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Thursday, July 14, 2016 (read 2122 times)

Being an examiner for the DELE official Spanish exams

by Esther

Being an examiner for the DELE official Spanish exams

Advantages of taking the DELE for Spanish students

This Friday, July 15th, thousands of students will once again face the official Spanish-language proficiency exam DELE, and just like sessions past, we'll watch them arrive to their exam centers filled with nervous expectation. Some will arrive an hour early and will look at you pleadingly as you tell them they have to wait.  The exam spans many arduous hours and requires great intellectual effort – and unfortunately the desired outcome isn't always achieved. Regardless, however, there's no doubt that taking the exam has many benefits for the student. 

No one can question the advantages that come with having an official Spanish diploma, considering that Spanish has become one of the most important and spoken languages in the world, but the benefits of taking the DELE cannot be overstated.   Having your DELE opens doors for you, improves your résumé, and allows you to access Spanish-speaking universities, starting at the B2 level...but it also has other advantages that sometimes go unspoken:

-       A student who is preparing for the official Spanish as a Foreign Language exam is naturally forced to systematize their knowledge of the language and to strengthen their skills. Whereas many students leave their success to chance during any given conversation, a student who solidifies and standardizes their skills takes their proficiency to another level.

-       A student who comes well-prepared to the DELE exam also acquires increased proficiency and fluency in the five skills that are tested:  oral and written expression and comprehension, as well as reading comprehension. This means that the student is not only able to write, understand (oral and written), and speak, but can also do so quickly and effectively. There are even cases of students at the C1 and C2 levels whose knowledge of the language actually exceed that of native speakers.

-       A student who dares to take the exam also gains a valuable life experience which will undoubtedly help them in the future: If you dare to take this kind of exam now, how hard do you think it'll be to do a work presentation, for example?

Advantages of being a DELE examiner for Spanish teachers

Yes, for Spanish teachers the experience is also very rewarding. And hard. And stressful. But just as the experience is extremely beneficial for students because of how much they learn, I dare to say that after having been a DELE examiner and scorer across all levels and throughout many exam sessions -- that I'm now a better teacher myself. Why, you ask? Let me summarize it for you ;-):

-       It's necessary to be familiar with the the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), albeit only the section corresponding to the proficiency levels, as well as the Instituto Cervantes Curriculum Plan (PCIC), which will certainly broaden the methodological knowledge of any educator.  I highly recommend reading both.

-       In order to become an accredited examiner of DELE candidates, it's obligatory to attend a training course, normally one for every two levels. In this course, which is quite difficult, you not only study the functional content of the exam, but also the descriptions and guidelines of each of the tasks. This is what allows us to properly grade students according to either a holistic scale (general) or analytical scale (specific) on certain aspects such as fluidity, correctness, coherence, etc.

-       The experience of administering the written exam, and protocols to follow as an examiner of the oral exam, require a rigorous professionalism that is essential to ensure that each candidate experiences the proper and fair administration of the exam; it also affects our professional development as teachers.

-       It is a huge responsibility because one of the functions of the oral exam interviewer, for example, is to help the candidate achieve their best possible performance. A bad interviewer can cause the candidate to do worse than they might have otherwise, and can even cause the scorer to not have a sufficient base from which to correctly interpret the results.

Tomorrow, July 15th, thousands of students are taking the DELE official Spanish exam; if you can't participate in this session, why not sign up for the next one? It’s an experience you shouldn't miss, whether as a student or a professor.  Dare to give it a try!



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