Chers/ Chères apprenant.es de français,
I train French learners (absolute beginners to advanced level) for the TEF Canada exam which is really helpful in not only improving your French language skills but also fetching you the desired CRS scores in your Canadian Express Entry for immigration to Canada. I myself scored a B2 in Listening, Reading, and Writing, and a C1 in Speaking in TEF Canada taken in Paris in March 2022.
Appearing for the TEF Canada Exam will not only help you have your actual level in the French language evaluated but will also help you to:
• Feel more motivated
• Learn the language better
• Improve upon your mistakes
• Practice better
• Balance your competencies
Since 2016, I have been helping many French learners to achieve their goals and realize their Canadian dream, but during this process, I also realized that most of the students had similar challenges to face throughout their journey:
1. Low self-confidence- Getting used to speaking a foreign language like French is quite challenging and it may seem quite daunting at first. Beginners tend to make many mistakes or mix up the language with the languages that they already know, and it lowers their self-confidence. Further, their fear of making errors makes them choose to not speak at all. This is the biggest problem faced by most learners. But with anything in life, if we decide not to step outside of our comfort zone, we miss out on opportunities to learn and explore.
2. Sufficient speaking practice- There are a variety of effective ways to study and practice for the TEF Canada exam. However, the speaking test seems to be the most difficult. To tell you the truth, it is easier than you think. All you need is the right guidance and the right strategy.
3. Lack of knowledge of what the TEF Canada exam is about- Most French learners who start learning French for Canadian immigration have barely any idea of what the exam is about. Being unsure of their final goal, their path is quite blurry which is why they are always low on confidence.
So with all my teaching experience so far and after working with all kinds of students, I decided to make an effort to make your journey of French learning and TEF Canada exam preparation smoother. This article will help you save up a lot of time and energy in your preparation for the TEF Canada Speaking test.
TEF Canada Exam Format
The test comprises two sections. You have to appear for a face-to-face exchange with the examiner for a total of 15 minutes. Here is the description of the two sections:
– Section A (5 minutes)- Formal dialogue (Conversation using “Vous”)
– Section B (10 minutes)- Informal dialogue (Conversation using “Tu”)
The topic in both sections is usually a newspaper ad, an internet ad, or an employment offer.
In this section, your objective is to ask questions to obtain the maximum possible information about a newspaper/ magazine/ internet ad. This is supposed to be a natural conversation, like an exchange of questions and answers in a real-life situation. You will be given 1 minute for preparation to organize your thoughts, but no pen and paper will be allowed.
Here, you have to do a dialogue to convince a friend (the examiner) about a newspaper/ magazine/ Internet ad/ offer that you have seen recently. First, you have to present the theme of the ad to your interlocutor using your original sentences and then persuade them to avail of this offer/ purchase this product/ service. You must give your opinion with justifications and relevant examples, real or imaginary. You will have 1 minute to organize your thoughts in your head, but no pen and paper will be allowed.
The goal of both these tasks together is to evaluate your skills in expressing yourself and speaking in French in formal and informal situations. Both the tasks in this module are recorded for a double evaluation after the test.
Speaking, being one of the two active modules (Speaking and Writing) of the test requires you to know some very important skills. In any case, it is not possible to fake being at an upper level while you’re actually at a lower level.
So, if you know a lot of vocabulary, it doesn’t imply that you will score really well in the TEF Canada Speaking exam. You should be familiar with each section and the tips and tricks that you need to increase your score. Therefore, you must absolutely know what the examiner expects from you. Since you are a non-native, you are not expected to speak very fast or fluently. Instead, you are tested on your knowledge of some skills for the level you wish to achieve in the exam. Moreover, you may think so, but rest assured that grammar is not the only parameter that is evaluated in your performance.
– Your question-making ability (varied, no repetitions)
– Your vocabulary (Vocabulary as per context- formal/ informal, synonyms, avoiding repetitions)
– The conversation must be logical, must make sense, sound natural, and be fluid.
The instructions will look something like this:
Vous avez vu cette annonce dans un journal/ sur Internet et vous êtes intéressé(e). Vous téléphonez à la personne pour obtenir plus d’informations.
Préparez une dizaine de questions.
Votre examinateur joue le rôle de votre interlocuteur/ interlocutrice.
Tips and Strategies for the TEF Canada Speaking Test
1. Your introduction must sound formal with sufficient use of La formule de politesse and your vocabulary must be well adapted to a formal conversation. Par exemple,
– Allo, bonjour, je m’excuse de vous déranger. Je m’appelle Magali et je me permets de vous appeler concernant votre publicité sur le musée dans le journal. Je voudrais visiter votre musée avec ma famille la semaine prochaine, toutefois, j’ai des questions. Auriez- vous quelques minutes pour répondre à mes questions ?
2. Pay careful attention to what the examiner is saying.
However, do not panic if you do not understand a few words.
Either try to understand the global sense of what they are saying, else you may also ask them politely to repeat. Par exemple,
– Pardon, je ne suis pas sûr du sens de « __ »
– Pardon, pourriez- vous me préciser le sens de « __ »
– Qu’entendez-vous par « __ » ?
– Je ne vous ai pas clairement entendu, est-ce que vous pourriez répéter ?
– Pardon mais je n’arrive pas à comprendre. Est-ce que vous pourriez en développer un peu plus ?
3. Your conversation should sound natural and not robotic.
Candidat(e): Où se passe l’événement ?
Examinateur/ Examinatrice : Au centre ville.
Candidat(e) : D’accord, pourriez- vous me donner l’adresse exacte s’il vous plaît ?
4. Make your conversation flow more naturally by adding a bit of personal information:
– Vous savez, j’ai un petit chien, alors est- il permis de garder des animaux de compagnie dans l’appartement ?
– Vous savez, j’ai déjà un petit peu d’expérience en photographie comme j’ai appris en autodidacte pendant 6 mois environ et j’aimerais maintenant me perfectionner. Alors je m’intéresse à savoir quel serait le niveau le plus adapté pour moi.
– Je voudrais savoir s’il y a une différence entre les tarifs des cours groupe et privés car je suis étudiant(e) et alors mon budget est très serré en ce moment.
– Est-ce qu’il est permis de fumer dans votre appartement ? Mon mari est fumeur.
5. Make use of plenty of connectors in the conversation
– Tout d’abord, je voudrais savoir…
– Ensuite, je me demande si…
– De plus…
– J’ai une dernière question concernant….
– En premier lieu
– Pour commencer
– Et pour finir…
6. During the conversation, give multiple references to the advertisement to show that you have understood it.
– Il est mentionné dans la publicité que…. donc je voudrais savoir…
– Il est indiqué dans l’annonce que…., c’est vrai ?
7. From time to time, add fillers and words that show that you’re able to understand the examiner
– C’est bien noté, Entendu, Je vois, D’accord, Parfait, Absolument, Très bien, Je comprends, C’est parfait pour moi, Cela me convient
8. Be careful about common mistakes and false cognates.
– Avertissement → une annonce, une publicité
– C’est bon → C’est bien
– Ça marche pour moi → Cela me convient/ Très bien/ D’accord/ Entendu
– Il dit que → Sur l’annonce il est indiqué que…/ Il est dit que…/ Il est écrit que/ Il est mentionné que…
– Location → endroit, lieu
– La chambre (a bedroom), la pièce (a room)
– Use an infinitive verb after a modal verb : Je peux utiliser, Je vais vous recontacter/ Je vais réfléchir
– Visiter quelque chose/ Rendre visite à quelqu’un
9. Some useful vocabulary:
● dash (-) : tiret
● dot (.) : point
● www : 3 w
● @ : arobase
● Sur Internet, à la télé, à la radio, dans le journal, par email, par WhatsApp
Tips and Strategies for the TEF Canada Speaking test
1. Do not forget to introduce the theme of the advertisement.
2. Your introduction must sound informal and your vocabulary must be well adapted to an informal conversation. Par exemple,
– Salut Magali ! Tu sais que ce matin j’ai vu une publicité d’un club de sport qui offre une promotion d’abonnement à prix réduit. Dès que je l’ai lue, j’ai pensé à toi et je me suis dit que ça pourrait t’intéresser. Tu veux en savoir plus ?
3. Pay careful attention to what the examiner is saying.
However, do not panic if you do not understand a few words. Either try to understand the global sense of what they are saying, else you may also ask them politely to repeat. Par exemple,
– Qu’entends-tu par « __ » ?
– Je t’ai pas clairement entendu, tu peux répéter ?
– Je te comprends pas. Tu pourrais élaborer ?
4. Add sufficient connectors. Par exemple, Tout d’abord, Ensuite, De plus, Enfin etc
5. From time to time, accept the argument of the examiner and then present your opinion and justify it. Par exemple,
– C’est vrai, c’est cher, mais on peut payer en plusieurs fois.
– Certes, c’est cher, néanmoins, on peut payer en plusieurs fois
– Bien que ce soit cher, on a la possibilité de payer en plusieurs fois
– Tu as bien raison, cependant, j’estime que…
6. Replace the connector “mais” with other upper level connectors like “Cependant”, “Pourtant”, “Toutefois”, “En revanche”, “Par contre”, “D’autre côté”, “Néanmoins” etc.
7. Do not say all of your ideas in just one go. Make sure to give the examiner sufficient time to respond. Remember that the examiner is supposed to help you with ideas related to the situation and they will always reply in a manner that helps you extract a new idea to continue the conversation instead of putting you in difficulty. It is a test of your French language and not a test of your general knowledge. So listen to the examiner carefully and respond accordingly.
8. Do not panic if you are unable to give a logical argument for something that the examiner just stated. Just assure them that you would do your research regarding the same and you are sure that it will suit you both. Par exemple,
– Franchement, tu sais qu’en ce moment je ne suis pas sûr(e) de leurs prix, mais t’inquiète, je vais téléphoner à l’agence tout de suite et je vais confirmer si c’est possible de payer en plusieurs fois.
9. In the end, the examiner may or may not be convinced or may give a neutral response. This is not for you to worry about, because it decides nothing related to your score. In any case, you must give a nice and confident ending to the conversation by using specific sentences. Par exemple,
– Je suis vraiment content(e) que tu aies changé d’avis.
– Ok alors, j’attends ta réponse.
– D’accord. J’attends ton appel.
– Bien sûr. J’attends que tu me rappelles.
– Oui, je comprends, alors j’attends de tes nouvelles.
– Pas de souci. Rappelle- moi si tu changes ton avis.
Further, end with expressions like “Salut”, “À bientot” etc.
ON THE EXAM DAY
1. Stress management during the Speaking test- Stress may be good stress or bad stress. Good stress is meant to motivate you. It is up to you to decide how to channel this stress into productivity by performing well in the exam, instead of making you feel crippled. You will only be confident if you have practiced sufficiently.
● Make sure to have practiced your French pronunciations correctly.
● You could even practice speaking in front of your family or friends even if they do not know French.
● Else, you can practice out loud in front of the mirror.
● Or you could even record your voice speaking in French and listen to it.
● Reading out a text loud is another helpful strategy.
● Mix these activities up with other activities of your daily routine to help French become your second nature.
2. Do not obsess about being perfect- If you are obsessed with wanting to be perfect in French and waiting to make zero errors, I am sorry but you’re on the wrong track. Accepting your mistakes and making an effort to correct as many as possible is what you should do. Expecting to be fully correct with each sentence structure is highly unrealistic. Just stay consistent, and dedicated and keep regular track of your progress. Then give yourself a pat on the back for having succeeded in keeping the discipline.
3. Stay in an “État d’esprit français”- Doing speaking practice regularly and dedicatedly will increase your confidence for the exam day. Repetition really helps. One very useful tip that helped me for the last few days before my exam was to keep myself completely in an “État d’esprit français” (a French state of mind) continuously by only surrounding myself with French content, listening to French news, reading French articles and blogs and avoiding communication in any other language as much as I could.
4. Present yourself nicely on the exam day- On the exam day, do not think it’s “just an exam”… Dress up nicely and comfortably, and present yourself in the best way possible instead of thinking that it’s just an exam. The way you dress up adds immensely to your confidence and that reflects when you’re having a conversation with the examiner.
5. Think of yourself as a French native! Yes! Fake it till you make it! This strategy worked for me immensely! Convince your mind that you’re a French native and that you speak very much like a native. But yes, this can only come from within if you have one genuine effort and practice during your preparation phase.
6. Have a positive mindset- The kind of feedback you give to your brain is the way it will manifest results for you. So if you tend to think negatively, chances are that you’ll mess up most of it. Tell yourself that learning a foreign language is an act of courage and that you’ve come this far all because of your efforts. So channel all your negative thoughts into bringing productive results.
7. Show confidence in your body language– The way you sit and face the examiner and make eye contact with them decides a lot. Sitting with shoulders drooping, restless hands and feet, and avoiding eye contact will not only make you more nervous but will also show the examiner that you are not so sure about your preparation, which may then affect your scores. Greet the examiner nicely, sit straight and comfortably and maintain eye contact with the examiner as much as possible. Use plenty of intonation in your voice while conversing. Your tone is questioning, answering and argumentation must vary and be relevant.
Did this article help you? If yes, you might want to check my other blog posts about TEF Canada :
– How to Prepare for the TEF Canada Speaking Test
– Essentials for TEF Canada Exam Preparation
– Tips to Improve French Speaking at Home
– French Exams for Express Entry- TEF and TCF
– TEF Canada Preparation- Beginner to B2
– Drop the Fear and Speak French like a Pro
– Why learn French for Canada
– TEF Canada Self-Preparation Routine
If you found this article informative, do check out our other articles that you could find here: BLOG.
If you found these tips helpful, give us a chance to become a part of your successful French language learning journey. WhatsApp us at +91-9056131830 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to have a free counseling and demo session scheduled and to discuss our courses.
Consult our TEF Canada Exam Preparation Courses and workshops here.