So you want to know how fluent you are in Spanish (or English, or Japanese — just add your language of choice here). You’re impatient and you want to know now! So you Google “Spanish test” and you come across a ton of websites saying that you can find out your Spanish level in 10 minutes or less by taking an online quiz.
I understand the psychological draw that these tests have. I, too, have succumbed to taking them.
Like you, I want to know how much I know, and for someone (or some website) to tell me how awesome I am at Spanish.
I did this for years thinking I was the best! I always got a close to perfect score, no matter what test, what website, what level.
Then this smarty-pants Spanish guru took a job in Mexico.
What do you think happened?
Yup. My title as Spanish-speaking goddess came smashing to the ground. Actually, it hit the ground and just kept sinking lower. I think it made its way to China.
I was so disappointed, and I was so confused.
How could I have gotten a near-perfect score on all those online tests if I didn’t know Spanish?
What I now know, about 12 years later, is that a fill-in-the-blank quiz has zero to do with truly being fluent in a language.
When I was so proud of how I did on those tests, I was operating under an illusion. All that online language tests do is tell you how well you’ve memorized verb endings and subject-verb agreement.
Right now, if I asked you to quote all the verb endings for your native language, you would probably stumble, right? But if I asked you to rattle off verb endings in a language you studied in school or as an adult, you would probably know quite a few! You would seem like a foreign language genius. But knowing verb endings is useless.
That’s what I quickly came to realize (unfortunately, about eight years of “studying” Spanish too late). So that’s why we’re trying to save you all that time and money.
We all want to believe we’re as great at a language as those online tests tell us. But the reality is different.
How to (Really!) Measure Language Fluency
So how do you learn the truth about your fluency level in a foreign language?
To know your level in a foreign language, you first need to know what you’re testing. Which of these areas matters most to you? What’s the reason you’re using that language?
- Reading comprehension
- Understanding the spoken language and being able to respond – Conversations
Most people want to actually use the language for conversations, so we highly suggest taking a speaking test.
We suggest taking the DELE exam if you want to know your speaking level in Spanish. It is an internationally recognized language proficiency exam. Traditionally geared toward academics, this exam will give you a solid idea of your language fluency level, and will enable you to apply for jobs in Spanish. Almost every major language has a test like the DELE exam (DALF for French, TOEFL for English, etc).
If you’re not interested in taking a 2-4 hour test (DELE is 2-4 hours!), then you can have a professional tutor assess your fluency in 30 minutes. If you go this route, you won’t get an official certification like you will from one of these exams.
At Fluency Corp we do assessments during the first lesson. We ask the client questions about various topics, making them talk for approximately 30 minutes. This allows us to see what the client can easily talk about and where the client struggles.
That’s exactly what the DELE or TOEFL tests do. Fluency Corp just makes it more accessible and convenient.
Have fun with those online language levels tests. Take hundreds of them if you like! But remember not to let the score be the end all, be all in how you evaluate your language ability. Make sure you get a real measure of your fluency level so that when you take that job in another country, you don’t get the same shock I did about your lack of language skills!