Top 9 things to keep in mind while preparing for DELE – 9 myths to avoid!

Maybe you’ve decided to take the plunge and sit an official D.E.L.E exam and now the nerves are building. The D.E.L.E. exams are the most widely recognized Spanish language qualifications in the world. Well here are few myths you might just have about D.E.L.E

Don’t worry, we will clear the confusion!

1. It is an easy Exam

It’s definitely not an easy exam to pass, but it’s worth getting the diploma if you would like to work or boost your resume or even explore interesting freelance teaching and translation opportunities.

In the D.E.L.E. exams you will have to write and you will have to do a grammar and vocabulary section. But chances are you don’t often write all that much in your day to day life. You will need to pass all sections of the exam and so writing practice is an essential part of your language study. From day 1! And grammar is a stumbling block that you need to get over as soon as possible. You need 70% in every section and even if you’re acing all the other parts a 69% in one still means a fail. So its definitely not an easy exam, as you will have to focus on each section equally.

2. You can take it anytime

There are specific dates for the exams. You have to register yourself first for the exam by visiting the DELE official site and register before one month of the exam. You have to take the exam on that date only!

The following are the upcoming exam dates for 2014:
JULY: 18th July- Levels B1, B2, C1
NOVEMBER: 22nd November- Levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2

3.Only a grammar book is sufficient

No, you cannot pass DELE exam just by studying from books. You will need to practice  writing, speaking, and listening . The exam may ask you to read a quote and elaborate it. Make sure that while you study Spanish you continue to practice it outside of class in the informal ways (watching TV, listening to music, speaking to local people).

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4.DELE certificate Exam is for FREE

The price of the DELE exam varies based on country, level, and the center where you are take your exam from.

The following table is an example of the 2013 prices:

CZECK REPUBLIC 1,285 Kč 1,600 Kč 1,820 Kč 2,150 Kč 2,400 Kč 2,510 Kč
EGYPT 345 EGP 420 EGP 470 EGP 570 EGP 645 EGP 700 EGP
FRANCE 88 € 98 € 109 € 145 € 155 € 160 €
GERMANY 114 € 123 € 134 € 189 € 199 € 204 €
GREECE 75 € 85 € 110 € 125 € 140 € 145 €

5. It is a written exam

Although the test differs in its exact format depending on the level,  students must pass the five sections of the exam in order to obtain the Diploma, as listed below:

  1. Reading Comprehension
  2. Writing
  3. Listening Comprehension
  4. Grammar and Vocabulary
  5. Speaking

In order to obtain a Diploma, students must score “apt” in all sections of the test, and not just in writing.

6. Classroom study is sufficient

Are you thinking of taking these exams to prove your level of Spanish? You need to continue to practice outside of class in the informal ways like watching TV, listening to music or speaking to local people to master the language.

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7. Exam does not focus on speaking

This section could be very short but important indeed as you need to score good in each section to pass. Speaking is the quickest and most efficient way to improve your language level. You will need to “Frame” your thoughts. Very often the speaking section will involve you having to give an opinion on something. For example a photo, or perhaps a comparison of photos. Use framing phrases to say things like “in my opinion” “well, i see you’re point but I don’t quiet agree” “and that’s why, in a nutshell I think this photo expresses the themes of..”.
Remember it’s important to frame both the start and the end.

8.Even the citizens from Spanish speaking country can give the exam

Anyone who is living in a country where Spanish is not the official language can apply for the DELE exam. Also the citizens from Spanish speaking countries living in other countries where Spanish is not the official language, can give the DELE exam if they fulfill at least two of the following conditions (and declare it in a written document):

  1. Spanish is not the mother tongue of any of his/her parents.
  2. Spanish is not the first language that he/she learned.
  3. Spanish is not the habitual language used for communicating.
  4. He/She has not studied Spanish in the total or part of his/her primary or secondary education.
  5. Check yours Now!

9.You can start preparing for DELE a month before the exam

This is perhaps the biggest myth. If you think you can prepare well to appear for DELE in a month, then you are wrong. Numerous “language schools” specifically in developing countries might lure with flase promises of finishing DELE levels in record times – don’t get fooled! According to Instituto Cervantes, clearing each level requires significant number of learning hours. So start today and plan for the next exam in advance.

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Duración currículo oficial (A1-C1) Duración nivel C2 Duración total
      660 horas     180 horas    840 horas
Nivel Curso DELE
180 horas
(90 horas)
1 (Inicial 1) A1
2 (Inicial 2)
3 (Inicial 3)
(90 horas)
4 (Inicial 4) B1
5 (Inicial 5)
6 (Inicial 6)
300 horas
(150 horas)
7 (Intermedio 1)
8 (Intermedio 2)
9 (Intermedio 3)
10 (Intermedio 4)
11 (Intermedio 5)
(150 horas)
12 (Avanzado 1) B2
13 (Avanzado 2)
14 (Avanzado 3)
15 (Avanzado 4)
16 (Avanzado 5)
360 horas
(180 horas)
17 (Superior 1) C1
18 (Superior 2)
19 (Superior 3)
20 (Superior 4)
21 (Superior 5)
22 (Superior 6)
(180 horas)
23 (Especial) C2 SUPERIOR
24 (Especial)
25 (Especial)
26 (Especial)
27 (Especial)
28 (Especial)

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13 amazing facts about Portuguese

1. With more than 230 million speakers, Portuguese is the 6th most spoken language in the world.


2. Of the five main Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian), Portuguese is the second most widely spoken after Spanish.

3. Portuguese is the official language of  Brazil, Cape Verde, Macau, Mozambique, Portugal, Angola, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome, and Principe.


4. Despite superficial similarities to Spanish, Portuguese is actually more closely related to Galician, a language spoken in northwestern Spain.

5. The earliest occurrences of a distinctive Portuguese language are found in ninth century administrative documents.

6. The longest Portuguese word is otorrinolaringologista, meaning an ear, nose, and throat doctor.


7.  Most difficult word or tongue twister in Portuguese:-
O rato roeu a roupa do rei de Roma
(The rat gnawed the king of Rome’s clothes)

8. Famous Portuguese quote to impress the locals
Se podes olhar, vê. Se podes ver, repara
(If you can look, see. If you can see, notice )

9. In Portuguese K, W and Y were not part of the alphabet before 2009 and are only used for foreign words.


10. Portuguese people can understand Spanish quite easily, but the opposite is not true.

11. Although the greater part of the Portuguese vocabulary comes from Latin, a number of words have also been absorbed from Arabic, French, and Italian, and also from some of the indigenous South American and African languages.

12. It is a language that uses a system of manual, facial, and other body movements as the means of communication, especially among deaf people.

13. In 1986, Portuguese became one of the official languages of the European Union (EU) when Portugal was admitted to the organization.


13 things only bi-linguals will understand

There is no arguing that being bi-lingual or knowing more than one language is very cool! It opens up your mind and expands your horizons. And of-course once you know 2 languages, learning a 3rd one is not that difficult!
But sometimes, bi-linguals also face some peculiar situations – both good and bad :)

1.  Sometimes you speak and your words unintentionally come out in your second language

2.  You can watch the “Best Foreign Film” Oscar-nominated films and get really emotional because you actually know what’s going on

3.  While traveling, your friends freak out that there are no signs in English, and you’re like “I got it!”

4.  “Hey! Can you say something in [insert language here]!!!” Ummm…NO

5  People come with you to seek help with their foreign language homework all the time! And you just feel like:

6  Accidentally changing language mid-sentence.

7  Anything to do with accents: sounding American when you speak your foreign language, sounding foreign when you speak English, getting accents mixed up, etc. It’s a struggle.

8  Accidentally trying to use foreign words in Scrabble/Words with Friends.

9  Getting grammar rules mixed up.

10 Thinking something through in one language and then having to say it in the other. Can be painful!

11.  People ask you to translate things ALL the time, and you wanna be like… GO AWAY

12.  At times you and your best friend switch languages so you can speak in “code”

13. You know 2 times the swear words :D

14 common mistakes Chinese learners make

While there are some similarities between English and Chinese, we all know that the two languages are pretty different. As a result, when English speakers start learning Chinese (Mandarin), there are some common mistakes that they make. Lets look at 14 common mistakes Chinese learners make:

1. Tones
Mandarin’s tones are a source of a lot of trouble for learners. There are 5 tones in the language. If you get it wrong: you may end up calling your mother (mā) a horse (mă)!

2. Gender confusion: In the Chinese language, gender pronouns are not separated (he and she, his and hers) for example.

3. Singular/plural noun confusion: Singular and plural nouns are not different in the Chinese language. Context is what differentiates between singular and plural nouns. As an example, if someone said ‘one cat’, in Chinese then “cat” is singular, but if someone said, ‘many cat’, then “cat” is plural. But there is no separate plural form ‘cats’ in Chinese

4. Over-using 和 (Hé)
The word “and” in English is very versatile, and this often causes English-speaking learners to latch on to 和 in Mandarin and use it for everything.
The main mistake with 和 is using it to connect phrases.

5. Misuse of prepositions:  In Chinese there is a character that can mean, ‘in’, or ‘at’ depending on the context .

6. Word order of adverbials (time, manner and place)
Mandarin word order: In Mandarin adverbials of time, manner, and place nearly always come before the verb. This is different to English where the placement varies a lot.

7. zh, ch, sh / j, q, x and ü
Back to the pronunciation! Tones are by far the most important part of Mandarin pronunciation but some consonants have peculiar pronunciations too! Here are some examples:

q: similar to ‘ch’ in the English ‘cheap’ – tongue is positioned below lower teeth
x: similar to ‘sh’ in the English ‘sheep’ – tongue is positioned below lower teeth
zh: similar to ‘j’ in the English ‘jam’

8. Not using topic-comment structure
A big feature of Mandarin sentence structure is that it is topic-prominent. This means that the most important item in the sentence should usually be put first, regardless of its grammatical role

9. Conjugations: In Chinese, there is no verb conjugation. In English, we would say, ‘I love dancing’, ‘he loves dancing’. In Chinese however, there are no separate forms: love and loves - it is just “love” for all subjects

10.  是 + adj
The most common way to link adjectives to nouns is with 很. This is often described as meaning “very”, but its main function in this case is just to sit between the noun and adjective. “她很高” can just be translated as “she’s tall”.

11.  没有 + 了
没有 is used to negate past actions, and 了 is used to mark completed actions.了 grammar is confusing, so it’s easy to mistakenly think that 了 is about the past tense. This then leads people to use 了 in phrases with 没有

12. Positive-negative inversion + 吗 (Ma)
Two common ways to form questions in Mandarin are positive-negative inversion, and adding 吗 (ma). After learning both, you can easily slip into putting both into one sentence, which is usually incorrect.

13. Inserting articles: The articles (a, an and the) are not needed in Chinese before a noun. But English speakers usually insert them.

14. Confusing first and last names: In China, the family name is written before the first name, the opposite being the case in English speaking countries.

To avoid making such mistakes, learn Mandarin Chinese with the most logical and interactive lessons at CultureAlley:

23 Spanish words that do not have a translation in English

While English and Spanish have some commonalities, and most Spanish words have a direct one word translation in English, there are a few words in Spanish that do not have a corresponding single word in English. Here are 23 Spanish words that do not have a translation in English:

1. Estrenar
To wear or use something for the first time.


2. Pelada
A pick up soccer game. Literally it means peeled or bare. I believe it’s used in South America.


3. Botellón (n)
Open-air drinking session, typically among youths. People bring their own alcohol which is bought from stores, making it a cheap alternative to going to bars or night clubs.


4. Enmadrarse (v)
For a child to become attached excessively to his/her mother.


5.  Friolero (n)
A person who is especially sensitive to cold weather and temperatures


6. Gentilicio (n)
A word to describe the inhabitants of a country or city


7. Pardo (a)
A brownish gray, like the color of an owl.


8. Puente (n)
A long weekend where you’ve added a day between the weekend and the holiday.  So if the holiday is on a Tuesday, and you take Monday off, you’ve made a puente to get a four-day weekend


9. Sobremesa (n)
The time spent after lunch or dinner talking to the people you shared the meal with


 10. Tuerto (a)
One-eyed, or blind in one eye.


11. Desvelado (a)

Tired, but specifically from having been kept awake or kept from sleeping well the prior night.


12. Consuegro (n)
The relationship between people whose children are married to each other. i.e. My father and my father-in-law are consuegros.


13 . Amigovio/a
A friend with benefits; a combination of amiga/o and novia/o.


14. Te quiero
A way to tell someone you care about them. Particularly when romance is involved, more meaningful than an “I like you” but less meaningful than an “I love you.” May be used as “I love you” in non-romantic relationships.


15. Duende
A climactic show of spirit in a performance or work of art, often applied to flamenco dancing or bull-fighting. A moment of inspiration.


16. Pena Ajena
Shame experienced on behalf of another person, even though that person may not experience shame.


17. Antier/Anteayer
A one-word way of saying the day before yesterday. A shorter version of ‘ntes de ayer.’

18. Embalagarse
The sensation your tongue has after eating too many sweets. It the feeling you get when you need some milk to go with that chocolate cake.


19. Atolondrar
To become so overwhelmed by something that you get scatter-brained and do something careless. For example, if you are being bombarded by emails, phone calls, text messages, etc, all at the same time, while trying to write an email, that you become so overwhelmed that you send it without an attachment.


20. Tocayo
A person who has the same name as you


21. Soler (v)
To be in the habit of doing something or accustomed to doing it.


22. Pavonear (v)
To strut about like a peacock, to be showy and ostentatious.


23. Concuñado (n)
Your brother’s brother-in-law. Though it can be used in the feminine form too. Cuñado/a of course being the word for brother-in-law or sister-in-law.


Conjugation of verb Existir in Spanish

In today’s blog we will learn about the conjugation of verb Existir in Spanish

The verb ‘Existir‘ means ‘to exist or to be’

For more verbs with ‘ir‘ ending here is the lesson on CultureAlley

Take a look at the conjugation of the veb Existir

 pronoun Present Preterit Imperfect Conditional Future
yo existo existí existía existiría existiré
existes exististe existías existirías existirás
él/ella/Ud. existe existió existía existiría existirá
nosotros existimos existimos existíamos existiríamos existiremos
vosotros existís exististeis existíais existiríais existiréis
ellos/ellas/Uds. existen existieron existían existirían existirán


I exist = Yo existo

We exist = Nosotros existimos

He exists = Él existe

She exists = Ella existe

You exist = Usted existe

Here are the examples using the verb

There is a lot of poverty

Existe mucha pobreza

There’s no such thing

No existe tal cosa

The company has been in existence for 90 years

Esta empresa existe desde hace 90 años

To learn more Spanish, for free, go to CultureAlley


Conjugation of verb Entrar in Spanish

Today’s blog will make us familiar with conjugation of verb Entrar in Spanish

The verb ‘Entrar‘ means ‘to enter, to go in or to come in’

For more verbs with ‘ar’ ending here is the lesson on CultureAlley

Take a look at the conjugation Entrar

pronoun Present Preterit Imperfect Conditional Future
yo entro entré entraba entraría entraré
entras entraste entrabas entrarías entrarás
él/ella/Ud. entra entró entraba entraría entrará
nosotros entramos entramos entrábamos entraríamos entraremos
vosotros entráis entrasteis entrabais entraríais entraréis
ellos/ellas/Uds. entran entraron entraban entrarían entrarán


I enter = Yo entro

We enter = Nosotros entramos

He enters = Él entra

She enters = Ella entra

You enter = Usted entra

Here are examples of its usage

I got in through the window

Entré por la ventana


I can’t get this ring on my finger

Este anillo no me entra 


I can’t get this shoe on

El pie no me entra en el zapato


To learn more Spanish, for free, go to CultureAlley

Conjugation of Verb Decir in Spanish

The conjugation of verb we cover in today’s blog is Decir

The verb ‘Decir’ means ‘to say or to tell’

For more verbs with ‘ir‘ ending here is the lesson on CultureAlley

Take a look at the conjugation of verb Decir

pronoun  Present Preterit Imperfect Conditional Future
yo digo dije decía diría diré
dices dijiste decías dirías dirás
él/ella/Ud. dice dijo decía diría dirá
nosotros decimos dijimos decíamos diríamos diremos
vosotros decís dijisteis decíais diríais diréis
ellos/ellas/Uds. dicen dijeron decían dirían dirán


I say = Yo digo

We say =  Nosotros decimos

He says = Él dice

She says = Ella dice

You say =  Usted dice

Here are the examples of its usage

How do you say “estación” in English?

¿Cómo se dice “estación” en inglés?

Who told you that?

¿Quién te lo ha dicho?

To learn more Spanish, for free, go to CultureAlley


Conjugation of verb Contar in Spanish

In today’s blog we will learn about the conjugation of verb Contar in Spanish

The verb ‘Contar‘ means ‘to count, to relate or to tell’

For more verbs with ‘ar’ ending here is the lesson on CultureAlley

Conjugation of the verb ‘Contar :

pronoun Present Preterit Imperfect Conditional Future
yo cuento conté contaba contaría contaré
cuentas contaste contabas contarías contarás
él/ella/Ud. cuenta contó contaba contaría contará
nosotros contamos contamos contábamos contaríamos contaremos
vosotros contáis contasteis contabais contaríais contaréis
ellos/ellas/Uds. cuentan contaron contaban contarían contarán


I count = Yo cuento

We count = Nosotros contamos 

He counts = Él cuenta

She counts = Ella cuenta

You count = Usted cuenta

Here are the examples of its usage

She can count to ten

Sabe contar hasta diez

You can count them on (the fingers of) one hand

Se pueden contar con los dedos de una mano 


Tell me, how are things?

Cuéntame, ¿cómo te va la vida? 

To learn more Spanish, for free, go to CultureAlley

Conjugation of verb Mirar in Spanish

The conjugation of verb we cover in today’s blog is Mirar

The verb ‘Mirar‘ means ‘to watch or to look at’

For more verbs with ‘ar’ ending here is the lesson on CultureAlley

Take a look at the conjugation Mirar

PRONOUN Present Preterit Imperfect Conditional Future
yo miro miré miraba miraría miraré
miras miraste mirabas mirarías mirarás
él/ella/Ud. mira miró miraba miraría mirará
nosotros miramos miramos mirábamos miraríamos miraremos
vosotros miráis mirasteis mirabais miraríais miraréis
ellos/ellas/Uds. miran miraron miraban mirarían mirarán


I watch = Yo miro

We watch = Nosotros miramos

He watches = Él mira

She watches = Ella mira

You watch = Usted mira

Mirar is used to express:

  1. To indicate deliberate looking rather than mere seeing
  2. To indicate the orientation of something

Here are some examples using the verb:

I gazed at you from afar

Yo te miraba desde lejos

The hotel faces the sea

El hotel mira al mar

To learn more Spanish, for free, go to CultureAlley