Which is better — DELE or SIELE test?

What are the key similarities and differences between Spanish DELE and SIELE tests?

The Spanish language opens a world of great opportunities in personal and professional life. With 20 official Spanish-speaking countries, it is a popular international language for learners.

If you are learning Spanish, you may know various proficiency exams to check your ability to write, read, speak, listen, and read Spanish.

Due to the growing demand, there are many Spanish tests today. E.g., SIELE, DELE, Telc, DIE, CELA, ECL, and CELU. And of all these options, DELE and SIELE are the two most famous ones.

But what are the similarities and differences between the two? What are the unique features, benefits, and drawbacks? And how do you decide which one you should take — SIELE or DELE?

Each candidate has a different reason for learning Spanish and taking the test. This is why I’ve outlined many essential points for you to consider before you sign up.

Let’s find out all the answers in this complete guide.


What are DELE and SIELE?


DELE stands for the Diplomas de Español Como Lengua Extranjera. SIELE refers Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española. Both are internationally acknowledged Spanish proficiency tests.

As a result, you can qualify as a fluent or good Spanish speaker. Both also verify your Spanish competency for various levels and skill sets.

A diploma in either exam is required in many universities in Spain, Central, and South America. It also helps if you work for Spanish companies or employers dealing with Spanish-speaking regions.

TELC, CELU, ECL, CELA, and DIE (Diploma Internacional de Español) are some other international Spanish tests. But these exams are not as well known and sought-after as DELE and SIELE.

Who Conducts DELE and SIELE?

A prominent non-profit organization, Instituto Cervantes, administers the DELE test worldwide. It represents the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports of the government of Spain.

The University of Salamanca in Spain developed DELE. They are also responsible for correcting the test and evaluating the result.

The Instituto Cervantes, the University of Salamanca, the University of Buenos Aires, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico facilitate and certify SIELE.

It is also recognized by ACLES, CRUE, CNCP, and the Seal of Biliteracy.

You can register for SIELE online by visiting the website. It is available all year round.

Similarities between SIELE and DELE

The two systems of evaluating Spanish language skills share many likenesses.

1. Importance and Recognition

Both DELE and SIELE share the same official status. They are widely accepted, government-approved, and internationally recognized.

In 1989, the DELE test began its journey and became the most famous Spanish test globally. Today, it is the first and most preferred choice for those interested in learning Spanish. The lifetime validity gives an edge over SIELE.

With its online-based examination, SIELE is catching up quickly. As per an estimate, over 1 million candidates may take this test by 2025. And the number is expected to rise further.

Both tests help you earn a recognized certificate accepted globally for various purposes.

Overall, both are hugely popular and widely known across the world. No matter your choice, you won’t regret it since both tests are standard and accepted everywhere.

2. Both DELE and SIELE are beneficial

The DELE and SIELE tests assess how well you can use Spanish to do linguistic tasks in real life. This covers various topics, subjects, situations, and settings.

You can use the test scores for job applications and higher education in Hispanic countries to prove competency.

Many businesses and institutions in Europe and Latin America recognize these diplomas as eligibility criteria and qualifications.

These exams can also help you advance your career options involving Spanish across the world.

You measure and prove your Spanish competency and gain confidence by taking one of the two tests. It also increases your chances of immigrating to one of the places with a vast Spanish-speaking population.

3. They follow the CEFR model

This is a striking parallel between SIELE and DELE. Both follow the guidelines established by the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

Both tests adhere to the six levels of the CEFR.

Difference between DELE and SIELE

A1 (Basic – Breakthrough), A2 (Waystage), B1 (Threshold), B2 (Vantage), C1 (Advanced – Effective Operational Proficiency), and C2 (Mastery) are the six levels of the DELE.

But, SIELE only has 5 levels, up to C1, unlike DELE, comprising A1 to C2.

Like SIELE, DELE has four components: writing, speaking, reading, and listening.

So, as a result, it is helpful when one compares it to other European language tests.

4. Similar Exam Preparation

Many of the questions used for testing by DELE and SIELE are alike. Language difficulty and exercise level are also the same.

If you know your current level and where you stand in Spanish. You can select between DELE, SIELE independent modalities (S1 to S5), or SIELE Global.

The audio lessons and exercise books make preparing for both exams convenient. Plus, you can use DELE resources for SIELE and vice versa.

The demo of SIELE is available, along with samples, practice, mockups, and old question papers.

You can also enroll in any Spanish learning center like ours, i.e., Instituto Hispania. We offer Spanish courses designed as per DELE and SIELE.

7 Key Differences between DELE and SIELE

Despite some similarities, many vital differences make each other distinct. There are unique pros and cons linked with each of these Spanish tests. 

Let’s explore all in detail.


1. Validity Period Of Diplomas

The validity period of the DELE and SIELE certifications is a crucial difference between these two Spanish tests.

When you receive a SIELE diploma, your Spanish proficiency is valid for five years. Your language skills decline if you don’t use them. Because of this, they expect you to prove fluency again after 5-years.

But, DELE is valid for a lifetime, and scores never expire. So, as an outcome, you do not need to reappear for the test again to prove your Spanish ability. That’s a significant help.

DELE is a perfect choice for those who wish to study Spanish for careers.

2. Time required to get results and certifications

The Spanish government and concerned bodies acknowledge your efforts in learning Spanish by awarding you a diploma in DELE.

But there is a two-three month waiting time to get certification and scores for those who sat for DELE. So it takes a while for your mailbox to receive the results.

That is one reason DELE is not a good choice if you want to get certified in Spanish quickly.

In that case, you can consider quick certification by taking the SIELE test. You will get the results and scores in three weeks. And in some regions, you can even receive it within a week.

3. Candidate eligibility for the exam

Anyone can take the DELE or SIELE exam, which measures natives’ and non-natives’ Spanish-speaking abilities.

DELE requires a minimum age of 16, while for SIELE, candidates must be at least 13.

Regarding the level, SIELE only assesses candidates up to C1. It does not offer C2, i.e., near-native fluency. In contrast, DELE measures your Spanish ability from A1 to C2.

For school-going children between 11 and 17, there is a separate DELE exam for young learners. A1 and A2/B1 are the only two levels for this test.

SIELE and DELE Spanish exams

4. Examination Dates

In 2023, DELE will take place on 17th Feb, 14th Apr, 12th and 13th May, 7th Jul, 8th Sept, 13th Oct, and 17th and 18th November.

The test is administered in India four times a year (in April, May, July, and November).

The accredited and official centers organize SIELE almost every month. So naturally, this makes it more desirable for many.

Since this is an individual test, the date will vary from center to center. Here, you can pick the date and time convenient for you.

5. Testing Centers worldwide

DELE exam centers are in over 100 countries worldwide.

Depending on where you live, the dates may vary. Thus, search for the DELE center closest to you.

Instituto Cervantes conducts DELE on its own or in collaboration with other institutions. There are six cities in India where they run the test — Chennai, Mumbai, Jaipur, Mussoorie, New Delhi, and Kolkata.

More than 80 universities are affiliated with SIELE in 20 countries in Central and South America.

There are 1,000 testing centers in 85 countries where you can take the SIELE exam. For example, in India, there are 22 SIELE test centers.

Instituto Hispania, a top-ranked Spanish teaching institute in India, is an authorized exam venue in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, and Chennai.

6. DELE Vs. SIELE — The Modules and Structure

There are four modules of SIELE. These are:

  • Listening Comprehension (LC): 55 minutes.
  • Reading Comprehension (RC): 60 minutes.
  • Spoken Expression and Interaction (SEI): 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Written Expression and Interaction (WEI): 50 minutes.

The modules can be mixed and matched to decide which are worth testing on a specific day. Between the WEI and SEI tests, there is a 15-minute break.

You can also choose SIELE Global. It allows you to take all four modules in almost 3 hours.


DELE also has 4 modules: writing, speaking, reading, and listening. But the duration varies, and you have to take all the tests on a single day.

Unlike SIELE, a multilevel test, you must pick the exact DELE level you wish to try. Yet, there is no limit to how many levels you can skip and how many times you can appear for a higher one.

To pass the DELE test, one needs overall 60 marks.

Also, 30 in each of the two sections: Listening comprehension and oral expression and interaction. And reading comprehension and written expression and interaction.

7. Exam Procedure

A block classroom or exam center is the only place you can sit for the DELE.

The test has written, listening, and speaking components. Each year, only a few exam dates and intervals are scheduled.

There are only a few DELE test centers around the world. You may not take the test if there is no testing center in your area. You might not even be able to take advantage of the limited dates when you need them.

SIELE is a more flexible and convenient choice for people in the above situation.

There is one area where DELE and SIELE differ from one another. While one adopts the old-school fashion, using pen and paper, the other is online.

SIELE provides a complete Spanish online test, making it a suitable choice for many. You can also take it to any testing center whenever you want.

It is still necessary to register at least 48 hours before the exam.

Once you’ve completed your registration, you can choose the date and easily accessible SIELE center where you want to take the exam.

If you wish to take the DELE test, you will need to contact the Cervantes affiliated centers in your area, ask when the next exam will take place, and wait for the date they offer.

Why DELE is better than SIELE?

DELE is more across-the-board. This tests outstanding value is among academic institutions, universities, and companies. So, DELE often gets an advantage over SIELE.

You can boost your CV with a DELE diploma. Besides, this qualification will allow you to show your Spanish skills throughout life.

The DELE also certifies up to a C2 level of Spanish proficiency exams. These diplomas have no expiration date, so they are valid forever.

SIELE provides similar privileges, but the validity period is limited to five years. SIELE does not have a near-native C2 level.

SIELE is relatively new and started in 2016. That is one reason not all organizations worldwide accept it as a confirmation of Spanish knowledge.

Why SIELE is better than DELE?

You can sit for the SIELE test all year round, which is helpful. Also, there is no need to take any specific level.

The SIELE exam is a fast, fail-proof, and flexible exam that works based on a one-size-fits-all model. You can choose modules and score as many points as possible (from 0 to 1000).

You can always succeed in this test since it’s a single multilevel test without fail or pass. This is like English language tests like TOEFL or IELTS.

In contrast, if you pass any of the DELE modules (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2), then you will be certified.

DELE primarily focuses on the European or Standard Spanish version of Spain, mainly at the lower levels of A1 to B1.

But SIELE is pan-Hispanic and covers all the linguistic varieties and Spanish dialects. It also includes Español de América Latina.

Final Words: DELE Vs. SIELE — Which Is Better?

Which Is better DELE or SIELE

As you can see, it is not easy to help you decide between these two types of Spanish exams.

Despite its rigidity, one thing is sure: DELE’s ultimate reward lies in its lifetime certification.

In contrast, SIELE is more flexible, enhancing the learning convenience that DELE lacks. Of course, there are better ways to measure fluency than that. But it is still good enough.

You should weigh all pros and cons and consider these differences when deciding which to choose.

If you have any questions about Spanish DELE vs. SIELE, please leave a comment below.

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