Things I should know before taking any official French language exam
Candidates will have to demonstrate their knowledge of French whether they apply to immigrate to France or Canada.
So, what's the level of French required for the exams ? Advanced intermediate level or upper intermediate level, which is B2. The most common exams are TEF and TCF.
What B2 means ?
According to the Teacher's Guide to the Common European Framework here's a brief summary of B2 level:
Someone can understand extended speech and lectures and follow even complex lines of argument provided the topic is reasonably familiar.
Someone can understand most TV news and current affairs programs.
Someone can understand the majority of films in standard dialect.
Someone can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible.
Someone can take an active part in discussion in familiar contexts, accounting for and sustaining their views.
Someone can present clear, detailed descriptions on a wide range of subjects related to their field of interest.
Someone can explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
It is said that it will take longer to get to B2 from B1 than it does to get to A2 from A1. I quote : "Learning a language is like climbing a mountain: The higher you go, the harder it gets."
The Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE), whose members have aligned their language examinations with the CEF, provides guidance on the number of guided teaching hours needed to fulfill the aims of each CEF level:
A2: 180 - 200 hours
B1 : 350 - 400 hours
B2 : 500 - 600 hours
What it means?
If you sign up in a language school, let's say in a full-time program of 20 hours per week which is roughly 80 hours per month, then you'll need more or less 6 months to reach B2. Well, that's an average.
As stated in the guide:
The number of hours needed for different learners varies greatly, depending on a range of factors such as:
age and motivation;
amount of prior study and extent of exposure to the language outside the classroom;
amount of time spent in individual study;
second language proximity with native language (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French or Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, etc.)