Instituto Cervantes
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Learning Spanish – A long term project

According to the Instituto Cervantes, in addition to a lot of effort and expense, it takes many years (on average 8) to learn a language. However this doesn’t mean that it has to be an unpleasant process. On the contrary, it can be an enriching and enjoyable experience with both short and long term benefits. Your biggest reward will be noticing your progress and seeing how many new doors will open for your career and private life. To illustrate this learning process we’d like to present the following inverted pyramid

Level C2: The student can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. He also can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation and express himself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

Level C1: The student can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning. He also can express himself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expression and use language flexibly and effectively and produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects.

Level B2: The student can understand the main ideas of complex text, including technical discussions in his field of specialization. He also can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity with native speakers and produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on general topics.

Level B1: The student can understand the main points of clear standard input. Can deal with most situations, produce simple connected text, describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Level A2: The student can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance. He also can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information and describe in simple terms aspects of his background and his immediate environment.

Level A1: The student can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly.

The pyramid shows the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. It’s a result of more than ten years of investigation in the applied linguistic and educational fields carried out by the twenty seven member states of the European Union. It defines language proficiency levels and allows you to verify your progress in each learning phase as well as throughout your life. Likewise, it describes the linguistic proficiency levels demanded for the examinations and for the existing evaluation programs that provide the endorsement for different certification systems. Among these exams is the DELE (Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language) which is the most important exam for the Spanish language.

The DELE is the official exam that certifies students’ level of Spanish. This certificate is issued and recognized by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. The Instituto Cervantes organizes the examinations and the University of Salamanca prepares the tests and corrects and evaluates the results.   

The inverted pyramid shows that initially you will progress and improve your vocabulary and comprehension very quickly. However, as you continue to advance, you’ll probably get the impression that the learning process slows and takes more time. This happens because you already have a much more advanced knowledge of the language. The more you know, the more you can discover and keep learning, like in any development process.
The pyramid shows the levels from A1 to C2 with a corresponding explanation of each level on the right. As you advance, the size of every level increases which shows that the learning time and effort required to progress from one level to another increases proportionally.

Asking yourself the following questions can help you to locate where you are on the pyramid:

-    What is my current level?
-    What is my objective – what level do I want to achieve?
-    How much is left till I reach my goal?
-    What do I have to do to achieve it?
    You have made a good decision to learn Spanish. You are on the right track to accomplish your goal and to open new possibilities in your life. At AIL Madrid we would love to accompany you and help you with everything you need. We are confident that you will enjoy your journey through the world of Spanish.

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