Taking the Spanish DELE C2 exam - Part 1 - Overview

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s_allard
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Taking the Spanish DELE C2 exam - Part 1 - Overview

Postby s_allard » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:08 am

On Saturday, November 25 past, I spent most of the day taking the DELE C2 exam for Spanish. Although I knew pretty much what to expect and had prepared for it, the experience was both sobering and enlightening or "aleccionador". I came out of the test cautiously optimistic but at the same time quite surprised at how challenging it was. In this post, I'll look at some general issues and explore more detailed items in subsequent posts.

The exam was held in the classrooms of a local private school. We were told to arrive at 8:30 am and the exam would start at 9 am. Things didn't start well when the taxi I took couldn't find the school and I ended up arriving at 8:45. It didn't really matter because I had to wait with everybody until 9 am. There were 15 people in the waiting room, and just before 9 am the person in charge came to the room and started calling out the groups by exam level. The bulk of the people were at A2 and B1. In fact there was only one person at B2 and myself at C2. I did find out later that another person had registered for C2 but didn't show up.

Here is how the day was spent:
9 - 10:45 am: Written comprehension (3 parts) and oral comprehension ( 3 parts) - 105 minutes
10:45 - 11:15 Break
11:15 am - 1:45 pm: Written production (3 parts) - 150 minutes
1:45 - 6 pm: Long break
6 - 6:50 pm: Spoken production (3 parts) - 55 minutes

You will of course have noted that the actual speaking section is the shortest of all the sessions. And it's even shorter than what it seems because, as we'll see later, I estimated that I spoke for about 12 minutes at most. What we do see is that the most time is spent on writing. I think there's a bit of a contradiction here because we tend to use the term "speaking" a language when in fact the DELE C2 is very biased towards writing of a certain kind and devotes little time to actually speaking.

The point is that it is questionable how this exam actually measures overall proficiency and especially speaking ability. I even have major doubts about how parts of the text are corrected. As I tell my students, language tests, like most tests, measure above all ability to perform on tests. More specifically, I think this C2 test measures the ability to do certain tasks under major time constraints. In fact I believe that many native speakers could not pass this test because it is not a true measure of "speaking" ability. Given its emphasis on writing somewhat academic prose, this test will tend to eliminate people who are not university educated or used to writing a lot.

One point that I want to emphasize is that at no point in the exam were there any technical language questions on grammar or vocabulary. Not the slightest hint of testing for vocabulary size, pronunciation or any grammar rules. In accordance with the general principles of the CEFR model, the key idea behind the test is to see how well the person performs in the language and not how much does the person know about the language.

Before I get into more technical stuff, there are a four points I want to reiterate:

1. One must study to the test. This is a long and demanding test. It just not as simple as being able to speak Spanish well. One has to learn to be able to perform specific tasks such as writing academic-like prose under very tight time constraints. This must be practiced, and I'll have to admit that certain things were lacking in my preparation. If I have to take the test over again, I would do a few things differently.

2. This test confirmed two ideas that I've expressed loud and clear in this forum and the old HTLAL: a) attempting to measure vocabulary size is totally irrelevant and b) grammar is purely a means to an end. In fact, I do feel that I wasted a lot of time studying a whole bunch of things that I never got to use in the test and I will most likely never use when speaking the language. I've come to believe that there is something such as "overstudying" the language. Or maybe it's more like studying the wrong things.

3. I've switched my whole learning strategy to focus on output, spoken, written and oral interaction. The test was a wake-up call for me because it made me realize that while all comprehensible input is fundamental, test results ultimately depend on good output. For example, my weakest area was and still is writing in Spanish. I have watched or listened to hundreds or maybe thousands of hours of recordings and videos in Spanish. This is easy and enjoyable. But I've probably not written more than a 100 pages of Spanish prose in my life. So, it was not surprising that suddenly being asked to legibly write about 1000 words in Spanish in a little over two hours was a bit of a shock.

4. Although I was able to practice speaking Spanish nearly every day for the past six months, I did not specifically use the services of a tutor familiar with the test. This I think was a big mistake. A test like this must be prepared in a disciplined and systematic way. Knowing what I know now, the best thing I should have done would have been to prepare for the test with a tutor trained in exam preparation. I believe this would have basically guaranteed success. Now, if I have to take the test again, I'll have to spend time and money when I could have spent more wisely months ago.
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Re: Taking the Spanish DELE C2 exam - Part 1 - Overview

Postby DaveBee » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:48 am

s_allard wrote:1. One must study to the test. This is a long and demanding test. It just not as simple as being able to speak Spanish well. One has to learn to be able to perform specific tasks such as writing academic-like prose under very tight time constraints. This must be practiced, and I'll have to admit that certain things were lacking in my preparation. If I have to take the test over again, I would do a few things differently.
Did you use any preparatory books targeted at the DELE C2 exam?

(There are several for the DELF/DALF exams, so I assume DELE has them too)
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Re: Taking the Spanish DELE C2 exam - Part 1 - Overview

Postby tarvos » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:16 am

I'm preparing for the same exam and I specifically enlisted the help of a tutor familiar with these exams (she is qualified to be an examiner herself, I believe). I'm also using preparatory books and practicing the model exams. This is really doing me a world of good. Actually, for me, the writing part is easier, and the hardest part for me so far was the listening comprehension during the mock exams.
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Ich stehe zwischen zwei Welten, bin in keiner daheim und habe es infolgedessen ein wenig schwer.
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s_allard
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Re: Taking the Spanish DELE C2 exam - Part 1 - Overview

Postby s_allard » Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:11 pm

DaveBee wrote:
s_allard wrote:1. One must study to the test. This is a long and demanding test. It just not as simple as being able to speak Spanish well. One has to learn to be able to perform specific tasks such as writing academic-like prose under very tight time constraints. This must be practiced, and I'll have to admit that certain things were lacking in my preparation. If I have to take the test over again, I would do a few things differently.
Did you use any preparatory books targeted at the DELE C2 exam?

(There are several for the DELF/DALF exams, so I assume DELE has them too)

To answer your question, I didn't use any specific DELE C2 preparatory books and I can't really say that I looked to see what was available. I do see there is a fair amount of stuff about the exam on youtube.
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tarvos
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Need improvement: PO, IS, HE, JP, KO, HU
Passive: AF, DK, LAT
Dabbled in: BRT, ZH (SH), FI, BG, EUS
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Re: Taking the Spanish DELE C2 exam - Part 1 - Overview

Postby tarvos » Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:26 pm

There are. I use Nuevo Prisma.
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Ich stehe zwischen zwei Welten, bin in keiner daheim und habe es infolgedessen ein wenig schwer.
Preferred pronouns: feminine.



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