DELE (Diplomas de Espanol como Lengua Extranjera)

DELE - Spanish Language Test
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The DELE (Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera) are language certificates of different levels for non-native speakers. DELE is usually not required for a semester abroad at a Spanish speaking university. On the other hand, if you want to apply for a full course of study in a Spanish-speaking country, you usually need the language certificate.

The DELE examinations are administered and approved by the non-profit Instituto Cervantes in collaboration with the Universidad Salamanca and on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science.

Test contents and structure of the DELE

DELE examinations cover the following four areas of competence

  • Reading comprehension (Comprensión de lectura)
  • Listening comprehension (Comprensión auditiva)
  • written expression and written interaction (Expresión e interacción escritas)
  • oral expression and oral interaction (Expresión e interacción orales).

Each of the six levels within the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) has its own test. The duration and course of the tests vary according to language level.

Since admission to higher education usually requires the language levels B2 (Vantage) or C1 (Advanced), the article deals with the DELE examinations for these two language levels as an example.

DELE examination at B2 level

The DELE exam at level B2 is designed for 3 hours and 50 minutes. The individual areas of competence differ in terms of the form and duration of the examinations.

Reading comprehension

The section on reading comprehension (Comprensión de lectura) takes 70 minutes. This part of the exam consists of multiple-choice questions on several texts.

Listening comprehension

The auditory comprehension test takes 40 minutes. Several voice recordings are played in the form of dialogues, messages or interviews. On this basis, the participants must then answer multiple-choice questions.

Written expression and written interaction

The test for written expression and written interaction (Expresión e interacción escritas) is the longest at 80 minutes. Here is a short personal letter to write. Another task is to write an essay on one of the two topics to be chosen.

Oral expression and oral interaction

The section on oral expression and oral interaction (Expresión e interacción orales) takes 20 minutes. In advance, the test participants have 20 minutes to deal with a picture story. These must then be briefly described.

In addition, this part consists of a short lecture on a given topic and an interview with the examiner.

The examinations of the first three units take place on one day. The oral part of the DELE exam (Expresión e interacción orales) may also take place in some test centres a few days before or after this examination date.

Rating scale of the DELE exam at B2 level

In order to evaluate the DELE examination, the four examination units are grouped into two groups:

  • Group 1: Reading and listening comprehension
  • Group 2: Written expression + Oral expression

Each group is rated on a scale from 0 (low) to 50 (high) points. This results in a maximum score of 100 points.

The minimum score for passing the test and thus proving the B2 language level is 60 points. However, the following restriction applies: in each group at least 30 of 50 points are required. With 29 points in Group 1 and 31 in Group 2, the DELE examination would not have passed despite a total score of 60 points.

The DELE is either passed or failed. There is no further grading of the rating according to the number of points achieved.

DELE examination at C1 level

At 4 hours and 20 minutes, the DELE exam at level C1 is somewhat longer than at level B2 and has a different structure:

Reading comprehension and use of language

This examination unit Comprensión de lectura y uso de la lengua is designed for 90 minutes and consists of multiple-choice questions on several texts. In addition, the participants have the task of finding information from a group of short texts, assigning missing paragraphs to the respective texts and adding a gap text.

Listening comprehension and speech usage

This is followed by a 50-minute test on Comprensión auditiva y uso de la lengua. Here, several voice recordings are played in the form of dialogues, interviews or discussions, for which the participants receive multiple-choice questions.

Listening comprehension, written expression and written interaction

In the part of the examination Destrezas integradas, comprensión auditiva y expresión e interacción escritas the skills of listening comprehension, written expression and written interaction are tested in interaction.

The test participants have 80 minutes to write two texts:

  • an argumentative and explanatory text based on a previously heard text from the professional or academic field.
  • a formal text based on a newspaper article or academic text.

Reading comprehension, oral expression and oral interaction

The fourth part of the exam Destrezas integradas, comprensión de lectura y expresión e interacción orales again combines several skills. This time it is reading comprehension, oral expression and oral interaction.

This session takes 20 minutes. In addition, there is a preparation time of 20 minutes in which the test participants receive a text from the professional, academic or public sector. This text must then be presented orally. This will be followed by a number of questions on this presentation. Finally, the test participants must talk to their examiner about the specified image material and come to an agreement with him.

The first three examination units are completed in one day. In some test centres, it is possible to move the fourth part of the DELE exam a few days in advance or to push it backwards.

Evaluation scale of the DELE exam at C1 level

In order to assess the DELE examination at C1 level, the four examination units are grouped into two groups:

  • Group 1: Reading comprehension and use of language + Integrated skills (listening comprehension and written expression and written interaction)
  • Group 2: Listening comprehension and use of language + Integrated skills (reading comprehension and oral expression and oral interaction)

Each group is rated on a scale from 0 (low) to 50 (high) points. This results in a maximum score of 100 points. The minimum score to pass the test is 60 points. However, there is the restriction that in each group at least 30 of 50 points must be achieved. With 29 points in Group 1 and 31 in Group 2, the DELE would not have been passed even though a total of 60 points were achieved.

The DELE is rated as passed or failed. The exact score is not included in the evaluation.

Preparation for DELE

Instituto Cervantes offers various learning aids to prepare for the DELE exam. On the official website, some practice questions and example tests are available free of charge.

There is also the possibility to attend a DELE preparation course in one of the Institutos Cervantes in the German-speaking countries. These courses take place twice a year and begin approximately six weeks before the exam dates.

Examination dates and test centres for DELE

There are numerous test centres all over the world where DELE examinations are offered on several fixed dates in the year. For test participants from the German-speaking countries, for example, Institutos Cervantes in Berlin, Bremen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Vienna would be an option.

The official DELE website provides an overview of all test centres and upcoming exam dates. Registration for the DELE examinations is usually made via the respective test centre. The enrolment period ends five to six weeks before the respective examination date. However, it is advisable to register early, as the exam dates for the DELE may be booked out quickly.

The DELE results will be announced approximately three months after the examination. Therefore, it is essential to take into account the deadlines of the HEIs to which the test results are to be forwarded afterwards when choosing the examination date.

Costs of the DELE

The cost of the DELE varies by country, test centre and language level. At present, the following examination fees apply:

  • DELE exam at language level B2:200 €.
  • DELE exam at language level C1:210€.

Fees can be paid in cash, by cheque or bank transfer. The payment options may vary depending on the test centre.

Official website of the DELE exams:
http://dele.cervantes.es/

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