Embarking on the journey to mastering Spanish is an admirable pursuit, one that opens doors to countless opportunities, both personally and professionally. Whether you’re aiming to enhance your cultural experiences, pursue studies abroad, or boost your career prospects, certifying your Spanish proficiency through an examination is a crucial step.

But with various options available, such as the DELE and SIELE exams, how do you decide which one aligns best with your unique goals? This decision relies on understanding your specific necessities. Are you aspiring to study at a particular university? Planning to work in a Spanish-speaking country? Each goal has distinct requirements, and choosing the right exam can significantly impact your success.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the nuances of DELE and SIELE exams, helping you navigate their differences and determine which one caters more effectively to your aspirations. We’ll explore the intricacies of each proficiency level, providing insights into the skills required at each stage of your Spanish language journey.

Before making a decision, it’s essential to grasp the significance of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which categorizes language proficiency into levels ranging from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced). To aid your decision-making process, I invite you to dive into the details of each proficiency level, gaining clarity on the skills expected at every step.

Join me on this exploration, where we unravel the path to mastering Spanish. Understanding the intricacies of language proficiency levels and the distinctions between DELE and SIELE exams will empower you to make informed decisions tailored to your unique ambitions.

Ready to embark on this enriching journey?

Let’s begin!

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR) is a European standard, also used in other regions, which serves to measure the level of understanding in a given language, and has classified the acquisition of languages into three primary levels: the initial which are named with the letter A, the intermediate levels with the letter B and the advanced classes with the letter C.

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Each level is classified according to the acquisition or not of specific skills and abilities in the language, meaning that it is not only a matter of understanding the words but a little more complex than that.

The skills and abilities considered essential to perform well in a language are four: reading, writing, speaking, and listening, and each level has different objectives about the skills. This information is extensive but very interesting, so if you want to find out in detail about all this, you can see the last update (2020) published by the CEFR.

Level A1 Spanish

Understand and use familiar everyday expressions and fundamental phrases to satisfy specific needs. Can introduce him/herself and others and ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows, and things he/she has. Can interact with people, talks slowly and clearly, and is prepared to help.

Level A2 Spanish

Understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of immediate relevance (e.g., basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate and perform routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe aspects of his/her background, immediate environment, and issues in areas of immediate basic need.

Level B1 Spanish

Understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise while traveling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected texts on familiar topics or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes, and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Level B2 Spanish

Can understand the main ideas of a complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialization. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without any strain for either party. Can produce a clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint from a topical issue giving the advantages and Independent disadvantages of various options.

Level C1 Spanish

Understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes. Can produce a clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices.

Level C2 Spanish

Understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, fluently, and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning, even in more complex situations.

Source: Council of Europe

How Do I Find Out My Spanish Level?

Usually, most Spanish schools offer online tests in which you can know your language level, these tests are generally entirely accurate, and you can have the results when you finish the questions. One of the online tests I find most reliable is the Oxford House BCN, which has 50 questions, and you get the results immediately.

Despite this, as a language teacher and student, I believe that the best option to learn your level of Spanish is with an official exam, in which you will have to check the four skills (listening, speaking, writing, and reading) with different tests.

The DELE and SIELE exams stand out as two globally recognized and widely accepted assessments of Spanish proficiency. (Explore further details on their respective websites by following this link.)

The DELE is a certificate exam by the Instituto Cervantes on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport of Spain to measure the degree of competence or proficiency of a Spanish speaker according to the European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the Manual for Relating Exams.

The DELE certificate covers all CEFR levels: level A1, level A2, level B1, level B2, level C1, and level C2. In Spain, DELE diplomas are recognized by national, regional, and local institutions, such as Ministerio de Justicia de España y Ministerio de Sanidad, as well as many Universities in Hispanic countries. 

Where can I take this exam?

DELE exams can be taken in different parts of the world and do not necessarily have to be in Spanish-speaking countries. There are more than 1000 test centers in more than 100 countries, although not all centers offer the exam at any given time. Check the different centers here.

How much does it cost?

The DELE exams’ registration fee depends on your Spanish level, as you have to register for the group you want to pass. It will also vary depending on the country in which you write. Each candidate should check beforehand the price of the chosen diploma.

How do I register?

Registration for the exams must be processed through the Instituto Cervantes within the established deadlines. There are two ways to register for the DELE exam: 1. Online, in the case of candidates in Spain (for all levels except school). 2. At each examination center, in the case of DELE exams outside Spain.

What kind of preparation material is available to prepare for the exam?

The Instituto Cervantes provides DELE candidates with guides that include basic information on the description and administration of the DELE exams. Consult the material here.

The UNAM, the University of Buenos Aires, the University of Salamanca, and the Cervantes Institute created this exam. It is a Pan-Hispanic exam and incorporates the different linguistic variables of Spanish. Unlike the DELE, you can register for the exam online, choose the day of the test, and you will receive your results shortly after the test. In SIELE, everything is managed electronically (registration, booking, communications).

They also offer different test modalities; you can choose between the complete SIELE Global or any of the five independent modalities in which only two specific tests are selected.

How do I register?

Select the test modality you wish to take (SIELE Global or any of the five independent modalities), then select the country, the date, and the test center.

When do I receive the results?

Within a maximum of three weeks, you will be able to download your results from the same platform that SIELE gives you. Here you can also find more information on how to take the exam.

I trust that the insights shared here will prove invaluable as you navigate your journey to master Spanish. Should any questions arise or if you seek further clarification, don’t hesitate to drop your queries in the comments. Feel free to share this content with anyone you believe could benefit from this information in their language-learning endeavors.

Your active participation and feedback are greatly appreciated, and I’m here to offer continued support on your language journey.

¡Hasta la próxima vez!

About The Author


Giane was born and raised in Chile, except for the time she moved to Spain and attended university there. She studied Education and Psychology at the University of Barcelona. She started teaching Spanish when she decided to travel around Europe, since then she has not stopped teaching languages.

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