5 Best Spanish Language Certifications (Proficiency Tests)

  • Jada Lòpez
    Written byJada Lòpez
    Jada LòpezSpanish teacher, translator
    🎓 B.A., Translation and Interpreting English and Spanish, Universidad de Granada
    🎓 M.A., Formación de Profesores de Español como Lengua Extranjera (ELE), Universidad Pablo de Olavide

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5 Best Spanish Language Certifications (Proficiency Tests)

What’s the best way to prove your Spanish language proficiency?

It can be challenging, but getting Spanish certification can show prospective employers, universities and immigration officers that you’ve got the required Spanish language skills to work, study or move to a Spanish-speaking country.

If you want to know which Spanish language certifications are internationally recognised, you’ll find the answer here.

There are several internationally-recognised Spanish language certifications you can choose from to get Spanish language accreditation.

Find out about the main ones below.

What are the five main internationally recognised Spanish language certifications?

The five main internationally recognised Spanish language certifications include:

  • CELU - a certification offered by the Argentinian government
  • TELC - a certification designed by The European Language Certificates
  • ECL - a certification designed by the European Consortium for the Certificate of Modern Languages
  • DELE - the Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera certification offered by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture
  • SIELE - a certification designed by the Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española

Though most of these qualifications assess speaking, listening, reading and writing Spanish skills, they each use a different system for grading your results and are valid for different language learners.

They are also available in different countries.

But how are each of these certifications different?

Check the content below for a closer look at each of these exams.

What is the CELU?

The Certificado de Español Lengua y Uso (CELU) certificate is a certification that is recognised internationally.

This certification demonstrates your Spanish language proficiency if Spanish is your foreign language.

The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Argentina also accept CELU certifications, as do universities in Argentina, Italy, Brazil and China.

Which skills does the CELU evaluate?

You will have to demonstrate several skills to pass the CELU exams, including listening, writing, reading and speaking.

The exams for each skill are divided into two sections - a written and an oral.

The written part of the CELU tests lasts 3 hours; the oral part lasts up to 20 minutes.

How do examiners grade CELU test takers?

Only certain grades are offered to CELU test takers - the B1, B2 and C1 grades (where B1 and B2 are the equivalents of an intermediate level of Spanish and C1 is the equivalent of the advanced level).

Examiners use a “good” to “excellent” grading scale when reviewing your tests.

Who should take the CELU exams?

Students who want to study a course in a Spanish-Speaking country and need to demonstrate their fluency in Spanish should take the CELU exams.

Professionals may also take the exams to get a certification and show they have the intermediate or advanced level skills required to work in a Spanish-speaking organisation.

However, anyone whose native language isn’t Spanish can register for the CELU exams.

How long are CELU certificates valid?

CELU certificates are valid indefinitely - if you get a CELU certificate, the accreditation does not expire.

What is the TELC?

The European Language Certificates or TELC are certifications designed by the Association of Language Testers, Europe - (ALTE).

TELC GmbH issues these certifications, which are recognised in Europe.

You can take the TELC test in over 25 countries, including India, Malaysia and countries in Europe.

Which skills does the TELC evaluate?

The TELC exams evaluate five essential Spanish language skills: reading comprehension, language elements (such as grammar and vocabulary), listening comprehension, writing skills, and speaking ability.

The duration of the exams depends on the exam level you register for.

For example, for the Spanish B2 level oral exam, you will speak with up to three candidates for 15 minutes.

For the reading part, you will have 90 minutes to answer the questions; for the listening comprehension, you will have 20 minutes; and for the writing part, you will have 30 minutes.

How do examiners grade TELC test takers?

Your examiner will grade you out of 300; the maximum score for the written exams is 225, and the maximum score for the speaking exams is 75 points.

Who should take the TELC exams?

If you are seeking a visa to migrate to a Spanish-speaking country or need accreditation for degree-level study, you can take the TELC exams to prove that you meet the Spanish fluency requirements.

You can also take the TELC exams if you are a working professional looking for work.

How long are TELC certifications valid?

If you receive a TELC certification, this accreditation is valid indefinitely.

TELC certifications do not expire.

What is the ECL?

The European Consortium for the Certificate of Modern Languages (ECL qualification) is an internationally-recognised Spanish language certification and set of exams that demonstrate language proficiency at an intermediate and advanced level.

In other words, the examination only certifies three levels - B1, B2 and C1.

Which skills does the ECL evaluate?

The ECL exams test four Spanish language skills, including oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression and reading comprehension.

The exams for these skills are divided into a written and oral tests.

The oral expression refers to Spanish speaking skills, listening comprehension refers to Spanish listening skills, reading comprehension is your ability to understand written texts, and written expression refers to Spanish writing skills.

How do examiners grade ECL test takers?

Examiners grade ECL test takers on a scale of zero to 100.

You must score 60% or achieve 60 points to pass the ECL.

You can achieve a maximum of 25 points in each part of the exam.

There is no online version of the ECL test, and you will receive your results and certificates within one month after completing the test.

Who should take the ECL exams?

You should take the ECL exams if you need to demonstrate your Spanish language proficiency and are seeking a visa or want to work abroad in a Spanish-speaking country.

What is the DELE?

The Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE diploma) is an internationally accepted certification that counts as an accreditation of your current Spanish language level.

The Instituto Cervantes issues this accreditation, demonstrating Spanish language ability at different levels.

So, you can take the test in six levels, including: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2.

Which skills does the DELE test evaluate?

When you take the DELE exams, the tests will evaluate four skills: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, written expression and interaction, and oral expression and interaction.

How do examiners grade DELE test takers?

Examiners grade DELE test takers out of 100.

A score of 60% is required for each test.

The overall grade is either fail or pass, so you can achieve the CEFR level you chose to complete with the DELE examination, or you will fail.

If you pass the DELE exam, you will receive a certification demonstrating your proficiency in Spanish at the level you chose to take the test.

The certifications align with the CEFR framework.

Who should take the DELE exams?

You should take the DELE exams to gain Spanish citizenship, apply for a work visa for a Spanish-speaking country or apply for a post-secondary level qualification.

How long are DELE certifications valid?

A DELE certification does not expire.

Compared with some other internationally recognised Spanish language certifications that have an expiration date, DELE is valid indefinitely.

What is the SIELE?

The Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española (SIELE certification) is a certification that covers five of the six levels of the CEFR - you can’t get a C2 level certification via SIELE because it is not available.

Leading universities in Argentina, Spain, and Mexico created this certification, which is internationally recognised.

Which skills does the SIELE test evaluate?

The SIELE exams evaluate four main skills - reading comprehension, listening comprehension, writing interaction and speaking interaction.

The tests assess these skills through four different exams.

How do examiners grade SIELE test takers?

The total number of points you can achieve is 1,000, and SIELE examiners grade each of the four exams using a scale of zero to 250.

If you score between zero and 32.99 on an individual exam, your skills are lower than the elementary level (A1).

If you score between 118 and 177,99, your skills meet the upper-intermediate level (B2); if you score between 217 and 250, your skills meet the lower advanced level (C2).

Who should take the SIELE exams?

If you are a post-secondary level student, you can take the SIELE exams to prove your Spanish language proficiency when applying for a course in a Spanish-speaking country.

Working professionals seeking employment in Spanish-speaking countries can also take the SIELE exams to gain Spanish language accreditation for their job.

How long are SIELE certifications valid?

A SIELE certification is valid for five years, meaning you can use the qualification to qualify for a bachelor’s degree and study for the full duration of the course in a Spanish-speaking country.

When do you receive the results of a CELU certification?

After completing the CELU exam online, you will typically receive your Spanish language certification and results in December (which you can get online).

Are the DELE exams hard to pass?

The DELE exams require a lot of studying, but if you already have a high Spanish level, you may find the exams easy.

For example, if you are already studying at a C2 level in Spanish, you will find the A1-level DELE exams easy.

If you are studying Spanish at an A2 level, you would probably find it impossible to answer the DELE advanced-level questions.

Which exam is better for test takers: DELE or SIELE?

Due to its convenience and the fact that you can complete it online, the SIELE exam may be a better option for Spanish language test takers.

However, since the DELE certification has no expiration date and the SIELE expires after five years, you may consider the DELE exam well worth studying for.

Is computer-assisted examination available with ECL tests?

No, at this moment, the ECL examination system does not offer computer-assisted language examinations.

You must attend an exam centre or site to take the ECL Spanish tests.

Which bodies recognise the TELC certification?

From the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations in the UK to Spanish universities to the Turkish Higher Education Council, many European bodies recognise the TELC certification.

Getting your Spanish level certified can help your career

After putting in the effort to study the Spanish language, it is well worth getting a certification to have evidence of your Spanish language fluency.

There are many career options for Spanish speakers where certification is needed.

Selecting an internationally recognised Spanish language certification is your best option.

Now you know the five main, internationally-recognised Spanish language certifications. As soon as you obtain one, you’ll have no problem migrating to a Spanish-speaking country, getting work abroad or studying a course in Spanish.

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