Last month, I failed the Spanish language test, the DELE B2 Exam! I felt quite embarrassed, shocked and saddened that I failed it, and only now I’m opening up to share my experience with you. I want to share my lessons about the DELE B2 Spanish Exam, so I can learn from them moving forward, and to potentially help you too if you’re trying to succeed in a B2 Exam under the CEFR(Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).
Just to be totally transparent with you, I have included a screenshot of the email that Instituto Cervantes sent me. You can see the results that I achieved for each of the 4 sections of the DELE B2 Spanish Exam. This totally proves that I actually did the exam, and proves the results I really received.
From the real screenshot of my DELE B2 test results, you can see that I passed the Reading and Writing sections. However, I failed the Speaking and Listening parts of the test. =(
Therefore, from a practical viewpoint, you can say that my Spanish reading and writing abilities are certainly at the B2 level, meaning that I attained higher intermediate skills in Spanish reading and writing since I passed those sections in the B2 exam. However, I still have not yet reached the higher intermediate in Spanish for speaking and listening, and I really need to focus on those skills moving forward.
What is the “Examen DELE B2” (in Spanish) or DELE B2 Exam?
The Diploma in Spanish (DELE) level B2 accredits language users’ capacity to be at the B2 level. The DELE stands for the Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera, or in English it’s also known as the Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language. If you are successful in achieving the DELE level B2 (or DELE nivel B2), then you are accredited as being at the Vantage or Upper Intermediate level of the Spanish language. This means that you would have demonstrated the following Spanish language skills:
- Certifies students’ ability to interact with native speakers with a sufficient degree of fluency and spontaneity to enable easy and natural communication between interlocutors;
- Produce clear and detailed texts about diverse topics, as well as defend an opinion about general topics, expressing the pros and cons for each argument;
- And lastly, understand the gist of complex texts about both concrete and abstract topics, including technical texts, provided they are within the candidate’s area of expertise.
How I felt when I found out that I failed the DELE B2 Spanish Exam?
I woke up with my phone glowing. A new email had arrived in my inbox, and I glanced at it to see who it was. To my surprise, the sender was Instituto Cervantes and the subject line read: “Diplomas DELE. Convocatoria de abril de 2016. Publicación de calificaciones.” It had been about 2 months since I had sat for the DELE Spanish test, and I hadn’t heard a word from DELE so I had been expecting some contact from them regarding my results.
Instituto Cervantes sends you this email and they give you a unique ID number. They also give you a link. Then you click on the link, and it take you to a special results page on the Instituto Cervantes website. You will need to input your unique ID number as well as your date of birth. Once you do that, you will be able to download and get access to your DELE Exam Results. My results were accessible via a downloadable PDF file.
Even before I received the results, and even while I saw that email about the DELE exam, I was already a little anxious that I may not pass the test. The reason was because during the Listening Part of the Spanish exam, I remembered sitting there listening to the audio dialogues and not understanding very much of what was going on! Therefore, there were a number of questions which I just stabbed in the dark or made educated guesses, and sometimes even using the process of elimination or really just randomly choosing an answer. It was not a good feeling during the exam. The other parts, I felt fine, but while I was doing the listening section, I had to keep reassuring myself to do the best that I could, and that after the exam, I really should focus more on my Spanish listening skills!!!
So when I finally looked at the email from Instituto Cervantes and opened the file with my DELE B2 exam results, I had mixed emotions.
On the one hand, I felt really disappointed. I felt sad, angry at myself and hurt that I had failed the DELE B2 test, since I had spent time and money and my personal focus and energy on it, especially in preparing for it. This was the initial feeling that I felt, and to be really honest with you, I was dwelling with these feelings for a while.
On the other hand, after some time acknowledging my down feelings, I eventually felt a sense of closure that I knew my result, and logically I can’t and shouldn’t be defined forever by this result, because certainly I can learn from my weaknesses in Spanish, and then come back again at a later time to do the test even better and pass. If I look at the test from that standpoint, then the test really is just a way to understand my reading, writing, listening and speaking levels of Spanish.
Also, I recognized that I did not absolutely need the B2 DELE Spanish recognition right now, since I’m not using it formally for a job or to get a visa or to do a university course. The main purpose for me doing and achieving the B2 level in Spanish was simply to understand my level of Spanish in the 4 key language learning areas, and see how I could improve. It was more of a personal goal, more than anything else, since I just love the Spanish language. Essentially, I have been learning Spanish and I prepared for and did the DELE Exam more as a labor of love and personal passion.
How I prepared for the DELE B2 Spanish Exam?
For over a year before the test, I had been learning and studying the Spanish language, largely on my own. I was helped by the fact that I actually lived in Chile and Ecuador for a big chunk of that time, although there were periods when I was in Australia and the United States, but also studying Spanish during those periods too.
- Pronunciation: Minimal Pairs
- Vocabulary: Frequency Lists and SRS (Spaced Repetition System) Flashcards
- Writing: Writing Sentences and Personal Journal Entries, corrected by Spanish native speakers
- Reading & Listening: Watching “Los Hombres de Paco” TV Series, and Reading Books while Listening to the Audiobook Version
- Speaking: Talking to Spanish Native Speakers via Skype and getting my speaking skills corrected by them
What I will change with my Spanish Language Study moving forward?
It was the first time that I did a DELE Spanish exam. It was actually the first time that I ever did a test that aligned with the Common European Framework for Languages. So now that I have some experience doing a DELE test, that uses the CEFRL framework, I think I will be changing my study habits for Spanish moving forward.
I am still very determined to pass the B2 test in Spanish, and I will keep doing it, and changing my strategies and tactics as necessary, until I pass it. I’m not afraid of failure and I’m not afraid of doing the hard work, and learning from my mistakes.
1) Focus on Intensive Listening
From now on, I will be focusing a lot more on intensive listening to Spanish. Previously, I had been trying to improve my listening skills via a lot of passive listening. I watched 2 TV series, namely Star Wars and Los Hombres de Paco, all via passive listening. However, I have found that passive listening just doesn’t work for me, and I need to be more active in the process.
I have tried some active listening and intensive listening already and it seems to be working and honing my ears to pick up individual words and the connected speech.
2) Extensive Reading for Fun
In addition, I want to enjoy the Spanish language more and just immerse myself in native Spanish materials. So, moving forward, I will be doing more extensive reading of books that interest me and which I enjoy.
I want to do this so that I can just enjoy the language, rather than trying to force myself to learn new words and grammar, I want to just pick it up passively. I tried reading a novel, and so far I’m finding that I understand much of what’s on the page, although I do have to look up words in my Spanish dictionary from time to time, but that’s OK. It’s not too much unknown words that it is just too daunting to read. So I’m really happy with this.
I get 2 benefits. I get to grow my Spanish language, as well as have fun reading a book I would have read in English anyway.
3) Speaking with Spanish Native Speakers on Skype
Before my second attempt of the DELE B2 Exam, I will be doing more speaking with Spanish native speakers on Skype. My speaking skills were another of my weak points in te DELE B2 test, so I need to focus on this.
There are costs, however, with doing Spanish conversation sessions on Skype, so I need to wait a little bit when I’ve got a bit more money available per month to start doing this. But soon, once I’ve got some funds available, I will be doing this. At the very least, I aim to do it at least once per week, but I would ideally like to do it twice or three times per week.
What worked for me with the DELE B2 Spanish Exam that I will continue doing?
While I will be changing some of my Spanish study methods moving forward, I will continue some other methods that worked for me. I did pass the Reading and Writing sections of the DELE B2 Spanish test, so I must have done the right things with those areas.
So the next 2 tips could help you too if you are trying to pass the DELE B2 Exam:
4) Using Spaced Repetition System Flashcards to remember vocab and grammar
This worked for me well when I did the DELE Spanish B2 Exam. I had many months of learning Spanish words and having them repeated at spaced intervals over the long term. I’m just so surprised how much Spanish I have retained from using SRS Flashcards, and I will continue to add more cards and review my cards daily so that I will pass the B2 DELE Spanish exam moving forward.
5) Writing Spanish sentences and getting them corrected by native speakers
My writing and reading skills are superb, and I am proud that I passed the writing and reading sections of the B2 DELE test. Writing regularly and getting my writings corrected by native speakers has really helped me, and I suggest you do this too in order to pass the B2 Spanish exam.
What are you doing to pass the DELE Spanish B2 test?
These are some things that worked for me for the DELE B2 Spanish exam, as well as some things that I want to change moving forward. I will do the DELE B2 Spanish test again. It is my goal to ass it, not only for the writing and reading parts, but also for the listening and speaking parts that I had failed.
I hope my tips and experience helps you achieve your goals! ¡Buena suerte!