Archive for the ‘Diplôme d’études en langue française’ Category

More French in jokes   Leave a comment

It’s like the New York Herald-Tribune comment in my last post.

A shout out for a French tutorial site.   Leave a comment

HelloFrench and her youtube site: Learn French with Elisabeth – HelloFrench. The HelloFrench website is the better choice since she does a rundown of news stories. The downside is that she doesn’s use videos, but she does review current events. She also provides the vocabulary.

The excerpts aren’t as hard as the ones you hear on the B2, but they are good for getting used to the news on the radio. RFI or one of the broadcast services is better for more advanced French learners. Given that using the News was one of the techniques used in my intensive french course back in the day, I recommend checking out this site.

I just learned Elisabeth is from Belgium (as is Dylane, French with Dylane). My opinion is that you want to listen to as many different French accents for the DELF. Well, and I did live in Belgium.

Meet Abbé Grégoire   Leave a comment

Henri Jean-Baptiste Grégoire, otherwise known as the Abbé Grégoire, was a French Catholic priest, Constitutional bishop of Blois and a leader during the French Revolution. His good points are that he was an ardent slavery abolitionist and supporter of universal suffrage. He believed in equality.

On the other hand, this is his major flaw IMO:

The Abbé Grégoire is also known for advocating a unified French national language, and for writing the Rapport sur la Nécessité et les Moyens d’anéantir les Patois et d’universaliser l’Usage de la Langue française (Report on the necessity and means to annihilate the patois and to universalise the use of the French language), which he presented on 4 June 1794 to the National Convention. According to his own research, a vast majority of people in France spoke one of thirty-three dialects or patois and he argued that French had to be imposed on the population and all other dialects eradicated. This conclusion came from a common view at the time within Jacobin circles that the linguistic diversity of France had been purposely used by the nobility of France to keep the various linguistic groups of France separated from each other and from the political institutions, which primarily spoke French. Because of this Grégoire saw the various patois as limiting to the ability of French citizens to practice their individual rights.However, his work was still influenced by the rising sense of French linguistic superiority that had been started by Bertrand Barère with Rapport du Comité de salut public sur les idiomes (1794). Due to this he classified, Corsican and Alsatian as “highly degenerate” (très-dégénérés) forms respectively of Italian and German, while Occitan was decomposed into a variety of syntactically loose local remnants of the language of troubadours, mutually unintelligible, and should be abandoned in favour of the language of the capital. This began a process, expanded dramatically by the policies of Jules Ferry a century later, that led to increasing disuse of the regional parlances of France.

Alsatian is pretty much the language of my ancestors with the exception of my Great-grandfather who came from Saxony. Anyway, I sort of agree with the idea that the language should be unified, but I am not of the opinion that is should be petrified. In fact, the quote above links to language policy in France.

Of course, it makes sense to have one standard language than 75 different dialects, or even speaking other languages, in a nation. Some countries require immigrants to demonstrate some proficiency in the official language for residency and citizenship. I understand this.

Being multilingual isn’t as problematic as is having multiple, competitive, monolingual cultures.

See also:

So you want to take the DELF

My best advice is to go to somewhere French is spoken and live there for a few months speaking French. Geraldine at Comme une Française has this useful video on stopping people from switching to English But you wouldn’t be here if you are in a position to use French on a daily basis.

There are a lot of really good French learning sites on the internet these days that I found helpful. Check out them out and see what helps you most. I have a love-hate relationship with Frantastique, but I am getting to like it more after having passed the DELF. I find Frantastique is a better review than something that will help you pass the DELF. I plan on keeping up with it since you never give up learning French.

I’ve found that using some of the translators can be helpful since you can take a piece of text and have them read it to you. It’s not a person, but it beats having to guess the pronounciation. But the best resource is Antidote: One teacher suggested using the Bescherelle Book series. Bescherelle also has a website. Both Bescherelle and Antidote are comprehensive reference material for the French language.

I would also suggest buying a Mac since the Mac allows you to type accented characters. You can also get great French and French-English dictionaries you can use. I find being able to use the computer for grammar and definitions is really helpful. Although, beware of what Antidote calls “Locutions” which is something French is full of them. They are idiomatic phrases which can change the word meaning. For example, “accuser réception de” means to confirm that you received something.

Good luck, but it isn’t really all that hard.

J’ai réussi le DELF B2.

“Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma.”

― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Well, now I have the official piece of paper from the French Government attesting that I have achieved the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level of B2 for French. In addition to having spoken it for most of my life: I am now officially recognised as a francophone by an official body: The French Ministry of Education!

What if Terry Gilliam had directed the Harry Potter films?

He could have. I found this out by looking up to see if Jean Rochefort had been in any of the Harry Potter films. He didn’t, but this turned up:

J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series of books, is a fan of Gilliam’s work. Consequently, Gilliam was Rowling’s first choice for the director of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2000. Warner Brothers refused to consider Gilliam as director, instead selecting Chris Columbus for the job. Recently, Gilliam stated in relation to this episode, “I was the perfect guy to do Harry Potter. I remember leaving the meeting, getting in my car, and driving for about two hours along Mulholland Drive just so angry. I mean, Chris Columbus’ versions are terrible. Just dull. Pedestrian.” Gilliam, though rumoured for a day or so to direct Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as per IMDb, has stated that he will never direct any Potter film.

The reason this came up in the search is that Rochefort was supposed to play Don Quixote in Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. That project flopped but was documented in Lost in La Mancha. Somehow these two missed projects joined together to get my alternative history mind going.

Anyone familiar with Gilliam’s work can imagine how cool the Harry Potter films would have been had Terry Gilliam directed them!

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.

[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 reading portion

It was a bit more difficult than I expected. That’s due to the questions aren’t always straightforward. They tend to deal with themes, which was something that also applied on the listening section. The obvious example of this was the three opinions on home schooling. You had to evaluate the strength of their opinion since they didn’t come straight out and say “this is a good/bad idea.”

The only way to prep for this is to read a lot. Summarise what you read.

I think the DELF is more about test taking than actual knowledge. One person said you could pass the B2 with a super mark, yet be unable to order a coffee at CDG airport. Not sure if I totally agree with that statement.

Just remember to answer every question. Try and make an educated guess if you are unsure.

You only need to get 5 points on each section to pass. So, as long as you don’t totally blow a section, you will probably pass if you can get reasonable scores on most of the sections. So, I can get a not so great score on the listening and writing sections if I did really well on the spoken and reading sections and still pass: as long as no section is less than 5/25.

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:

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: Listen to the podcasts as well:

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.

The B2 Written test

OK, this ended up being the toughest part for me for a few reasons:

  • they asked me to write a letter (more on that later)
  • the subject was pretty off the wall
  • this was the place I did freeze, but not for long

Fortunately, I was prepared and could surmount {some} of the problems, but this is where I will put a lot of effort if it turns out I have to retake the test. The criteria for this test is:

I can write clear, detailed text on a wide range of topics related to my interests. I can write an essay or report conveying information or giving reasons for or against a given opinion. I can write letters that emphasize the meaning I personally attribute to events and experiences.

Heavy emphasis on writing letters, which is sort of where I was caught out. Your best bet is to get the book Production écrite DELF B2 (ISBN 978-1549947193).

The written part of the DELF was probably the most difficult for me since I was hoping for something other than having to write a letter. Fortunately, this guide was helpful at teaching me pretty much everything I needed to know to write the letter. The evaluators won’t expect your writing style to be that of Le Figaro or Le Monde, but they will expect a few things. You will need to know the format and style. You will also need to keep the letter within 250 words. You will be prepped to come up with something decent after the subject shock wears off after working with this book.

Gerard Terrien, an alien who eats stagieres

OK, The essay question was that we had to write my boss to request that a sport field be set up for employees to use for free during their lunch break. Well, most bosses would rather fire their employees than give them something like this in real life. The thing is that you don’t really need to have a horse in the race to do these subjects: just be able to talk about them. Know a few of the buzz words and embellish around them is the best advice.

Also, you only need to get 50/100 to pass the test and at least 5 points on each section. I managed to come up with the 250 letter in the time given. I was a lot sillier than I should have been. I seriously hope that the evaluator(s) is/are familiar with Gymglish and Frantastique (See Thoughts about the B2).

My advice for prepping: get the book, do the old tests online, and write as much as possible. The best thing is to have a native French speaker help you. The French teachers at Ceran were quite useful in learning to write.

If you are working on your own you should get something like Antidote ( to help you with your grammar. I would write a text and then use Deepl to see if I wrote what I thought I had.

Bottom line: write in French as much as you can.

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 ( 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: 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.

Thoughts about the DELF B2

I have no idea how I actually did, but I would like to think I passed the examiniation. Depending on who is evaluating me, I am either at the advanced intermediate (B2) level, or in the case of Kwiziq, Advanced level (C1). Most people think I probably passed, but the DELF is really more about test taking than actual knowledge in my opinion.

I think it’s sort of like when the scarecrow receives his diploma from the Wizard of Oz: the French Government, an official body, is saying that I can speak French at this level.

“Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

So, getting this certification serves two purposes. The first is that it affirms for me that I did indeed have this ability. I mention a few times where I applied for a job which seemed to have been written for me. Well, it was actually a job cert ad and was written for someone else. Alas, unlike other nations, the US does not require that an employer look too hard to show there isn’t any local who fits the job description before hiring a foreigner.

The second is that this is part of the immigration process for France: proving a competency in the language.

I feel good about the speaking portion (Stating and defending an opinion based on a short document designed to explicit a reaction.). I probably passed the written portion, which I wasn’t going to talk about, but since I mentioned it…

I’ve found the Frantastique to be fairly useful, not great (that is a whole other post). The essay question was that we had to write my boss to request that a gym class be set up for employees to use for free during their lunch break. Well, most bosses would rather fire their employees than give them something like this. Then, I thought about the characters from Frantastique…

My message to Gymnglish about this:

OK, je viens de passer mon examen B2 aujourd’hui. Votre service ne m’a peut-être pas aidé à apprendre le français (je pense que si), mais il m’a aidé pour la question de rédaction.

On m’a demandé d’écrire à mon patron pour demander qu’un cours de sport soit mis en place pour que les employés puissent l’utiliser gratuitement pendant leur pause déjeuner.

Hum, je suis à la retraite, mais l’équipage de L’AIGF a servi d’entreprise. J’ai donc écrit à Monsieur G. Terrian une demande d’installation d’un parcours sportif. Je lui ai fait remarquer que je savais qu’il détestait l’exercice, et peut-être le sport tout autant, sinon plus.

Bernard a également servi de personne pour souligner les avantages financiers de ce projet.

Je n’ai peut-être pas réussi, mais j’aime à penser que je me suis battu fortement!

The translation:

OK, I just took my B2 exam today. Your service may not have helped me learn French (I think it did), but it did help me with the essay question.

I was asked to write to my boss to request that a gym class be set up for employees to use for free during their lunch break.

Um, I’m retired, but the crew at L’AIGF served as my company. So I wrote to Mr. G. Terrian with a request to install a sports course. I pointed out to him that I knew he hated exercise, and perhaps sports as much, if not more.

Bernard also served as a person to point out the financial benefits of this project.

I may not have succeeded, but I like to think I fought hard!

Well, after writing them about that: what was the first thing I saw when I opened my Frantastique lesson? A picture of Monsieur G Terrian!

I hope that’s a good sign!

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).

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.

Quoi ce bordel, Manny ????

Emmanuel Macron praises OrelSan perhaps a bit more than is deserved

You can find the words here / Vous pouvez trouver les paroles ici

Qu’est-ce qui se passe , Emmanuel ? Premièrement, vous avez changé les couleurs du drapeau. Ensuite, vous mettez Josephine Baker au Panthéon. Maintenant, vous faites l’éloge d’un rappeur. D’accord, Je devrais écouter ce cd, mais j’ai déjà entendu ses autres travaux.

Je n’en suis pas sûr que je le décrirais comme un sociologue. Oui, je suis en accord avec ses exprimaient concepts car je suis plus un pessimiste qu’un optimiste a propos de la situation mondiale. Pour autant, l’expression d’idées dans une chanson fait-il de quelqu’un un sociologue ? Ne faudrait-il pas une analyse plus poussée pour attribuer des qualités académiques à cette chanson ? De plus, le fait d’être d’accord avec ce que dit quelqu’un ne le rend pas correct. On ne fait que partager une opinion : vraie ou fausse. Il s’agit un besoin de quelque chose en plus pour faciliter la résolution du problème au-dela un liste des complaintes .

Le métier de politicien consiste à trouver et à mettre en œuvre des solutions aux problèmes. On peut exprimer un accord avec les idées des chanteurs et chanteuses néanmoins on doit travailler sur les problèmes sociale. La reconnaissance sans action n’a aucun sens pour la société.

OK, I agree with the sentiments expressed in this song. They apply both to France and the US, but as I say: it’s one thing to make a list of complaints. It’s a different thing to bring about change.

Someone should do an English version for the US.