Picture yourself strolling past historic cathedrals.
Or sitting riverside with a bottle of wine and great friends.
Walking down cobblestone streets and enjoying the lovely warm smell of…
Yep, we’re not in France.
This is Quebec, the fascinating French-speaking province of Canada.
If you’re thinking of making that Quebec dream a reality, you should know about the Test d’Évaluation de Français pour l’accès au Québec, or TEFaQ.
This exam can open up many personal and professional doors by making you a stronger Quebec immigration candidate.
Here’s everything you need to know about the TEFaQ, how you can take it and how to study for success.
Thinking of Moving to Quebec? Not Without This Guide to TEFaQ Success!
Why Take the TEFaQ?
In a nutshell, the TEFaQ, unlike other important French exams, is your gateway to Canada.
It not only improves your Canadian immigration profile, but it’s also a great way to know where you stand in French and where you need to improve.
- Doing well on the TEFaQ gives you more points in Canada’s points-based immigration system. You may know that Canada uses a points-based system to qualify its skilled immigrants. You can earn points for things like your education level, skills and abilities in Canada’s two official languages: English and French.
With this test you can receive up to 16 additional points in the Quebec immigration process.
- Know that Quebec is your dream? TEFaQ helps you become a Quebec provincial nominee. In Canada, several provinces have their own immigration schemes, in addition to the Federal Skilled Workers program. If you know you’re headed to Quebec to live where French is spoken, the TEFaQ is the one of the few exams that gives you points in the Quebec Provincial Nominee program.
In other words, if Quebec is your dream, the TEFaQ is indispensable.
Tips to Plan for Taking the TEFaQ
The TEFaQ’s format is pretty similar to other French language exams you may’ve taken, but it’s always good to know how to get started with the exam process. Arm yourself with knowledge!
- Check out your nearest Alliance Française to find the next exam date and register. The TEFaQ must be taken at an approved test site, usually at a chapter of the Alliance Française.
Not all institutes offer the TEFaQ, and those that do may have it on different dates, so it’s important to plan ahead of time. For example, at the Alliance Française nearest me, the TEFaQ is offered as a non-regularly scheduled exam that you can arrange a date for.
- The test has a base cost of around $215. This isn’t a fixed price in the sense that it varies slightly from testing site to testing site. Although it seems steep, $215 is a pretty standard price for language exams. You have to think about it as an investment in your future. $215 now can translate into priceless career and living opportunities in the future.
Please take into account that the exam fee is non-refundable once registered. Also, the $215 only includes the required parts of the test: Listening Comprehension and Oral Expression. The optional Reading Comprehension and Written Expression components cost about $70 and $85, respectively, and can each add one more point to your immigration score.
- There’s a waiting period to obtain your results. Since it’s a computerized exam, generally you can see your results for part of the test at the end of the day, but obviously the speaking portion takes time to grade.
You’ll be sent an email when the test center receives a certificate, at which point you can either pick it up or request it be mailed to you. You should allow two to four weeks to obtain your results.
Just What Is Tested on the TEFaQ?
The TEFaQ focuses on practical French. That it to say, it tests your ability to survive in a French speaking country.
That means to study, you need to focus on comprehension and language use, but not so much on the nitty-gritty of grammar. Let’s go through the components.
Section 1: Listening Comprehension
The Listening Comprehension section, consisting of 60 points and worth up to seven points, consists of audio recordings played either one or two times.
Typical questions might be about news recordings or directions to a certain destination. Real-life situations, such as a conversation between two people in a train station, are also common.
Section 2: Oral Expression
After completing the listening portion, you’re taken to a room where you’ll have a one-on-one interview in French consisting of two questions over 15 minutes and worth seven points. Your fluidity and use of vocabulary are tested here.
You’ll likely be asked questions about yourself, such as your name, age, etc., as well as questions about your career. More general questions, such as questions about culture, are also common.
Optional Components: Reading Comprehension and Written Expression
The TEFaQ includes two optional components: reading comprehension and written expression.
As I explained earlier, Quebec doesn’t require these optional components, but they can earn you up to two extra points. It might be worth it for you, because reading and writing can often be easier than listening and speaking.
In both written expression and reading comprehension, you’re given two issues to read/write about within one hour.
How the TEFaQ Is Graded
The TEFaQ is graded out of six points, corresponding to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. These correspond to the six CEFR levels from A1 (beginner) to C2 (expert).
To receive points for Quebec immigration purposes, you need to score at least B2. Your CEFR score is then translated to the Quebec immigration point system.
Essential Study Tips for TEFaQ Success
Learn Key Differences Between Quebec French and European French
Quebec French is very different from European French. Not only is the accent radically different, but the vocabulary can be different as well, and that may come up in both the reading and audio sections of the TEFaQ.
For example, you might run across such words as:
dépanneur (general store)
fin de semaine (weekend)
magasiner (to go shopping)
jaser (to chat)
niaiser (to annoy)
You can find many more examples in this online glossary of Quebec French.
Also in Quebec, the tu (you) form is used much more often than vous (formal you), so don’t worry too much about the difference between the two, at least for the purposes of the TEFaQ.
Find French Canadian Language Partners Online
Look for French Canadian language exchange partners to practice both speaking and writing in French. There’s no better way to prepare for actually coming up with your own Quebec French sentences during the TEFaQ.
I’ve used InterPals with great success to practice both my speaking and writing. Granted, people from France outnumber people from Quebec on the site, but you’ll still find some for TEFaQ practice.
In the left search panel, under countries, put “Canada” and under languages, put “French,” and you’ll see all available Canadian French speakers.
Listen to Radio Canada
There are many live streams out there in French, but to hone your listening comprehension skills for the TEFaQ, you want something that uses Quebec French. For this, I recommend Radio Canada.
You can listen to it at work, in your free time, whatever. Radio Canada generally uses the relatively neutral Montreal accent, so it should be easy to understand.
What you should do is keep track of the discussion because during the TEFaQ, you might have to answer questions about audio clips that are several minutes in length. Try to take notes and summarize what you’ve heard after listening to a radio segment.
Want to be sure that you get the most out of any French audio clip you listen to? Supplement your radio time with FluentU.
Each video comes with interactive subtitles, vocabulary lists, fun quizzes and more so you actively learn while you watch.
Just search “Quebec” or “Canada” in the FluentU platform and you’ll get tons of videos with native French Canadian speech. Plus, the videos are organized by genre and proficiency level so it’s easy to find the best ones for you.
Practice Reading Comprehension with News Articles and E-Books
Granted, this is a general tip that’s valid for anyone learning French, but I mention news articles because they’re typical examples of writing that can turn up in the reading portion of the TEFaQ. Some popular French news sources include Le Journal de Montreal and Métro Montreal.
Likewise, French e-books train you to keep track of a line of thought in written French. Often in French, a subject mentioned at the beginning of a page can be referenced indirectly through linking words throughout an entire paragraph. The key is to get used to reading long passages, because that’s exactly what’s tested on the TEFaQ.
Take a Sample Test
Finally, after studying, you can take TEFaQ sample tests at CanadaVisa.
I highly recommend that you do this, because test taking is an art. Studying is great, but you should be intimately familiar with the TEFaQ format before taking it. Try to take it under actual conditions, not using extra time nor resources.
The TEFaQ is at the same time similar to other better known French exams and different in the sense that it offers a specific advantage for Quebec immigration. If you study the exam beforehand and prepare your listening and speaking skills, you can ace the TEFaQ!
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