There are several French exams for bilingual students that certify a level of the French language. They are issued by the French Ministry of Education. These diplomas are the official validation of the language expertise and have real advantages in academic and professional life. Each year, over 300,000 students around the world enroll to take DELF/DALF exams.
DILF (Diplôme Initial de Langue Française)
Students who are at absolute beginner’s level can take DILF (Diplôme Initial de Langue Française) which is issued by the French Ministry of national education. It precedes the DELF and DALF. For students with advanced language skills and those who would like to integrate into the French educational system or work in a French-speaking environment, the diplomas below will be more useful.
Le Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française (DELF)
This is an official diploma given by the French Ministry of Education which evaluates and certifies French language skills. This diploma is important and useful for students whose native language isn’t French. The DELF is made up of four diplomas that are independent of each other (meaning that you could take level A2 even if you have not taken level A1). A1/ A2 corresponds to a basic level and B1/ B2 corresponds to an intermediate level. DELF is one of the most useful diplomas to have, particularly when applying for French jobs, French schools, or some university degrees. The French DELF exam is recognized worldwide and because the focus is on candidates’ communication skills in real-life situations, the DELF certificate has a lot of practical value. There are specific Delf exams depending on students' age and language level.
DELF prim This version of the DELF is intended for children who are beginners in French as a foreign language and who are undertaking studies at the French elementary level. The DELF Prim is usually intended for children aged 7 to 11.
DELF junior & DELF scolaire The Junior DELF and the School DELF are intended for teenagers aged 12 to 18 who are enrolled n secondary education, at college and high school levels. The Junior/school DELF is made up of 4 levels: A1, A2, B1, and B2. It is an important step for teenagers in their learning of French and officially validates their French skills. (source: http://www.delfdalf.fr/ )
This is a professional version of the DELF diploma. It specifically addresses those who wish to assimilate into a professional French-speaking environment.
Le Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française (DALF)
The DALF diploma consists of two independent diplomas, C1 and C2, and it is mainly for older students and adults.
DALF C1 - students can express themselves fluently and spontaneously. They have a large vocabulary and can choose the appropriate expressions. They can also produce clear, well-structured discourse without hesitation. DALF C1 can be required to enter some French Grandes Écoles.
DALF C2 - C2 users' proficiency in the language is illustrated by precision, appropriateness, and fluency of expression. C2 candidates are capable of using the language for academic and advanced-level purposes. ( source: http://www.delfdalf.fr/ )
These French exams are often requested if students want to enter higher education in France. The difference between DELF and DALF is the language level and students' age. DALF is also often the diploma of choice for anyone wanting to get a job in large companies where employees are expected to be fluent in French, which is the case in many large Swiss companies, for example.
TEF (Test d’Evaluation de Français)
Unlike DELF and DALF, TEF is the single test where your score will determine the points awarded for French language proficiency. TEF is helpful for academic and professional life, including work permits in Canada and France. The TEF (Test d’Evaluation de Français) exam measures four French abilities: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. However, the TEF test is valid for only two years. The TEF for Studying in France is obligatory for any foreign student who is a candidate for first registration in the first year of an undergraduate degree in a French university.
There are some exceptions where certain French Universities accept the highest level of DELF B2 or DALF.