How I prepared for the A2 DELE
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to move to Madrid for five months and join an intensive language school. There they took me from being an absolute beginner to taking my A2 DELE exam. Then I stayed with the school and did private lessons for two weeks to prepare for the exam. While I was at the school taking private lessons I also started my own revision.
How I revised for the A2 DELE
I revised in four different ways:
Firstly I decided I wanted my speaking to be as natural as possible for the exam.
I didn’t want to just revise the topics I would need to talk about but I wanted to feel as comfortable as possible with this section. So I started going to language exchanges 3 to 4 times per week. (I realise this isn’t realistic for everyone but I would recommend going as often as you can).
For me that made an enormous difference with my speaking. I also knew that there were certain topics that would come up in my exam. I only started doing this a couple of weeks before the exam but I would really recommend doing it as soon as you start learning and you can string some basic sentences together. It always helps to get a jump on your speaking.
I revised my grammar by buying this book and working my way through all of the exercises in my free time. This made a huge difference to me as since I had been talking so much my communication was getting better but I still had silly mistakes with my grammar. I found once I started using this my grammar got sharper and I was able to correct myself more in conversations.
Thirdly I did past papers and I cannot recommend this enough. I really believe it doesn’t matter how good your Spanish is, if you aren’t familiar with the format of the exam you’re going to struggle on the day.
I bought a book of past papers for reading and listening and I tried to do at least five a week for the two weeks leading up to the exam. This helped me a lot. So much to the point that when I entered my exam I was actually a bit relieved at how easy it seemed.
Fourthly, as I was studying in a school with professional teachers, I asked them if they could mark my practise writing test and they said yes. I realise this option isn’t available for everyone as you might be studying from home but I was really lucky.
My teacher told me he would mark as many as I could write. So I started doing four a week and bringing them to him and he would mark them for me.
Finally I really tried to immerse myself in Spanish. So the few weeks leading up to my exam I only watched television in Spanish, I only listening to Spanish music and I only read Spanish books. Also as I was in Spain I was able to talk in restaurants and coffee shops. The only time I used English was with my flat mates and when I called my parents.
Other than that everything was Spanish, and I feel like that helped me make a huge jump and gave me confidence when I eventually took the exam.
I realised you need to stay calm
This is maybe the most important thing. If you get yourself stressed out then you’re just not going to have a good time and you’ll probably hinder your studying as well. Two weeks before my exam I had a melt down where I talked to my teacher and said it just seemed like too much and I couldn’t do it.
He told me I needed to calm down and breathe and not to think about everything I had to do but to break it down into manageable chunks. He then helped me to come up with a time table on what I planned to do each day and what I needed to practise. We also looked at my weaknesses and how I could work on them (which was why I bought the grammar book). And once that was all sorted I felt a lot calmer. I took the revision slowly, bit by bit and tried not to let it overwhelm me.
I also made myself remember nothing was riding on this. I was learning Spanish because I thought it would be fun and if I failed I could resit; it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
The actual exam
The day of my exam I arrived at my exam venue twenty minutes before so I could go to the toilet and get myself settled.
The reading took 60 minutes and consisted of 30 questions. For me this was the easier but I think that’s the case for a lot of people!
The writing was relatively easy but I would love to see my paper marked because I’m sure I made some silly grammar mistakes.This section lasted 50 minutes and I had three small tasks.
The listening consisted of 30 questions in 35 minutes and for me it was quite difficult. All that series watching must have been a bit useful but I still struggled and felt myself panicking a little. I do think I did alright but that was definitely my weakest part.
The speaking was the one that I was most nervous about but when I got started I think I did ok. The nerves didn’t really disappear but I did far better than I thought I would.
Why do the DELE exam?
I’ve talked about my experience and how I prepared but why actually do DELE? There are several reason you would do the DELE, the most common are work abroad or study abroad, but they’re not the only ones.
Probably the most common reason for doing the DELE exam is so that you can work and live abroad. Obviously you can live abroad without the exam but to get a job in a foreign country they normally require you to have at least C1. This shows that you have a mastery over the language and although you’re not native you’re pretty much fluent and able to use the language comfortably in most situations.
The second most common reason to do a DELE is to study abroad. Luckily this isn’t as tricky as being able to work abroad because for this you only need to get B2. Which don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an easy feat. but it’s a lot easier to do then to get your C1.
So if you’re someone who wants to learn a foreign language but you don’t have a specific reason in mind then you will probably fall into this category. I started studying Spanish because I wanted to learn it rather than for a specific purpose. In that case, taking the DELE can be useful as a bench marker. If you set an exam date you have something to work towards and you’re more likely to learn the grammar because you have to rather than put it off for a later date.
Why I did the Spanish A2 exam
I set the exam as a goal setting mechanism. I knew I wanted to improve my Spanish quickly but I knew I would be lazy if I studied alone. So I set the date and knew that I had to get there. This made me speak more, write more and study grammar more. And to be honest when I got to my date because I had studied so much I actually felt stronger than A2. I started my B1 course pretty much the day after my exam and I’m already in the swing of it and enjoying myself.
Now I’m at the stage where I’m waiting for my results, but I feel confident and good and I think I’ve got this. I’ll update this when I get my actual results but I feel like I’m going to pass the exam and then hopefully I can get started properly on B1. Wish me luck!