Hey language-loving friend: would you like to obtain your Spanish DELE B2 exam? Glad to hear that! At a B2, you’re quite close to the Premier League. 🏆
The DELE B2 is an excellent certificate to have in your professional portfolio: it proves you’re an independent user of the Spanish language, which translates into plenty of working, living and educational opportunities. 😻
Let’s immediately clarify it: it’s NOT an impossible exam. With the right preparation, anyone can achieve it. You may then wonder: then, why so many people flunk? Good question. 🤔
I guess anxiety and time management play a significant role, but in all my years of preparing students, I have found out the major causes are poor planning and ineffective study techniques. ❌
If you are going to invest some money and several months of your life to prepare the Spanish DELE B2, it makes sense to do it the right way right from the beginning.
Read on and let’s see if I can help you with it.
Spanish DELE B2: premise
Most likely, you already know some things about the Spanish DELE B2, but not everything there is to know. Let’s see it.
DELE are Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera. 📜
These are certificates issued by Spain’s Ministry of Education, managed by the Cervantes Institute and the University of Salamanca. For adults, we have six different exams, from A1 to C2.
➡️ The result is either APTO ✔️ or NO APTO ❌,
➡️ you can enrol for the Spanish DELE B2 without having previously obtained the DELE B1 or below,
➡️ you are not required to attend specific courses,
➡️ you are evaluated according to your communicative ability and not about theoretical knowledge about the language, 👏
➡️ when talking and writing, Spain’s Spanish is as valid as Peruvian, Cuban or any other variety of the language, as long as it’s within the realm of the proper Spanish language and used by a significant group of educated speakers (no reggaeton slang, no Lunfardo). You can choose either variety.
In the exam, however, you may encounter different varieties of Spanish in the comprehension parts.
The whole exam thing works like this:
- The University of Salamanca creates the exam, while the Cervantes Institute coordinates the worldwide web of examination centres 🎓
- From Salamanca (Spain), the exam travels to the examination centres, properly sealed throughout the whole shipment up to the hands of the invigilators
- The personnel at the examination centres notify the candidates to show up on a certain day at a certain hour 🗓️
- The written exam is sent back to the University of Salamanca but the oral exam is evaluated on spot by the examiners
- A team of specialists in Salamanca assesses your exam and the Cervantes Institute publishes your grade, within about three months
- In case you’re APTO (yippie 🎉), your exam centre will tell you when to pass by to collect your well-deserved certificate.
The structure of the exam, down to the slightest detail, is here on the website of the Cervantes Institute.
These are the big blocks:
- Prueba 1: Comprensión de Lectura (70 mins – 25 points out of 100)
- Prueba 2: Comprensión Auditiva (40 mins – 25 points)
- Prueba 3: Expresión e Interacción Escritas (80 mins – 25 points)
- Prueba 4: Expresión e Interacción Orales (20 mins – 25 points)
Spanish DELE B2: Why you should get it
Of the whole DELE suite from A1 to C2, the B2 is probably the most taken by students whose mother tongue is Romance, whereas people from the UK, Ireland and the Germanic-speaking realm may have the slightest preference for B1.
In any case, it’s a step they generally take after having studied Spanish for a few years and/or lived in a Spanish-speaking country for some time. 🗓️
There are many good reasons for hanging a DELE B2 up the wall:
- DELE are THE Spanish certificates, the most popular worldwide, with no close second. They are accepted by any institution anywhere. 🌎
- Companies request them more and more. Between a certified and a non-certificate Spanish speaker, we both know which candidate will have higher chances, right?
Besides, B2 is the minimum level required to land a job in which Spanish is a requisite.
- Applying for citizenship, in a Spanish-speaking country, involves providing proof of knowledge of Spanish.
- DELE B2 is the minimum language requirement in the majority of universities in the Hispanosphere. 🏫
- Certain professions in these countries (nurse, doctor, tourist guide, architect, among countless others) are opened only with a Spanish official qualification, such as DELE B2.
- Taking competitive exams, on equal terms with nationals, is possible with such a diploma.
- You just came back from an Erasmus in Granada and you want to attest how much you have learned.
- DELE certificates have no expiration date. If you have time now, why not taking it? Life is… larger than life 😀 you never know when you may need it with short notice.
- B2 is the level at which a foreigner is generally considered to already be able to live and work in another country. ✈️
There is still a lot to learn, but as of a B2, you can confidently move abroad.
- The effort of preparing for an exam like DELE B2 will step up your game.
When you study with no target, you may lack completeness and accuracy; but when you prepare for an official exam, you turn into a deadly Spanish-learning machine. 💣
- If you want to raise a bilingual child, as of a B2 you’re good to go. 🧒 The better your Spanish, the better for your kid, of course, but you don’t need to boast a C2 to bestow them the immense gift of multilingualism!
Your child will fix any mistakes in pronunciation and grammar later on, don’t worry.
- Spanish is the third most spoken mother tongue and the second most studied language on the planet.
What will you NOT be able to do yet?
- Give Spanish classes: forget about it.
You have a long, long, long way to go: first in terms of Spanish, then in terms of how a language is taught to someone.
- Working in fields where linguistic precision is essential: translation, interpretation, negotiating, content writing, most medical areas. ⚕️
- Access to master degrees in the humanities: there are a few, but the lion’s share of them request at least a DELE C1.
Spanish DELE B2: before to begin
What is the first thing you should do before starting preparing for the DELE B2?
Understand the following fundamental point and act accordingly: you should prepare for DELE B2 when you already have a B2 in Spanish.
That’s why it’s fundamental to know what is your current level. 📏 The I guess I’m there and I was told I’m at a B2 by a friend are interesting but it’s more reliable to assess your level with some mock exams.
You can find some on the website of the Cervantes Institutes, plus many more in the textbook I’ll mention in a couple of minutes.
Don’t go by people’s compliments, and don’t go by your teachers’ praises either, if they are not familiar with the DELE. ☝️
The first two tests of the mock exam can be done and corrected all by yourself; for the last two, the so-called Expresión Escrita and Expresión Oral, you will need the help of a language tutor, to correct your writing and perform the speaking with you. 👩🏫
Once you have mapped your current command of Spanish, the question that follows is: when should I take the exam?
It depends on which country/area you live in: normally, there are four-six exam sessions per year. Not a bad thing, if you consider that C2 only gets one or two, at the most. 📅
Be careful: once you enrolled in one session, you can’t postpone or anticipate it.
Once you already are at a B2, I would roughly estimate about three months to prepare for the DELE B2. If you can’t start earlier, a month could also be a good time, burning the midnight oil.
In either case, don’t underestimate the challenge. 🤨
Stuff to keep in mind when planning for the DELE B2
A couple of hours spent planning can save you a lot of trouble. ✍️
Take a piece of paper, a pen and answer the following questions with as many details as you can:
- How do I learn?
- How much am I willing to invest in this project, in terms of money and time?
- Can I count on the support of my clan – coworkers, family, friends? 🤝
- What tools and strategies am I going to employ?
- What could stand in my way?
If you’re reading and thinking Uhmm yeah, I’ll reflect on it while sweating on my Peloton Bike, stop right there! You must write! You gain way more clarity this way. ✍️
Now, in case your Spanish is more B1-ish than B2, I strongly invite you to strengthen your overall Spanish fluency first; there will be time to rehearse the DELE B2 exam proper. 📝
Please find below the books I’d suggest you use for teaching yourself the language: it’s better than any alternative, as you’re making much more efficient use of your time and money. More on this below.
Spanish DELE B2: achieve a solid B2 first
To get a solid B2 in Spanish, there are many horrible textbooks and a few good ones.
Prisma’s are among my favourites: authored by true professionals, informative without being heavy, featuring an excellent value for money:
Nuevo Prisma Fusión. Curso de español para extranjeros. B1 + B2: Manual del Alumno y Cuaderno de Ejercicios
These textbooks are conceived for group classes, but independent students can very much use them with great profit too. Then, this is also a must-have:
Vocabulario – Nivel Avanzado B2, by Anaya: as a garnishment to Prisma, it’s simply the best.
At a B2, no need to know the countless terms used for “horse” (alfana, jamelgo, palafrén, matalón, castrado, rocín, bridón, caballería, corcel, equino, garañón, jaca… and forty others), but a couple of them, like caballo, yegua, semental, potro, you should. Lexicon matters 😉
The following textbooks are NOT compulsory for building a firm B2, but they help: they work both on the language proper and the lexicon of business and tourism. Tons of exercises, in the DELE exam, require the knowledge of such areas:
Profesionales de los negocios (B1-B2), by enClave-ELE.
Profesionales del turismo (B1-B2), by enClave-ELE.
Do you feel like to could use some extra Spanish stamina? Then get them and study them.
On top of it, I’d suggest reading more, specifically materials not strictly didactic; but this is a different matter, I’ll talk about it another time.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty now. 💪
How to prepare for the Spanish DELE B2
There are two possibilities: take a specific course or prepare the DELE B2 by yourself.
To be honest, I barely had positive experiences with prep courses, as a student: they often are hard to find, overpriced, overcrowded. Teachers aren’t always skilled either. 😟
But the elephant in the room here is language schools: it’s freaking difficult to get one that cares for your interest before theirs.
As someone who has roamed in the back office of many such schools, I understand their plight: to run a language school is frustratingly complex. Why? 🤨
Well, rents are prohibitive, teachers must be paid, websites must be maintained, heating, airco, materials… in short, a school is profitable only to the extent that its premises are filled with students most days at all hours, with one teacher for as many students as possible.
But that makes for a terrible learning experience: I have seen many students thrown in C1 groups just because there were seats available, rather than in B2 classes where they belonged. 🤨
Aren’t there schools managing the business as well as delivering to their clients? Very few.
How can one overcome this hurdle, then? With private tuitions: their cost per hour is higher than a group class, but it yields a lot more in less time. 💪
One last understandable objection might be, now: I can afford a 60 hour-preparation course at that school, but not 60 hours with a private tutor. I know, but with a private tutor you may need a third of that time: keep that in mind. 💸
Moreover, if you hire a private tutor online, you save yourself from other nuisances, like:
- No parking fees, no gasoline in the car, no public transport expense;
- less CO2 (Earth thanks you for that); 🌎
- you can use the time you’d use to go back and forth to the school to do actual study;
- you don’t have to suffer that obnoxious classmate who doesn’t get the difference between por and para after thirty-seven explanations. 🤦♂️
So, summarizing: I’d suggest you prepare on your own, reaching out to a private tutor when you need tailored help. If then you are financially secure to spare more tenners, by all means, invest them in private tuitions: it’s a real investment, not like that Bitcoin trash. 😂
Hooray. Now, IMHO, the best prep manual in the market is this Edelsa’s:
Preparación al DELE B2 + CD audio y claves de los ejercicios, by Edelsa
This one I like much too, though:
Manual de Preparación del DELE B2 + CD – El Cronómetro, by Edi Numen. Either manual is good, honestly.
The structure of the DELE exams has changed in recent years: be careful not to get old editions.
Other fundamental tips
#1 Get used to more Spanish-es
Chances are your Spanish is specific to someplace: for the Cervantes Institute any variety is OK, as long as it is the educated speech of a certain area: European Spanish is fine just like Mexican, Chilean or Colombian. 🇨🇴
It’s worth spending a minute on this detail.
In the production phase of the exam (speaking and writing), you have to choose a variety and go with it: you can’t mix Argentinian conjugations with Honduran prosody and Nicaraguan lexicon.
Nevertheless, in the comprehension phase, you have to be knowledgeable of more varieties of Spanish than your own. No need to worry though: if you have studied the textbooks above and read a few other books (fiction, essay, bio), you’re good to go.
#2 The importance of reading
I say it right away because I hear the question every day: can’t I build the fluency required for DELE B2 through series and movies?
The point is: in DELE B2 it’s FORMAL Spanish what you have.
Some folks think: well, I don’t feel like actual study, but as I’m about to binge on Narcos, it’s quite like studying. No, it’s not! 🤨
I’m not asking you to become an avid reader if anytime you saw an open book you presumed it was broken. Buttttt a few real-life books, beyond textbooks, are advisable: you surely have a passion through which you can explore the kind of language required for the exam.
No need to pile up on your desk dusty tomes of 19th-century literature (which is useless in any DELE, anyway): but if you AT LEAST pick three, four books in fields such as cars, sport, history, science, environment, food, contemporary fiction, that would work. 👍
Don’t worry if your books are translated to Spanish from other languages: translations – good translations – are equally valuable. Below, a handful of books I have found myself and students to like, for both the language content and the joy of reading:
La química secreta de los encuentros, by Marc Levy.
La casa de los espíritus, by Isabel Allende.
Astrofísica para Gente con Prisas, by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Before taking a language exam, reading must be like nutrition: the more varied, the better. 🍲
#3 The relevance of a private Spanish tutor
Either one hour a day or one a week, please walk a part of this path together with a Spanish language professional, possibly with expertise in DELE matters too. ☝️
Don’t trust friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, in-laws, Eduardo from Chem lab in high school on language matters if their only credential is being native.
Why? Because no matter how native they are…
- They won’t correct you when making a mistake: because they understood anyway, they are not aware of the mistake, they believe you’d be offended if they did, they don’t care, they’re in a hurry. Either of these.
- if they provide corrections, they may be wrong, as at a B2 you are required to master already some nuances of the language and you’d be surprised to see how often they can err. 😶
- They have no idea of DELE exams.
I had a few Slavic pupils in the past: they wanted to go for the DELE B2 but… they had been forgetting to put articles in their sentences. They lived in Spain for some time and taught themselves the language. 😲
When I had been correcting them, they were astonished: why hasn’t anyone ever told us? Read point 1 above.
#4 Rehearse for the exam
No matter how fluent your Spanish is: if you don’t rehearse the format of the exam, chances of failing are high.
My empiric experience tells me the biggest threat is mismanaging the time given, ⌚ followed by:
- Misunderstanding the title (ouch 🤕),
- going free-wheeling in the Expresión e Interacción Escritas (are you crazy? Jot down an outline and follow it),
- writing too slow, 🐌
- going off the rails in the Expresión e Interacción Orales,
- choosing the option you like best rather than that you know best (oh, the linguistic hell has a special circle for those candidates 😠),
- wanting to insert fancy idioms and phrasal verbs even when they are out of place (see punishment above),
- discovering on the day of the exam that, argh, you barely practised commenting graphs, pictures and tables or specific text genres,
- finding out you’re not as good at focused listening like you thought you were.
These are all issues you can prevent by rehearsing well. I have passed with flying colours several exams, way more ominous than DELE B2, and I’m no genius at all. In fact, I would lose a game of tic-tac-toe with a Gordon Setter. 🐶
#5 Passing the DELE B2 is more than speaking Spanish
You can even have a real C2 in Spanish but still flunk the DELE B2, if you throw yourself again the windmills like Don Quixote. 🐎
It is critical for you to:
- know your abilities and limits,
- understand that making mistakes is part of the learning adventure and not an embarassment,
- arrange a well-thought plan of attack, 🗺️
- stand the stress the day of the exam.
But a sometimes overlooked factor is: discretion.
In the event that controversial subjects come up, first and foremost, be cautious. What am I talking about? For example: abortion, politics, bullfight, civil liberties.
Examiners are supposed to assess the language you master, not your ideas. That is the theory. 🤨
If I were you, I would be cautious with going out the beaten path: there is always the chance of getting an examiner who holds the opposite beliefs and had a terrible day, so… don’t bait the bear.
Some time ago, controversial topics were unheard of; nowadays, not anymore.