Guiri Guest Julie is ready for a change from being a project manager that works from home and has written about an element that is preparing her for the next step: Certifying her Spanish language skills. She is South African by birth and has lived in various European countries before settling in Madrid in early 2010 with her husband.

After almost two years of living in Madrid I have finally decided to put my Spanish language skills through their paces. For better of worse I am taking the 4-hour official Spanish government’s language test for foreigners, the DELE on November 18. The exam has a number of levels from basic/initial to superior so there is something for everyone.

Now you might be asking why bother take this exam, you are already in Spain and learning as you go, why spend the time and money (its not cheap, most levels are a bit over 100 euros) to take an official exam?

I have two main reasons for doing the DELE:

- Prove you ‘Habla the language’: If you don’t plan to settle in Spain forever, you will be able to take this internationally recognised certification with you to demonstrate your Spanish language skills wherever you might go next. It’s also a great way to add your new skills onto your CV in very professional way (as opposed to adding a line- lived in Spain, speak Spanish I promise).

- Learn Spanish faster: Lets be honest there is nothing like an exam to get us to work harder. I take regular Spanish lessons but if I don’t do my homework or forget the grammar from the week before, so what? This exam deadline is a way to motivate me to concentrate harder in class, make more effort to speak to locals and study all those complicated grammatical rules (imperfecto del subjonctivo anyone?)

You need to register by 14 October for the November exam but if this is a bit too soon then why not register for the May exam and give yourself a good couple of months to prepare?

There are Spanish examination centres all over the city where you can register and take the exam. Once I have taken the exam and received the results I’ll update you all on how it goes. I am taking Level B1 which I’m told is relatively easy for anyone who’s lived in Spain for a bit. For all those who speak Spanish fluently I’d suggest Level B2 or C1. And for anyone new to Spain and to Spanish, a couple of months of study should allow you to take A1 or A2 exams.

 

One of the most exciting things about living in Madrid is that there seems to be a new shop, bar or restaurant opening up every single day. In order to support local merchants (and/or because we get lazy sometimes), Raul and I are always keen to check out the latest additions to the neighborhood. Recently we discovered a new Latin restaurant on Calle Barquillo in Chueca called La Candelita.

Our first impressions of the place were extremely positive. We had been there before when it used to house El Diablito, and the change is extreme. I cannot even begin to imagine the investment that was necessary to achieve such a drastic and stunning makeover to the large, long space.  Decorated in lush, tropical colors with soft lighting and vibrant details, the setting could not be more inviting.  The large bar area in the front leads to a sizable dining area in the back with plenty of tables to accommodate both large and small groups.

Upon being seated, we were provided with a drink menu and a food menu, noting that the former was significantly longer than the latter. With its lengthy, creative drink list and its Venezuela-inspired food selection, Raul and I knew we were onto something.  Instead of getting entrees, we ultimately decided to share a few of the appetizers (there was a much larger selection of tapas versus main dishes, and they all sounded good). We particularly loved the degustación de arepitas (an assortment of baked cornmeal “pita-like” pockets with various fillings, including black beans and rice, and shredded beef) and the tequeños (loosely translated from the menu by me as rods of white, Venezuelan cheese covered with crunchy pastry dough, aka a sort of Venezuelan mozzarella stick), accompanied by a nice sweet and salty dipping sauce.

Upon reflecting on our meal, we decided we will undoubtedly return (and soon), but given our affinity for copas and tapas, we will likely opt to sit in the bar instead of the main dining area. Since we were more drawn to the starters (and have been known to enjoy a good cocktail now and again), and the bar has such a great vibe, our whole experience could be enhanced from that end of the spectrum.  I have also requested one of my Venezuelan friends to try it out and give me the always-appreciated native authenticity verdict, so look out for further feedback on this place down the line.

La Candelita

Calle Barquillo, 30