There are a wide range of reasons to learn Spanish. Some people want to reach a conversational level in order to speak to the locals in one of the many Spanish speaking countries throughout the world. Others want to reach a more intermediate level in order to move abroad and use this second language in their work or studies.
The chances are, if you want to live in Spain, Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, or Colombia, you will need to take a Spanish language proficiency test to prove that you meet the language requirements needed in order to study or work in the country.
One of the most popular options is the Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE) which is administered by the Spanish government, and gives candidates a lifelong validation of their Spanish level.
In this article, we will look at all of the information that you'll need to know to sign up for a DELE test. Studying in Spain or doing a semester abroad in Chile could be just over the horizon!
What is the DELE Language Proficiency Test?
The DELE is the Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera, and is a language certificate administered by the Spanish government. The DELE diplomas are officially recognised and certify a level of proficiency in the official language.
Why Are There 6 Different Levels?
Each level relates to a different degree of difficulty. However, you don't have to pass all of the previous levels in order to take a DELE exam-you can jump straight to the level that you think suits you best.
So what does the DELE consist of? The six different levels correspond to the competence levels defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR):
- A1: Breakthrough. Being able to ask simple questions, talking about yourself, knowing how to write simple sentences and fill out forms, understanding familiar spoken words, reading and understanding simple sentences.
- A2: Waystage. Holding a conversation and exchanging simple information, writing short and personal messages, understanding simple oral announcements, reading flyers, timetables, menus, and simple letters.
- B1: Threshold. Being able to talk about your dreams, your aspirations, or a book, knowing how to debate in the language, writing personal letters, understanding radio or TV programs based on your interests, understanding letters written in fluent Spanish.
- B2: Vantage. Being able to express oneself clearly and defend one's opinions with a native speaker, to write well-argued texts, to perfectly follow a series, a conference, a film related to one's interests, reading contemporary or literary texts. This level is necessary to attend a Spanish university, and it is appreciated by employers. It is required to work or be an intern abroad in a Spanish speaking country.
- C1: Effective Operational Proficiency. Knowing how to make complex and detailed oral presentations, speaking Spanish fluently, writing well-written and structured texts, the ability to follow a series, a film, a show no matter the subject, knowing how to read and understand long literary, contemporary, or technical texts.
- C2: Mastery. Being able to present a logical and clear argument orally, writing complex documents, summarising and critiquing any professional or literary document in writing, understanding the oral language on the condition of familiarity with the accent, reading any material (even abstract texts) effortlessly.
For each level, you will have to pass five different tests:
- Written comprehension: After reading a text, you will have to answer questions in writing.
- Written expression: Pay attention to Spanish spelling and conjugation that can cost you points!
- Listening comprehension: You will have to answer questions after listening to a recording, such as a radio program featuring native speakers.
- Spanish grammar and vocabulary: This allows you to evaluate your knowledge of grammatical rules and linguistic variety.
- Oral exercises: Your fluency will be assessed, as well as your pronunciation.
This won't be a simple multiple-choice test! You'll need to show your language skills in a wide range of different fields, showing that you understand both the language and culture.
Why Take the DELE Spanish Certificate?
As you might be aware, there are other Spanish proficiency tests, such as the SIELE Spanish proficiency test which is also administered by the Instituto de Cervantes. But there are several reasons why you should take the DELE:
- to validate your achievements: whether you are preparing for school exams, pursuing a university degree, or training to become a teacher, it is important to obtain "proof" of your level.
- because the certificate is recognized throughout the world by companies, chambers of commerce, and public and private school systems: it will allow you to work in South America for example. Whether you want to become a scientist, tutor, or teacher of Spanish, certifying your Spanish level will be essential.
- to give you confidence! Are you planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country? Knowledge of the geography of the country will help you, yes, but if you get lost, it is important to be able to communicate and converse with a local!
If Spanish is part of your daily life, you have good reasons to try to obtain a diploma such as the DELE.
How Can You Prepare for your DELE Spanish Test?
Whatever level you are aiming for, it is essential to prepare yourself for the test! You shouldn't go into an exam without having an idea of its contents or format. Therefore studying beforehand will be crucial to you being successful.
We therefore advise you to be perfectly prepared in order to do well on your big day. Depending on the level you are aiming for and the time you can devote to it, start preparing yourself three to six months in advance.
How should you go about preparing?
- use the mock tests online! You will know what to expect in terms of exercises and categories. These can be found on the DELE website depending on the level you are looking to obtain.
- dive headfirst into the language! Read newspapers, novels, magazines, blogs...Watch movies in Spanish, listen to Spanish-speaking radio shows. If you have Spanish friends, ask them to communicate with you in Spanish and correct you when you make mistakes. And if you do not have Spanish friends, some Spanish associations can help you.
It doesn't matter if you want to take the CELU or the DELE, regular work will prepare you for the exam and allow you to enrich your vocabulary by learning new words in Spanish (verb, adjective, synonym, proverb, etc.)
The DELE Spanish Language Test: What Documents Will You Need?
Anyone can register to take the DELE, even if they are a native Spanish speaker from Europe or Latin America!
To register, you'll need to sign up with a test centre (such as one of the many Instituto Cervantes locations found worldwide) about two months prior to the date of the exam. You will have to fill in a registration form, pay the relevant subscription fee (depending on your geographical location and the level you want to take), and have your passport number to hand.
Once you've posted the registration or deposited it in a DELE exam center, you will receive a sealed copy of your registration form and your convocation.
And now, the big day has arrived! We hope you studied well! What do you need to sit in on the exam? On the day of the exam, you'll need the following documents:
- the sealed inscription sheet
- identification (the same one used in the inscription)
- the notice of convocation.
Where Can you Take the Dele?
The DELE diplomas are issued by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports, and the Instituto Cervantes is responsible for organizing the examinations. The University of Salamanca writes, corrects, and deals out the final grade.
But where are the testing centers located?
The curriculum is the same across the world so there are no differences in the exam you will sit. You can take the exam in a Spanish speaking country, such as Spain or Colombia. This is a good opportunity to practise prior to exam, and develop your knowledge of the local culture whilst learning about how the language is used in every day life.
Apart from offering the DELE exams, the test centers usually offer Spanish classes which can help you learn true native Spanish, whatever your level. If you want total immersion in the country, this is an opportunity to improve your language skills even faster!
If you want to do the exam closer to home, you can find test centres across Europe and North America. Check if there is an Instituto Cervantes in the city where you live, or find out if there is a registered DELE exam centre.
How Much Does it Cost to Take the DELE Spanish Test?
The DELE price depends on the level you are looking to certify, but remains affordable in all cases. You can expect to pay between £100-170 (€78-170; $105-180 USD; $147-269 AUD), but this does differ depending on where you are located in the world, as well as which level you want to take (the higher levels are more expensive). We therefore advise you to contact your local test centre directly to find out how much they charge.
- The DELE certificate is used to validate the following Spanish proficiency levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.
- It consists of five test categories: Reading, Listening, Writing, Speaking, Grammar, and Vocabulary.
- It is recognized worldwide and will be of great help to you if you are looking to work or do an internship in an Hispanic country.
- Remember to prepare the way you do for other exams! Mock exams are very helpful, and, though we can never say it enough, immersion in the language remains the best way to progress and grow confidence in your Spanish-speaking skills!
- The DELE exam is open to anyone and everyone, even people with a Spanish passport.
- Several testing centers offer the DELE test: in Spain, Argentina, Columbia--it's up to you!
- The price differs depending on the test centre, as well as the level you want to take.
Are you convinced of the usefulness of the DELE proficiency test? All you have to do is register for the next session in the center of your choice!
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