A little known fact is that through IES Abroad Madrid’s Language & Area Studies program, there is an additional course that one can take for no added cost. This course is a preparation course for the DELE (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera) exam that certifies one’s Spanish-language proficiency. The exam consists of 6 levels and tests various aspects of language abilities including: speaking, listening, reading, writing and grammar.
Being a Spanish major, I wanted to see how good my Spanish is and what I need to improve. On the first day of orientation, the IES Abroad Madrid staff mentioned to us that the DELE course would happen once every Friday for about 7 weeks. There were 2 complications with this. First, all of our courses in IES Abroad happen Monday through Thursday. That meant that we had our Fridays free and that we would have 3-day weekends every week. If we took the DELE course, we would be giving up part of that free time. Second, IES Abroad Madrid offers optional field trips to different cities in Spain also at no additional cost. However, all of these field trips are, you guessed it, on Fridays! By taking the DELE class, we would be giving up 3-day weekends and additional field trips.
Unsurprisingly, the DELE course was not a popular option. When I walked into that first class, I was informed that only 3 people (including me) out of approximately 90 people in the program had signed up. It ended up just being me and a friend of mine because the third person had not shown up. On that first day, we were tested to see which level of the course we would prepare for. My friend and I ended up being placed into different levels and were subsequently placed into different sections. We ended up having one-on-one sessions with the instructor.
The DELE course was interesting to say the least. For one, we had additional weekly homework out of a textbook. To make matters more complicated, we had to take the DELE course on top of a full course load. At IES Abroad Madrid, a full-course load is 15 credits. 4 credits from our mandatory-language class and 3 credits each from our elective courses. With that math, we had to take a minimum of 1 mandatory-language class and 4 elective courses. I had originally thought that taking the DELE course would be sufficient to drop an elective course but it turns out it wasn’t. It was certainly quite tricky in terms of the time-commitment 🙁
I know what you must be thinking. “Why would anyone take this course?” After having just finished my final class, I have to say that I would do it again. It was an amazing opportunity for me to develop all aspects of my Spanish. Because the class was one-on-one, I learned lots of colloquial expressions, helped refine my grammar abilities and also saw where I had room for improvement. I was pretty wary on whether or not I would enjoy the class in the beginning but the professor made the class fun and she even complimented me on my pronunciation! If you’re thinking about taking the course, I would definitely advise looking into what would be best for you. It’s true that I do regret not being able to go on field trips and having 3-day weekends but, like many things while being abroad, it’s a give and take :)
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My name is Jacob and I am a current junior at Haverford College. I love all things related to learning about different cultures whether it be food, language, customs, etc. In my free time, you can typically find me playing video games, listening to music, or just spending time with friends!