your marks in this module. As long as your keywords are correct, you are awarded full marks.
4. Even if you’ve initially attempted your answers in pencil to save the possibility of making changes later, always write your final answers in pen. Answers written in pencil are not considered even if they are correct.
5. In True/ False questions that ask for a justification, quote the exact line in its entirety from the text instead of trying to write in your own words.
PRODUCTION ÉCRITE: WRITING
In this module of 45 minutes duration, you will have 1 task (Letter, Essay, Article) of which the word limit is 160- 180 words. You will be expected to write a coherent and clear composition discussing your point of view about a theme and your evaluation will be done based on your grammatical skills, range of vocabulary, structure of content presented and a few other factors.
TIPS FOR DELF B1 WRITING TEST:
1. In order to be confident about your writing, revise your grammar and vocabulary in detail so you do not doubt during the exam what you are writing.
2. ALWAYS, I repeat, ALWAYS make use of the rough sheets that are provided to you. They’ve been provided to you for a purpose and their purpose in writing is to write down all your ideas, create a mind- map and then write your complete task here. You can make as many changes and do cuttings here. But later you take the rest of the time to copy down the text on the answer sheet. This helps you to make it look more presentable, organized, and with the least number of errors. I suggest my students take 30 minutes framing on the rough sheet and to re- read and then the remaining 15 minutes to copy on the answer sheet.
3. Make use of a variety of synonyms, expressions, connectors, tenses, moods and other grammatical elements to show the examiner that you are capable of bringing about a variety in your written composition.
4. Always make sure to follow the structure that has been taught to you in writing. The paragraphs must be neatly divided using connectors and transition words.
5. Add examples to support what you need to justify. If you can’t recall a real- life experience, weave an imaginary story and write it. You are being evaluated based on your French language skills and so nobody is going to verify if it is the truth.
6. Attempt your answer in pen. Even the best of answers written in pencil are not evaluated.
7. Avoid exceeding the word limit. This risks not only making more errors in the composition but also wastage of time and hence lesser marks in the test.
DURING THE EXAM: ON THE DAY OF EXAM
STAY RELAXED! Have a calm and relaxed attitude. Be confident and optimistic that your decision to learn a foreign language is an act of courage! Your attitude during the exam decides a lot about your performance!
GREETINGS: For Speaking, always greet the examiner first and seek permission to enter. Don’t speak even a single word in any language other than French.
REQUEST TO REPEAT IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND: If you are unable to understand something that the examiner says, do not hesitate to ask them to repeat or rephrase. They will make it easier for you. Here are some expressions you can use to request the examiner to repeat/ rephrase.
USE THE ROUGH SHEETS TO PLAN WELL: For Speaking, while you still have time to prepare your monologue, make use of the rough sheets that have been provided to you. They have a purpose. If you don’t take the time to jot down the points there, you won’t make it as productively as you aim to. The same goes true for Listening and Writing. In Listening, use the rough sheets to quickly write down in sequence the keywords that you can catch. Then relate these keywords to the questions asked. In Writing, draft your answer on the rough sheet and then copy it down clearly in the answer sheet.
KEYWORDS: In Listening, never obsess on trying to understand the whole audio. Try to understand the global idea while noting down the keywords in sequence.
ATTEMPT YOUR PAPER IN PEN: At the end, make sure you have attempted all your final answers in pen. You are not awarded marks if you have answered in pencil even if the answer is correct.
READ THE TASK CAREFULLY: Always read each instruction properly. In Speaking, Listening and Reading, focus on interrogatory words and answer accordingly. In Writing, identify the tense in which the task is to be attempted and answer accordingly.
DON’T COPY THE QUESTION: In Writing, never copy the exact question in your answer. This will not fetch you any marks. In Speaking, do not say the exact lines from the question/ extract provided to you. Always rephrase and write/ speak in an original manner. In Writing, take care of adding the accords (extra “e” and the extra “s” for feminine and plural subject/ object) wherever required.
REVISE: Never leave your answers unreviewed. Review and correct all possible mistakes before the examiner gets the chance to do so.
Now that you’ve got the smartest tips for DELF B1 exam preparation, you are good to go!
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