[REVIEW OF HR SOLUTIONS]

Best French proficiency tests for business

2022 Edition

Do you need to hire or develop French-speaking talent?

When it comes to conducting business in French-speaking countries, it is important to be able to verify one's proficiency in that language, to better serve your company’s clients. 

Having your candidates or employees takea language proficiency test will help you assess whether or not they have the necessary proficiency to succeed in their future workplace, as non-native speakers. For a lot of working positions with frequent interactions with French-speaking consumers or partners, it is necessary to test your candidates’ language competency in French because that is directly linked to their future productivity and efficiency.

The ability to interact practically in French is a good example of a skill that can be easily evaluated by pre-employment testing, even before candidates reach the interview stage. By doing this, you’ll be able to focus your efforts on those who truly have the required abilities.

There are a number of different tests that can be taken to assess one's level of proficiency in French. 

Why should you assess your candidates with French proficiency tests?

  1. It’s a way of assessing their language level:

- The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) can be used to identify the level.

- See what is the next level they should aspire to reach

- Evaluate their progress

- Determine their strengths and weaknesses

  1. It’s a way of validating their skills and make a well-informed decision:

- When applying for a job

- During a performance review

- When renewing their professional certification

- When applying for a promotion

  1. It’s a way of benchmarking themselves against their peers:

- Know where they stand in terms of language level

- Compare their results with others in their field

- Get an idea of the average level in their industry

- See how they compare to the general population

For determining the level of proficiency expected, you will want to consider the four main language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Each of these skills will be important in different business contexts. For instance, being able to read and write in French will be important for email or chat correspondence, while listening and speaking proficiency will be key for telephone conversations or in-person meetings.

Many different French proficiency tests exist, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Below is a list of the 14 most popular tests and a brief overview of each:

  1. The Pipplet test
  2. The Test de Français International (TFI)
  3. The Diplômed'études en langue française (DELF)
  4. The Diplômeapprofondi de langue française (DALF)
  5. The Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry International Certificate (CCIP)
  6. The Alliance Française French Language Diploma (DFA)
  7. The Test de connaissance du français (TCF)
  8. The Ordre National des ArchitectesFrançais Certificate (ONAF)
  9. The International Organization of la Francophonie Certificate (CIOF)
  10. The Association of Language Testers in Europe Certification (ALTE)
  11. The Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie de Paris Certificate (CCIP)
  12. The Test de FrançaisProfessionnel (TFP)
  13. The Écoles de langues certificate
  14. The International Francophone Institute Certificate (IFI)

1. Pipplet

Cloud-based language testing system Pipplet offers a 30-minute test to check both spoken and written skills for organizations. This makes it easier to find workers who are fluent in more than one language. These scenarios were developed by professionals to classify candidates' ability to communicate in a foreign language. Pipplet offers assessments in French, but also in 40 more languages. 

Key features:

  • Online Tests
  • Customizable Branding
  • Activity Dashboard
  • API
  • Applicant Tracking
  • Candidate Management
  • detecting and preventing fraud with anti-cheat devices
  • Multi-Language (40 languages)
  • Customizable Questions
  • Reporting & Statistics
  • Candidate Comparison
  • Aptitude Testing

Benefits:

  • Human examiners evaluate the tests and give the results within 24 hours.
  • Evaluation is based on the four skills of hearing, speaking, writing and reading.
  • International CEFR-based evaluation

Drawbacks:

  • Tests that have not been finished by applicants are automatically cancelled.
  • Available in online only.

Price:  €25-€40 per test.

2. The Test de Français International (TFI)

The TFI is a French proficiency test offered by the French Ministry of Education. It is designed for adult learners of all backgrounds and levels, from beginner to advance. The Test is divided into two parts: the written section and the oral section. The written section consists of multiple-choice questions and is graded on a scale of 0 to 500 points. The oral section, which is conducted with a certified examiner, is graded on a scale of 0 to 30 points.

Key features:

  • Offered by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIP)
  • 4 skills tested: listening, reading, writing, and speaking
  • 3 levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced
  • Test can be taken online or in person
  • Results are valid for 2 years

Benefits:

  • Allows test-takers to assess their level in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
  • Test results can easily determine the level
  • Employers and widely recognized results institutions

Drawbacks:

  • Only available in France
  • Can be expensive

Price: 160 EUR (online), 180 EUR (in person)

3. The Diplômed'études en langue française (DELF)

The DELF is a French language proficiency test that the French Ministry of Education administers. It consists of four independent tests, each focusing on one of the four main language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). The DELF is open to anyone over the age of 16, regardless of their nationality or country of residence.

Key features:

  • Assesses all four language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)
  • Offered at six different levels, from A1 to C2
  • Can be taken by anyone, regardless of their age or nationality
  • Results are valid for life

Benefits:

  • The DELF is recognized by the French Ministry of Education, as well as a number of other organizations.
  • It is one of the most affordable tests.
  • The DELF is offered in a number of different formats, so it can be taken either in person or online.

Drawbacks:

  • The DELF is only offered at specific times throughout the year, so it may not be possible to take the Test on your schedule.
  • The DELF is only offered in French, so if you are not a native French speaker, you may find it difficult to understand the instructions.

Price: The cost of the DELF varies depending on the level you are taking and the format you choose, but it is generally around €100.

4. The Diplôme approfondi de langue française (DALF)

The DALF is a French language diploma that is jointly administered by the French Ministry of Education and the Centre international d'étudespédagogiques (CIEP). It is considered to be one of the most prestigious French language certificates and is recognized by all French-speaking countries. The DALF is divided into two levels, C1 and C2, with C2 is the highest level of proficiency. To take the DALF, candidates must already have completed the DELF B2 level (or equivalent).

Key features:

  • Assesses all four language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)
  • Offered by the French Ministry of Education
  • Two levels: C1 and C2
  • C1 level is necessary for admission to a French university

Benefits: 

  • Highly respected and recognized diploma
  • Good way of gauging one's progress
  • Can be used for a variety of purposes, such as job applications or performance reviews

Drawbacks:

  • Can be expensive
  • Requires a significant time commitment
  • May not be necessary for some business contexts

Price: €260-280

5. The Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry International Certificate (CCIP)

The CCIP is a certificate that assesses the proficiency of non-native French speakers in the business. The Test is made up of four sections: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The listening and reading sections have a total of 50 questions, while the writing section has two questions. The speaking section is divided into two parts, an interview and a role-play. The Test takes place over the course of two days. On the first day, participants will take the listening, reading, and writing sections. The speaking section will take place on the second day. The entire Test takes approximately four hours to complete. The CCIP is widely recognized by employers and is a good option for those who are seeking a job in a French-speaking country. The Test is offered four times per year, in the months of January, April, July, and October.

Key features:

  • Assesses all four language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking
  • Offers six different levels, from beginner to proficient
  • Can be taken as either a paper-based or computer-based test
  • Results are valid for two years

Benefits:

  • Recognized by the French government, businesses, and universities
  • Widely accepted by employers
  • Can be used for a variety of purposes, such as job applications, performance reviews, and renewing professional certification

Drawbacks:

  • Only offered in France
  • May be expensive for some test-takers

Price: €250-€350 (depending on the level)

6. The Alliance Française French Language Diploma (DFA)

The Alliance Française French Language Diploma (DFA) is a proficiency test offered by the Alliance Française, an international organization promoting the French language and culture. The DFA is available at three different levels: A1 (beginner), A2 (intermediate), and B1 (upper-intermediate). The Test consists of four sections: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Each section is worth 25 points, for a total possible score of 100. A minimum score of 60 is required to pass the DFA. The DFA is a recognized French proficiency test for business purposes. It is especially useful for those who plan to work in a French-speaking country, as it is designed to assess the language skills that are necessary for everyday life in a French-speaking environment.

Key features:

  • 4 skills tested: listening, reading, writing, speaking
  • 6 levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2
  • 2 versions of the Test: general and business
  • Offered by the Alliance Française network of schools

Benefits:

  • Can be taken at any of the 850 Alliance Française schools around the world
  • Tests all 4 language skills
  • 2 versions of the Test (general and business)
  • 6 levels, from beginner to advanced

Drawbacks:

  • Results may take up to 2 weeks to receive
  • May be more expensive than other tests

Price: €180 (general), €195 (business)

7. The Test de connaissance du français (TCF)

The TCF or Test de Connaissance du français is a language proficiency test in French administered by the French Ministry of Education. It is a multiple-choice test that assesses all four language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. The TCF is designed for non-native speakers of French who want to study in France or obtain French citizenship. 

Key features:

  • 4 skills tested: reading, writing, listening, and speaking
  • 4 levels: A1, A2, B1, B2
  • Test lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes
  • Results are available immediately

Benefits:

  • Widely recognized by universities, businesses, and government agencies
  • Can be taken at any of the 800 authorized testing centers around the world
  • Results are valid for 2 years

Drawbacks:

  • Not available online
  • May be expensive (cost can vary depending on the country)

Price: €160 (approx. $180 USD)

8. The Ordre National des ArchitectesFrançais Certificate (ONAF)

This certificate is designed specifically for architects and is administered by the Ordre National des ArchitectesFrançais. The Test is made up of four sections: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The speaking section is done in front of a panel of architects who will assess the test-taker's ability to discuss architectural topics.

Key features:

  • The only French language proficiency test that is specific to the architectural field
  • Offered by the Ordre National des ArchitectesFrançais (ONAF), the professional organization for architects in France
  • Test can be taken either in Paris or online
  • Tests listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills
  • Results are valid for two years

Benefits:

  • Specific to the architectural field, so results may be more relevant for those seeking employment as architects in France
  • Tests all four language skills

Drawbacks:

  • Only offered in Paris or online, so it may not be accessible for everyone
  • Results are only valid for two years, so they may need to be retake the Test more often than some of the other options

Price: €260

9. The International Organization of la Francophonie Certificate (CIOF)

The CIOF is a proficiency test administered by the International Organization of la Francophonie. It is designed for individuals who need to demonstrate their proficiency in French for professional or academic purposes. The CIOF consists of four parts: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Each section is worth 25 points, for a total possible score of 100. Candidates who receive a score of 80 or above are considered to be proficient in French.

Key features:

  • Assesses all four language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)
  • Offered in a paper-based or computer-based format
  • Available in a number of different levels, from beginner (A1) to proficient (C2)
  • Can be taken by anyone, regardless of their profession or field

Benefits: 

  • Can be taken by anyone, regardless of their profession or field
  • Available in a number of different levels, from beginner (A1) to proficient (C2)

Drawbacks: 

  • May be difficult to find a testing center in some areas
  • Not specific to any particular profession or field

Price: The price of the Test varies depending on the level and format (paper-based or computer-based), but it is generally around $100.

10. The Association of Language Testers in Europe Certification (ALTE)

The Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE) is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote language testing and assessment across Europe. The ALTE Certification is one of the most widely recognized French proficiency tests and is accepted by employers and universities across the continent. The Test comprises four parts, each of which assesses one of the four language skills. The reading and listening sections are multiple-choice, while trained ALTE officials evaluate the writing and speaking sections. The Test can be taken in person at one of the many ALTE-affiliated testing centers, or online via the ALTE website.

Key features:

  • Offered by (ALTE) or the Association of Language Testers in Europe.
  • Levels range from A1 (beginner) to C2 (proficient)
  • Can be taken online or in person
  • Results are valid for two years

Benefits:

  • Educational institutions recognize certification and employers across Europe
  • Levels are aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
  • Test can be taken in a variety of languages, includingFrench

Drawbacks:

  • Some levels (B1 and B2) can only be taken in person
  • Results may take up to four weeks to receive

Price: Depends on the level being taken and the country in which the Test is being taken usually between €100 and €200.

11. The Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie de Paris Certificate (CCIP)

The Chambre de Commerce etd'Industrie de Paris Certificate, also known as the CCIP, is a French proficiency test that isadministered by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The CCIP is designed for business professionals who need to use French in their work. The Test consists of four parts: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Each section is worth 25 points, for a total possible score of 100. The CCIP is offered at six different levels, from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced).

Key Features:

  • Four skill levels (A1, A2, B1, B2)
  • Two versions of the Test: General and Business
  • Three hours long
  • Test can be taken in person or online
  • Results are valid for two years

Benefits:

  • Widely recognized by French employers
  • Can be taken at any of the Alliance Française's 160 locations around the world
  • The Business version of the Test is specifically designed for those who wish to use French in a professional context

Drawbacks:

  • The Test is quite long, at three hours
  • May be expensive, with the cost varying depending on the location

Price: €140 for the General version / €160 for the Business version

12. The Test de Français Professionnel (TFP)

This Test is designed specifically for those who need touse French in a professional context. It assesses all four language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) and is, therefore, an ideal option for those who need to demonstrate a high level of proficiency. The TFP is offered by the Chambre de Commerce etd'Industrie de Paris (CCIP) and is recognized by many different professional organizations.

Key features:

  • Offered by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris (CCIP)
  • Assesses all four language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)
  • Four levels of difficulty: A1, A2, B1, and B2
  • Results are valid for two years

Benefits:

  • Widely recognized by employers
  • Can be taken either in person or online

Drawbacks: 

  • Only offered in France

Price: €95

13. The Écoles de langues certificate

This certificate is offered by the Écoles de Langues, which is a network of language schools in Quebec. It is designed for people who want to study or work in a French-speaking environment. The Quebec government recognizes this certificate.

Key features:

  • Level is determined by a multiple-choice test and an oral interview
  • Based on the CEFR
  • Results are valid for 2 years

Benefits:

  • Can be taken at any of the Écoles de Langues in France
  • Level is determined by both a written and oral test

Drawbacks:

  • Results are only valid for 2 years

Price: 115€

14. The International Francophone Institute Certificate (IFI)

The IFI French Certification is a proficiency testadministered by the International Francophone Institute. The IFI is an organization that promotes the use of French as a working language in an international context. The IFI French Certification is recognized by the Ministry of Education in France, making it a particularly useful credential for those seeking to study or work in France. The IFI French Certification is also recognized by a number of professional organizations, such as the Ordre des architectes du Québec and the Canadian Nurses Association.

The IFI French Certification consists of three tests: written expression and interaction, oral expression and interaction, and listening comprehension. The written expression and interaction test is divided into two parts: a multiple-choice section and an essay section. The oral expression and interaction test is conducted using a simulated business meeting scenario. Finally, the listening comprehension test consists of a series of audio passages, followed by multiple-choice questions.

The IFI French Certification is offered at three levels: beginner (A1), intermediate (A2), and advanced (B1). The beginner level is designed for those with little or no previous knowledge of French, while the intermediate and advanced levels are geared towards those with more experience. The IFI French Certification is offered both online and in person.

Key features:

  • Assesses all four language skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking)
  • Offered at three levels (A1, A2, B1)
  • Can be taken online or in person
  • Results are available within two weeks

Benefits:

  • Offered by a reputable organization
  • Level can be determined by self-evaluation
  • Relatively quick results

Drawbacks:

  • May be too difficult for beginners
  • Only offered at three levels
  • Not as widely recognized as some other tests

Price: €120-180

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Conclusion 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing the best French proficiency test for business. The most important thing is to pick a test that suits your needs. For example, if you are looking for an efficient, affordable and modern way to assess your candidates, you should choose Pipplet, but if you are looking for a widely recognized and respected certificate, the DELF or DALF may be your best option. 

However, if you are looking for a more affordable option, the TEF may be a better choice. Ultimately, the best French proficiency test for business is the one that meets your specific needs and requirements. Each of these tests has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it is important to choose the best one for your needs.

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