If you're thinking about learning French with the intention to travel and study in France, it's important to know about the types of French language tests out there for non-native speakers. Each test carries a different weight and has varied significance, so it's essential that you're aware of what's precisely required by the educational institution, in the case of further study, or even the specifications of a future prospective employer.
Basically, the various French language tests available all achieve the same purpose: the verification of the student's level in French. For this reason, it's obligatory for those intending to be students at French universities to provide some form of officially recognised documentation.
The DELF (Diplôme d'études en langue française or Diploma in French Studies) is composed of four independent diplomas corresponding to the first four levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The Common European Framework divides learners into three broad divisions that can be divided into six levels: Basic speaker (A1 & A2); Independent speaker (B1 & B2); and Proficient speaker (C1 & C2).
The DALF (Diplôme approfondi de langue française or Diploma of Advanced French Language Studies) is composed of two independent diplomas corresponding to the top two levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
The TEF (Test d'évaluation du français) is made up of three mandatory and two optional sections. The reading, listening, grammar and vocabulary sections are mandatory and must be taken together, while the writing and speaking sections are optional and can be taken separately.
The TCF (Test de connaissance du français) is a language placement test recognised by universities for the French language entry requirements and can also be used to demonstrate language ability for job applications or for personal use.
The two latter tests are also recognised by the Canadian government for immigration purposes and depending on whether you're intending to study a bachelor's or master's degree, a different level of proficiency is required. For instance, C1 according to the European grading for a bachelor's and C2 for a master's degree in France. Levels C1 and C2 indicate effective operational proficiency and advanced mastery of French.
More information about the various French tests available for prospective students at French universities can be gained from a French school France, like the Alliance française for the DELF or the DALF. Alternately students can contact the Site du français des affaires et des professions de la CCIP for the TEF or the Centre international d'études pédagogiques (CIEP) for the TCF. It is necessary to register for the exam(s) a few weeks prior to the test date, however the exam(s) occur on a regular monthly basis.
If you're interested to study French, but not at a tertiary level, then there are many other possibilities for students eager to sample French language, culture and of course cuisine. Cities all around France offer international students the chance to learn French in France, but that's not all. There are also a whole host of French schools Belgium, French schools Switzerland, and even French schools throughout Africa and Canada for students who would relish the chance to improve their French in an interesting and different setting in a native-speaker context.