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4-03-2019 by Linda

Going on a language course abroad is mainly fun, a cultural immersion and one big adventure. But in addition to all of this, being agile in a new language is of course also very useful. It is not for nothing that language courses are particularly popular among young people who in a gap year and among travel-loving, inquisitive adults. Speaking a foreign language looks good on your CV and demonstrates a certain level of personal development. Some employers and universities specifically ask for a language certificate. How do you obtain a language certificate and how do you know which certificates are officially recognized and which are not?

Language diplomas and certificates
Almost every language school hands out a certificate from the school at the end of the language course. Regardless of whether you have followed a course for one week or six months. This is nice, but especially to hang above your bed. If you want an official diploma or a recognized certificate, it is important that you book a language course at a school that is also an official exam center. Please note: even with language schools that are an official examination center, not every course leads to an official certificate. Often you have to register for the exam in advance and it is useful to follow a specific exam course in which you will already be trained for the exam. For every official language exam, listening comprehension, speaking, writing and reading skills are tested. The test measures at what level within the Common European Framework of Reference (COEFR) you master the language and this level is shown on the diploma. The name and type of diplomas and certificates depend on the language.

Common European Framework of Reference
The diplomas below all work with the guidelines of the Common European Framework of Reference (COEFR). What that is? An established European framework created to compare language levels of different languages. So you can use this framework to describe the level at which you speak a foreign language. A distinction is made between 6 levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. Read "What is my language level" if you want to know more about the different language levels.



Certificates in Spanish
Officially recognized language diplomas in Spain are DELE (diploma for Spanish as a foreign language) and SIELE (international evaluation service for the Spanish language). But what are the differences?

DELE
During the DELE exam you will be tested on one specific level, for example A2. This means that you pass the test or fail it depending on your score. When you have passed the DELE exam, this result counts for the rest of your life. Just like your high school diploma or your bachelor's or master's degree. The SIELE certificate, on the other hand, is only valid for five years.

SIELE
When you do a SIELE test you score on a scale between 0 and 1000. Each score equals a specific language level. So without passing or failing the exam, you investigate at what level you speak Spanish. The SIELE certificate is only valid for five years. This means that after five years you will no longer be able to use it at official authorities to prove your Spanish skills.

Don't know if you have to choose SIELE or DELE? Read our article in which we help you choose. All language schools in Spain can be found here!



Certificates in English
Do you want to obtain an English certificate and follow a language course in the English language? Then the Cambridge diploma is the most notorious, this is also the English diploma that is best on your CV. In addition, the TOEFL certificate and the IELTS certificate are also good.

Cambridge
This diploma is provided by the Cambridge English Language Assessment: this is part of the world-famous Cambridge University. Before you start your Cambridge language course your current language level will be determined by means of a test. Based on this, it is determined whether you can take the exam in starting (A1 and A2), average (B1 and B2) or advanced (C1 and C2) English.

TOEFL
The TOEFL certificate (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is issued by an American non-profit organization called Educational Testin Service (ETS). Are you considering working or studying in America or Canada? Then this diploma is handy to have. The TOEFL certificate is recognized worldwide and is often requested by American and Canadian employers and universities to prove your language level. You always pass this exam, the diploma you receive shows how high you scored on the test. The TOEFL diploma is valid for two years.

IELTS
The IELTS certificate is the British version of the TOEFL certificate. This diploma is valid for two years and shows the language level that you master. So you always "succeed" this test. The certificate is recognized worldwide and is regularly required to be admitted to (English-language) training or to be able to work at international companies. IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP Education, and Cambridge English Language Assessment.

Would you like to get an English certificate? All language schools in England can be found here!



Certificates in Italian
In Italy there are two major institutes that issue official and internationally recognized certificates, CILS and AIL.

CILS
CILS stands for Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera, or certificate Italian as a second language. CILS is recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education and is organized by the University per Stranieri di Siena. Exams take place twice a year, in June and December

AIL
AIL, also known as the Florence diploma stands for Accademia Italiana di Lingua. This is an association of various schools, institutes and national and foreign companies active in Italian education.

Do you feel like getting to know the language of the country of great food, beautiful wines and ancient cities and get an official language certificate? All language schools in Italy can be found here.



Certificates in French
In France, the DELF and the DALF are the two official diplomas awarded by the French Ministry of Education that demonstrate someone's skills in French. There are four types of the exams. Within one of these types, the candidate can register directly for a certain language level according to the European Reference Framework. The type of DELF or DALF exam that is best for you depends on why you want to learn the French language:

DELF
This is the most basic diploma intended for adults who want to learn French for their own use. You will be tested on listening, reading, writing, speaking and oral interaction. The test can be done at the levels A1, A2, B1 and B2.

DELF Pro
DELF Pro is intended for people who want to work in France and therefore skills will be tested that are common in work or in other professional environments. You will be tested on listening comprehension and reading, writing, speaking and spoken interaction. The test can be done at levels A1, A2, B1 and B2.

DALF
The DALF exam is for the real French-speaking pros among us and is intended for people that want to be tested at language level C1 or C2. As a candidate for the DALF exam you choose between two domains: literature and humanities or exact sciences. A DALF C1 or C2 gives the possibility to be admitted to French universities. In addition, it is a highly valued qualification for highly skilled work in many countries.

DELF Prim

A modified DELF exam especially for children between the ages of 7 and 12.

All language schools in France can be found here.


Do you still have questions about language levels, language diplomas and certificates after reading this article? Feel free to call, mail or chat us.

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Find out your language level

 

A1

A2

hearing You understand... • Some words and basic-sentences • Common words and sentences
supervisor_account You can... • Briefly introduce yourself
• Give answers to some simple question
• Introduce yourself (shortly)
• Give answers to some simple questions
mode_edit You can... • Fill in simple forms • Make short notes
• Write a very simple personal letter
 

B1

B2

hearing  
You understand... • The thread of a story • Different opinions • Usually the whole story
supervisor_account You can... • Join a conversations about everyday subjects
• Briefly give and substantiate your opinion
• Talk fairly well with locals
• Clearly explain and substantiate your opinion
mode_edit You can... • Write down experiences and impressions in a general way • Write down experiences and impressions in a detailed way
 

C1

C2

hearing You understand... • Complex stories and opinions • Literary and academic texts
supervisor_account You can... • Effortlessly take part in a variety of conversation • Effortlessly have complex conversations and discussions
mode_edit You can... • Write down comprehensive text
• Write down detailed situations on paper
• Write a comprehensive essay
• Use complex words in your descriptions

If you do not have any prior knowledge of the language at all, then you are a total beginner. In case you already have a little knowledge, you may consider yourself A1.

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