learning French For Members

QUIZ: Could you pass the new French language tests?

The Local France
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QUIZ: Could you pass the new French language tests?
Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP

France's new immigration bill tightens up language requirements for foreigners, adding a test requirement for long-term residency cards while raising the level required for citizenship.


France's controversial immigration bill has now been signed into law after a tumultuous political journey. Among its many other provision are tighter requirements on French language levels for foreigners.

The bill both brings in new requirements for certain types of residency cards, and raises the language level required to qualify for French citizenship.

You can read the full details of the new rules, and which groups are exempt - HERE

Although not everyone is subject to these requirements (as outlined in the article above), the basic rule is that people applying for the multi-year carte de séjour plurianuelle need their French to be at least A2 level while those applying for the 10-year carte de résident need B1 level or above.

Meanwhile the level required in order to gain French citizenship has been raised from B1 to B2 for those applying through residency.

In most cases, candidates will need to prove that they have passed a French test that involves speaking, listening, reading and writing.

So what do all these levels mean, and could you pass them?

The numbers come from the international DELF scale, sometimes referred to in France as Cadre européen commun de référence pour les langues (CERL).


The DELF scale starts at A1 with beginner level, and A2 is the highest of what is called the 'discovery' stage of the language.

It is defined as a person who can;

  • Understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
  • Communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
  • Describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

The A2 test comprises four sections; reading, writing, speaking and listening and you have 1 hour 40 minutes to answer all sections, plus a 6-8 minute chat with an examiner.

Listening - respond to comprehension questions after listening to three or four short recordings concerning everyday situations (eg listen to a answerphone message) 25 minutes


Reading - respond to comprehension questions referring to four or five short written documents concerning everyday situations (eg an advert, a letter or a form). 30 minutes

Writing - write two short documents concerning everyday information in a specified format (eg postcard, email). 45 minutes

Speaking - introduce yourself, make a short presentation and take part in a short conversation with the examiner. 6-8 minutes of conversation, plus 10 minutes preparation time. 

As with all DELF exams, the instructions for each section are in French.

The test

You can find a selection of full past papers HERE, but below are some typical questions that we have selected from previous years' exams.



Read a short news report about a new reality TV show on TF1 and answer questions including;

1 Ce texte vient 

a) d'un journal

b) d'une brochure touristique

c) d'un livre


Complete the following writing exercise;

Vous avez fait un voyage d'une semaine à Paris. Vous racontez dans votre journal personnel ce que vous avez fait, jour après jour. Vous parlez de vos impressions sur la vie à Paris. Ecrivez un texte de 60 à 80 mots.



In the exam you will be played a recording, the recording is played twice with a 30-second gap in between. You then have 30 seconds to answer the questions on it.

Click HERE to listen to the recording, which in this case is a recorded phone message you hear on calling the local theatre.

1 Le week-end, vous pouvez réserver pour l'après-midi ou en soirée

a) Vrai

b) Faux

c) On ne sait pas

2 Les billets les moins chers sont à:

a) quinze euro

b) vingt euro

c) trente euro

You can find the answers to the above questions HERE (scroll down to page 11 of the document).



The speaking test begins with you briefly introducing yourself, describing aspects such as your hobbies, your work or your family. You should speak for around 1 minute and 30 seconds.

The examiner will then ask you questions about yourself for a further two minutes.

Finally you take part in a simulated conversation, based on an everyday scenario - you are given the scenario in advance and have 10 minutes to prepare. The conversation lasts for between three and five minutes.


B1 is the first level of intermediate French, it is defined as someone who can "maintain interaction; understand and maintain a discussion and give an opinion; capable of dealing with situations likely to arise in daily life".

The test

As with A2, the exam comes in four parts; reading, speaking, listening and speaking although the exam itself is slightly longer at two hours.

Listening - listen to three recordings (max length six minutes) and respond to questions on them - 25 minutes

Reading - read two written documents and respond to questions concerning practical information and details gives, plus analysing the general content of the document - 35 minutes


Writing - produce a personal piece of writing on a general theme to a specified format (eg essay, email) - 45 minutes

Speaking - introduce yourself, response to questions from the examiner and express a point of view in response to a document provided - 15 minutes (plus 10 minutes of preparation time)

You can find the full practice paper HERE, but below are a few sample questions.


Listen to the audio recording HERE and answer questions including these;

1 Ce document est;

a) une publicité pour une agence

b) le récit d'une expérience personnelle

c) un document informatif.

2. L'échange des logements se pratique ...

a) seulement à l'intérieur de la France

b) seulement entre la France et l'étranger

c) les deux.


Read the brochures for two different French language schools and then fill in a tick box on the type of services they offer, prices etc


Write an essay of 160-180 words on the following topic - A votre avis, quels ont été le ou les changements les plus importants des vingts dernières années dans votre pays ? Quels sont ceux qui ont été positifs ou ceux qui ont été négatifs selon vous ?


Introduce yourself and speak for 2-3 minutes about yourself and your interests, including your past, your present and your future plans.

Choose one of the two documents offered and take part in a simple role play conversation for 3-4 minutes.

Choose one of the documents offered, summarise its content and then offer your opinions on the topic. The examiner may ask you questions about your opinion (5-7 minutes including three minutes of personal opinion)

You can find the answers HERE (scroll down to page 11).


B2 is the higher of the two intermediate levels (the scale continues to C1 and C2 - which is usually defined as fluency. These are not required for any residency or citizenship purposes.

The test

You can find more past papers HERE, but here are some sample questions. As with the other levels, the tests come in four parts. 

Listening - Listen and answer questions on two recordings; one an interview, news report etc the other a discussion or conference - 30 minutes

Reading - respond to questions on two texts - one giving information, the other in the format of a debate or discussion - one hour

Writing - write a piece laying out your position in a debate or argument in the specified format (eg contribution to a debate, critical article, response letter) - 1 hour

Speaking - present your point of view on a given topic and defend your opinions when challenged by the examiner - 20 minutes (plus 30 minutes prep time).

You can find the full practice paper HERE, but here are some sample questions;


Listen to the recording HERE and then answer questions including;

1 le nombre des personnes qui ont participé à l'opération etait de

a) 5 050

b) 550 000

c) 5 500

2 L'an dernier cette opération s'est déroulée dans 11 pays

a) d'Europe, d'Amerique et dans les Dom Tom

b) d'Europe, d'Afrique et dans les Dom Tom

c) d'Amerique, d'Afrique et dans les Dom Tom


Read an article from Jeune Afrique and answer questions including;

L'idée principale du premier paragraphe est que; 

a) la conservation et l'exploitation des fôrets sont incompatibles

b) le debat entre écologistes et exploitants forestiers n'a pas d'issue

c) on peut consilier la conservation et l'exploitation des fôrets

d) les exploitants forestiers ne sont sensible qu'à l'appât du gain 


Write a formal request to your boss, on behalf of yourself and your colleagues, asking to be able to work remotely due to office over-crowding and the increasing number of employees who have young children. (250 words)


Read a short news report on the subject of on-screen violence and its impact on children and young people. Prepare a presentation on your views on the topic, present an argument either for or against further regulation and be prepared for the examiner to argue against your viewpoint.

You can find the answer to the questions HERE (from page 11)




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