I really didn’t need to learn Spanish. I really didn’t. I am a native English speaker living in an English-speaking country, so I certainly don’t need Spanish. Even if I had been planning to travel and work in a Spanish speaking country, one could argue that considering that English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world; it still wouldn’t have been necessary. And no, I don’t have any familial connections with any Spanish speakers.
So, why did I bother? Well, I always thought it would be fun to learn a new language. And when I had my daughter in 2013 this desire became stronger because I wanted her to speak at least 2 languages.
I chose Spanish because it is widely spoken, and some of my favourite music is sung in Spanish. I thought it would be nice to finally understand what Shakira was saying in 'La Tortura.' Additionally, if I could communicate clearly and understand native speakers when travelling around Spanish speaking countries, I would be happy.
By 2016 I had achieved that goal but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to do more. Yes I could communicate with ease when discussing familiar topics and I could understand most of what I heard. Extensive listening practise and my commitment to two to three weekly 30-minute conversation practice sessions with native speakers had helped me to reach this stage. Now I could understand ‘La Tortura’ and I had discovered more music from artists such as Calle 13, learnt much more about Spanish culture and discovered Colombian food.
My 3-year-old was using the language with me at home and she was learning even more at nursery with her teachers who were native Spanish speakers. Additionally, I could read and understand basic texts, but what I couldn’t understand was complex vocabulary, nor could I write confidently in the language. And while I could communicate clearly about familiar topics, I knew that my spoken language was not precise, nor was it sophisticated. I wanted to get better.
When we found out Havanah was accepted into the only Spanish school in London, I had even more reason to get better. She would need help with homework and it is my job to make sure that help is given. My goals changed. Now I was aiming to learn to speak and write more sophisticatedly. Now I was aiming to become fluent.
What is the DELE?
So I decided that I would take one of the DELE examinations. DELE or Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language confirm non-native speakers’ level of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in the Spanish language. Learners can take the test at levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 or C2. After thinking over it and briefly mentioning it to a friend, I finally found a teacher to prepare me for the exam in April 2017. In our first or second class my teacher decided that I should prepare for the B2 DELE.
What is DELE B2?
The level B2 qualification certifies an individual’s ability to communicate competently with a wide variety of lengthy and complex texts, express themselves fluently and spontaneously and produce clear and concrete texts on different topics. This video explains what teachers mean by level B2 www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueqEfWoRyio
I was flattered that she thought my Spanish was good enough for this level, but I was scared. I tried to talk her into us preparing for the lower level B1 DELE www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AihoPpdzEQ , but she dismissed these cries.
5 months later I am still preparing for the exam and having a lot fun doing so. I want to share this experience with you. Over the next 6 weeks I will share a weekly video of me preparing for this examination with my teacher, Isabel.
An example of what to expect from these videos is below. In this video we are correcting a letter I had written for homework. In this class we also did some speaking practice before her confirming that I had correctly answered every question on a reading comprehension practice I had also completed for homework.