Spanish Self Assessment Guide
All CFHI participants applying to programs in Latin America will evaluate their Spanish language skills as part of their application. Most important is your general ability to communicate verbally with those around you, versus accuracy with grammatical tenses. All CFHI Latin America programs include Spanish language instruction on-site.
Please use CFHI's language recommendations below as a guideline to assess your own language skills before applying.
Novice: “I neither speak nor understand Spanish, other than a few words and phrases.”
- I can understand a few words/phrases such as greetings and introductions, but do not feel comfortable speaking.
- I’m unable to communicate basic needs without use of hand gestures or English words/phrases.
Beginner 1: “I can speak a little and understand at times if people speak slowly and clearly.”
- I can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and simple phrases to get across basic needs.
- I can introduce others and myself. I can ask and answer questions for example where I live, people I know and things I have.
Beginner 2: “I can communicate simply when I am in familiar, everyday situations.”
- I can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
- I can communicate simple and routine tasks requiring a basic and direct exchange of information. Examples include discussing weekend plans, asking for directions, planning social outings or going grocery shopping.
Conversational 1: “I can speak and understand what people say in familiar situations but I have difficulty with complex grammar and vocabulary.”
- I can handle most situations likely to arise while travelling/working. I may make mistakes, speak slowly and ask the speaker to repeat him/herself, but I can get my point across.
- I can describe experiences, dreams, ambitions, etc. and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. Examples include summarizing an article or discussion or describing a case seen in clinic.
Conversational 2: “I can understand and communicate effectively on most complex topics.”
- I can understand the main ideas of complex conversations on both concrete and academic/theoretical topics. For example, discussing the pros and cons of the national healthcare system.
- Conversations with native speakers go smoothly without strain for either party. I understand most details in conversation. I still make mistakes but tend to correct them. I can understand most TV news and movies.
Advanced 1: “I can speak and express ideas fluently and spontaneously.”
- I speak very well without much obvious searching for expressions, for example, explaining why I decided to join a CFHI program. I can make comparisons between different health systems and give health advice to a patient.
- I am skilled at using contextual, grammatical and lexical cues to infer attitude, mood and intentions and anticipating what will come next.
Advanced 2: “I can understand virtually everything, use idiomatic expressions and speak with the precision and accuracy of a native.”
- I can express myself fluently and precisely, with a natural colloquial flow. I differentiate finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations and can easily adjust to non-standard dialect or accent. For example, conversing naturally with a patient in a medical consultation and adjusting language based on the patient’s background and education.
- I can summarize information from different sources, presenting arguments in a coherent way. For example, convincing someone to stop smoking.
All CFHI participants applying to programs in Latin America will evaluate their Spanish language skills as part of their application. Most important overall is your general ability to verbally communicate with those around you, versus accuracy with grammatical tenses. All CFHI Latin America programs include Spanish language instruction on-site.