Spanish Proficiency from 0 to B2 in 14 months : DELE exam & This is my Story (2023)

This was my second attempt at the exam. When I tried it for the first time for the same level B2 approximately six months back, I failed. However, the question one should ask themself is

Was it a surprise ?

I will answer this frankly and honestly. No, it was not a surprise. I saw this coming when I had left the exam centre. I reflected upon the shortcomings and I found out I missed two things:

Preparation and Time.

Why I say this and how it can help you to achieve success? Lets deep dive into this interesting journey of mine.

Spanish Proficiency from 0 to B2 in 14 months : DELE exam & This is my Story (1)


Language was never my strength and I never liked studying it.

A wise person once said "Never say no to anything ". Here I am with my fourth language certificate. Yes Fourth !!

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do"

I am from India and I can speak two languages proficiently, one is Hindi (my mother tongue) and other is English which thanks to the British Colonial System is second most common language in India. My motivation to learn Spanish started after getting married to my wife in the summer of 2018, who is a Spanish citizen from Madrid.

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During this time we were still living in Tokyo, Japan. Now you would ask what was I doing in Tokyo, Japan. Well you can find more about it here in this other article or this one. So by the time of my marriage I was already in Japan for 5 years and had cleared Japanese proficiency exam test (third language) and was working as a manager for an American company in Tokyo managing Japanese operations. At this point English and Japanese were my go to languages and I wanted to learn Russian.

Yeah I wanted to learn Russian because I have always liked the accent and I started to learn it. Though after meeting my wife, Spanish came in to my life. The Russian took a backseat but sooner or later I will catch up on that 😉.

We decided to move to Spain and my plan was to learn Spanish and then look for opportunities in Spain. I had the following motivations to learn Spanish:

  1. The thought of being in Spain and be able to communicate with family and friends in Spanish was enough. I did something similar with Japanese in Japan. Therefore, I had the confidence in my abilities.
  2. Spanish is the 3rd most popular language on the planet, so the idea of being able to understand the other half of the world gave me an adrenaline rush.
  3. Last but not least, the support of my family specially my wife gave me the final push.

I left Japan for Spain in August of 2019 before COVID-19 was a thing 😂. Once in Madrid, I enrolled in a Spanish language school, which when I now reflect was expensive but also a very good decision.

Spanish Proficiency from 0 to B2 in 14 months : DELE exam & This is my Story (2)

Importance of Language School

I had a reason to enroll myself at a language school even though I was living with my Spanish family in Spain. Many people asked me or wanted to ask.

(Video) 5 top tips to pass DELE

Why did you not learn from your wife ?

The answer is very simple. Couples can never learn or teach each other 😭. They always end up fighting. Every bilingual couple I have asked, has told me the same. Hence, I enrolled in a Spanish school, short after leaving my full time job in Tokyo with the hope joining the same company in Madrid once I had reached a decent level of Spanish.

Also, from my experience of learning Japanese I decided that it is important to learn CORRECTLY from the very beginning. I studied Japanese mostly without a school, I learned myself by socializing or going to meetings with old and young Japanese or traveling in Trains or Buses, or walking on streets. This is good to work, sruvive and go by your daily life, however if you are going to take JLPT exam (Japanese language proficiency test) then you need to study from books. It was not easy to switch from colloquial to official language style. With JLPT also I failed in my first attempt.

From this experience it was clear I did not want to repeat the same mistake and do it RIGHT from the very start.


I joined a Spanish school in late 2019. My aim was to have DELE B2 certificate which is a minimum requirement to work in Spanish language. To give you an Idea A1 is the beginner level and C2 is the highest level, which even native people say they would find it hard to clear. Currently I am studying the C1 level. DELE is Diploma en Español which is governed by Instituto de Cervantes the governing body of Spanish language all over the world. This is like JLPT or Cambridge English Exams. If you want to prove your Spanish language ability you need to do DELE exam. Normally it takes around 10 months to study up till B2 level in Spanish. That means four books, one for each level, A1, A2, B1 & B2. However, as was the case with Japanese and almost every other language in the world there is a huge difference between the requirements of an exam and the ones you need for communicating on a daily basis. For an exam you need to study formal language and pay attention to details like orthography and grammar structures. However, when communicating in the street you can be a bit more careless with these aspects and you will still achieve the goal of being understood.

What is a DELE B2 Exam ?

The DELE Spanish Diplomas are official qualifications certifying the degree of competence and mastery of Spanish, granted by Instituto Cervantes on behalf of Ministry of Education and Vocational Training of Spain and, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Unión and Cooperation of Spain.

The DELE examinations have been designed following the guidelines of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) of the Council of Europe.

DELE B2 is the fourth of the six learning levels. This diploma accredits the ability of the user of the language for:

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  • Interacting with native speakers with a sufficient degree of fluency and naturalness, so that communication is effortlessly carried out by the interlocutors.
  • Producing clear and detailed texts on different subjects, as well as defend a point of view on general subjects, indicating the pros and cons of the different options.
  • Understanding the main ideas of complex texts dealing with both concrete and abstract subjects, even if they are of a technical nature, as long as they are within their field of specialisation.

Exam Structure:

Spanish Proficiency from 0 to B2 in 14 months : DELE exam & This is my Story (3)

The B2 exam consists of 4 tests, organized in two groups:

Group 1 (Reading and Writing Skills): Reading comprehension (70 minutes) and written expression and interaction (80 minutes).

Group 2 (Oral Skills): Listening comprehension (40 minutes) and oral expression and interaction (15 minutes).

It is necessary to get a minimum of 30 points in each group to obtain the grade of "Apt".

Did English knowledge helped? How about Italian, French, Portuguese speakers?

Knowing english helped. I started from A1 where I had students who did not have any English language. When we started moving up the ladder suddenly I realized that Japanese or Chinese students took more time than me. That is to say, English did help me, because I had been using English all my life without thinking much about grammar. None of the languages that I knew other than English had a complex grammar structure like Spanish, it was difficult.

I would say learning Japanese is easier than Spanish due to the simpler grammar

Spanish is a very redundant language, you repeat the same thing many times within the same sentence. For example:

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Le estoy escribiendo una carta a Ana.
I am writing a letter to Ana.

It is said that english books translated to Spanish are almost twice the size of the original, which gives you a scale of the redundancy in Spanish grammar.

As I moved to B1 level I saw many new students from Italian, Portuguese or french origin. For them many of the grammar concepts and vocabularies matched their own native language and therefore, they would skip A1 & A2 and start directly from level B1 which is a big convenience if I tell you.

Life is much easier if you know the difference between Indicativo and Subjuntivo.

First Attempt ------> Failure

After studying 8 months I applied for DELE B2 exam last year. That was during lockdown and I was over confident that if I do the mock-up exams etc, passing the exam would be a piece of cake. The exam costs 195 Euro for every attempt so it was not cheap. My mentality while going into the exam was to earn experience rather than clear it from the very beginning. There I made my first mistake. Secondly, as I mentioned in the beginning of the article Preparation and Time were other factors.

  1. Preparation: For anyone who never has had a brush with Spanish grammar reaching level B2 is difficult. I studied till B1 at my school and then came COVID-19 so I decided to study the rest and prepare for exam on my own. Which was a stupidity on my side when I think about it now.
  2. Time: To reach up to a certain level in a language you need time. It is needed to develop your listening capacity and ability to create a structure in your mind. I required at least six months to shed the hesitation and get the sentence structure right. However, the most difficult part of Spanish language is listening, specially the Spanish from Spain. In Spain people speak very fast and in a flat tone compared to other Spanish speaking countries where the tone is more accentuated. It took me longest to develop my listening skills by listening to Radio, News, Netflix. Now I can watch anything in Spanish without subtitles.
When I started speaking, I was mixing English, Spanish and Japanese unknowingly

In my first attempt the listening and oral abilities were the two sections where I lost most marks. Once you have failed oral it is impossible they will let you clear the exam. For any language, your communication ability in that language is the prime requirement. At home I was not talking much with my wife not because we had issues but because she naturally doesn't speak much 😂. Due to lockdown, I was not seeing my in-laws with whom I used to practice. Basically, going into the exam I was only doing written and reading section practice by myself and the rest was left to chance and that showed in the results.


After having failed in the first attempt and after some self introspection I was back again in a Spanish school studying B2 level and preparing for the exam. This time I was more focused and planned in my approach. I used different techniques like listening to podcasts, radio, going out more and to participate in more conversations and reading articles from mainstream newspapers daily. Ultimately, when I sat for the exam I was still nervous from the results of the first attempt, but I was better prepared, which showed in my result yesterday.

Failure is the next step to success

Spanish Proficiency from 0 to B2 in 14 months : DELE exam & This is my Story (4)

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For more such informative story visit my page >>

Thank you very much for your patience and time. Good luck 😊


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