Category Archives: How to learn Spanish

5 things you should know before planning for DELE

The D.E.L.E. exams are the most widely recognised Spanish language qualifications in the world. To put it short- if you want to add “I speak Spanish” on your CV, that means having a DELE. It’s definitely not an easy exam to pass, but it’s worth getting the diploma if you would like to work or even to boost your resume for work at home.

So if you are interested, here is some information and advice you should know before planning for DELE !

1.What is the DELE Exam?

The DELE Spanish exam is the only official and internationally recognized exam of Spanish as a foreign language and it can be written at any level, from beginner (A1) to mastery (C2). It has 5 parts: listening comprehension, reading comprehension, writing ability, grammar and vocabulary, and an oral exam. The first thing to do is check out the DELE Cervantes website and look at some of the past exams. This will help you to familiarize yourself with the different levels, and based on that you can decide which level exam you want to write. If you’re not sure which is the best DELE exam for you, you can also take Habla Ya’s Spanish Placement Test (at no charge) and they’ll get back to you with your current Spanish level, and then they will be able to “predict” how many hours of Spanish lessons you’ll need to prepare for each DELE Test.

2.Who can register for the DELE Exam?

The DELE certificate is an exam that you should take if you want an official evaluation of your Spanish language skills. Lots of employers and universities consider the DELE as the one Spanish level test which reflects a good evaluation of your ability to use the language.

Also the Registration fees for DELE vary. It depends on the level of the test as well as the country where the examination is taken.

The candidates willing to obtain the DELE certificate must, however, prove the citizenship of a country where Spanish is not the official language. If you are a citizen of a Spanish speaking country living in another country where Spanish is not the official language, you must satisfy at least two of the following conditions to register:

  • Spanish is not the mother tongue of either of your parents.
  • Spanish is not the first language that you learned.
  • Spanish is not the habitual language you use for communicating.
  • Spanish has not been the principal language in total or part of your primary or secondary education.

You must declare that you satisfy two of these conditions in a written document.

3. DELE Exam Levels

The DELEs are divided into three levels depending on the language level:

  • DELE A1
    This accredits the sufficient linguistic competence to understand and use daily expressions frequently used in any part of the Spanish-speaking world, aimed at satisfying immediate needs; asking and giving basic personal information about yourself and daily life and interacting on a basic level with speakers, whenever they are speaking slowly and clearly and are willing to cooperate.
  • DELE A2
    This accredits that the candidate is capable of understanding daily phrases and expressions frequently used related to areas of experience which are particularly relevant to them (basic information about yourself and your family, shopping, places of interest, occupations, etc.).
  • DELE B1(Intermediate-mid/threshold level) 
    This accredits sufficient knowledge of the language to allow control in situations which require an elementary use of the language.
  • DELE B2 (High-intermediate level)
    This accredits the necessary knowledge of the language to allow communication in everyday situations which do not require specialized terms.
  • DELE C1
    This accredits the sufficient linguistic competence to cope in common situations of daily life which require a specialized use of the language.
  • DELE C2 (Superior level)
    This accredits an advanced knowledge of the language allowing communicaton in all situations requiring advanced use of the language and a knowledge of cultural background.

4.DELE test format

Although the test differs in its exact format depending on the level, it tests the four language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The test lasts about 3 hours, and is sent to Spain for grading which takes about 3 months. You have to receive 70% in each section in order to pass the test, so you have to make sure all of your skills are strong.

There are plenty of practice tests on their website, which are a great resource for people preparing to take the test as well as Spanish learners who want to test their skills.

5.How to prepare for DELE?

Spanish learning will be fun and exciting once you start using the online lessons and courses . You can prepare with CultureAlley that have courses for people taking the DELE. With CultureAlley  you can learn languages for free while browsing Facebook, and playing games. You get several free audio-visual lessons! You can learn Spanish for free while browsing your friend’s conversations on your own Facebook feed! It is the most immersive, fun, and contextual way to learn Spanish. You can Play fun games to master what you learn. You get over 70 free lessons to build your concepts on . Master conversations, grammar, vocabulary and more. Whether you are a traveler looking for quick vocabulary or a professional looking for some serious learning – we have the right lessons for everyone!

Spanish teacher Ivan

Featured Spanish Teacher of the Month – Iván Aguilar

Our team of teachers is spread across boundaries. Each of them brings in a unique teaching style, cultural experience, and a new set of language learning tips.

This month, we travel all the way to Peru to meet our teacher of the month – Iván Aguilar. Iván has been rated as a 5 star teacher consistently by all the students on CultureAlley. Here are some great learning tips from Iván.

1) Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Iván Aguilar. I’m from Peru, a country located in South America. Currently I’m working as an English and Spanish teacher and Academic Coordinator at a Language School in Perú. Spanish is my mother tongue and I just love teaching it. I also love spreading the love for Peruvian culture and music! :)

2) What motivated you to start teaching languages?

This has been a long an interesting path I followed. I studied to be a Social Science teacher, but I got involved in language teaching and found my true professional call. I really like to see how my students overcome the language barrier and become what we might call world citizens by sharing their culture and opinions with the world through the internet or in person. It is really rewarding to be able to contribute to this process.

3) Tell us about your teaching experience – How long have you been teaching, what kind of students have you taught?

Well, I have been teaching for about ten years now. I’ve taught all ages from 6-year-old kids – the most energetic- to adult students.

Most of my students are university students who need to know at least two languages in order to get their degrees.

I’ve also taught some teaching methodology courses.

4) Why you think learning new languages is beneficial?

I think languages are very important since they allow people to connect with other people.

I’ve seen how the perception of the world changes while learning a new language because indirectly a new language always brings about the learning of a new culture.

This is one first step to make ourselves part of a more understanding and global world. Besides it is great to see how learning a new language enriches a person.

As the quote says: “Learn a new language, get a new soul”

Needless to say there are many more academic and professional doors opened for the ones who learn new languages.

5) Please give our readers some tips on learning languages.

I have just two words : practice and connect. It is great to practice grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc. But it is also really relevant to connect all that is being practiced with our real lives.

If you are practicing a specific grammar pattern, get some time to write your very personal sentences because in the end you want your new language to talk about yourself, your ideas, your opinions, your country, the things that matter to you.

For me,

connecting also means talking or writing to people who are learning or are native speakers of the language that you have chosen to learn.

This always makes your language learning more meaningful and prepares you for real-life interaction.

6) Tell us about your most interesting experience while learning or teaching Spanish yourself.

I like the various forms of art very much. I think immersing yourself in a form of art is a great strategy to learn a language.

One of the most interesting experiences I had, was helping my students to prepare for doing some drama (acting) as a part of their course. Not only did we have a lot of fun, but I also could see students devoting a lot of time in learning their lines and linking this to their acting. It was great!

7) How have you worked with CultureAlley to spread the love for language learning?

I feel glad to be working with a very organized and creative team as the one of CultureAlley. They are building the much needed bridges to help students get high quality language instruction. At the same time I feel they are cooperating through the teaching of languages to create bounds of international friendship. It feels great to be able to make some little contribution to this project.

8) A final word of advice for budding language learners?

Don’t stop learning new languages, don’t stop knowing new worlds!

If you wish to take lessons with Iván, just fill up this form:

Learning Spanish for Cultural and Professional Growth | Anthony Diab

Spanish studentThis week we feature one of our star students – Anthony Diab. Anthony is a culture enthusiast and runs a business in the tourism industry. Realizing the importance of Spanish in both his professional as well as personal life, Anthony decided to take up the challenge to learn Spanish – and he has excelled in it! In no time, Anthony finished all the lessons (yes more than 60 lessons!) at CultureAlley and is now getting into practicing his Spanish accent with our coach Ivan over 1on1 Skype lessons.


We spoke to Anthony to understand how others like him can learn Spanish quickly:


CA: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Anthony: I’m from Lebanon – a town called Jezzine. I studied a double major at a university in Beirut (Fashion Design, and Music).
We have a mountain resort and a restaurant – I spend time with my dad working on making it better and growing our business.


CA: Why did you decide to learn Spanish?
Anthony: For two reasons: One,
Spanish is really helping me take my hotel business to the next level.
Second, I am inspired by the cultural diversity of this world! I’m really interested in singing (opera), I love Spanish music, Tango dancing, the Greek mythology, and wine! Learning Spanish has a big relation to all these cultural inspirations I draw!
Being a fluent French speaker, I thought that I really should learn this lovely language – Spanish. I really see myself walking down the streets of Spain trying to realize my dream!!


CA: How did you start your learning journey and how did find the right source to learn Spanish from?
I started by reading books about translation from English to Spanish and from French to Spanish – but after trying for 4 months, I did not find them too useful. So, I moved to find a way which was more professional.
Something that had structured lessons. I Googled for websites to learn Spanish and after reviewing some of the options I made my choice. I think it was the best choice that I made by choosing CultureAlley as my teacher!


CA: How did you learn Spanish so fast? Tell us about your learning routine

Anthony: My background in Arabic and French did help me a little but it is not as difficult to learn Spanish quickly.

I started with CultureAlley as a normal person who just knows how to say ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ and ‘how are you?’ in Spanish. I started, and every day this website gave me more and more passion to continue learning!

I took about 3 lessons a day sometimes even 4 and wrote the notes on sheets of paper.

Every day before starting a new lesson I ensured that I revise right from paper 1 which contained the basics (Hola/Adíos etc.). I revised till where I stopped the previous day just to remember all the words without forgetting anything. Then I took quizzes – multiple times till I got everything correct. Regular practice and repetition helped me learn Spanish fast. Now I will get into Skype lessons for developing my listening skills and my accent.

CA: Has learning Spanish helped you? If so, how?
Anthony: Learning Spanish has helped me immensely.
First of all,  now I really can communicate with the Spanish tourists that come to our hotel. It makes our hotel appear more professional and adds a personal touch.
I already speak Arabic, French, and English, and now Spanish is adding another dimension.
Secondly,  now I understand the Spanish songs that I really loved, so now I sing them with more passion and I can Dance on Tango Songs with great passion .
Third, the nightlife here in my country Beirut makes me meet a lot of people who speak Spanish – now I can hold real conversations with them in this lovely language!


CA: How did CultureAlley help you in learning Spanish?
CultureAlley is so professional and contextual that it contains lessons on topics like – if you were in a hotel or in a restaurant – it was very useful learning these for my business.
Its a very cool website and not boring at all! The teachers and founders are available on live chat and they reply to your emails very quickly with a lot of passion. It gives you more momentum and energy to continue your lessons!
Now I am taking the Skype lessons with a coach to perfect what I have learnt and improve my accent!
CA: To conclude, what would you like to tell other learners who are thinking of learning Spanish?
Anthony: At the end, I can tell you that if you really want to start learning Spanish and you don’t have time to register in school or something like that just click and  you will start living your Spanish dream from the second you press on the button!
Thank you very much again CultureAlley Team you have helped me a lot!

Learn Spanish for Free!

In our last post on how to learn a new language, we discussed a high level methodology to make language learning easy, fun, and as natural as any other habit.
One of the most popular languages today is – Spanish – the second most natively spoken language in the world, Spanish is witnessing a tremendous rise in its popularity!

A lot of our learners talk to us on live chat and on our forums and ask ‘How can I learn Spanish?‘, ‘How do I learn Spanish for free?‘, ‘How can I learn Spanish online?‘ etc…

Today, we talk about some ways by which one can easily learn Spanish for free and skip making a hole in one’s pocket! :) We will review various methods to learn Spanish for free, suggest which to choose and why, and also provide some resource references.

Here are some great ways to learn Spanish for free:

1. Free Online Lessons 

Gone are the days when you were forced to buy a 500$ CD/software to pick up a new language! There are some great self-study courses available on the web/as mobile apps to help you learn Spanish grammar, conversations, and vocabulary for free. These can help you start right from the beginning and take you to even an advanced level.

Which website/apps to choose for learning Spanish online:

  1. Depth: Check the list of topics on these websites and then go with a source that has enough material for your learning needs. Switching from one source to another too often may result in a break in continuity.
  2. Interactivity & practice: Pick a source that provides interactive Spanish practice games and exercises on top of the content. This will ensure a consistent learning experience. Testing yourself on what you learn is extremely important. Choose sources which give you a mix of reading, listening, and writing exercises and give immediate feedback.
    Quizlet is a good website for finding practice exercises but they don’t have complementary lessons – so you may feel lost as to which exercises to look at.
  3. Structure and flow: There are two types of websites:
    1. Websites that have structured lessons and quizzes with a clear flow – These pretty much act as a book guiding you one lesson after the other. Choose this if you are looking for a one stop shop experience and want to limit the need for searching for topics.
    2. Reference Websites which cover a lot of different grammar and conversational topics without necessarily having these organized in a flow or as lessons. Choose these only if you are looking at these websites for one-off reference or as supplementary material. for Spanish is a good reference website if you want to search for help on certain topics
  4. Audio support: We would highly recommend choosing websites which have tutorials and lessons with audio support. Audio-visual lessons just change the way you pick up Spanish. You will develop a better accent and better listening skills.
  5. Content: Of-course the meat of any learning website is the content it offers. Now, how good or bad the content is would only be discovered once you try out a couple of lessons. But you could look at user comments/ feedback about the website before getting started. Remember that different people may like different styles of teaching. We ideally recommend content that is beyond just a phrasebook and helps you understand why something is said the way it is.

2. The Telenovela method

Another great way to learn Spanish for free is using Spanish media. Traditionally, the telenovela method (TV method) involved watching Spanish soap-operas and learning Spanish with them.
The Telenovela Method uses Spanish-language media, that you would enjoy, to teach you Spanish. In our experience, this method works best once you have some basic knowledge of Spanish grammar and vocabulary - although we have seen people use just this method as well.

Expanding scope from just TV, you could use movies, YouTube videos, songs, comic strips, news, or whatever you enjoy to make the process of learning Spanish fun and engaging. While starting out, it is ideal if you use videos, songs, movies, and comic strips with  both Spanish and English subtitles.

Learn Spanish for free with comics

Learn Spanish for free with comics (copyright: GoComics)

Take the above comic strip for example. If you don’t know any Spanish then you’ll find it difficult to understand the first script. But if you know the basics (like pronouns, ser/estar, basic conjugations) then understanding the strip becomes very easy by looking at its English version.

Eg: Una gran mayoría de gente de seis años dice que no satisfaces sus expectativas de la paternidad
Una gran mayoría de gente = A large majority of people
de seis años = of 6 years
dice que = say that
no satisfaces = you don’t satisfy
sus expectativas de la paternidad = their expectations of (the) fatherhood

You should watch/read small sections at a time, then try to look at the meanings of the words you don’t understand. More than just the vocabulary, try to understand the grammar – why a sentence is framed the way it is.

If you don’t understand certain concepts, you can post questions on forums.

The Telenovela method is effective because it introduces real conversations – as a native would talk, and is fun at the same time. However, you will need help with understanding the grammar and vocabulary. So, the Telenovela method would need some basic understanding of the language and supplementary sources which explain the concepts well. We recommend using it as a fun way to practice and learn more vocabulary.

Some resources:

  1. Songs:
    1. Just go to YouTube, Grooveshark, or Pandora to tune into Spanish songs. You can find Spanish and English lyrics on sites like,, etc..
    2. We are working on adding a Karaoke tool into your lesson experience to help you practice Spanish. Check out a sample:
  2. Comic strips: GoComics:  You can find popular strips like Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield, and other in Spanish on this site. It also has the English version of the same strips.
  3. Movies: You may find some movies (with subtitles) on YouTube. Otherwise you can also get DVDs or go to websites like open subtitles.

3. Language Exchange

This method involved conversing (either face to face or over Skype) with a native who speaks Spanish and knows some English (or whatever your native language is) – the native would teach you Spanish and you in-turn would teach him/her English (or whatever your native language is).
Finding a native:

  1. Friend circle: If you can find someone you know already or a friend – nothing like it! Because that will make the conversations more natural and comfortable.
  2. Clubs: A lot of cities have clubs and meetup groups for language learning where you can find a mix of beginners as well as native speakers
  3. Online: You can also find websites to connect you with natives over chat/Skype

It works well because you are interacting 1on1 with a native – you pick up the right words, learn the accent well, learn about their culture, and most importantly practice speaking.
The only draw-back at times is that a native Spanish speaker may not be necessarily equipped to teach Spanish and both of you may feel lost.
There is a paid version of this option where instead of choosing just any native, you can interact with a native Spanish teacher over Skype who is trained to teach you Spanish. However, experienced teachers would charge a fee.

4. Free English-Spanish Dictionaries

There are several online dictionaries to help you find new words and build your vocabulary. If your aim is to build vocabulary, find a limited word dictionary that has curated the most important words. If your aim is to find meanings of words you read somewhere or hear somewhere then go for a more comprehensive dictionary like the one from Oxford word reference or use Google translate (it works well with individual words, not so much with phrases).

The web provides tremendous scope for learning a new language – so save the 500$ for exploring a new place! :) There is enough quality material out there – all you need to do is be careful and picky.

Here are some resources and tools that we have built at CultureAlley to help you learn Spanish for free (also available for other languages):
1) Free audio visual lessons on Spanish – More than 60 free lessons with voice and audio support. The lessons are super-intuitive, conversational, and explain each concept in detail
2) Free practice games on Spanish – Our games ‘spellathon’ and ‘scatterathon’ provide action packed practice to develop your reading, writing, and listening skills. They complement what you learn in each lesson and give immediate feedback
3) Free Spanish Dictionary – 1000 most used words in Spanish with English translations. Has an easy search feature and comes with audio support.
4) Live chat - To guide you on your learning plan, answer your questions, hear your feedback, and more!
5) Spanish Forums – Ask questions and get responses from our team within 24 hours
6) Spanish Karaoke ToolLearn Spanish with music using our karaoke tool. Many more songs coming up soon!

Tell us about more helpful resources that you’d like us to review or include in the list. Happy learning!

Learn foreign languages with music!

In our recent blog post on How to learn a new language’ we emphasized on embracing the new language and making it flow with your life.

Our Spanish coaches also recommend finding something you love about the new language and surrounding yourself with it!

Today we talk about one such universal love – Music, and how it can enrich your language learning experience!

There are several occasions when we end up humming and memorizing songs even though we don’t know the language!
Susanna Zaraysky, author of ‘Language is music’ pointed out in her one her interviews:How many of us have sang along to Gangnam Style without knowing what it means!”
Now imagine if you could see the transliteration in your language while you sing along!

Of-course grammar and conversational context is a must and important, but language learning can be enhanced if some singing and music based practice is incorporated in your learning schedule.

In one test, carried out by researchers at Edinburgh University’s Reid School of Music, those who learned by singing were able to recall phrases with greater accuracy in the longer term.

Here’s how music can help:

  1. Pronunciation: Music can help you get a better hang of the new accent and pronunciation peculiarities. While learning with music, you listen first and speak later.
  2. Vocabulary: Learning the lyrics of a song helps you expand your vocabulary. Music aids memory and recall. Words and phrases that you hear in a song tend to stick around much longer. Songs also introduce you to some streetwise phrases!
  3. Grammar: Music does not directly teach you grammar but can give you contextual information on usage of words and phrases. For example: ‘Para bailar La Bamba’ translates as ‘In order to dance La Bamba’. Next time when you get confused on whether you use ‘por’ or ‘para’ – this will help! With music, you subconsciously learn the right way to construct sentences.
  4. Culture: Music is a great window into the new culture! It will also be a great ice-breaker while talking to natives!
  5. Its fun! Music activates your senses and gets you grooving – picking up some language while you groove is a big bonus!

Here are some tips on using music effectively to pick up a new language:

  1. Don’t just let the music fade away in the background. Pay attention to the lyrics and phrases – make a list of some of the new words you hear.
  2. Sing-aloud – Listen first and then sing along. This will help you with your accent and will also expand your vocabulary.
  3. Try and get the transliteration of the lyrics to help you understand the meaning of the new words and phrases.

So don’t wait – let the music flow! Here are some links to help you find great world music:

  1. Directory of Radio Stations by Language/Ethnic Group:
  2. Pandora:
  3. Grooveshark:

At CultureAlley, we are fascinated with how music can help in the language learning journey. Here’s a new feature we are experimenting on: – Sing-along with the Spanish lyrics, check the English transliteration, and hover to review important grammar tips. Learn Spanish while you groove to the classic ‘La Bamba’!

Many more hits coming up soon!

Get grooving at the Alley!


Learning a new language? Make it an experience!

There is no denying the benefits that learning a new language brings in. A broader perspective, cognitive benefits, expansion of your cultural horizons, a boost to your CV, and so much more!

Learning a language is not easy. It requires constant effort and dedication. However, it wouldn’t be wrong in saying that learning a language has never been easier. Today, you can learn languages from the comfort of your home!

A few things, if done right, can transform the way you learn your next language. If we were to summarize it – don’t make language learning a new ‘task’ – let it flow with your daily life-style.

  1. Plan
    • Why do you want to learn a new language?
      Know your need before starting up a new course. Are you traveling? Are you taking up a new language with an aim to converse well? Is it for school? Is it for a professional reason? Are you dating someone who speaks another language?
      Knowing the need is essential to pick up the right learning plan. For example: If you truly want to start conversing in the new language, then just memorizing a few phrases is not useful.
    • How much time do you want to spend each day?
      This is less of a question and more of a check point – plan to spend some time each day. Learning a new language requires continuity. Having bouts of learning followed by long breaks causes loss in efficiency.


  2. Get the essentials right
    Memorizing a few phrases seems easy, but unless your purpose is just getting through a couple of days in a foreign country, just knowing a few phrases doesn’t help.
    So, get some essentials right. It might seem easier to start at the wrong footing but in the long run undo-ing all the ‘memorization’ techniques will take much longer than starting with the right base from the beginning :)

    • Know the grammar essentials to compose simple sentences yourself. ‘Maria want juice’ may communicate your purpose but sounds pretty unintelligent!
    • Learn basic pronunciation peculiarities – Knowing all pronunciation DOs and DON’Ts takes time, but get some peculiarities right from the start. You don’t want to be wishing ¡Hola! as H-O-L-A in Spain :)


  3. Listen-Read-Write…Speak!
    Alright, so now you have started your journey right…Great! The next step is to apply the learning in all possible forms – so listen, read, write, and speak!

    • Listen – Rather than reading from a book and decrypting pronunciation – just grab some audio lessons and hear the pronunciations! Include listening in your practice schedule – solve at least a few listening based questions every time you practice!
    • Write – Now you may question, I only want to learn how to speak the new language why should I write? Well, writing is different from ‘scripting’. Just ensure that your practice has some modules on listening and writing – you will catch so many of those small peculiarities while you write – something that are almost impossible in other forms of practice.
    • Read – Comprehension practice is another great way to see the essentials being put to use. When you read real-life examples and the usage of the words in context, you automatically build your vocabulary. Mugging up 1000 words is easy but it is just as easy to forget them. Hence, learning with context is very important.
    • And of-course speak! Speak, practice, make your mistakes and learn from them.


  4. Let it flow with your life
    As we said earlier, while dedicated effort is important, let language learning flow with your daily life.

    • Next time, try making your grocery list in the new language
    • Pick up some music in the new language
    • Watch a short movie
    • Try reading a news clipping
    • Talk to natives
    • Go to a restaurant that serves the local food

    Slowly, let the new language become a part of your routine and you’ll see how it grows on

  5. Embrace the culture!
    We cannot emphasize enough on the importance of understanding the new culture. If you are going to be living in or traveling to a new country or even conversing with natives – knowing a little bit about the culture will go a long way!
    Greeting norms, gifting norms, heritage, music, dance, movies – there is so much to know and why shouldn’t you!

So get on to the cultural voyage, pick up a new language and do it right!