If you are of Sephardic descent and you are keen to apply for Spanish nationality, then there’s great news – a new concession by the Spanish authorities means that you can do the DELE A2 exam AFTER the expiration of the 30 September 2019 deadline for handing in your nationality application, and still have your DELE results accepted. There definitely still remains sufficient time to prepare to pass, even for beginners.
THE SPANISH LEGAL REQUIREMENTS:
The Spanish “right of return” law of 2015 allows applicants of Sephardic descent a limited window to file their applications for expedited Spanish nationality. The deadline has already been extended once (and the law only allows for that one extension). It expires on 30 September 2019. It is theoretically possible that it may be extended again, but this would likely require amendments to the original law, not just a simple administrative act (as with the first extension). Reality is that the somewhat inconclusive 2019 Spanish general election has left the Cortes (national assembly) with other pressing priorities. Another complicating factor may be that the Muslim world is questioning the fact that, whilst in 1492 Jews and Moors were expelled from Spain, only descendants of those Sephardic Jews are currently being invited back in.
So, file your Spanish nationality application asap – no later than 30 September 2019 – because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offered to those of Sephardic descent.
One of the requirements under the Sefardi return law, is that applicants must show proof of having mastered basic Spanish. This is tested by means of the DELE A2 exam, administered by the Instituto Cervantes. The A2 is the second lowest level of Spanish in a system that goes up to C2. A2 is really “survival Spanish”, with elementary grammar and its vocabulary focused on the candidate’s immediate needs and for describing his/her close living environment. The DELE exams are offered world-wide, on a limited number of days per year. The dates for 2019 are shown below.
A problem with the DELE is that the results typically only become available three months after the exam date. The actual diploma usually arrives a further three months later. Furthermore, accredited exam centers are relatively few, and have limited numbers of seats available for the exams. These practical problems with the DELE, have caused the Spanish Justice Ministry to DE-LINK the submission of the language exam RESULTS (as well as those of the CCSE culture & constitution exam, also managed by the Instituto Cervantes) from the filing of the actual application as such.
The concession now made by the Spanish authorities, means that – on condition that you have officially filed your nationality application before or on 30 September 2019 latest, then your DELE / CCSE results will be accepted beyond that date, including for exams taken AFTER the closing date for applications as such (i.e., 30 September 2019) has passed.
Exactly till when candidates will be allowed to sit for the exams and still qualify, is unfortunately somewhat unclear at the moment (we are urgently working with our local Spanish Embassy to have this definitively cleared up). The web-site of the Jewish Federation of Spain avers that the exams can still be done through the whole of 2020. The actual notification of the concession, published by the Spanish Ministry of Justice in their official gazette on 19 June 2019, speaks of a period of “one year, which can be extended or reduced” for HANDING IN YOUR RESULTS. Unfortunately, it fails to state whether the year is to be calculated from the date of publication of the notice, or from 1 October 2019. It is also debatable whether such a right, once accorded, can legally be “reduced”, since that appears to be contrary to Spanish law of administrative procedure. The Instituto Cervantes, for its part, wasn’t clear what the last qualifying date for ACTUALLY SITTING THE EXAM would be (as distinct from the last date for handing in results).
Be that as it may, it seems clear that the remaining 3 exam dates already established for 2019 will all still qualify – and before 2020 arrives, we should have clarity from the Justice Ministry, who have confirmed to us that they are currently working on better coordinating and clarifying the information on this.
Please remember that registration for the exams close about four weeks prior to the exam date. Please make sure that the exam center that you aim to choose, will definitely be presenting the A2 on these dates. Not all centers choose to present all of the DELE exams offered by the Instituto Cervantes in any given year. Also be sure to ask whether the particular center must first meet a quota of candidates before Madrid will send them examiners (for the oral; not all centers have locally-based qualified oral examiners always to hand). Students have had the unfortunate experience of registering at such centers, and then receiving an e-mail from them on the last day of registration saying: “sorry, we didn’t meet the quota so we won’t be offering your level after all”. This then leaves the student in the impossible situation that it is then too late to search for another center.
Considering that this is truly a “once in a lifetime” opportunity and that it is now rapidly running towards its close, it makes sense to not put all your eggs in the basket of one exam session. Many things can go wrong – health-wise, business or family, impeding one to actually sit the exam as intended, or even on the day itself you may not be at your best, for any number of reasons. It thus is wise, as a precaution, to also register ahead, in time, for an additional, “fall-back” session – which could be the special one on Friday the 13th of September (exclusively for A2 candidates) and then the very last one that will qualify, on 4 October (which is for all levels).
The regional head office of the Instituto Cervantes for North and Central America is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico (they are also an exam center). If in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact them: https://albuquerque.cervantes.es/en/default.shtm
A last point about the registration process: if you suffer any disability that may impact your ability to fairly complete the exam, such as being hard of hearing (which may be a problem if you have to listen to the audio of the listening comprehension test over a public sound system in a group context, rather than having earphones) you need to take this up with your center from day one.
WITH PROPER PREPARATION, THE DELE A2 EXAM IS RELATIVELY EASY:
As far as the exam itself is concerned, it is NOT the Spanish Inquisition. It is not a “gotcha” type of exam trying to catch you out. It is a real-world, very practical test of your competency at communicating intelligibly in basic Spanish. The oral examiners are trained to try and put you at ease, and the exam papers as such are full of helpful guidance, so please don’t rush reading them – read them carefully, at least twice. The DELE is not like your typical school or college language exam. It is not hung up on grammar, or on marking you negatively for every small mistake. It is all about communication; about messaging: can you understand a simple message and are you able to convey an understandable message in turn? The four equally-weighted scoring criteria of the speaking and writing segments of the DELE are: coherence, fluency, ample vocabulary, and accuracy (the latter encompassing pronunciation, spelling, and grammar ). The examiners are under orders to ignore “slip of the tongue” type grammar mistakes that don’t impact the clarity of your message.
So, can a beginner start now and hope to pass the September, October or November 2019 exam? Definitely, YES. On condition, of course, that you are dedicated, apply yourself, and have access to a 1-on-1 tutor. That “personal trainer” must work with you i.t.o. a personalized study plan, based on first of all doing a proper diagnostic of your level, aptitude and learning preferences.
As a concrete example: last year we assisted as student who came to us at the beginning of May. He was based in Iceland (where there isn’t much opportunity to practice Spanish!) and he wanted to do the May 19th 2018 exam as a “dry run”, while really aiming for the July exam. Here is an extract from his registration form with us:
Currently living in Iceland.
Academic Qualifications obtained
BFA in Graphic Design. No qualifications in Spanish.
Your current level of Spanish:
When can we do a Skype interview about your needs?
My schedule is currently very open. I’d love to get started as soon as possible.
Which aspects of your Spanish do you need help with?
I’ll be taking the A2 exam for the Sephardic Jews Spain Right of Return. I’m scheduled to take the test on May 19, I’m not sure I’ll pass the first time, so I’m currently planning to take it again in July.
Well, this student took 20.5 hours of very focused, structured classes with us via Skype, starting on 3 May, and on 19 May he passed! And he isn’t the only one to have achieved that kind of progress, by any means. I could cite a whole list of similar cases. YES, IT CAN BE DONE! (It is based on just such testimonies that the Jewish Federation of New Mexico kindly recommends us to Sefardis who want to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity).
OUR DELEhelp TUITION VIA SKYPE IS PERSONAL AND FLEXIBLE:
Our tuition is always based on a personalized study plan, which we design for you, based on the initial diagnostic that we do as first step. We believe in being maximally flexible regarding hours. We are open seven days a week, from early to late in the evening and you can reschedule or cancel up to one hour before the booked time for your Skype session, without any penalties. You get our specialized DELEhelp in-house workbooks and related resources FREE. We bill you at the end of each month via PayPal, so you don’t have to send us any personal or credit card data. You are billed only for the actual Skype interface time, at US$12-00 per hour (which thus includes our class prep and homework review time, plus our in-house resources, for FREE). I’m pretty sure that you won’t get a better rate anywhere…
At DELEhelp we go way beyond grammar, covering each of the four communicative competencies being tested in the DELE. We thoroughly familiarize you with the exam format and curriculum. We inform you about the four scoring criteria applied by examiners in evaluating you in the oral and writing tests. We also coach you in the “distractor” techniques used by examiners in the multiple choice reading and listening comprehension tests. Our tuition is hands-on, simulating exam reality. It is absolutely goal-driven (i.e., entirely focused on helping you to pass the exam).
Above all our tuition is practical, informed by our own first-hand experience of the exam, from the perspective of an English-speaking student. It is an intensive, one-on-one effort to help you develop your actual communicative ability in Spanish, so that you can demonstrate the real-world skill sets that the DELE’s four equally-weighted scoring criteria evaluate. Our aim is to help you perform optimally in the exam setting. We help you to develop your actual communicative competencies. We DO NOT simply lecture you school-style about the “rules” of the Spanish language (which merely allows you to “know” in the abstract, instead of enabling you to actually DO).
Your personalized study plan will provide for 2/3 self-study and 1/3 Skype interfacing with the tutor (i.e., for every hour of Skyping, we assume two hours of guided self-study). The Skype sessions serve to practice the things one cannot really do on one’s own at home, such as practicing for the very important oral expression part of the exam. The sessions also serve to give feed-back on the self-study assignments (for example, practicing writing in Spanish) and reviewing with you, your mock exam results. We include a lot of realistic simulated exam practice – using actual previous exam papers as well as model exams.
If you want to know more about the A2 exam and how best to prepare, have a look at our earlier blogpost on the topic:
The following blogpost will guide you about WHAT to learn, and HOW to do it: https://www.delehelp.org/dele-siele-oral-writing-how-to-learn-and-what/
Our DELEhelp blog is full of useful guidance about all aspects of the DELE exam – browse the past postings at www.delehelp.org
To know more about our DELEhelp course package, please go to our secure website: https://edele.org
Don’t forget to ask for our free, 96-page workbook of “DELE exam orientation an acing tips”, by simply filling in the contact info form linked to the image below (just click on it).
We look forward to helping YOU ace your DELE A2 exam before the Sephardic window closes: “¡Si, se puede!” (Yes, it CAN be done!).
- DELE / SIELE oral & writing: HOW to learn, and WHAT
- SPANISH EXAM PREP: THREE TOP TIPS