The SIELE certificate is a recent international degree that determines the level of the student of Spanish through the scoring of tests according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). Although I am a native Spaniard and have lived all my life in Spain, while I was still training as a Spanish teacher for foreigners, I decided to present myself in 2016 to SIELE GLOBAL in order to live the experience first-hand and thus be able to better help Spanish students.
The entire SIELE testing is processed online and PayPal payment is accepted (€ 155). The day of the test the student go to an authorized center decided at the time of registration and in which you are identified by your identity card to confirm that the person who is going to do the test is who is supoused to be. Actually, the whole process is very simple but in my case I did have a small inconvenience when it came to accessing the examination point because it is located in a Telefónica District building where is located the entity that I selected (Telefónica Digital Education). The fact is that in that building there are many other companies besides Telefónica Digital Education and everyone who comes as a visitor needs an identification. On the ground floor of the building is the access control and although I showed the printed e-mail with my candidate key and all the data that SIELE had provided me, none of the people at the desk knew that there were these types of exams and they did not allow me access for security reasons. I had to wait in the common areas available to the public for half an hour after sending an e-mail with my smartphone to the address from which I had sent the reservation code and the cabin number as it was the only means of contact I had to communicate my situation. Finally, a person from Telefónica Educación Digital came down to pick me up so I could pass the security control. None of the data sent to me identified the building's floor, office, or contact person, which was problematic because the front desk employees could not help me. For this reason, I recommend that you previously request all these data and especially a phone number and the name of the person in charge to avoid this type of problems on the day of the test.
As for the cabin of the SIELE exam, both the computer and all the rest of the material was completely new. The space is small but sufficient and one felt comfortable and with privacy even though the door is made of translucent glass and the employees of the office could be seen from time to time. The indoor air quality and the sound quality of the headphones were very good, as well as the lighting and the air conditioning. The person in charge offered me his help if between test and test I needed something or if I wanted to take a short break to leave the cabin. I think that there were between three and five more cabins although they were all empty and I was the only candidate at that time.
The most delicate aspect, in my experience, is the oral expression tests because the candidate speaks and expresses himself while the computer records an audio file and a timer shows constantly on the screen the remaining time to finish the recording. This situation do conditions our communication in some way and, moreover, generates some pressure to see the countdown while you think about the seconds you must cover talking or if, on the contrary, we are warning that the time we have is insufficient to express everything we need. We are used to talking to an examiner in person and the feeling of doing a test of this type in front of the computer is cold and dehumanized; in my opinion, it is very important to practice to get used to it. On the other hand, the rest of the tests are carried out in the cabin with a high level of concentration and without disturbances.
Both PDF file with the results and the certificate arrive in a few days by e-mail.
My grade was 986 out of 1000 points and this means that even for a native person the tests require not only linguistic knowledge but also pragmatic and cultural aspects. There are questions to be solved that are simple and obvious but the level is increased until reaching issues of greater depth than even for someone who has always lived in a country like Spain involves reflecting on the meaning of the inputs presented in the different tests.
*Practice with the computer doing exam drills recording your own audios and timing then.
*Do request phone number and name of a contact person for the day of the exam.
*Arrive with plenty of time to the exam center to ensure our presence at the time set to start the test and avoid situations of anxiety and stress that may later influence your concentration.
*Go to bed early the night before and rest as much as possible.
*Work during all the time prior to the exam and leave precisely the previous day of relaxation.
*Bring a bottle of water to drink during tests, especially before oral expression tests.