Archive for the ‘DELF Exam’ Category

Final thoughts on the DELF B2

OK, I think I passed (J’ai reussi). Probably by a squeaker score, but I at least made my 5 points on the other segments.

Still, I plan on carrying on as if I need to take it again, which means some form of studying. I use French media, which means I use the French language. Try to read and write in French, at least an article a day to get past the “40 minutes on the first page” thing [1]

Also, build up your vocabulary!

I know that I WILL pass (je reussirai) the next time if I have to take it again.

Footnotes:
[1] True francophiles will get the reference.

The B2 Speaking portion

I’ve been neglectful of this blog for various reasons, one of which is that blogging isn’t that important to me. I keep my hand in to show I haven’t gone away. I still support regulating Firearms, and that the Second Amendment and the concept of self-defence have been horribly misrepresented.

On the other hand, I do have a life.

Which is probably where my ease in this section came in. Having lived and spent time in les pays francophones pretty much all my life, I have used French as a spoken language. Not to the extent of actually growing up with it: especially since the French kids were more than happy to practise their English on me! And the more I learn other languages, the more I like speaking English.

Anyway, the trick here is to be able to talk and converse for 15 minutes. You’ll get to pick two subjects from a bowl and prepare one of them for your presentation. I picked the are zoos good or bad subject (as opposed to sport in school). I’ve had long conversations in French about legal topics.

The best book is How to Cheat at French Verbs, ISBN: 978-0982901946. As one of the reviewers said: “I received this book today and it’s already changed my life. The conjugations I’ve been struggling with CLICKED! Thank you for writing this book and I hope you write more.”

The nice think about spoken French is there isn’t as much room for analysing your grammar, spelling, and all the other flaws that show up when you write. So, it was the easiest portion for me. Depending on how I did, this part may have pushed me past the pass point of 50. Remember all you need is 50/100 with at least five points in a section. So, you can do really well in one section, OK in two other sections and bomb in the fourth and still pass.

The B2 listening comprehension section

This was hard because you hear the excerpt twice. Unlike at home, you can’t go back and replay the track. This is a sample similar to what you will hear when you take the test: http://delfdalf.fr/_media/exemple-3-sujet-delf-b2-tp-audio-integrale-comprehension-orale.mp3

Yes, there are silent bits in there where you will read the questions and then answer them. The invigilator turned on the recording and left the room while we did this section.

Your best bet for preparing is to listen to RFI: especially since one of the clips was from their Sept Milliards de Voisins. Do as many sample clips as you can listen to here: https://savoirs.rfi.fr/en/apprendre-enseigner/langue-francaise/delf-b2-compr%C3%A9hension-orale. Listen to the podcasts as well: https://www.rfi.fr/fr/podcasts/.

The ideal would be to work with a francophone who can point out the “phrases” used in French (where words put together get a new meaning: e.g., freiner des quatre fers is to dig one’s heels in). You know what I am talking about if you study French. English does it as well, but not to the extent French does. The phrases can throw you when you get to the questions since the question will be about the figurative meaning of the passage.

Listen to as much French as you can and do the clips is the best advice for this section. You may want to write summaries of what you listened to as well. The crux of this test is how much did you understand the subject of the clip.

General thoughts on the DELF B2:

I like to think I passed the test, but I am prepared to take it again if I didn’t. That said, what do I think was the most useful? What would I do differently? What strategies would I advise someone who wants to take the Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française or the Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française to use?

First off, the best thing is to either grow up speaking French, or spend some time in France, or other francophone region, living the language for 3-6 months. Better yet, a year using French as much as possible with francophones. It’s not really useful doing this unless the people you are interacting with are native speakers. There are linguistic nuances which just taking a course won’t give you.

That’s probably not an option if you are reading this. The next best thing is to listen and to watch French media. RFI (https://www.rfi.fr/fr/direct-monde) is a really good choice since most of the listing segments came from them. You will have a bit of a leg up, especially if you heard the segment in question. I’ll take more about the different parts of the test in subsequent posts.

Reading is also helpful for learning orthographie. But it’s better to get a good handle on spoken French since the reading and speaking parts were fairly easy. Speaking was the easiest, but it helped to have listened to the clips. That said, there are a few site run by the French Government and media to help you prepare for the test.

You definitely want to take the test and can get old copies of the test here: http://delfdalf.fr/delf-b2-sample-papers.html. The new format test is the most useful since that was pretty much what the test was like. The more I look at those, the more I think I did all right.

The two places you will have the most control over are the speaking and writing sections. The reading and listening sections are pretty much multiple guess on spoken and written segments. Again, taking the tests are the most helpful. I think working on the listening “comprehension” is the more useful of the two.

I’m not sure how useful most of the pass the DELF books are, other than the ones that prep you for the writing part. It really is go in with a bunch of “phrases tresors” and fill in the holes. “Phrase tresor” was a term used at Chateau Ceran for phrases that would prove useful in learning French. In this case, they are terms that are useful for making an argument. More on that when I talk about the writing part.

The bottom line is that unless you are a francophone, or can spend intensive time with some before the exam, you will need to study. But even francophones can have some problems with these tests because of how the questions are written (take the sample course to see). I’m planning on doing a few posts on the test. One for each of the four segments, one for prep material, study hints, and a final summary. I’m not sure which of the four I should start with: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking, or writing. In a way reading and listening overlap as do speaking and writing. There are some differences.

I took the DELF B2 today.

Alas, I won’t know the results for up to two months! Seriously!

It’s the French Language proficiency certification given by the French Government. This is how the site describes the test.

A B2 user has a degree of independence that allows him/her to construct arguments to defend his/her opinion, explain his/her viewpoint and negotiate. At level B2, the candidate has a degree of fluency and spontaneity in regular interactions and is capable of correcting his/her own mistakes…Please note that, except dispensation, DELF B2 is compulsory to follow studies in the French higher education…DELF B2 examination is based on  level B2 of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

http://www.delfdalf.fr/delf-b2.html

The thing literally took about four hours mostly because the oral presentation sections needed to be done one on one.

I had to show my identity card and proof of vaccination before they would let me into the centre!

I’m going to write some pieces on the best way to prepare, or at least what I found useful.

Belmondo or Baker? or Both?

Joesphine Baker loved to create a stir: I’m sure she’s having a high time with her being awarded a place in France’s Panthéon. Here’s something I wrote as prep for the B2.

https://www.lefigaro.fr/cinema/claude-lelouch-si-josephine-baker-peut-aller-au-pantheon-pourquoi-pas-belmondo-20210907

Pourquoi donner une place au Panthéon à quelqu’un qui n’était pas français? De plus, cette personne n’a pas autant contribué à la culture française.

Pourquoi Joséphine Baker a-t-elle une place au Panthéon ? Autre que l’évident ? Vrai, elle était membre des Folies Bergeres, mais cela lui vaut-il une place au Panthéon ? Sa position d’interprète lui permet d’avoir accès à des personnes qui intéressent le Deuxième Bureau. Cela lui a permis d’être recrutée comme agent. Le fait qu’elle soit une espionne aurait pu lui coûter la vie. Elle a été honorée pour son service à la France pendant la guerre. Son service en temps de guerre l’a encouragée à se battre pour les droits civils aux États-Unis.

Bebel était un excellent comédien aux rôles varies. Je crois que l’un des meilleurs. Il a définitivement une place dans l’histoire du cinéma français et peut-être mondial. Mais a-t-il au moins fait son service national ? Je n’en suis pas sûr cela.

Baker avait deux amours: “Mon pays et Paris”. C’était pour la France qu’elle risquait sa vie.
La peine pour ayant été un espion est la mort, surtout pendant la guerre. Bebel a risqué sa vie en faisant des cascades dans des films.

Oui, si le critère est d’être un grand interprète, alors Belmondo mérite autant que Baker, sinon plus, une place au panthéon. Belmondo est définitivement le meilleur interprète des deux. Baker allait au-dela en risquant sa vie pour la France. Ça mérite une place au Panthéon.

Why give a place in the Pantheon to someone who was not French? Moreover, this person did not contribute as much to French culture.

Why does Josephine Baker have a place in the Pantheon? Other than the obvious? True, she was a member of the Folies Bergeres, but does that earn her a place in the Pantheon? Her position as an interpreter gave her access to people of interest to the Second Bureau. This allowed her to be recruited as an agent. The fact that she was a spy could have cost her her life. She was honored for her service to France during the war. Her wartime service encouraged her to fight for civil rights in the United States.

Bebel was an excellent actor in various roles. I believe he was one of the best. He definitely has a place in the history of French and perhaps world cinema. But did he at least do his national service? I’m not sure about that.

Baker had two loves: “My country and Paris”. It was for France that she risked her life.
The penalty for being a spy is death, especially during the war. Bebel risked his life by doing stunts in films.

Time to bully little Luxembourg

OK, My heritage also includes the country that inspired “the Mouse that Roared”, but I can’t remember too much about my visits since I blinked. These days the most famous Luxembourgoise I can think of is Deborah de Robertis. My famous Luxembourgois relation was an artist as well along with having a street named after him in Luxembourg’s only city.

AFP Photo/Bertrand Guay

It’s larger than some of the other postage stamp countries, but why beat up on the place when it gets confused with a province of Belgium? Because:

Chaque jour, 112 000 Français franchissent la frontière pour aller travailler dans le grand-duché de Luxembourg. Ils n’étaient que 77 000 il y a dix ans. Le dynamisme économique luxembourgeois profite aussi aux Belges et aux Allemands. Toutes nationalités confondues, en vingt-cinq ans, le nombre de travailleurs domiciliés à l’étranger est passé de 58 000 à 211 000 au Luxembourg.[1]

https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2021/12/03/la-moselle-partagee-entre-les-vices-et-vertus-de-l-emploi-frontalier_6104530_3234.html

Yeah, I should be writing this in French since the B2 is this Wednesday, but I needed a break (remember: speaking English is my guilty pleasure). That’s probably better than thinking about Deborah de Robertis’s antics in art museums. One probably shouldn’t make comments about going to art musuems is an accepted way to look at naked women. Unless, of course, Deborah might be willing to come to an arrangement.

I’m off to Le Fig to find some cultural article to comment on since I know I will be a smart ass about everything I’m looking at in Le Monde. Case in point, this article: https://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2021/12/02/environnement-la-voiture-un-frein-aux-ambitions-climatiques-de-la-france_6104418_3244.html

FOOTNOTE:
[1] Luxembourg has a population of 640,912, this means the amount of workers coming from out of the country is about 1/3 the population., Or it increases the population by 1/4.

La peur de la langue française

OK, I know I should be writing this in french (the joke DELF essay WILL BE in French), but I am feeling lazy. And this deals with grammar. My two weak points are grammar and spelling: mostly sloppy errors done in haste. But I do that in English as well. While Dutch/Frisian may be closer to English and English is a Germanic language: French also has a lot of similarities to English.

Beware the faux amis (false friends), those are the words that look a lot alike, but aren’t. There are a lot of words in English which have French roots or equivalents, which helps, but the faux amis are a pitfall.

A bit of advice I picked up in my review, while it’s about gender, the 100$ foolproof bit is pretty much universal:

No rule is 100% foolproof in French. There are a number of exceptions in word genders too. Those are a bit like double bluffs: it’s unfair, I know, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart. You will need to learn by heart, I’m afraid.

Actually, “learning by heart” isn’t really that hard, but it means practise a lot. Hell, I’ve been speaking French for as long as I can remember and I have problems. Not to mention that French people will admit that you don’t need to know all the verb tenses since some of them are found mostly in literature (e.g. passé simple). I was told I could get away with the easiest tenses for the B2!

This gets into why I am taking the B2 as opposed to the advanced (“C” levels). You don’t need to know as much to pass the B levels. The essay only needs to be 250 words (get ready for the joke essay), whereas the C level examination requires a REAL essay. B2 is the basic level for French citizenship, C is required for studying in a French university. Also, I’m retired: I don’t need to prove nothing to nobody. On the other hand, having the B2 is good for life, and becoming a french citizen.

Anyway, back to gender. The quote above comes from this cheat sheet on gender in Fench language. For the most part, it’s pretty easy to guess gender. If not, avoid singular items which allows one to use “les”, “des”, etcetera which avoid having to figure out the gender of something you are uncertain about if you don’t have a dictionary or grammar checker handy. But French is so difficult that most grammar checkers are worthless.

I’ve already given a plug for Karen Remy O’Tooles “How to Cheat at French Verbs” (ISBN ‎ 978-0982901946), but I can’t say enough about it. I know I will pass the oral section of the B2 exam with her help. Verbs are only intimidating if you are writing in French.

Reading is easy since it is recognition memory, but the DELF does ask some weird questions in the reading comprehension section. but my scores are passing in that area. Not that they don’t need work.

Anyway, french can be intimidating as heck, which I think is intention on the part of L’Académie Françiase, the keepers of the French language. Or the jerks who don’t want you saying things like septante, huitante, or nonante, as opposed to soixante-dix, quatre-vingts, or quatre-vingt dix. IMO, nonante-neuf is less of a mouthful than quatre-vingt-dix-neuf. But L’Académie is dedicated to the purity of la langue française against foreign invaders, such as English.

Blame them if you’re having problems with French.

La Marseillaise: ‘The Greatest National Anthem in the World, Ever’ – BBC News

I was looking up versions of La Marseillaise to post when I pass the DELF B2. And in the spirit of BREXIT, I post this clip that came up.

On écrit un article au DELF B2

D’ac, ça semble facile. On a besoin d’un longueur de 250 mots. Il y a aussi quelques phrases pourraient faire “filler” : Par exemple, d’abord, ensuite, en revanche, pour conclure, et cetera (on ne met pas un virgule en français avant “et”, car c’est un parti de la liste). Puis on mettrait ses pensées d’augmenter le nombre de mots à 250 (c’est le minimum des mots requis pour l’essai écrit). Ils ne vous demanderont pas d’écrire un article comme un pro, bien sûr.

L’avis est: “Mais la mise en page compte toujours à l’examen du DELF B2, alors mieux vaut respecter certaines règles. Pour plus de clarté, voyons la présentation générale d’un article sur un schéma. ” Les schémas sont trouvés partout l’internet. À ce moment, je suis presque au minimum des mots requis! Et je n’essaie pas donc ça sera facile.

Trucs et astuces pour apprendre le français

It’s great to live in the world of the internet and computers since it makes it a whole lot easier to study languages on your own if you have to. There are lots of great websites out there for learning languages. I’ve tried most of the Gymglish sites and like Frantastique. I was going to say I like it a lot, but not really. It can be disheartening if you are not committed to learning a language, but the tricks and tips are where this post is heading.

Online translation software (e.g., Google and DeepL) also gives pronunciation, which is helpful for learning. My weaknesses are grammar and spelling in written French, spoken French isn’t that hard. At least at the everyday level–it gets harder if you move into academic French (intermediate and beyond, or B2 and the Cs). The first trick is spoken French is actually pretty simple most of the texts out there are great if you are taking academic French.

Verb tenses, to get a major headache out of the way, but the book How to Cheat at French Verbs (ISBN: 978-0982901946). You really only have to worry about verb tenses in written French, things get really simple in spoken. My French teacher is an invigilator for the DELF B2 in another city, but she told me that only three cases are truly needed for the spoken: passé compose, futur proche, and “present progressif” (“être en train de…”). Anything else is icing on the cake (e.g., subjunctive, conditional, and definitely passé simple).

And the internet is filled with native French speakers ready to teach you how to listen. Getting a native to have conversations with is harder.

Things get more interesting when you move to written French. Apple OS is the best for that since it makes it easy to type the accented characters. As someone who used actual French language keyboards, that is a total blessing. Hold down whatever character you want; For example “e” and a window will open showing the following: è é ê ë ē ė e. Then pick the character you want. That works on iphones, ipads, and Macs. The Mac gives you options of Hachette’s French Dictionary and English French dictionary. IPad and iPhone only have the Linguee dictionary, but it is truly multilingual!

Bon Patron is a good grammar check, but it’s not great. It beats trying to guess if you are missing something, but it also misses things! Avoid using the machine translators (e.g., Google, DeepL, et al) since they are OK for simple text and might offer useful suggestions, but that isn’t always the case.

The best thing would be to find a helpful native, but that is still diffilcult!

Quelle langue est ma langue maternelle

An interesting question since I have spoken English, German, and French pretty much all my life and am functional in all three. On the other hand, there is the question of certification. For example, someone can be a native French speaker, yet not considered such for immigration purposes. The case in point is Emile DuBois, a French woman who was somehow deemed to not speak French according to Canadian Immigration authorities. The Quebec authorities decided she wasn’t a Francophone since part of her doctoral thesis was written in English! Eventually the Quebec authorities saw reason. On the other hand, I have a cousin who emigrated to Canada from the US and only had to converse with the immigration authority to be deemed proficient in French in Montreal.

Go figure!

Canada isn’t on my list of places I want to move to though: even the Francophone parts. I may like Quebec and the Gaspé, but I prefer France or Belgium.

Anyway, I had to say what was my “mother tongue” as part of my application for the DELF. I said “Anglais”. I don’t think it mattered much if it wasn’t French. Even then the purpose of the DELF is to show proficiency, even if one is a native French speaker. There are a lot of reasons for taking the DELF, business or personal. In my case, it is one of the requirements for French citizenship.

Le DELF B2 viendra!

I just registered to take the DELF B2 and will do so in December.

I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you weren’t paying attention:

The Diplôme d’études en langue française or DELF for short, is a certification of French-language abilities for non-native speakers of French administered by the International Centre for French Studies for France’s Ministry of Education. I am considered an Anglophone since I am not from France. There are a few reasons for wanting to take this test. One would be as a career step to prove your proficiency in French. Another reason is if one wants to become a French citizenship. There is a requirement of passing the B2 level to become a French citizen.

That means there are a few reasons I would pick the B2 level. One being it is less expensive than the C1 or C2 levels, which is where some non-official tests place me. The C levels would be something that would be attractive if I were still in the workplace. But I am not sure if they would have helped me much, short of moving to France back then. And the US Government would have picked the Hispanic Woman anyway for the international law jobs.

My career path ended up being completely unsatisfactory and feeling like that joke about the World Famous French lover who was on a game show as a lifeline. The punch line is that he wouldn’t have done anything the contestant suggested. Brexit happened and Britain will regret it happening sooner or later. I’m staying in Europe.

“Ruby Sparks Speaks Fluent French” partie trois

OK, a much more appropriate first line would have been something like: “Mes gars, le dîner est servi. J’espère que vous avez un bon appétit.” Just “bon appétit” makes absolutely no sense.

And upset French woman would probably said “putain” and some variation of “connard”.

“Ruby Sparks Speaks Fluent French” partie deux

I was surfing the web when I came up with a French Actress named Delphine Théodore who looks a bit like Zoe Kazan. Here is the link to her demo reel https://vimeo.com/5769438. Check her out and you’ll see why Zoe’s performance isn’t very accurate in my opinion. The fun thing would be to edit Delphine into the French scenes. Better yet, reshoot them with Delphine.

En surfant sur le web, je suis tombé sur une actrice française nommée Delphine Théodore qui ressemble un peu à Zoe Kazan. Voici le lien vers sa bande démo https://vimeo.com/5769438. Regardez-la et vous verrez pourquoi la performance de Zoe n’est pas très fidèle à mon avis. Ce qui serait amusant, c’est de monter Delphine dans les scènes françaises. Mieux encore, les re-filmer avec Delphine.