Tips and Pointers to the FIDE language test
By Anouche 27-09-2020
What is the FIDE language passport?
With the Language Passport you can show your ability to communicate in one or more of the national languages: French, German and Italian. It can be presented: to the authorities, to register for a training course or to apply for a new job.
In regard to residence and settlement permits, a new law entered into force on 1 January 2019. Federal law stipulates that applicants for a C permit must provide written proof of level A1 and oral proof of level A2 in one of the national languages. The minimum requirement for the B permit is level A1 oral of CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).
This reliable evaluation leads to obtaining your language passport. It is a possibility to prove one's language skills. The language passport is a document that demonstrates oral and written competence in the national languages: French, German and Italian. It is issued by the Secretariat on behalf of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and is recognised in particular in the context of a naturalisation procedure or an application and renewal of a permit (B, C).
Since 1 January 2018, new conditions apply to the naturalisation procedure. Several conditions (residence and integration-related) must be met, including "mastery of the French language (equivalent to or higher than level B1 in oral and A2 in written French of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)". According to Art. 6 of the Legislation on Swiss Nationality, any person wishing to obtain Swiss nationality must demonstrate oral language skills in a Swiss national language at least at the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level B1, and written language skills at least at reference level A2 of CEFR.
Evaluation of language skills in a progressive and individual manner (possible to register for a single module as required).
You get your language passport after you have completed the FIDE language test. If you wish to take a test in German or Italian, you must register at an assessment centre located in the language region in question.
The FIDE language assessment is divided into two parts: "Speaking and Understanding" and "Reading and Writing". Oral and written skills are assessed separately. You can take one or both parts of the assessment.
"Speaking" (oral assessment), duration: 20minutes - introductory interview, interactive tasks
"Understanding' (oral assessment), duration: 20 minutes - short audio texts and comprehension questions
"Reading and Writing" (written evaluation), duration: 60minutes
As much as possible authentic Swiss texts, comprehension questions (MCQ, true/false), filling in a form or free written production (e.g. writing a short e-mail).
Four weeks after taking the test at Learn French Geneva (Geneva, Lausanne or Neuchatel branches), you will receive your language passport in the mail with your results.
Evaluation preparation course fide
Need a refresher? Our qualified trainers will prepare you, in small groups or privately, for the language evaluation in order to give you the best possible chance on the day of the evaluation. To ensure that all your skills are put to good use on D-Day, preparation for the assessment is strongly recommended. In addition, being well prepared will allow you to feel more confident on the day of the assessment.
The evaluation is composed of two parts:
Oral: speaking and understanding (40 minutes)
Written: reading and writing (60 minutes)
You can register for both parts or just one of them. After passing the FIDE language EXAM, you will receive a language passport indicating the level achieved (A1, A2 or B1) in the corresponding national language, separately for written and oral skills.
The assessment can take place on two different days with a maximum difference of one week between the two. The written part always takes place after the oral part.
Sample test : read and write A1
Sample test a2-b1 read and write
Sample test speak and understand A1
Sample test speak and understand b2
- Take the test when you feel are ready. Once you know you have the required level.
Free placement test here: https://www.learn-french-geneva.com/placement-test/
- A little preparation is key, as the format (based on scenarios) is unusual.
One or two prep lessons will take the edge of the unknown off and you will feel more prepared and relaxed.
- The test is divided in two parts:
Oral: speak (20 mns) understand (20 mns)
Written: read and write (60 mns)
Some institutions offer a same day exam (oral in the morning (it always comes first) and written in the afternoon. Some even offer Saturday sessions.
- What type of questions can you expect?
Everyday situations and topics such as buying bread, making a doctor appointment, applying for a job etc.
- Do not be afraid to fail:
The test is very “general” and you will receive your results indicating your level (A1-A2 or B1).
If your language passport does not indicate the level required by the authorities to renew your permit or get a new (higher) one, you can take it again. You can take it as many times as necessary (but the exam fees need to be paid each time).
- If you need a B2 or higher language certificate, FIDE offers a validation of your knowledge option, based on a file you need to send them in Bern (no classroom type test involved)
- In doubt, take both modules (oral and written): better safe than sorry
- Handicaps are not an obstacle
Send your medical certificate to the institution you will be taking the test with well in advance: it will be sent immediately to Bern so that adapted measures are taken during the exam.
- During the test, drink plenty of water: a well hydrated brain works much better!
- Do not bother coming with a pen and paper, nor any help such as a dictionary (paper or app) which is forbidden (cheaters are immediately expelled from the exam room and might be barred from taking it another time). you will be provided with a pen (not erasable) and your phone will be on silence mode and tucked away with your bag/coat.
No help is allowed and there is an examiner in the room doing rounds to make sure no one is cheating.
- Results: the language passport is sent to you by post directly to your home address, between 4 and 6 weeks after the exam.
Make sure all the info you submit when your register is accurate as they will be used to establish the passport.
- Certificates: if you have a deadline by the authorities but find no place to take the test before it, you can always ask for either a registration or a participation certificate that the authorities will accept while the real passport arrives.
You can take the exam
and take fide exam prep lessons
with Learn French Geneva: https://www.learn-french-geneva.com/french-courses/
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