I took both DELF B2 and DALF C2, as Serpent said.
If you passed B1 two years ago, and kept working, it is not unlikely you are beyond B2 now, at least in some skills. It would be worth further consideration. The "can do" self-assessment grid (which is not the short wikipedia cefr definition) is helpful in such situations, so are curricula of coursebooks of the level (sometimes more than the content of these
). And you can have get approximate speaking testing for free or cheap at many langauge schools or testing centers. Testing centers are better, or people who trully have experience with the exams. Usual teachers and tutors are only little better than self-assessment.
Actually, I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "testing centers". I would've classed the Alliance Française as a language school but a testing center at the same time. It's not a big deal as I get the idea. Probably as far as where I live and surrounds, the AF an hour or so away is probably the best option when compared to some other language teaching organisations/schools/evening classes, which likely only teach half baked beginner's courses for the most part.
Cavesa wrote:Assuming you are overall B2 (theory now), you can surely get to C2 reading and listening skills in those several months, if you put in enough time. You could get the active skills there, but that is much more risky, and I'd count with November rather than March.And don't forget that passing the exams requires as well a specific skillset, which is a fact that may be and advantage of yours, or the opposite. It depends on your study style.
Good advice, thank you Cavesa.
Cavesa wrote:A French exam specific note: DALF C1 and C2 are a bit different from other testing systems, as far as I know, in two aspects:
I.you choose humanities or science variant beforehand, I don't know about any other exam with this feature. Most people choose humanities, which I think is not a wise choise, as the science option is much more predictable and the difficulty level of individual tasks in exams, mock exams, preparatory books is much more balanced and similar. When it comes to humanities, you can easily face a task worthy of a philosophy student at university, or one in which you don't know what to write as the dossier is totally stupid and without substance. Science, which includes as well topics like ethics and a other humanities, is not such a problem for someone with highschool education who reads popular science magazines or websites. (And the French ones are great and can prepare you well).
II.In some ways, the C2 exam is easier than the C1 exam. You've got two skills instead of four, so proven stronger comprehension can probably balance out some of the formal faults of the production skills. And the C2 writing tasks, while formally hard and based on the style of French lycée education, seemed to make more sense to me than the C1 tasks I had seen. But this might be subjective a bit, but in that case, it is not just my opinion.
Also, very useful advice coming from someone who knows from experience, so thanks again!
To your question number 3:
I can tell you about my experience from B2 to C2, but I thought I have already flooded the forum too much with this
Overall time: 5 years. March 2010 barely passed B2 (but I wrote about it a few times, some points were lost on the examinators breaking the rules, but fortunately I made it through nonetheless). March 2015 passed C2 with good score. Average score in writing, very good score in speaking. But take into account that those were not 5 years of intensive studies. At first, I was doing almost nothing for a year or two. Than I was mostly having fun with the langauge, which was the largest part of my progress. I was putting in a lot of time but over an extended period, I wasn't in a hurry, and progress wasn't my priority. Than I got to somewhat more intensive studying, with more grammar review and practice and writing and paying a tutor. This last phase wasn't intensively ideal either, as my medicine studies(and a bit of lazyness) interfered. And actually, till a week or two before signing up, I had been planning DALF C1, not C2.
Summed up: I think a highly disciplined learner could make the same progress in two or three years.
I'm hoping to get there in under 2 years max, but I will not die if that happens, so we'll see, and of course, ideally, much sooner would be better.
Cavesa wrote:Reading: I could actually look these numbers up, if I had a bit more time now. But I had read approximately one original SC (10000 pages) of books between my B2 and C2 exams. How many hours is that? Not sure. At first I was a bit slower, later I got to my standard speed of approximately 40 pages per hour (talking about A5 normal font, or the poche format).
I certainly need to get my reading powering ahead and my SC numbers to improve.
Cavesa wrote:Writing: this is what I should have been doing much more! Even without any feedback, the practice is highly important. I had writen like 20 exam-like tasks and hadn't been spending enough time on them (due to microbiology mostly). That was a huge waste. I could have prepared myself better.
This is a skill rather easily ignored. I ought to keep that strongly in mind.
Cavesa wrote:What I struggled with (briefly, as I had described it before):
-time. Both the absolute amount and my organisation. Give yourself the time to reread your tasks.
With relation to time in an exam itself, I've always been slow in exam situations but thorough (at school, university for ex.), and if confident with my knowledge I would definitely review my answers with scrutiny as I had the time having not struggled with answers to questions I didn't fully grasp initially. Thus, in theory, I need to be very well prepared and feel like I'm on top of my French in order to go through the responses efficiently enough to take the extra time where needed.
Cavesa wrote:-information. The French are probably not aware of the fact that writing in general is taught differently in each country. Writing an essay means something different in France, in UK, in the Czech Republic, it is not just a matter of the langauge skills. And getting resources explaining the writing genres and formal expectations in enough detail is very hard. There is one not bad book by PUG, one book on writing by CLE (which I didn't get my hands on), some notes in Alter Ego courses (the B2 were quite useful for the exam, the later not as much as I had hoped), a few websites, and a tutor who had studied in France. This kind of information and writing feedback was the main reason why I had paid a tutor. But still I should have probably found someone with more experience with the DALF preparation, but those are extremely rare. Some of the aspects are pretty crazy too, especially the need to balance between "copying too much" and "getting too far from the dossier" differently for each genre.
This is almost daunting. And with the time I'm going to need to go through exam prep books, as well as be generally working on all language skills as a part of my schedule probably similar to one of the ones I've detailed in this thread, even if my language skills are gauged as C1 in assessments between now and May 2017 when the first exam is, I'll struggle for time to get my head around the whole process of responding correctly in the formats required. We'll see what eventuates. For this reason and some others, I'm leaning towards not trying to cram all that info in before March even if I were deemed to be a C1 or C2 level French language user (which i'm not), otherwise I risk focusing too much of my time again on course books (exam prep ones).
Cavesa wrote:-time 2: practice writing at your pace at first, aiming for quality and nitpicking. Than faster. Do not prepare detailled bruillons during the exam. The time limit is very tight. I hadn't practice writing with a stopwatch, I should have.
What a good idea! I'll definitely employ the use of a stopwatch at some point for practise.
Cavesa wrote:Listening: extremely important and the base of speaking (as I have writen before): approximately 1-1,5 SC. So, something between 150 and 225 hours. Perhaps more? I'd need to look it up but I think it could have been actually more lie 250 hours This was the key to my high oral comprehension and production score.. Huge amount of listening were not only a way to make me understand perfectly the audio task (I think the amount of details and their logical order got me some points too). But this is how I learnt to speak. With the tutor, I improved during the first half an hour as I got rid of rust. But after that, it was maintenance. I was making mistakes (and having them corrected) like once or twice per lesson, more only at 7pm after a long day at university. I made a few mistakes during the exam too, but I still got a high score, I think my ability to correct them and to not crumble due to the mistakes saved my face a bit. And I must say a part of the problem were sometimes too easy speaking tasks from the tutor. But as a maintanance, it was very good, I went to the exam without rust. But those 250 hours of listening were the learning part of speaking. The assimilation and immersion changed my barely B2 speaking. During those 5 years, I had actively spoken French only during a few holidays and even that not so much.
Okay, now I am different to you Cavesa (in case you didn't know
), but based on what you found useful for preparation I think i've got a good plan, one that allows for a lot of listening practise as well as a lot of reading at the forefont. Exam prep, writing, speaking and vocab acquisition all feature, but now i'm feeling quite good about pushing reading and listening to the forefront of my study focus, with the addition of a tutor or two to come in the near future as well. This is all really valuable feedback!
Cavesa wrote:Grammar: This is again something I could have done better. I did some grammar review, I went briefly through the Gr. Prog. Perfectionnement book. It was published a bit late for me, unfortunately. But I am to blame the most. Spend the hours on grammar review and practice to avoid losing poinsts stupidly. Yes, it is hard to write naturally, especially those crazy compte-rendus and such stuff. It is hard to acquire those phrase construction habits and "idiomatic" ways. But it is totally possible and within your power to get your grammar to shape.
This is actually something that applies to all three higher levels. Up to B1, it is about getting a message across in more and more situations and with a bit more detail at each step. From B2 on, you are expected to know the base well. And with each level, mistakes look more and more stupid.
Wow, with all the preparation and language improvement I must do (it's a long road ahead), I would not be surprised if this does take me at least 2 years and that I do shitty the first time round even having to resit it just because I may not be able to get my head around it all the first time, we'll see
Cavesa wrote:The test format: this is important too. Yes, you can in general pass langauge exams without having opened any preparatory book. I passed my DELF B2 and CAE like that. But I don't recommend it. It is not a matter of "cheating" or "faking a higher level", as some langauge learners decribe it. It is a matter of being prepared and not risking losing the exam on formalities or specific requirements you won't normally encounter in other resources.
Yeah, when I did my B1 I didn't do any preparation for a couple of reasons. First it's a relatively easy level, so one could argue that not much preparation is needed, and secondly I wanted to really do it with no preparation to get a true value of my level as silly as that might sound. I think I thought I'd be "cheating" or "faking a higher level" as you describe some people calling it. I did not realise that there were such massive gaps between the CEFR levels at that time. Now I do, and I understand what you mean when you say you can't just fake those higher levels. Still I think remnants of this sentiment were still hanging around the other day when I made comments about shortcuts to exams. Anyway, for B2 and beyond, I certainly believe the more preparation the better and intend on working through exam preparation material.
Cavesa wrote:To your question 4: If you are puting four hours a day to French, than giving up one hour for Dutch may not mean any difference. But if you are talking about one hour out of two, I woudln't do that, were I in your place. Learning another langauge on top of this phase of French is definitely ok, but it is up to your consideration to divide your time well.
Dutch is out, as you probably know at this point.
Cavesa wrote:I hope my answers will be useful a bit. Feel free to ask anything more.
Definitely useful, thank you Cavesa for taking the time to respond in such detail. I'm sure I'll have questions for you, but they are likely to be some time away, as I get into the nitty gritty of exam prep.