May 252011

The DELF and the DALF are government approved French tests used to measure one’s proficiency with the language. Passing them gives you a “diplôme” which attests to your level of French and is useful when finding employment. Also, apparently if you pass any of the two levels of the DALF then you don’t have to take an additional language test before you take classes in France at the University level. The current levels of the DELF and DALF are as follows (as of 2011).

Section Description
DELF A1   basic – the learner can interact in a simple way
DELF A2  basic – candidate can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring the most common polite phrases and exchanges of information
DELF B1  independent – he/she can understand and maintain a discussion and give his/her opinion
DELF B2  independent – the candidate has a degree of fluency and spontaneity in regular interactions and is capable of correcting his/her own mistakes
DALF C1  proficient – can produce clear, well-structured discourse without hesitation and which shows controlled use of structures
DALF C2  proficient – proficiency in the language is illustrated by precision, appropriateness and fluency of expression

As you can see, the tests are listed in order of difficulty. The little description of each test is from

I had already taken parts of the DELF in 2003 and the sections above were introduced in 2005, so I had to figure out how the old corresponds with the new before beginning to study again (huge pain). I eventually found a PDF file explaining the equivalences at and luckily saved the PDF since the link now seems to be broken. Here is the PDF file I found: DELF-Table de correspondances-prev-to-2005. There’s also a little lookup application type thing on the website at

So I’ve taken the equivalent of section B1 and need to study for B2. I looked at taking courses at a local school, and driven by the inconvenient class schedules I’ve decided to first try some tutoring at home via Skype. I found two sites for this which look decent: and Since verbal planet has some tutors that are much, much cheaper than the other site, I’ll be trying that one first. We’ll see how it works out.

May 132011

The first thing to know is that in French a résumé is called a “CV” (curriculum vitae). The second thing to know is that unless you’re looking for some type of job which inherently uses your native language extensively, people will want to read your résumé in French. Not speaking French is a deal-breaker, of course. Imagine someone that only speaks French trying to work somewhere in the States!

Since you’re not a native speaker, you’ll need to include your skill level of French by including something like the following.


Lu, écrit, parlé

Langue maternelle

Here’s a basic guide to use as far as what proficiency you should list. []

*(Basic) knowledge – Notions
* Conversant – Maîtrise convenable, Bonnes connaissances
* Proficient – Lu, écrit, parlé
* Fluent – Courant
* Bilingual – Bilingue
* Native language – Langue maternelle

From what I’ve read, apparently it’s normal to include a photo at the top of the CV and personal hobbies or interests at the end of the CV. I’m not really sure what either of these things has to do with actual work or competence, but it does seem to exist in the example CV’s I found nonetheless. [examples 1]

Another necessity is your level of education. Here are some US and French equivalents, although there isn’t always an exact match. [edu 1, edu 2] A “High School diploma” in French is known as the Baccalauréat or simply the “Bac.”

American French
Kindergarten Maternelle (ages 3 to 6)
Elementary School (Primary School) École élémentaire (ages 6 to 11)
Middle School / Junior High Collège (ages 11 to 15)
High School Lycée (ages 15 to 18)
Bachelor’s degree Licence (3 years, aka bac + 3)
Master’s degree Master (5 years, aka bac + 5)
Doctorate Docatorate (bac + 6 to 8 years)


One of the best ways to learn is by example and to find example CV’s, simply head over to and type “exemple CV.” Adding your particular profession to the end would probably be helpful as well. Good luck!

References and Resources

The following were used for various information here. Mostly useless (English)
examples 1 Example CV’s (French)
edu 1 Education System info
edu 2 degree levels
Resource des conseils sur le CV

May 082011

Once in Aix it will be important for our kids to attend school, of course. We wouldn’t want to home school them as we do actually want them to speak French. We also want them to speak English however, so this first batch of research will focus on international (bilingual) schools near Aix. There seems to be a list of international schools listed at, although there isn’t really a hint as to how up to date the information is. There are only a few schools listed which are for three year olds. –   Located outside of Aix in Luynes. I asked for the tuition and schedule via email on their contact page. –   Located outside of Aix in Luynes. We need to contact them about whether 3 year olds are taught French and English or only English (and also for prices and the schedule). –   Plan de Campagne. Maybe too far if we won’t have a car. –   Plan de Campagne.  Maybe too far if we won’t have a car.

There is more than one bus route to Luynes, so we wouldn’t have to wait around for hours to get there. The bus routes and schedules for Aix-en-Provence are available at

Another thing to note is that we read a message in a forum which made us reconsider a bilingual school. If our daughter will only be in school 2-3 days a week for 4 hours a day, then having an English section may not be necessary. She will be exposed to English virtually all of the time that she’s not with her parents, as we speak it. We do have some time before making a decision of course, but it does appear that the bilingual schools may require us to enroll early, judging from various forum messages we found.

May 042011

Of course, if you’ll be living in France then learning French is a necessity. There are many paths to doing this and the most important part is actually sticking with it.

I have a bit of a head start since I spent a year in France in 2003. This time I’ll be looking for work however, which is different than just sitting around chatting with friends. Here are the options I’m considering.

  1. Get a book on tape.
  2. Take classes at a college (University).
  3. Take classes at the Alliance Française
  4. Take private lessons

I suppose that first I should outline what I’m looking for. I will (hopefully) have some kind of interview in French, which will require business vocabulary and Software Engineer specific vocabulary. If I do land a job over there, I will have to read and write formal emails daily to communicate with my coworkers. Preparing for those two things are main goal here.

1) I doubt that getting a book on tape alone would be sufficient to prepare me for an interview in French. I would definitely need additional conversation practice. Meeting with the local French group may give me this practice, but probably not with the specific vocabulary I would need. A book on tape would have to be supplemented with additional lessons or practice.

2) I looked at classes at a couple universities and frankly I wasn’t impressed. The cheaper schools don’t have a French class specific for business and their price makes me dubious about the quality of the classes (e.g. a community college). CU Denver has a specific business class, but the class will cost about $1,300 even if I audit it. At that price, even private lessons from the Alliance Française are cheaper.

3) The Alliance doesn’t have classes specific to business, but they are a shorter length than a normal semester, are a bit cheaper, and would give me some practice. Taking a class here may or may not give me an idea of the quality of the private lessons offered by the Alliance.

4) Maybe private lessons are the way to go. One issue with these is that I would be the one deciding the study plan and which “parts” of the language to focus on. Another issue is that I may end up getting a bum teacher (i.e. he or she won’t know what she’s doing). If the tutor doesn’t have enough experience then correcting written work could be an issue. Really though, if I’m deciding the lesson plan and have studied well enough then I should already know if there’s an issue…

We’ll see what happens.