The TEF Canada is recognized as an official proof of French proficiency by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Quebec Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities (MICC) for permanent residency applications, Quebec Selection Certificate applications, and Canadian citizenship applications. It is a French language competency exam for francophones and non-native French learners which is designed to assess their linguistic skills in Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing.
TEF Canada Exam Modules
The TEF Canada exam is comprised of the following 4 modules:
● Oral expression (Speaking) (EO): 15 minutes: Face-to-face with an examiner
● Oral comprehension (Listening) (CO): 40 minutes: Computer-based (Headphones are provided)
● Reading Comprehension (Reading) (CE): 60 minutes: Computer-based
● Written Expression (Writing) (EE): 60 minutes: Computer-based
The evaluation scale is based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) by the Council of Europe. It is evaluated as per 6 proficiency levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2). As per the Canadian Language Competence (CLB), there are 12 levels. Your performance in each module in the TEF Canada is assessed using a 7- level scale, from level 0 (basic proficiency) to level 6 (highly proficient).
If you are a complete beginner in French or are somewhere in the middle of your French learning or exam preparation, you might have lots of questions about how this whole process is going to be held. So you might be looking for tips and strategies to prepare for the exam. In simple terms, the TEF is basically the “IELTS for French language testing”. So if you are an absolute newbie, first you will need to learn French followed by the TEF exam-specific preparation. If you are at an intermediate or advanced level in French language learning, you can now begin your module training for the exam format of TEF Canada.
There is a lack of sufficient information and material for TEF Canada on the Internet, and hence there are a lot of misconceptions related to the exam and how the course works. So in this blog post, I am going to explain and clarify most of these misconceptions, and further, I am going to give you some knowledge you absolutely need to have for the exam.
What is covered in this blog post?
● Myths related to the TEF Canada Exam
● TEF Exam Preparation Strategies
● Important things to know during the test
Myths related to the TEF Canada Exam
When I get queries for TEF Canada exam preparation, especially from those who have zero experience in French learning, they are generally very misinformed. So I decided to address some of these myths:
1. “I have qualified for many competitive exams with the right kind of strategies without learning much, so I am capable of also qualifying the TEF Canada in less than 5 months of smart preparation without learning French.”
Language learning takes its own natural time. The TEF Canada exam is designed to evaluate if you CAN really use French in daily life. French pronunciations and sentence structures are completely different from those of English. Even though French looks similar to English, it is very differently pronounced, spoken, and written. So a beginner takes the initial few days to notice these differences in detail alongside getting the hang of the language in how it is so different from English. Without the right pronunciations and sentence structures, there is no way to qualify TEF Canada with the desired CLB.
The exam has 4 sub-tests: Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing. No grammar questions are asked, but the format of each module is such that it will test most of your grammar, vocabulary, and sentence formation skills through the tasks provided in each module, and will find out your actual level. So there is no way to dupe them into assessing you as a B2 if you are really at A2. Moreover, there is no shortcut to buying the certificate through any unfair means.
2. “I can immediately appear for the exam to score a level B2+ after completing my French grammar lessons.”
Learning a language and preparing for an exam are two different things. Language learning comprises pronunciation, grammar, sentence formation, vocabulary, etc. followed by some Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing activities to use the language in daily life. Although each language exam has a different structure, different kinds of tasks and specific sentence structures are to be used in each sub-test. Therefore, it becomes important to master the different strategies that must be followed. Time management practice for each task is another major component to consider. Hence, no matter how nicely you learn the language, not practicing the exam format and sample papers will not fetch you a B2+.
3. “I will have to appear for the level-wise DELF examinations to become eligible to appear for the TEF Canada.”
The DELF/ DALF and TEF Canada are two different exams. DELF/ DALF is a proficiency certification while TEF Canada is meant for immigration purposes. So to appear for the TEF Canada exam, it is not compulsory to appear for any of the DELF/ DALF exams. However, during your preparation phase, if at some point you want to know your current level, taking a DELF exam is a good idea. If you qualify, not only do you get a lifetime proficiency certificate of that level, but also it helps you gain more confidence since you get the experience of appearing for a French exam.
4. “My DELF exam preparation strategies can be used for TEF Canada”.
As already explained, these are two completely different examinations with different formats and different tasks. So the exam-specific preparation and strategies for each exam are completely different too.
5. “I am a working professional and/ or have family responsibilities, so my timings do not allow me to spare enough self-study time. But I can manage to get a B2+ with just classroom teaching.”
Even if you have family/ work responsibilities and have made a decision to move to Canada, you must anyhow create the right environment for enough self-study every day because language learning takes its own natural time and lots of revision. Classroom teaching alone can’t help. Your trainer is your guide who puts the order of topics in a sequence for you, helps you with difficulties, and gives you feedback on your errors. However, you are the center of this whole learning process and so a lack of regular self-study of at least 1- 2 hours daily (preferably including weekends) will not fetch you the results you dream of.
6. “The complete TEF Canada preparation must cost just as much as the IELTS exam preparation course.”
If you’re registering with a trainer or enrolling at an institute for your French learning as a complete beginner till TEF Canada exam-specific preparation, the entire journey is going to be at least 10- 12 months (or a bit lesser if the trainer offers you more than 1 hour daily). You’re not just preparing for the exam, you are also learning the entire language before that. This will require a lot of the trainer’s effort as well as time in planning your sessions, preparing study material for you, preparing activities, sitting with you in class, and making you work. So any experienced instructor will charge as per what they deserve for all this skill, time, lesson planning, and classroom presence. Some trainers charge level-wise while others charge in a lump sum/ installments and so you may choose what is more feasible for you.
Exam Preparation Strategies for TEF Canada
Without the right strategies, it isn’t so easy to score a CLB 7+ in TEF Canada. Here are some useful tips:
● Start with learning French pronunciation, sentence formation, etc.
● Have some knowledge about the culture and geography of France and other francophone countries of the world.
● Do a lot of handwritten practice for better retention of grammar, and make organized notes which you also could refer to for revision a few days before the exam.
● Practice typing on the laptop/ computer right from the beginning because Listening, Reading, and Writing are computer-based tests. This will also help you, especially in the Writing module to type faster.
● Vocabulary building on various themes is absolutely essential not to feel blocked while speaking or writing.
● Practice Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing along with grammar lessons. Apply the learned grammar to daily life situations.
● Avoid translations from any other language.
● Regularly listen to lots of podcasts, music, audio, and news and read lots of French story books, newspapers, blogs, etc. Make French your way of life, and immerse yourself. This is what I call “staying in a French state of mind” most of the time during the day.
● Once your grammar is complete (ideally till level B1 studies), you should go for your exam-specific preparation and familiarize yourself with the exam format while learning the essential tips and tricks for the same.
● Learn from an experienced teacher for your French learning if you feel that you can’t learn the language on your own. In case you’ve independently learned all French grammar, now seek guidance from a trainer for your exam- preparation to get an environment to practically communicate in French in class.
Important Things to Know During the Test
● Make sure to carry your original identity proof for the exam. No entry is allowed without it.
● You must arrive at the exam center on time.
● Once you enter the center, you cannot exit until all the modules are done.
● The Reading, Listening, and Writing tests are computer-based, so you must be a bit tech-savvy and fast at typing on a keyboard.
● In the Writing module, depending on your country and exam center, you will be provided a QWERTY or an AZERTY keyboard. The AZERTY keyboard usually has all accents on it. The QWERTY keyboard has either shortcut keys, and/ or you will have an on-screen keyboard containing all the accents.
● You can ask for rough sheets for Reading, Listening, and Writing to jot down some points/ info that you may need. However, in some recent exams, some candidates at some centers have not been provided rough sheets since the center says that it is a fully computer-based test. So you must be mentally prepared in both cases.
● In the Speaking module, there is no preparation time of more than 1- 1.5 minutes for each of the 2 tasks. No paper and pen are allowed to make notes.
● Generally, there are pauses in between each module, so you may go for your washroom breaks in between. The duration of the pause depends on your exam center.
● You do not have access to your gadgets, notes, or dictionary during the exam.
● You are not allowed to communicate with other candidates. You must have your own stationery.
Q. How many times can I take the TEF Canada exam?
Ans. You could take the exam as many times as you want. However, there has to be a gap of 1.5- 2 months between two consecutive exams taken by a candidate. Different centres have different rules, so you must enquire at your centre at the time of exam registration.
Q. What are the fees for the TEF Canada exam?
Ans. The registration fee for the TEF Canada exam may vary in different countries and different test centers. In India, it is around INR 25,000. This fee is non-refundable and non-transferrable in most centers.
Q. What is the validity of TEF Canada results?
Ans. The result for the TEF Canada exam is valid for up to 2 years from the exam date.
Q. How to register for the exam?
Ans. The TEF Canada exam is held in most countries of the world. It has hundreds of affiliated exam centers across the world. The test is held all through the year. However, seats may often be limited at some centers, especially ever since the COVID pandemic. Therefore, interested candidates should contact their nearest/ most convenient center, seek information about the dates, and get registered well in advance.
Q. How to check your results of the TEF Canada exam?
Ans. The exam center sends the exam results to each candidate via email. You should ideally get your TEF exam results within 15 working days. However, recently, most candidates have been able to receive their results just within 4- 5 days of the test date.
I hope this was a helpful read for you. If you like this post, you can also consult my other blog posts on the TEF Canada exam :
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