Spanish Assesment Levels
There is a range of language levels and everyone has their own interpretation of these. Some people will be more modest about their abilities, while others will be only too happy to share their knowledge and skills! It is also difficult for projects to relay exactly what language skills they require.
On our projects and in our locations, you will normally be required to use your speaking and listening skills, rather than reading and writing skills. However, if you chose a business, marketing or NGO placement these skills may also be required.
To help us all to ascertain a more realistic picture of the language level of the volunteer and the needs of the project, these are the Common Reference Levels; global scale that have been established by Common European Framework of Reference for Languages:
Level Group A1 – Basic user
Breakthrough or beginner
- Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.
- Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has.
- Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Level Group A2 – Basic user
Way stage or elementary
- Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
- Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
- Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Level Group B1 – Independent User
Threshold or intermediate
- Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
- Can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
- Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
- Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
Level Group B2 – Independent User
Vantage or upper intermediate
- Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation.
- Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
- Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
Level Group C1 – Proficient User
Effective Operational Proficiency or advanced
- Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning.
- Can express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
- Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.
- Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
Level Group C2 – Proficient User
Mastery or proficiency
- Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
- Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
- Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.
Assessing your language level
There is a free online test that we ask volunteers to complete to assess their language levels. The test only gives categories A, B or C. Our placement advisors will also want to know where you feel you sit within each band but this is still a good guideline for volunteers, projects and Kaya when assessing placement suitability. The descriptions above will help volunteers to focus on those areas needed to reach the next level.
It is important that you are honest with your placement advisor about your language level – we are not looking for geniuses, just to ensure that you and the project are able to communicate effectively! This is to try to ensure that the placement is productive and enjoyable for you all.
If you complete this test when considering your placement, this will help you to assess more realistically which projects are already suitable for you, and also for you to consider if you have the and time to improve your language levels before commencing your placement. If you are a little shy speaking in Spanish but you score well in the test, it is important that you also discuss this with your placement advisor.
Click this link and find out how you score!
What if I don’t speak any of the required language?
For most projects this won’t matter and you will be introduced to a few key words during your orientation in-country. However, for many of the Latin American placements Spanish is required. Some placements will show the level that you already need before being accepted onto the placement. There is always the opportunity for you to improve your level before you go, especially if you are planning your placement months in advance so don’t be disheartened if you score slightly lower than you hoped. There is still time before you head off to your placement.
Additional support for languages is available in most of our Latin American locations so there are plenty of opportunities for you to develop your language skills. Some projects already include 5 or 6 classes of Spanish in the price, while for other projects you can add on extra lessons for a little extra. Classes tend to be cheaper than at home and being able to put your new skills straight into practice in shops, restaurants, your accommodation, on public transport and at your project is a real bonus and something you are not always able to do at home.
What can I do to improve my language proficiency?
There are all sorts of ways people can improve their language skills. Here are some ideas:
- online course
- listening practice, buy a self teach course such as Rosetta Stone
- attend at course at your local college
- join a conversation group – universities often have international societies that you can attend
If you want to do some preparation in-country prior to your placement why not consider a 1 week intensive course before you start your volunteering? Alternatively, why not consolidate your existing skills and develop your vocabulary by adding extra courses onto your placement.
There are many ways to learn a language – good luck with your efforts!