The worldwide health crisis is having a significant impact on the DELF-DALF and TCF sessions. Many exam centres have been forced to cancel their sessions and reorganise their examination schedules due to local health measures. In some parts of the world, sessions sometimes have had to be suspended for the whole of 2020.
Many candidates are still waiting because of important issues relating to the official certifications for French. They have started administrative procedures and must provide proof of their language level as soon as possible, which they are unable to do.
The accredited centres, the cultural services of the French embassies which manage the DELF-DALF abroad, or the candidates themselves have regularly called upon France Education International during the crisis to have the tests sat at a distance. Can taking exams and tests from home be the solution today to allow the sessions to continue?
Contextual elements to remember
DELF, DALF, and TCF are certifications issued by the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports and governed by regulatory texts. Their management as well as the changes in procedures are subject to the ministry's approval.
The DELF, DALF, and TCF are tools used primarily for various regulatory protocols requiring very strict procedures to be implemented. On the qualitative level they are recognised thanks to educational and scientific work carried out to let them be used for naturalisation procedures (France, Canada, and Switzerland), residence permits (France), permanent immigrant status (Canada), and admission into numerous establishments of higher education (France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Quebec).
With more than 519,000 DELF-DALF and 170,000 TCF candidates in 2019, the numbers of candidates continue to increase on all five continents. Each year more than 9,000 sessions are organised in 1,200 centres in 175 countries. These data demonstrate the scale of the system and give an idea of the numbers of those involved in its management.
Towards remote examinations?
Giving candidates the possibility of taking their exams or tests at home means having to provide all the guarantees concerning the verification of their identities, the fight against frauds, the respect of personal data and, of course, the security of our subjects and tests.
France Education International had already set about giving thought to these concerns before the health crisis. A working committee has just been created with the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to analyse the remote examination project and find the most appropriate solutions for guaranteeing the certifications' reliability. Providers listed by the Ministry of Higher Education have been approached for their offers of official remote examinations. But to date none offers guarantees are solid enough to meet the needs of the system specific to the DELF-DALF and TCF.
In addition, France Education International collaborates with other European certification bodies that are members of the ALTE association, such as the University of Cambridge, the Goethe Institut, or the Cervantes Institute with the aim of guaranteeing and harmonising the quality of the conditions for awarding the certifications and of pooling their thinking and the issues they encounter. Joint work has made it possible to take stock of the remote examination projects for English, Spanish, German, and French language certifications. The findings are similar for all European certifiers: candidates need certified results and administrations require strong guarantees of security.
While still waiting for solutions for home examinations we should remember that for several years the TCF has been available on computer in centres which adopted the system. This allows the sessions to be organised more flexibly: candidates can register late; the results of the MCQs are available at the end of the test; the procedures for correcting the expression tests are entirely dematerialised and therefore faster; and there can be multiple sessions in one day all organised with a single registration. Many TCF approved centres set up the computer version as soon as they reopened to meet the candidates' urgent needs.