Whether it’s a job or education, there are instances when you could be asked to certify your proficiency in Spanish, especially when it’s your second language.
Read on to learn about the most renown internationally accredited certificates of Spanish and how you can become certified in Spanish.
While there are many programs for Spanish certification, international ones seem to be more regulated. To maintain a level of quality and guarantee uniform levels throughout, we recommend looking at certification programs that follow the standards known as CEFR.
The Council of Europe created the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, or CEFRwas created by the Council of Europe, in 1989. The six reference levels of proficiency outlines in the CEFR are internationally recognized standards for most languages.
The CEFR provides a tiered description of proficiency levels. Using the CEFR levels allows for universally understood levels. The levels are divided into three tiers, where the letter A corresponds to beginner level proficiency, the letter B to intermediate and the C to advanced proficiency levels, in the following manner:
Depending on your requirement you must search for a certificate that corresponds with the necessary CEFR level.
Here is a list of the most common or well known internationally recognized Spanish language certifications and their characteristics.
Most internationally recognized Spanish certifications require that you physically attend a certified exam center to take the test (beware of generally available online exams). To get a Spanish language certificate, you must start by researching the different programs available. Make sure you know which CEFR level certification you want or need and then search for the center that provides that exam.
Depending on your location you must evaluate which Spanish language certifications are offered in your country and up to what CEFR level. Not all certifications are available in all countries, and not all exam centers offer the opportunity to receive all levels of certification.
One of the most widely recognized Spanish language certifications the DELE certificate. The DELE or (Diplomas de Español Como Lengua Extranjera) was created in 1989 by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport and serves to indicate a participant’s proficiency in European Spanish through a series of standardized tests.
The Spanish Instituto Cervantes, a non-profit organization that promotes Spanish language and culture, issues the test and subsequent diplomas on their behalf.
These DELE exams are based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and are recognized worldwide as indications of Spanish proficiency for participants for whom Spanish is not their native language. More than 100,000 people have taken the exams, and the certificates are widely accepted by universities, institutions, business, and governments.
In accordance with CEFR, the DELE offers individual exams and certifications for all six proficiency levels (A1 to C2).
The DELE examinations are carried out in a vast network of Cervantes Centers around the world. There are more than 1000 centers in over 100 countries, among them universities, teaching centers, academies, consulates, etc. The official DELE site offers training exams as well as the opportunity to search for and register at any of the Cervantes Centers worldwide.
The Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española or SIELE is a relatively new Spanish language certification. Started in 2016 the SIELE program was started by the Cervantes Institute, The National Autonomous University of Mexico, the Universidad de Buenos Aires and the University of Salamanca in Spain.
The exam indicates language proficiency for adults, both for native speakers as those for whom Spanish is a second or foreign language. A Notable difference with the DELE examination is that the SIELE allows you to become certified in Spanish more globally, as opposed to the Spanish language certification that is almost exclusively based on Spanish from Spain.
Most notably though, the SIELE test offers a different way of determining proficiency. The test has four distinct parts, namely Reading Comprehension, Listening Comprehension, Written Expression And Interaction, Spoken Expression And Interaction which can be taken together or individually.
The test is based on a 0-1000 score for all four parts, and the total score obtained correlates with a level of the CEFR standard (A1 to C1).
The SIELE exam is administered online at any of the more than 500 certified SIELE centers around the world. To register, and find additional information, you can visit the official SIELE site.
The European Language Certificates or TELC test the proficiency of participants in 10 different languages, including Spanish, through the administration of standardized tests. The test measure proficiency based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, or CEFR. The TELC exams are administered by the German-based non-profit organization TELC gGmbH.
The Spanish TELC certificates are recognized by Spanish universities and can be obtained in both the beginner and intermediate CEFR levels, namely:
TELC exams can be taken in any of the 3,000 exam centers, most of them in Europe and several in India, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The official TELC website offers training material, practice exams and the ability to search for TELC examinations centers per country.
European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment in Modern Languages or ECL is responsible for providing standardized language proficiency test for the languages of the EU member states.
These tests are also based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) and offer exams in the following CEFR proficiency levels:
The ECL certificates are primarily focused on communication skills. The exams for the ECL can be taken in any of the approximately 200 test centers, mostly in Europe with a couple in the United States and Argentina.
To become certified in Spanish through the ECL you must take the exams that are administered twice a year in April and December.
The Certificado de Español: Lengua y Uso or the Certificate of Use of Language in Spanish (CELU), is different from the aforementioned Spanish certifications in that it focused exclusively on Spanish as used in Argentina.
Accredited by the Argentinian Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture and Foreign Relations, a CELU certification is required by Argentinian Universities for international students and is recognized in Brazil, China, and Italy.
The CELU is not based on the CEFR standards, but its levels correspond in the following manner: