One of the things that you must settle when you move here in France is to have a French language diplôme. It is a tangible form of self-assurance that you have integrated well into the life here. The DELF B2 certificate will not be asked when you apply for a job. However, you may probably need to provide it if you will go to the university and you surely need to present a DELF B1 diplôme should you apply for French citizenship.
I’ve been here in France for exactly 2 years today and I took the DELF B2 last 17 May 2018. The waiting for the result was more torturous than the preparation. The result will be released within 30 working days from the exam. I received the notice that I passed the exam in late June. It was a Saturday morning and naturally, I jumped with joy (though not literally) when I’ve learned of the bonne nouvelle.
So how did I magically do it?
First: Get into a good language school
I was lucky to find the Le Français Autrement (LFA) or Learn French Another Way. I’ve been with them since November 2016. To know more about this class and the way of learning, you may spend some time reading this article Best French Language Class in Paris at L.F.A. The details and the links are in this article.
Second: Study and Memorize
I am in a hurry to learn and to remember what I’ve learned so I studied a lot and memorized the essentials. I can be geeky to things that steer my interest.
But just so you know, I am just a normal human being.
***I’ve PDFed my notes. If you want a copy please leave a comment and be a bit nice. I’m quite organized.
Third: Familiarize yourself with the exam
You can’t go to a battle without knowing the terrain. Well, you surely can go but the probability that you will get out of it alive will be quite low. It’s the same thing with exams unless you’re some kind of a super genius. I’m sure you know that in the same manner as I know I am not a super genius. Not even a genius.
So, what I did was solicit the advice of my Peruvian friend who has just taken and passed the DELF B2. She lent me her book so I could start my exam simulation. This is the book.
The DELF B2 is divided into four parts:
I took this test in the morning. This is an individual test and I had to go back to the center in the afternoon to take the tests which are collectively conducted.
For this test, I was made to draw two pieces of paper containing a topic then select the one which I felt comfortable discussing. You have 30 minutes to prepare your arguments which you will present for 10 minutes and another 10 minutes for the examiner/s to pose questions and you debate with them.
The topics I got were: consumption of organic products and the creation of des espaces verts dans les centres-villes. I chose the latter. I was recently reading about l’Accord de Paris sur le climat so I was a bit lucky to have the necessary vocabulary for my arguments. The two examiners interpolated for what seemed like an eternity. But I really don’t think that we’ve used up the entire 20 minutes.
I’m a woman of few words so I had to devise a way to make my “speech” last for 10 minutes. Hence, I introduced myself and then my subject with the most number of words possible. I made it sure to use the connecteurs des phrases e.g. premièrement, ensuite, puisque, etc. Then, for sure, the examiners would surely want to hear some subjonctif, plus-que-parfait, the conditionnel and other tenses. I may have used the concordance des temps also.
I did a lot of errors, especially the tenses but I corrected it right away. I was speaking slowly to gain time to think about what to say and to formulate the proper conjugaison. But, for me, the interpolation part was a mess. I didn’t know how to argue a point that the examiner has raised and I snapped, “ça n’arrivera jamais…” Anyway, I passed the DELF B2.
My pre-week preparation
A week before the big day, I’ve spent the afternoons doing some mock exams. I haven’t really practiced this part. I couldn’t concentrate talking to myself. I had a dialogue with myself only once.
Compréhension des écrits and production écrite
The examiners merged the allocated time for the compréhension des écrits (1 hour) and the production écrite (1 hour). I preferred it that way because I consider the former easier than the latter. In compréhension des écrits, you can find the answers in the line and in between the lines of the text. On the other hand, the production écrite would demand more time as you will be composing your idea which I find difficult.
I finished the compréhension des écrits 20 minutes ahead of time. So, I’ve gained 20 minutes more for my production écrite. They will provide scratch papers but I don’t recommend using them as you will surely run out of time transferring your draft to the final one. Well, it depends on you, if you write real fast. It will be a 250-word article or letter based on the given subject. I was lucky my brain was in a coherent state during the exam. The situation was: I was an employee requesting the director of the company to send me to a professional training abroad. I was also fortunate that my friend from Benin texted me the expressions to use when writing this kind of letter minutes before the exam.
I’ve written seven letters using the proper format. One letter each day. I set the timer for an hour so I could calculate my pace and estimate the time. I was training myself to handle the time pressure which is the most important here I think. I scoured the internet for possible topics.
We will be made to listen to two recordings extracted from a radio/tv show, or a documentary. The short one which lasts for about 2-3 minutes will be played once and the longer one which is about 8 minutes will be played twice.
For the short audio, I think I got all the answers correctly. It was an interview with the founder of Blabla car so it was a bit easy. I found the long audio difficult. I have totally no idea about the subject. It was about the construction of buildings. The lady who was interviewed had a heavy accent too. So be prepared.
I’ve made it a point to listen to L’invité des matins of France Culture to update myself with the current events or des actualités. Who knows, they might use something from those shows.
I also visited several sites to practice my listening skills. If you want, you can check my preferred sites below. Just click the link.
Fourth: Know the passing grade
I’ve been thinking about it and calculating it a lot. I needed to set a target – to know how many points I must obtain in each test. I know my weakest link and the strongest too. I’ve known where to focus.
To pass the DELF B2, you must obtain 50/100 and you shouldn’t go below 5/25 in any of the four tests. So, even if your overall score is 79/100 but you scored 4/25 in one exam, I think you will have a problem.
Where and when to take the DELF B2?
I didn’t take the exam in the testing centers in Paris because they’re more costly than outside. And, if you will take it outside France, especially in the Philippines, the cost is much much lower.
In Paris, the DELF B2 would cost you 270€. I took the exam at Prosodia in Gèneveilliers and it cost me 150€.
So, bon courage for your exam! I hope this article helps a bit. Please comment and share. It will make me happy…
P.S. For those who don’t like wearing watches, wear a watch. The clock in the examination room where I took the DELF B2 was behind me. I don’t really like watches but during the exam day, I borrowed a watch from my friend from Benin, so I could check the time without turning my head. I don’t own a watch and not planning to buy one, but I accept presents (wink). Every second counts and it will disturb your concentration. Or my concentration, since we have a different style.