Language certification: all you need to know about the DCL

Created in 2010, the DCL (Diplôme de Compétence en Langues) is a diploma that certifies a candidate’s level in 12 languages: GermanEnglish, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese, French, Portuguese and French sign language. Issued by the French National Education System, the diploma is valid for life following completion of an exam.

What is the purpose of the exam? 

The DCL exam is designed for adults who wish to demonstrate their language skills. This diploma is suitable for employees, jobseekers and trainees, as well as students and private individuals. It enables candidates to obtain employment more easily, boost their career, apply for transfers abroad, or simply evaluate their language level.

What does the exam involve? 

The aim of the DCL diploma is to assess candidates in professional situations. The exam content not only focuses on the quality of the language, but also on candidates’ technique and skills, and their speaking skills. Note: it is possible to take the exam in French sign language (LSF).

Candidates’ skills are assessed through:

  • listening or French sign language
  • reading
  • speaking
  • writing

Unlike other exams, candidates do not answer a questionnaire, but have to carry out a case study (as might be required in a business context). Candidates are expected to:

  • read and consult documents
  • listen to recordings or watch videos
  • assimilate and process the acquired information 
  • summarize the information and draw conclusions
  • provide a supporting argument for the conclusions reached by answering questions asked by the examiners
  • produce a written summary or create a video in sign language

How long does the exam take? 

The DCL takes about two and half hours: 1.5 hours studying written documents, a 20-minute interview with an examiner, and 40 minutes of writing.

What levels does the DCL exam assess? 

The DCL diploma offers candidates the possibility of certifying a language level ranging from level A2 to level C1 on the CEFR scale.

The DCL diploma is also intended for teachers in primary and secondary schools who need to certify their foreign language level. In their case, a B2 level is required.

Gymglish creates fun, personalized online language courses: English, Spanish, German, Italian, French lessons and more. Our goal: your motivation, participation and progress

What grading system does the DCL test use? 

A jury establishes the candidate’s grade by evaluating them on two points:

  • the ability to communicate in a fluent and professional manner in order to carry out the professional tasks entrusted to them
  • the level of language and the correct formulation of sentences in languages

How much does the exam cost? Where can you take it? 

The registration fee for the DCL is €100. 

You have to take this exam at an approved training center on French territory. The dates are determined in advance – upcoming exam dates are available on the government website.

The DCL at a glance

PublisherFrench National Education SystemGymglish
Validity periodDoes not expireDoes not expire
Skills testedReading, listening, writing, speakingReading, listening, writing (business and professional English)
Target level(s)A2 to C1All levels, except beginners (A2 to C2)
Price€100From €14 /month
Duration2 and 1/2 hoursTraining + certification: 6 months
Face-to-face / RemoteAt an examination centerRemote / online

The DCL is not the only option for English certification. At the end of our English language training we also provide a personalized learning report.



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