Hi! Would you like to obtain your DELE A2, the popular Spanish language diploma? Excellent! 👏 This post is for you.
The DELE A2 is a, let’s say, easily achievable goal.
The problem is… that’s not entirely true.
Achievable goal… for whom? Those who have a romance language as mother tongue, perhaps.
Whoever is a native speaker of a Germanic language, may have a different opinion.
A Congolese or a Japanese, I’m quite sure, disagree. 😓
The DELE A2 can be a hurdle for whoever comes from Japan, Afghanistan, Thailand or Armenia.
It can as well be difficult for a British or a French.
Many people who want to sit it are full-grown adults, with no experience of learning a foreign language.
It’s the case, for example, of many students I’ve been in contact with recently, from the United Kingdom.
Most of them are retired, or about to be, and want to request the Spanish citizenship. 🇪🇸
In order to do so, they need to show a proof of knowledge of the Spanish language: the DELE A2 is the minimum level allowing them to initiate the procedure.
And well, it’s not all so easy-peasy anyway. It’s still an exam in a language you do not master.
In order to help you to conquer your Spanish DELE A2, I’ve jotted down this post.
DELE A2: A couple info
I suppose you already know something about the DELE A2, but just in case, let me clarify a couple of points.
DELE is an acronym for Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera.
These are certificates proving your knowledge of Spanish, granted by the Instituto Cervantes in cooperation with the University of Salamanca, on behalf of the Ministry of Education of Spain.
So, the University of Salamanca creates and corrects (part of) the exam.
The Instituto Cervantes is the ambassador of the Spanish language worldwide:
- promotes the teaching of Spanish,
- handles the exams outside Spain,
- organizes Spanish courses,
- is broadly speaking a point of reference for Spanish and Hispanic cultures.
As per the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL), DELE qualifications are available in six levels: A1 (the most basic), A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 (the most advanced).
To have an A1 means, in practice, to know the Spanish alphabet, to be able to introduce oneself, manage the present tense of few verbs, greetings and little else.
If you boast a C2, on the other hand, you’re just like a native Spanish speaker with a good cultural background.
So, at an A2 you have a quite basic level.
Let’s digress for a minute into this citizenship thing.
DELE A2: The minimum to request the Spanish citizenship
If your mother tongue isn’t Spanish, you need two certificates in order to ignite the procedure to get the Spanish citizenship:
- The CCSE,
- The DELE A2, or above.
What is CCSE?
It’s an acronym for Conocimientos Constitucionales y Socioculturales de España, which is, Knowledge on Spanish Constitution, Society and Culture.
Basically, a 25 closed-ended question test. By passing it, you show enough knowledge of Spain to be a productive part of our democratic life.
How difficult it is to pass the CCSE exam?
As long as you know enough Spanish, I’d say it’s not difficult.
Therefore, I’d start from the DELE A2. Then, I’d take care of the CCSE.
Let’s get back to the DELE A2, as we do have stuff to talk about.
DELE A2: What you should know
What are the descriptors of such level?
Or better said, what knowledge should you have to be able to state “I have an A2 in Spanish”? More or less, you ought to be able to:
- Understand basic expressions about daily activities,
- produce simple sentences concerning everyday needs and actions,
- describe your environment,
- talk about your past, your family life, your most common routines.
💡 Digging into linguistic details, in the DELE A2 you are requested to:
- Distinguish between ser and estar;
- master the verb gustar and the possessive adjectives and pronouns;
- some basic lexicon to sort out basic daily needs;
- make statements and questions;
- give instructions;
- the most common verbal periphrases;
- common linkers and connectors (entonces, además, por lo cual, pues, etc.)
- you are allowed to make one or two orthographic mistakes, as long as it does not hinder communication;
- you are allowed to make some mistakes, in case of usage of expressions above an A2 level.
DELE A2: Recent changes in the exam
First and foremost, beware the DELE A2 exam has been modified. As of February 2020, that’s a new one. 📅
So you have to watch out. Any book published up to December 2019, are certainly not related to this new exam.
If you were familiar with the earlier version of the exam, let me go briefly through what’s new:
- The distribution of the time per prueba and tarea;
- the overall number of tareas (tasks) has been reduced;
- more relevance has been given to topics related with daily life (thanks goodness. What did they want to put in an A2 exam, quantum physics?)
- the grading system should also change. More on the following weeks.
If you were NOT familiar with the earlier exam, let me show you straight how the new DELE A2 is going to be.
DELE A2: Changes as of 2020
Step by step.
I have mentioned that once you’re at an A2, you should be able to deal with everyday situations with a degree of precision through simple lexicon and structures.
Watch out: in this post, I do not tell you how to reach an A2 level in Spanish ❌, I rather suggest you how to prepare to pass the DELE A2 first time. ✔️
When you go toward an A2 level, you acquire linguistic tools.
When you prepare for the DELE A2, you use these tools you already own to achieve a purpose.
You can either prepare for the test through a course, in some school, or on your own.
I like the second option better: the preparation for a language exam is something that can be done for the biggest part on your own, albeit with some help from a language tutor.
There are the preparation textbooks I’m very inclined to suggest you, currently in pre-sale:
Preparación al DELE A2 – Libro del Alumno, by Mónica María García-Viñó Sánchez: another excellent work from this teacher of Español Lengua Extranjera, a true veteran.
Preparación al DELE A2 – Claves, by Mónica María García-Viñó Sánchez: booklet with commentated solutions of the exercises available in the student’s book above.
Edelsa is one of the best publishing houses in the realm of Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language, and well, preparation for the DELE A2.
It’s also the first to have reacted to the changes introduced by the Instituto Cervantes.
I’d use these books together with this:
Competencia Gramatical En Uso A2, also by Edelsa: to fine-tune your grammar before the exam, this is what you need.
These are incredibly helpful.
Get these three, at least, in order to have a minimum amount of mock exams to practice and a grammar support.
This is what the preparation is about. Once you know the language, you must know each part of the exam like your own pocket.
Now, one critical point needs to be mentioned.
No textbooks will allow you to practice the writing or the oral expression.
You need to resort to a language tutor.
I have been working for years in the field, preparing students to obtain their DELE A2, either in València (Spain) or on the Internet: drop me a line, if you want.
And now, let’s dwell on the specifics.
DELE A2: The new format
Now, a brief outline of each section.
Prueba 1: Reading comprehension
The Comprensión de lectura consists of:
- four tasks (before, five)
- for a total of 25 items
- during 60 minutes.
First, you read easy texts: either public or private sphere, posters, recipes, news, flyers, letters, fragments of guide books, online forums, news, etc.
Items are, basically, multiple-option questions.
The only exception is task 3, the new one: here you shall link three pieces of text with six questions or statements.
You do not have to decipher the Voynich manuscript: you are only required to understand the gist of the texts.
HOW TO PASS THE PRUEBA 1
Focus on the text like a laser beam. Then:
- Read it fast just to get the gist of it;
- read the questions, then the text for the second time, now seeking the answers;
- identify immediately any keyword: linkers, synonyms, antonyms, adverbs, linkers, adverbs, etc;
- keep in mind that some tasks (the no. 3, for example) may require more time than others. If that has been the case during your preparation, remember it when sitting the examination.
Prueba 2: Oral comprehension
The Comprensión auditiva is made of:
- four tasks (before, five)
- 25 items in total
- 40 minutes to complete it.
Previously they were indeed five tareas. Then, they dropped three but added two new tasks, so we get to the four of today.
You are going to listen to conversations, public address messages, news, ads, voicemails or any other education, private or public message.
Every audio track is going to be heard twice.
In the task 1 and 2, items are multiple-answer questions. In the task 3 and 4, you have to connect conversations and messages you hear with written statements.
There is no choppy call between native speakers with thick accents; nevertheless, you have to make use of some oral understanding skills.
HOW TO PASS THE PRUEBA 2
Few key points:
- Have a look at the questions before you listen, as this will guide your listening;
- fill your paper as much as you can the first time you listen;
- fill in the blanks and the uncertain items the second time the track is played;
- one unknown word is not the end of the world, as long as you get the gist of what’s being said;
- pay attention to the words spoken but also to the mood of the speaker (quiet, inquiring, nervous, etc.);
- remember that you’ll have a little time at the end of the listening to complete this part.
Prueba 3: Written expression and interaction
The Expresión e Interacción Escritas consists of:
- 2 tasks (previously, they were 3)
- to be completed in 45 minutes (there was more time before, but then, there were also 1 extra tarea).
In the task 1, you have to write a note, an email, a message or a postcard, in answer to a text that you’re given.
In the task 2, you have to write a text exposing your point of view, describing, narrating something. You can choose between two options:
- A: a personal composition, based on instructions given;
- B: a narrative or biographical composition, based on images or data.
You do not have to show Miguel Hernández’s literary prowess, but you shouldn’t deliver a blank page either.
Use simple constructions and simple lexicon to deliver simple communications.
HOW TO PASS THE PRUEBA 3
Simplicity above all. Then:
- Stick to the instruction given, this is not the place to show off unsolicited creativity or wander off the subject;
- stick to the amount of words you are asked to write;
- respect the conventions of the genres (handwritten notes, emails, etc.),
- use the standard polite forms of address (greetings and salutations),
- punctuation matters,
- use the most basic info organizers (en primer lugar, además, luego, etc.),
- use the most common linkers (entonces, pero, y, también, tampoco, etc.).
You may find extremely useful to little textbook:
Expresión Escrita A2-B1 by Eugenia Criado Clemente and Marcelo Ayala Clemente: this collection, Destrezas Ele by Enclave ELE, is marvellous.
Prueba 4: Oral expression and interaction
The Expresión e Interacción Oral is made of:
- 3 tasks
- 12 minutes preparation + 12 minutes of real examination
Tarea 1: it’s a monologue. You choose one of two topics, both concerning daily life, and you are going to talk about it for 2-3 minutes.
Tarea 2: also monologue. You choose one of two photographs and you describe what it represents.
It’s very likely to have to talk about things as: clothing, physical appearance, daily activities, personal relationships, furniture, environment, time of the day, season, etc.
Tarea 3: that’s a dialogue. You talk with the examiner about the photo chosen for task 2. Again, it’s about common things, informal language, basic needs.
And again, you just need to show to have A2 speaking skills.
You are not Fernando Savater and no one asks you that: you just need to understand and produce easy discourses.
HOW TO PASS THE PRUEBA 4
Breathe deeply and consider these points:
- Examiners aren’t enemies. They are human beings like you whose sole purpose is to evaluate you in the most impartial way;
- examiners begin by inquiring if you want to be treated the tú or the usted way;
- their first questions are merely to break the ice;
- do not write your monologues word by word. It’s better to jot down a few ideas to produce an orderly intervention;
- make sure the key points arise by a brief brainstorm about your topic and your photograph;
- use the most common connectors (por lo cual, pues, entonces, etc.);
- begin and close your interventions in a proper, soft way. Do not settle with an “acabado”, to signal the end of what you have to say, I beg you;
- in the dialogue, please, interact, talk. Don’t be abrupt.
If you do not feel confident when it comes to talking, get a bit of training with the exercises available in this little volume:
Expresión oral A2-B1 BY María José Lobón López, Gregoria López García and Ana Isabel Ron Ron: I repeat here what I’ve said above about this Destrezas Ele collection.
Following its indication, success gets a bit closer.
DELE A2: General tips and tricks
1# Preparing for the DELE A2 and learning the language are two different things
I already said it but it’s very convenient to highlight it again.
A preparation course, or these prep books I suggest above, are not designed to teach you Spanish.
Their purpose is to help you familiarise with the content and format of each part of the examination, as well as to develop the necessary skills to pass the test.
Learning Spanish, is something you should you in a previous stage.
2# Clarity over complexity
As mentioned above, you’re given breathing space to make some errors, in case of employing a language belonging to higher levels.
Anyway, do not feel too confident.
An easy, error-free sentence is better than a complex one with various mistake in it.
In case of doubt, go for clarity and simplicity.
3# Learn to manage time
It’s one of the main hurdles of the DELE A2. It doesn’t seem, but during an exam, time flies.
Without a strict control of your time, you’re bound to fail.
Point is, in many cases whoever has a mediocre knowledge of Spanish, except in the Speaking part, would pass the examination if given extra time.
But as you know, you are not given extra time.
Remember the format of the test, the structure of each part, what you’re asked in every one of them and how much time you have at your disposal.
4# Accent matters to some extent
You are not required to have a native accent. Absolutely not.
What matters, is your ability to be understood by the examiner when you talk.
But at an A2, especially if you are not used to speak, it’s very likely that you have a strong accent, with many words pronounced according the bias of your mother tongue.
Work a bit on this, alone or with the help of an experienced language tutor.
The two monologues and the dialogue are a risky business.
It’s a risk even for those who write decently.
The risk of being speechless out of shyness or fear to make mistakes.
You have to accept this fundamental truth.
If you were a fluent, flawless Spanish speaker, you wouldn’t enrol for an A2 exam, would you?
You have to show A2 speaking abilities, not to give a lection magistralis as if you were Miguel de Unamuno.
Again, try to be brief and clear when speaking. And talk!
DELE A2: How much time you need to prepare for it
Supposing your Spanish does not need extra stamina, I’d say a month and a half, maybe less.
Things to factor in into the equation:
- How much spare time you have on a daily basis;
- your core skills: writing, speaking and getting the gist of what you hear or read within certain time limits;
- your mother tongue;
- how acquainted you are with studying in general;
- if you study with a private tutor, on your own, or in a school.
If I were you, I’d take the last two weeks off to focus exclusively on the DELE A2, with some help from a language tutor.
In the last exam session, I worked together with two adult British candidates.
One of them had difficulties in Speaking. She enrol in a exam centre here in Valencia, landed here two weeks upfront and worked with me two hours every day.
The other candidate, on the other hand, struggled with Writing. We worked for three hours a day to reinforce this skill, in order to meet the exam requirements.
I’m glad to tell that both of them passed the DELE A2 with good grades. 🥳
DELE A2: FAQ
Q: Can I trust the preparation materials the Instituto Cervantes recommend in its website?
A: Actually, no. Do not trust them.
Why? Because they update it very, very rarely.
Whenever there’s a change in an exam, such as this, it takes ages to see any new suitable prep material appearing there.
Q: I’m worried about these changes. Aren’t they negative for me?
A: Not really. It’s just as before or perhaps even slightly better.
Perhaps you’re just a bit baffled, as anybody, by the lack of information from the Instituto Cervantes.
The change has been made official but it takes them a while before to explain it to both candidates and examiners.
Anyway, it’s just a matter of few weeks.
Q: I have old preparation books. Can’t I use them any more?
A: You can’t.
Let me explain.
The kind of training they promote can be useful: to reinforce the listening skills, the reading comprehension, skimming through the text to have a glimpse of the essential then answer…
But at an A2, I wouldn’t make my life more difficult than necessary.
The format of the DELE A2 has changed. If I were you, I’d focus only on the new preparation books.
Q: Where should I enrol for the DELE A2?
A: Just wherever it’s more convenient to you.
The examiners are just as good or as strict as anywhere else.
Some overseas students do however enrol in Spain, in order to sit the exam after some weeks of preparation on site.
It’s quite a logical strategy for many.
Q: Does the new exam format involve a price rise?
A: Prices go up every year or almost, one format or another.
It also depend on the country. But on average, the trend is up-going.
But beside this, what choice do you have anyway? If you want to do a lot of stuff, including getting the Spanish citizenship, there’s nothing but the DELE A2.
I’d just enrol as soon as possible, in order to avoid any future price increase and get it done. ✔️
Q: How long is the DELE A2 valid?
A: Forever. No DELE has an expiry date.
Q: Can I use dictionaries?
DELE A2: The importance of having a private tutor on your side
It’s hard to exaggerate how crucial a private Spanish tutor is, when preparing for a DELE A2 exam.
I have been teaching Spanish and preparing students of all kind to the obtention of the DELE array of exams.
I work either face-to-face or by Internet, through Skype and email.
With me or with whoever you want, hire a professional language tutor to help you out. Do not make the DELE A2 unnecessarily longer and more difficult to pass.
In case you’re curious, this is how I work
With me or with whoever you want, hire a professional language tutor to help you out.
Do not make the DELE A2 unnecessarily longer and more difficult to pass.
And this is in a nutshell how you should prepare for the Spanish DELE A2 exam.
Did you find this brief guide useful?
If so (which I hope), would be so kind to share? There is a lot of people out there lost due to this transition to a new format. 📲
I tried to distil in here all what I know about the old DELE A2, together with what I’ve been learning about the new format in use as of 2020. 📆
As soon as more info will be available, I’ll add it here about the DELE A2.
However, if you ended up here by mistake, because you are above an A2, you are going to enjoy these two posts:
Having said that, I can only wish you…
… an excellent preparation to the DELE A2 😉
See you soon around here.
Your personal linguistic trainer,