In preparing for the DELE exam ( “el examen DELE “), or for its online twin the SIELE, or the American equivalent OPIc, one needs a much wider range of resources than just a good Spanish grammar handbook.
This is due to the special nature of these communicative exams, such as the DELE diploma. It tests your ability to communicate in Spanish – that is, to understand and to make yourself understood – rather than simply testing your knowledge of the rules of Spanish verb conjugation.
It is particularly important for one’s understanding of Spanish (i.e., for the reading and listening comprehension portions of the exam) to have a broad reference framework of Hispanic culture, history, traditions and lifestyle, against the backdrop of which you can contextualize what you read or hear. You also have to get your ear attuned to different Spanish accents. Similarly, your eye/mind must get accustomed to fast-reading Spanish text. At a more specifically exam-orientated level, you need to familiarize yourself with the exam format, and practice the skills it will require of you.
In years past, assembling the necessary DELE exam resources for self-study would have entailed frequent trips to the library, or costly subscriptions and book purchases. Fortunately, in today’s modern world of the internet, DELE exam candidates have instant access to some truly excellent resources, of which practically all are available gratis.
We have assembled a list of links to the best DELE exam resources – websites that we access every day at DELEhelp.org with our own students. Even though we have an ample set of in-house created workbooks (which we make available free to our students) the reality is that preparing for the DELE exam is 20% tutoring and 80% self-study. For the latter, the resources we list here are as empowering as they are easily accessible. The importance of active self-study, accompanied by passively immersing yourself in a Hispanic culture and the sound of Spanish at every opportunity, cannot be over-stressed.
FIRST AND FOREMOST: DOING MODEL DELE EXAMS
To get a true sense of what this very different kind of exam entails, it is critically important to start doing model exams as early as possible. Doing these exams also serve as the most reliable diagnostic tool for assessing the current status of your Spanish competency, which will enable your tutor and yourself to identify and address your weaknesses. The model exams we use and recommend, are available as e-books. This ensures quick availability (most of the other model exam books exist only in print and are often difficult to obtain via Amazon, needing to be ordered from the publisher in Spain, taking time to reach you). Of the list of resources that we will provide today, this is the only one that isn’t entirely free (however, the e-books we recommend are much cheaper than the print books, being only €9.90 each, which includes its audio tracks and answer keys – for the print books you usually have to buy the answer keys additionally, and pay postage).
We recommend the Nuevo Examen Dele e-books by our collaborator Dr. David Giménez Folqués (a member of our academic supervisory board), which you can order online via this link.
Being e-books they are up-to-date, easy to use, affordable and available immediately for download.
There is also a Facebook group for these model exam books, which you can join via this link.
PRACTICE SPANISH WITH THE EXAM ADMINISTRATORS
The Instituto Cervantes (which administers the DELE exams on behalf of the Spanish ministry of education) runs a marvellously useful joint effort with the Spanish news agency EFE. It is called Practicaespañol, and it has as objective to provide daily practice to learners of Spanish, based on the news actualities of the day. The exercises are graded in terms of the different DELE levels and contain all the elements tested in the DELE, including audio and reading comprehension, grammar tips and vocabulary lists – all with English translation in parallel. One can subscribe to the site, which is entirely free, to receive daily e-mails with exercises and news articles. This truly great resource can be accessed via this link.
Another initiative of the Instituto Cervantes is the Cervantesvirtual online library and video collection. It is a magnificent resource for books in Spanish, and also has a YouTube channel where videos with interviews and cultural excerpts are regularly carried. These resemble the type of audio material used in the exams for listening comprehension and therefore form a valuable resource for practicing this aspect of the exam. You can access the Cervantes YouTube channel via this link:
PRESS AND LITERATURE
Very often the Reading Comprehension texts in the DELE exams are taken from the two leading Spanish daily newspapers, El Mundo and El País. These both have free online editions. This is the El Mundo link.
Remember to not only read the front page actualities, but also the specialized sections on education, art & culture, science and the like. El País has got an edition for the Americas, which can be reached via this link.
There’s a wide range of free e-books in Spanish available today, both from Amazon Kindle and from Free e-Books.net. As part of your passive learning, reading Spanish books for pleasure is a good way of expanding vocabulary, getting a feel for spelling, and learning about Spanish society’s values and norms.
Free e-Books.net’s Spanish section can be reached via this link.
The free Spanish e-book section on Kindle can be reached via this link.
RADIO AND FILM
To really immerse yourself in the sound of Spanish, there’s no better way than keeping Spanish talk radio on in the background. We selected one channel each from Spain, Argentina and Mexico, which have live streaming via the internet. These channels will give you opportunity to attune your ear to different accents, and have the advantage that they are spread through different time zones. Listening to them will also keep you abreast of current affairs in the Hispanic world, as well as giving you an insight into the Hispanic outlook on life.
SPAIN: RNE Radio5 todo noticias (http://www.rtve.es/radio/radio5/)
MEXICO: Metropoli 1470am (http://www.radioformula.com.mx/) select “radio en vivo”
ARGENTINA: Radio Mitre (http://player.cienradios.com/Mitre_AM790)
Listening to the radio in the background is a largely passive learning exercise. More active listening and viewing can be achieved by looking at Spanish film and soap operas. Netflix has a wide range of material in Spanish, from children’s programmes (which would suit the beginner levels) through comedy to serious drama. It is often possible to view these with English subtitles. If you aren’t subscribed to Netflix, many Spanish-language soapies are available free on YouTube.
One of the best telenovelas for more advanced students, is “la Reina del Sur”, based on the acclaimed novel by top Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte. This series provides good exercise in following different accents (such as the Mexican/Sinaloan, North African, Andalusian and Galician).
One of the main purposes of listening to radio / TV and reading books and the news media, is to expand your vocabulary. It is impossible to express yourself properly without an ample vocabulary, and equally impossible to comprehend fully what you read or hear, if you do not possess a substantial “knowledge of words and of the world”. This latter phrase was stated as the key to succeeding in comprehension tests, by one of the leading experts in the field (see our blog post with tips for acing the reading comprehension portion of the DELE exam, for more on the critical importance of an ample vocabulary).
Probably the greatest tool for researching the meaning and correct use of the new words that you encounter in your reading and listening, is the world’s largest online dictionary: Farlex-theFreeDictionary. It helps you identify words that you may not have the exact spelling for, and gives the meaning and uses of words in Spanish, as well as giving it in English. You can also listen to a correct pronunciation. The Free Dictionary by Farlex can be accessed via this link.
Once you have clarified the meaning and use of a new word, it is essential to memorize it. The best means of doing so is by using flashcards – either the old-fashioned cardboard ones, or the new digital versions. You can download flashcard software, such as ANKI.com. Or you can access online flashcard repositories that already have thousands of sets of Spanish words available, such as Cram.com (you can also create your own sets on Cram, which has a very nice selection of flashcard games with which you can learn your words while playing, rather than having to rote learn them.
Anki can be downloaded via this link.
Cram.com’s existing Spanish word flashcard sets can be accessed via this link.
The links we have provided above are all for your PC; these sites also have apps, which you can download on your mobile device.
RECEIVE A FREE DELEhelp WORKBOOK:
At DELEhelp we have created in-house Workbooks to supplement the public resources such as the above, filling gaps in the latter’s scope with regard to DELE exam students’ needs. These workbooks are available free to our students. Some of them are also available free to the readers of this blog, who subscribe to receiving e-mail notifications of new postings (please see the Mailchimp subscription widget in the side-bar). Subscribing to this blog is free and without any obligation. It will gain you a free copy of our 95-page Workbook #9.2: DELE /SIELE Exam Orientation and Acing Tips, which is the only DELE/SIELE exam preparation book to explain in detail, in English, the DELE/SIELE’s exam goals, structure, curriculum inventory and scoring criteria. You can unsubscribe at any time, so why not give it a try and receive this valuable resource as a free gift.
To learn more about the DELEhelp online tutoring services, please access our page on the website of our mother institution, Excellentia Didactica, via this link.
Gracias por su atención
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