Interview with a TEF candidate: David

Posted by Josh on 5th Sep 2022 in the blog in the category

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Tell us about yourself

I am David and I'm 17 years old, from Cameroon. French is my first language, but I was also taught English at home and school from an early age. I’m hoping to study in France for university, but I will need to pass the TEF exam — and achieve good grades — to get in.

How long did you spend preparing for the TEF?

I started the Learn French with Alexa TEF course about 3 months ago.

Since French is your first language, did you find the TEF exam easy or difficult?

It was more difficult than I was expecting, even after everything I'd heard about the exam. The Orale was particularly tricky, since I was listening to accents — French but also Canadian — that are quite different from those where I grew up in Cameroon, even if the language is the same. The dialogues are quick and realistic — in many cases they seemed difficult on purpose. I also had to pay close attention when answering the multiple choice questions, since the answers were so similar. It was at times as much a memory test as a French test!

What was the hardest part of the TEF for you?

The Textes Courts in the Compréhension Écrite exam featured some quite high-brow topics. For these sections it would have helped to have a knowledge of financial and legal vocabulary, as it can get quite technical in places. Overall, I wasn't just being tested on my language skills, but also my ability to interpret text or speech and to extrapolate information. This is probably twice as difficult in a foreign language, so I guess I was lucky in that regard. Reading up on French culture and current affairs, such as in magazine and newspapers, would probably help.

Did you have any spare time at the end?

Yes, but only enough to check over my answers quickly. There were some sections I had to read more quickly as I was aware I was running out of time.

What advice would you give to someone taking the TEF?

Prepare in advance! Make sure your French is as good as it can be, and just be confident, but also cautious, during the exam.

Don't be too confident though. I would say this especially to native speakers. Just because you speak the language doesn't mean you'll get full marks. You need to pay as much attention as anyone else in order to understand the questions and the get answers right.

What’s next for you?

I took the TEF a year early so that I’d have a chance to improve if I failed, but I was able to achieve a C2 result on my first attempt! Now I just need to get accepted by the university I hope to get into, get the right grades in my exams, and I’ll be on my way. Fingers crossed!

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