Do you know what resources exist to prepare for the official certification of Portuguese as a Foreign Language?
Do you need to obtain a certificate in European Portuguese in order to study in a Portuguese-speaking country or obtain Portuguese nationality? Do you want to add European Portuguese to your CV in order to your professional career? The Center for the Assessment and Certification of Portuguese as a Foreign Language (CAPLE) is the only body that proves, for educational, professional or other purposes, your language skills in European Portuguese. As with all other language certification exams, it’s not enough to know the language, you need to prepare for the exam.
Once you know the exam timetable, the first question to ask is: how much time do I have to prepare? The answer to this question may influence the level of exam you will take and the type of help you may need.
It’s important to be aware that the procedures used to prepare for this type of exam are not the same as those used to take a test or exam in the classroom. School-based exams certify what has been learned, in other words, they check that the subject matter taught and reviewed in a learning context has been properly consolidated. A foreign language certification exam aims to measure a candidate’s general language skills and can do so in two ways: by assessing their level of knowledge, as the official Brazilian Portuguese exam (CELPE-BRAS) does, or by confirming the candidates’ level, which is what the Portuguese certificate (CAPLE) aims to do.
All of these certificates are designed to show the practical application of your language knowledge in the four skills (listening, reading, writing and speaking), but none of them have specific grammar checking exercises, as is often the case in school-based exams. Considering that they are different assessment exercises, preparation cannot be the same, although some tasks are common, such as familiarizing yourself with the exam models. To do this, you should start with the model available on the CAPLE portal as well as other models or exercises available on paper or online.
CAPLE exams: mock exam paper available
Unfortunately, unlike other foreign language certification exams such as IELTS or TOEFEL (English), DELE (Spanish), and DEFL (French), there aren’t many resources for preparing for this exam. In 2012 and 2013, Lidel, a Lisbon-based publisher specializing in teaching materials for Portuguese as a Foreign Language, published two books with sample exam papers for the elementary and intermediate levels, but both are quite general and therefore only useful for teachers preparing their students for A2 to B2 level exams.
Diploma Avançado de Português Língua Estrangeira (DAPLE) e Diploma Universitário de Português Língua Estrangeira (DUPLE)
For the DAPLE, there is a manual drafted by Liliana Inverno and published by the Polytechnic University of Macau which can be downloaded for free.
For the DUPLE, we found a preparation guide by Fabio Gagliardi which the author sells in the original Italian and in a version translated into Spanish.
Finally, the Todo Português language school offers — for a fee — an online “simulation” of all CAPLE levels.
Familiarizing yourself with the exam model is crucial, but it’s not enough to get a good result in the exam. Candidates must also identify and put into practice the answer strategies that best suit their knowledge and profile. In the next blog, 5 tips to prepare for a CAPLE exam, we’ll talk about some of these strategies.