What is the DELE?
Before we begin looking at reasons for taking the DELE, let’s start off by looking at what exactly is the DELE for those of you who aren’t currently familiar with it.
DELE stands for Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera, which translates to Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language. Even though, it was only created in 1989, the DELE is currently the most recognised Spanish language test and comprises of testing the four skills; speaking, listening, reading and writing.
It consists of six levels that are recognised among all European languages: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, with A1 being the easiest and C2 being the most difficult.
A1 – A2 – Beginner
B1 – B2 – Intermediate
C1 – C2 – Advanced
These levels are also well known among the majority of people learning languages and are often used as benchmarks when talking about your level. Obviously you can say I’m about a B1 Spanish without having taken the exam, but these levels are a very good indicator of your proficiency.
If you’re thinking of taking the DELE, you can read about Leah’s experience taking the DELE exam here, where she talks about how she prepared and her reasons for taking the exam.
If you’re not convinced it’s for you then let’s have a look at some of the reasons you might consider taking the DELE exam.
Reasons to take the DELE
You want to work in a Spanish speaking country
First of all you might want to take the DELE if you want to work in a Spanish speaking country.
Unless you’re an English language teacher or you are a digital nomad who has a limited business set up elsewhere, then in order to work in a Spanish speaking country where the language is required, you normally need to have at least a Spanish level of C1.
This is because by the time your Spanish is C1, you’re nearly speaking with the proficiency and fluency of a native speaker, though for native status you need your C2. If you’re customer facing or need to navigate an office in a professional setting you really need to be able to keep up with the native speakers, even if you’re not quite native yourself.
This might seem impossible especially if you’re just starting out, but trust me it’s really not. If you study seriously and put in the work you can get there within two years. Some people might be able to do it sooner and some might take longer, but there’s no reason that you can’t get to that level of proficiency if you really want to.
I personally would recommend taking other exams before the C1 exam. I’ve met people who’ve never taken a DELE exam before and have no experience of how it works and gone straight to the C1. Some of them have been successful, others not.
If you do want to work in a Spanish country and you’re working up to taking the C1 exam then I would recommend taking other exams before you get there. I understand you don’t want to take all the exams because they can be quite expensive, but maybe it would be a good idea to try taking the B1 or B2 first? Just so you know what to expect when you get to that big C1.
Live in the country
To live in the country you don’t need to take any form of DELE exam. You can apply for a visa, or if you’re lucky enough to live in Europe, just turn up.
However, to apply for citizenship in Spain you do need to take a DELE exam, but the good news is, it’s only the A2 exam. Which you could take within six months of starting Spanish, even if you had no prior knowledge and pass if you studied hard enough.
However, I’m assuming if you want Spanish citizenship, then you’ve probably lived in the country before and you already should have some basis of Spanish, making this A2 level even more attainable.
At an A2 level you should be able to use your Spanish in your day to day life, such as shops, restaurants, doctors and train stations. This is the kind of stuff you would need to live in the country, so an A2 level makes sense here.
Though if you want to integrate into your new community I would definitely recommend trying to achieve a higher level. At a minimum I would recommend B1, though of course B2 or C1 would be preferable.
Study in the country
If you want to study in a country at a University it is normally required that you can demonstrate your language is at a B2 level. This level shows that you are proficient in the language and would be able to keep up in a University course.
You don’t need the C1 as you’re not engaging in a professional level and B2 should be sufficient to show that you can keep up in a university course. Obviously while you’re there and engaging in the course everyday your level will probably be boosted up to C1. But to start with you only need to take B2.
B2 seems a lot more attainable than the C1 needed for a job and that’s because it is. The wonderful thing about B2, is that most of the grammar you learn will be in B1, where we meet the subjunctive and we learn how to use it. Once you get to B2, although there is grammar, a lot of the course is learning to talk about different subjects, but you’re not yet expected to speak at a native level like C1, making B2 quite a fun level to study towards.
Many people choose to take the DELE exam because they want to study in a Spanish speaking country but need to prove their proficiency in the language. As the DELE is currently the most recognised exam in Spanish, I would recommend taking this exam if you’re looking to study at a university in a Spanish speaking country.
So they were the three main reasons and perhaps the most obvious ones, but a reason lots of other people do the DELE who don’t need to do it for a specific requirement is for their own goal setting.
You will normally find this kind of thing with people who enjoy learning languages for fun and don’t necessarily have a reason in mind. In short, outside academic, professional and citizenship reasons, you don’t need to take the DELE, however that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it.
It’s very easy to become complacent in language learning and coast along at a level you’re comfortable with. If you set yourself an exam that you have to take in three months, you’re going to study for it because you don’t have the choice. You have to learn all the necessary grammar and practise speaking because you need to pass the exam or you’ll have wasted around 200 euros.
It’s also a useful way to make sure you’re not missing anything out. When you self study, you can find sometimes your knowledge is a bit patchy. As in you can talk about politics but you never bothered to learn the alphabet because you didn’t need to. The DELE exams are laid out in a way that takes you through learning in a logical way so that you don’t miss anything out or you don’t have strange gaps in your language ability.
Also let’s not forget that getting that exam result is really satisfying for yourself. If it’s not for anyone else sometimes that’s even better. You took the exam for yourself and you passed it because your level of Spanish actually is that good. That’s a really good feeling and something I would definitely recommend considering doing.
Final thoughts on taking the DELE
The DELE can be useful for all sorts of reasons, not just if you’re looking to work in a country, but also if you want to study there, live there or just do it for your own enjoyment of studying and achievement.
If this article has convinced you at all then your next stage will be booking and preparing for your DELE exam. To find out what textbooks we would recommend for the DELE exam you can read here!
And if you’re had any experience taking the DELE exam, please let us know below. Why did you take it? How did you study for it? Do you intend to take another exam? We always want to hear from you about your experiences. That way we can tailor our advice and tips to help even more people.
Good luck and keep learning!