French Program Makes Strides in Professional Certification

For the second consecutive year, the French Program in the Department of World Languages, Literatures & Cultures is offering the Diplôme de Français Professionel (Business French Exam).

The exam is internationally recognized and it certifies that students have the knowledge and skills to work in a French-speaking environment. U of A is the only testing center for the Business French Exam in the state and the region - Dallas and St. Louis being the only other closest options.

The exam is certified and graded by the Chambre de Commerce de Paris Ile-de-France. Companies and universities around the world recognize the certification level from this exam.

Getting the exam to the University was not easy but well worth it. Kathy Comfort, associate professor of French, explains:

When the opportunity arose to do the training to open a Business French testing center here, I jumped at it. I think the biggest challenge was navigating the paperwork on both sides of the Atlantic.  But with the support of lots of people in administration, we finally got the agreement signed.

The purpose of the exam is to measure students' abilities and knowledge of specialized business vocabulary as well as their ability to effectively demonstrate skills in listening, reading, speaking and writing.

When a prospective employer sees that a student has, for instance, a B1 level in Business French, he/she knows what the student can do in French and how fluent he/she is. Without those designations, it is difficult to know what level of language a student has. 'Conversation skills' or 'reading knowledge,' which is what people commonly say on CVs, is very vague and can mean many different things. With this certification exam now available to students, employers can easily identify a specific skill set.

Currently, the Business French exam is required for Business French courses taught by Comfort, but it is open to anyone who is interested. The exam is part of a larger plan to offer more French certification exams such as apparel, medical, legal and diplomacy.

In fact, in fall 2017 the Test d'Évaluation de Français (TEF), or the General French Proficiency Exam, will be offered for the first time.

There is still time to register for the exam. The application deadline is Monday, March 27. The exam will be administered Saturday, April 8, from 9 a.m. to noon.

For more information about the Business French Exam or to register, contact Kathy Comfort via email at kcomfort@uark.edu or by phone at 479-575-6062.