My story with the Spanish language until the C1 level

So far, Spanish was the only language I made a proficiency test. I decided to attempt the C1 level and I got the diploma.

How I learned Spanish

I learned Spanish in a language school when I was 13. My parents wanted me to take English classes, but as I had a great passion for Spain at that age, it was my dreamland; I managed to convince them to let me do the Spanish course. As I was so interested in Spain, learning the language was something that came very natural to me; in addition, the similarities between Portuguese and Spanish helped me a lot.

I attended the course for one year and stopped at the intermediate level, after that, I only had contact with the language again at the age of 21, when I went to US – yes, the United States – and met a lot of Hispanic speakers. So, I had the opportunity to practice a little of what I had learned years before.

Then, I practice again occasionally at age 23 while working with foreigners. When I was 24 I spent a week in Peru and with 26 years I spent 10 days in Spain. At 27, I finally decided to take the proficiency test, but as you can see my contact with the language was not constant and definitely, it wasn’t fresh in my head, so I decided to take intensive classes.

So, I spent three weeks’ vacation studying in Arequipa, Peru. That was about 4 hours per day. The classes were focused on grammar and conversation; and a little writing. Basically, the book we used in class was “Preparacion DELE. C1. Libro + CD (Spanish Edition)”, as mentioned in this post.

The book simulates the exercises of the exam, but I found them a little easier than the real exam. My vacation was in September, the test was only in November, so I continued to study at home using books, as grammar books and the “Preparación al Diploma de Español” book- but the C2 level, to get something more challenging. I also heard podcasts in Spanish and read the newspaper “El País”.

The C1 level

According to the Instituto Cervantes website of the C1 diploma level certifies that:

1. Understand a wide variety of long, quite demanding texts, as well as recognise implicit meanings in them.
2. Express themselves fluently and spontaneously, without any obvious effort to find the right words.
3. Use the language flexibly and effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes.
4. And be able to produce clear, well-structured, detailed texts on topics having a certain level of complexity, with correct use of mechanisms for organising and articulating a cohesive text.

The exam

First day

The exam lasted two days. On the first day, the evaluation was oral.

First, they gave me the option to choose between two themes, I don’t remember the theme I’ve chosen, but I had 20 minutes to read the text and take notes. After a few minutes, the evaluation started. First, the evaluator introduced herself and we started the conversation. She asked me to make a summary of the text and my opinion on the matter. The whole time there was another person evaluating the conversation.

After, she showed me a hypothetical situation with some possibilities. My theme was raising money for graduation students. I do not remember very well the options, but if I remember correctly, two of them were making T-shirts or to organize a party. When choosing your option, you have to justify the reason of your choice. The evaluator makes some interventions and gives some opinions. The oral evaluation lasts 20 minutes.

I did not do very well in the oral test, because I was very nervous. It was my worst skill and I while leaving the Instituto Cervantes I was feeling very discouraged. I thought I had finished with my chances of getting the diploma.

Second day

The second day of exam was much longer. We started by the reading comprehension test.

Reading comprehension test

1. We had two long texts and we had to answer questions about them, some about the text itself, others about grammar.
2. In the second exercise, we had to put in order disorderly excerpts from a text. Yet, there is a false extract between them, so one had to be careful when doing this exercise, which was my favorite.

c1 - lectura - tarea 2

Model of the exam

3. In this exercise we had to relate numerous reviews with phrases about them. Some reviews have more than one sentence to describe them.
4. The last exercise is a bit more focused on grammar. It is a basic fill the gaps, for each gap there are three options.

The reading comprehension test lasts 90 minutes

Listening comprehension

Then we did the listening comprehension test. The exercises were also basic and before we start doing them, we had one minute to read the texts. All audios are repeated twice.

1. In the first exercise we heard an audio and we had to fill blank gaps in a text. They give 12 options to fill these gaps, but there are only 6 gaps.
2. In the second test we heard several small dialogues without pause. And in the text we have to answer what the person did or wished.
3. After that, we heard an interview and we had to choose the correct answers about the interview. For me, this was the hardest exercise.
4. The last exercise is the most interesting. We heard dialogues of few seconds with idioms and we have to select the correct option about it.

The listening comprehension test lasts 50 minutes.

Listening comprehension and written expression and interaction test

In the written part of the test we had two exercises.

1. In the first exercise, we heard an audio on some subject and we had to do a little text with our opinion on the matter.
2. In the second part, we had to produce a text and we are presented with two options. We can write a letter or an argumentative essay. In my case, I choose to do a report to a magazine about child nutrition. The written test lasts 80 minutes. It seems like a great amount of time, but in the end I had to write super-fast in the official test sheet, that is, at this stage you need to plan your time well.

At the end of the second day I left very optimistic about the exam, despite the pain in the neck (literally, for sitting hours in a non-ergonomic chair), I knew that I had done well in this part of the exam and I was right. I almost aced the reading comprehension test, with an average of 24.38 points of 25.


After waiting for a few months, I was able to see the test results online. And, after almost a year I got my diploma at the Instituto Cervantes.

My final result was APTO, the minimum number of points to be considered APTO is 60, I made 75.34 points out of 100. It wasn’t a great result, but good enough to be approved.


Everything I did helped me in the exam, especially taking private classes. But the book “Preparacion DELE. C1. Libro + CD (Spanish Edition)” and hearing podcasts were also essential and without these resources, I don’t think I would have succeeded in the exam.

For more information and to better understand how the test works you can access the website of the Instituto Cervantes and see examination samples.

And you? Did you take the exam? How it was for you?

Interview with Igor from Missão Poliglota

igorbarca_1375816613_16Igor Barca is the founder of the blog Missão Poliglota and of the School Estude Idiomas. He is a professor of English, French and Italian. Currently, he is also studying German and Japanese. His mission is to master at least 10 languages.

  1. What languages do you speak and at what level?

I am Brazilian. Then I speak Portuguese as a native language, but early on I got interested in languages. The first foreign language I learned was Italian. Despite having lost some eloquence from lack of practice, I consider myself fluent today as as I can fast recover the rhythm during a conversation.

On the other hand, my French is becoming more and more fluent, as I have been teaching students very often, including candidates for diplomacy. The English also goes well, according to my last exam of proficiency, which attested to the level C1. I have studied Spanish for two years and today, not so fond of the language, I have only intermediate level.

In addition to these languages, I study German and Japanese. I have been studying German for some time now, but with not enough motivation to evolve. My current mission is to learn Japanese in 90 days. I visited Japan in April and came back very excited with the language! I had studied Japanese before, but that was 10 years ago…

To sum it all: I speak Portuguese, English, French and Italian fluently, have intermediate level in Spanish (thanks to Julio Cortázar and his books, lol), I study German for some time now and I’am starting my studies of the Japanese language. To learn more about my current mission, click here. Continue reading

Interview with Maureen from the blog Mo’s Language Learning Journey

Maureen is a Scottish who love learning languages. She used that passion to find a job and now, in addition to using these languages to work, she also uses them to travel. You can find her in her blog Mo’s Language Learning Journey.

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Scotland in a monolingual household and I started learning languages at high school. My first language was French from age eleven but by the time I finished school at age sixteen, I could barely speak a word even though I passed my exam! Languages were taught very badly in my school with overcrowded classes, but I still enjoyed language lessons. I went to college and studied Spanish which was better because the class only had six people in it. From there, I progressed to university and there I studied Spanish and, to a lesser extent, Italian. Following university, my languages enabled me to gain employment in an international company within their Finance Department and I travelled regularly to their offices in Italy and Spain. Years later, my career within the Finance Industry progressed and I passed my professional accountancy qualifications. I would never have worked in Finance if I had not studied languages. Continue reading

Beginner’s mistake: in search of the Holy Grail

When we begin to study a new language, we make a lot of mistakes. Today, I will talk about one of the most common errors: the search for the perfect method/material.

The perfect material/method does not exist

Image from:

There are good and bad materials/methods. Some are better than others. Some will be better for you and your goals, but none is perfect. You will not learn a language well, using only one method. Of course, you can learn the general basis of a language from one method, but learning it well? I doubt it, and you should also be suspicious of any material or method that promises you a good level without effort and using only one material/method. Continue reading

How to keep the inactive languages

As I said before, I don’t like to study two languages ​​at the same time. Personally, I need to dedicate as much time as possible to the language I’m learning and it’s hard to do that with two languages ​​at the same time. But, that doesn’t mean that I stay away from the languages I don’t actively study. I try to keep a minimum contact with the languages ​​that are inactive, but in a way that they don’t interfere in the language that I am studying. The way I found to do that is using my “dead” time, leisure time or at work (if that don’t disturb me). Below, I list how. Continue reading

Interview with Noel from

noel-van-vlietNoel van Vliet is not a hiperpolyglot, he is a trilingual who gives great information on his blog Do you want to know how the experts do to learn a language and if a course is good? Well, you’ll find the information on his site.

  1. What languages do you speak and at what level?

I speak Dutch, English and Spanish fluently. But they’re never in a fixed state. If I slack off on speaking English, for example, that particular skill diminishes temporarily, even if my listening isn’t affected. It recovers quickly when I give it the necessary attention. I’ve even started to forget words of my native language Dutch. Not the simple words I used everyday, but those words that you only hear or read every once in a while. I speak something of several other languages as well but I can’t really hold conversations in those languages. And that’s what counts. Continue reading

Interview with Vladimir from

Profile pic crop VladimirToday I’m starting a series of interviews with polyglots.

The first interviewed is Vladimir Skultety from, he is an interpreter and translator of Mandarin Chinese, Slovak and English. In his blog he writes about language learning, especially Mandarin Chinese learning.

He also has a very cool YouTube channel, you can check it here.

  1. What languages do you speak and at what level?

English, Czech, Slovak – native level

Chinese, German, Italian, Russian, Hungarian – C1/C2 level

Spanish, French – B2 level

Polish, Serbian, Portuguese – B1 level

Farsi – A2 level Continue reading

15 days German progress video

It’s here!

My first video speaking German. The result: BAD!!

You can see I’m laughing, because I know it! Anyway, I promised, so here is the video.

I learned in the last 15 days, the basic structure of German, about 150 words, but I can only use 30% of it. Basically, I’m only using the FSI “German: a Programmed Introduction” and the Pimsleur courses. I’m studying about 2 hours a day only.

My goal for the next month is to speak something that makes sense, and not just throw phrases like I did it in this video.

Polyglot Nerd first video

I’m back and with some news!!!!!!

I have a new logo, with a clean look and I also changed a bit the website, hope is lighter now.

And I have a new project that I divulge in the video below.

This is my first video, so obviously I was a nervous, but I made it.

The video was no script, I don’t read anything and I didn’t edit, I don’t even know how to do it.

Hope you’ll like, I know the quality is not the best, I still  have a long way to learn how to do very cool videos.