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Taking a Spanish Language Proficiency Test

By Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Spanish > Which Spanish Certificate Should You Take?

Learning Spanish can be a simple hobby in order to have a conversation with a native speaker whilst on holiday, or an obligation if you have chosen to move abroad and work in one of the 20 Spanish speaking countries around the globe.

Spanish is spoken by an estimated 440 million people worldwide, and so having a certain level of fluency will be advantageous for you professionally speaking.

To be able to communicate with the locals in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, or Colombia, you could take a Spanish course at a local language school, take Spanish lessons online, or even find a Spanish program at university.

If you want to show off your language level in Spanish and certify it in order to add it to your resume, several degrees and language tests are available to you!

This article is a summary of all the possible certifications in Spanish, what they imply, and their costs!

It might not be enough for a prospective employer that you speak Spanish, they might want to see a document that validates your level. If your dream is to work in Costa Rica, Panama, or Chile, then this article will be of great interest to you.

The DELE (Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera)

Taking a DELE test will give you a level defined by the Spanish government. The DELE (Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera) is the first diploma to think about when you want to evaluate your Spanish language level, and it has six different levels:

  • A1: beginner
  • A2: basic
  • B1: intermediate
  • B2: advanced intermediate
  • C1: advanced
  • C2: fluent

Each level corresponds to those defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Why You Should Take the DELE

  • First of all, because the diploma is internationally recognized and will open up doors for you in all the countries where Cervantes’ language is used.
  • To validate the level you’ve acquired by taking Spanish classes!
  • To gain confidence and make you aware of your progress.

Where Can You Take a DELE Test?

There are many possibilities:

  • In an Hispanic country: you could go to Latin America or Spain; the curriculum is the same worldwide.
  • There are many DELE test centres across the world. Look out for your local Instituto de Cervantes

How Much Will It Cost?

The price will very much depend on the level that you want to take, and the centre that you choose. We therefore recommend you contact the centre where you would like to take the test directly.

However, to give you a rough idea of prices, you can expect to pay between £100-170 (€78-170; $105-180 USD; $147-269 AUD) depending on your preferred level and geographical level.

If you are taking Spanish lessons London, your Superprof tutor may help you find a testing centre!

What Does Each Level of the DELE Test Look Like? 

It’s all well and good having the logistical information about doing a proficiency test, but what does the DELE consist of? The short answer is that each level is different so it will depend entirely on which one you want to sit. A learner in all levels, however, will be assessed on five skills:

  • written comprehension
  • listening comprehension
  • written expression
  • oral expression and pronunciation
  • Spanish grammar and vocabulary

Each DELE exam works on a simple pass or fail outcome. For each level except the last one, the exam is divided into two groups for which you must obtain at least 30 points out of 50 in each group, and subsequently 60 points out of 100 in total. If you don’t achieve this, you will not pass.

For the A1 to B2 level exams, both groups and tests are the same, the only difference is in how long the test lasts:

  • Reading and writing skills:
    • Reading comprehension: 
      • A1: 45 minutes, 4 test questions
      • A2: 1 hour, 5 test questions
      • B1: 1h10, 5 exercises
      • B2: 1h10, 4 exercises
    • Written interactions and expressions: 
      • A1: 25 minutes, 2 test questions
      • A2: 50 minutes, 2 test questions
      • B1: 1 hour, 2 exercises
      • B2: 1h20, 2 exercises
  • Oral skills:
    • Listening exercises: 
      • A1: 20 minutes, 4 test questions
      • A2: 35 minutes, 5 test questions
      • B1: 40 minutes, 5 exercises
      • B2: 40 minutes, 5 exercises
    • Oral interactions and expressions: 
      • A1: 15 minutes
      • A2: 15 minutes
      • B1: 15 minutes + 15 minutes preparation
      • B2: 20 minutes + 20 minutes preparation

Find out where you can take the DELE in your local area The DELE is administered by the Spanish government

For the C1 level, which requires a higher level in Spanish, two categories are assessed during the exam:

  • Reading and writing skills:
    • Reading comprehension and language use: 1h30, 5 exercises
    • Listening exercises and language use: 50 minutes, 5 exercises
  • Integrated oral skills:
    • Listening exercises, oral interactions and expressions: 20 minutes + 20 minutes preparation
    • Reading comprehension, oral interactions and expressions: 20 minutes + 20 minutes preparation

The C2 level demands the test-taker to speak spontaneously like a Spanish bilingual. It is therefore not so much about what you have been taught during your Spanish instruction, but rather your overall grasp of the intricacies of the language. It consists of three tests:

  • Language use, reading comprehension, and listening exercises: 1h45, 6 exercises
  • Integrated skills:
    • Listening exercises, reading comprehension, written expressions and interactions: 2h30, 3 exercises
  • Comprehensive skills:
    • Reading comprehension, oral interactions and expressions: 20 minutes with 30 minutes preparation

There are also two levels for the DELE for juniors. This test is reserved for young people aged from 11 to 17 years old and allows them to validate their Spanish language skills while stimulating their desire to learn. It consists of four categories:

  • Reading comprehension:
    • A1: 45 minutes
    • A2/B1: 50 minutes
  • Listening comprehension:
    • A1: 20 minutes
    • A2/B1: 30 minutes
  • Written expressions and interactions:
    • A1: 25 minutes
    • A2/B1: 50 minutes
  • Oral expressions and interactions:
    • A1: 10 minutes + 10 minutes preparation
    • A2/B1: 12 minutes + 12 minutes preparation

The advantage of the A2/B1 junior test is that, in one test, it determines the student’s level. This certificate gives a lifelong validation of the candidate’s level worldwide.

Remember to prepare yourself by using the annals available on the DELE website, and plunging your heart and soul into the language and culture: read newspapers, talk to Hispanics and ask them to correct you, watch films in their original version, listen to radio broadcasts, try tutoring in Spanish…

The CELU Spanish Certicate for Second-Language Spanish Speakers

The Certificate of Use of Language in Spanish (CELU) is a test which determines a person’s level in the Argentinian version of the Spanish language.

It can be taken by any foreigner whose first language is not Spanish, but who wants to certify their level in order to work or study in a Spanish speaking country.

The CELU is a Latin American version of the DELE You could be learning all about a new culture while practicing for the CELU test.

Candidates must be at least 16 years of age in order to take the CELU. They must also be able to show a minimum of three years of high school education.

By passing the exam, candidates are showing that they possess the language abilities required to study or work in Argentina, where ever a knowledge of the Spanish language is essential.

Here is a chart from Wikipedia to explain how the test is divided up:

Section Skills Time Allowed Activity
Written
  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Writing
3 hours
  • Listening to texts
  • Producing an essay aimed at an informal or a formal reader.
Oral
  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Speaking
15 to 20 minutes
  • Reading short texts and discussing them
You can take the CELU in either June or November each year. Applications usually open 3 months before the date of the exam, and you have a window of one month during which you can sign up.

SIELE Language Proficiency Test

There are a number of different Spanish qualifications that you can take Which is the best Spanish certificate for you?

The Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española (SIELE) Spanish language proficiency test is an exam that is targeted in particular at professionals and students for use in the worlds of business and education.

It is administered by the Instituto de Cervantes, but it was developed in conjugation with the Universidad Autónoma de México, the Universidad de Salamanca, and the Universidad de Buenos Aires meaning that it has a balanced approach to the different varieties and nuances in the Spanish language across the many Spanish speaking countries.

Just like the DELE exam, it uses the CEFR to grade students between level A1 and level C1. It also tests the four main components of language learning (speaking, reading, writing, and listening) in the same way that the DELE does.

However, it differs in the sense that it is a lot more flexible, and in the sense that it is electronically based. The flexibility of taking the SIELE Spanish proficiency test comes from the fact that you can take one of five different exams:

  • SIELE Global
  • S1 – Reading Comprehension + Listening Comprehension
  • S2 – Reading Comprehension + Written Expression and Interaction
  • S3 – Listening Comprehension + Spoken Expression and Interaction
  • S4 – Spoken Expression and Interaction

There are four main parts to the SIELE; Reading Comprehension, Listening Comprehension, Written Expression and Interaction, and Spoken Expression and Interaction. The SIELE Global contains all four parts, and therefore tests each component of language learning.

However, you can also choose to take one of the four modalities if it will better suit your needs. For example, you could decide that you only need to focus on speaking, and therefore you would only need to do S4.

This flexibility in choice is mirrored in the flexibility regarding when you can take the exam. There are no universal examination dates where the exam is sat in all parts of the world on the same day.

Instead, each of the 700 test centres around the world has slightly different dates, meaning that they are more numerous. In doing so, you may not have to wait 3 or 4 months to take the test as can be the case with some of the other Spanish language proficiency tests.

Each of the four parts of the SIELE is worth 250 points. Therefore, the SIELE Global is scored out of 1000, S1, S2, and S3 are all scored out of 500 (because they contain 2 different modalities), and S4 is scored out of 250.

Depending on how well you do, you will be placed into one of the CEFR language levels. The thresholds differ slightly depending on which one of the four parts it is, but you can find all of the grade boundaries on the SIELE website.

With it being based on the computer, there is a shorter turn around time when waiting for the results. The Instituto de Cervantes says that you should have to wait no longer than 3 weeks from test day before you receive your score.

Superprof tutors’ Spanish lessons are generally structured with an eye toward sitting such exams!

The University of Central Florida’s Spanish FLPE

The Foreign Language Proficiency Exam (FLPE) evaluates skills in the areas of listening comprehension, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and grammatical accuracy. There is no credit awarded for this exam. Students can earn up to 2 semesters equivalency at a college level.

The exam lasts for 2.5 hours, and although the content is unique in each exam, you can always expect to be assessed on listening comprehension, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and grammatical accuracy of the first two semesters of any given language.

The FLPE is a good proficiency test to take if you live in Florida The FLPE could help you take to Spanish like a bird to water

Prior to registering for an FLPE exam, you will need to make sure that it matches your needs. As a student at UCF, you can do this by speaking to your academic advisor. The UCF’s website has all of the information that you will need to sign up and pay, plus information about what to do on test day, and what you will need to take with you.

To Sum Up 

  • If you want to validate your Spanish language level, four diplomas are available to you: 
    • the DELE
    • the CELU
    • the BULATS
    • the University of Central Florida FLPE in Spanish
  • It’s up to you to see which diploma best corresponds to what you are looking for.
  • We recommend that you choose a diploma which allows you to determine your level according to the CECRL, from A1 to C2, knowing that most companies deal in these levels. B2 is the most common level requested when someone is trying to work in an Hispanic country. 

Now that you have all of the information necessary–launch yourself into what you think is best for you!

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