Because of COVID-19, some testing centers have changed the exam and will only allow students to sit for the oral exam for the time being. In this situation, the oral CILS B1 exam will consist of a monologue about the candidate’s general life (life, career, family, interests, friends, past trips) and a dialogue with the examiner on a variety of subjects from four possibilities (like in the examples below)
- Secondo te, è meglio fare un lavoro che piace o un lavoro che fa guadagnare molto? Perché? – In your opinion, is it better to do a job that you enjoy or a job that earns a lot? Why?
- Qual è la tua esperienza di formazione linguistica in Italia o nel tuo Paese? È stato difficile imparare la lingua italiana? – What is your language training experience in Italy or in your country? – Has it been difficult to learn the Italian language?
The examiner will consider your intermediate Italian grammatical knowledge when determining whether or not you pass the exam (see topics below)
The Cils B1 for Italian Citizenship
If you ended up here, it is because you need to pass the Italian certification test to get your citizenship. In this post, I will expand on the nature of the CILS B1 for Citizenship test (CILS B1 cittadinanza).
For the sake of thoroughness, I must say there are at least two other B1 certifications that will serve you to get your citizenship. The reason why I am expanding on the CILS is that:
The CILS the most popular one and the one that many of my students have already taken and passed.
The CILS B1 offers the option to take a test exclusively for citizenship purposes (CILS B1 Cittadinanza) which is more accessible and shorter than the regular CILS B1 test.
The CILS B1 for citizenship (CILS B1 Cittadinanza) consists of 5 sections and will take around two hours to complete.
I will expand now on how to adequately prepare for each section, to make sure you will successfully pass the exam and apply for your Italian citizenship.
What are the best strategies to successfully pass the Italian CILS B1 test?
The reading task
The Italian CILS for Citizenship (B1) consists of 3 short texts and lasts 45 minutes. The first two texts require you to complete multiple choice answers. The third one is a set of sentences to sort out in the shape of a coherent text.
How to improve your reading to pass the B1 Italian language exam?
Reading is a fundamental part of your Italian language learning process, as I stated in many articles. While reading, you absorb the correct language patterns naturally and reactivate the passive vocabulary and grammar that you have internalized in different situations.
The short stories are great because they are short (while a whole book might be overwhelming) youu can choose the ones that adapt more to your actual level.
Useful Italian websites to practice your Italian reading skills at the B1 level
The listening task
The Italian CILS B1 for Citizenship consists of 3 audio recordings.
What is the best way to improve your listening skills to pass the CILS B1 test?
At this stage, your listening is not perfect and you are probably able to grasp basic Italian conversation here and there using the most recurring vocabulary.
To enhance your Italian listening at this point, you should use audio contents that are suitable to your level.
That means that you should listen to content that is understandable for you (you understand most of it). The best is to use the audio Italian short stories with the incorporated audios (see options here) and or my Podcast in Slow Italian.
Remember, to challenge your listening and gradually improve, you should not listen and try to understand a movie or even the Italian TV news. The rule of thumb is: if you don’t understand most of it, then you are not using the correct audio prompt for you actual level. Instead, it would help if you listened to audio sources that are slightly higher than your current level of Italian. Like this, you help your brain to absorb the new language naturally and consciously.
The key thing about improving your listening skills in Italian is being exposed to it as much as you can be. This is my selected list of useful resources to tune-up your Italian ear.
Useful links to hone your Italian B1 listening skills
- Italianpod 101 (recommended)
- 7 minutes in Slow Italian
- Italian Children Stories
- Audio Lingua
- Easy Italian (Youtube Channel)
The communication part
This part is called “Analisi delle strutture di comunicazione” and is meant to examine your B1 grammar in contextual exercises. This section consists of three activities. The first two ones are filling the gap exercises, where you are asked to guess the correct articles, prepositions, or verb conjugations. The third prompt is a vocabulary based exercise and is about guessing the right word for each gap. To succeed at this stage, you should master the B1 Italian topics that you can check out in this post.
To prepare for this communication part, the best strategy is exercising your Italian through writing. It would be useful to focus on writing and reading, learn naturally what prepositions go after certain verbs, or the right pronoun that verb.
Example from a CILS B1 sample of a previous exam
The writing part
The writing part for the CILS B1for citizenship consists of two writing prompts an e-email (around 80 words) and a short essay (approximately 100 words) about a general topic regarding your life (e.g., describing your latest birthday or vacation).
Examples of writing prompts from an CILS B1 exam sample
How to improve your Italian writing to pass a certification?
Writing won’t only help you to pass your Italian exam. It is also a brilliant exercise to polish Italian from high-frequency mistakes, prepositions, and verb conjugations.
The most important part is to have your Italian essays corrected and edited by your professional teacher (best case scenario) or your language exchange partner. Most learners use their language exchange partners only to practice their conversational skills. Why not use your Italian conversational partner to have your short essay corrected? I guarantee you will be surprised at how much you can learn from your mistakes.
To give you an idea of how writing can be effective and efficient to improve your Italian grammar and speaking flow.
This is a short text written by an intermediate student – as you can see, it is possible to detect some of her high-frequency mistakes through a simple piece of writing.
A writing prompt can serve as a magical tool to see the sore points to address in grammar and vocabulary.
In this case, we found out that she was misusing the words meglio/migliore, male/cattivo, il/lo despite her having reached an intermediate level. Addressing high-frequency mistakes is essential. If you don’t do that at a due time, they will become”fossilized”. I like to call “a fossil” an error that is automated because it was never corrected before.
The speaking task
The SPEAKING PART for the CILS B1 consists of two speaking prompts.
The first speaking prompt comes in the shape of a short dialogue between the examiner and the tester about a simple topic like the latest museum you have visited or her last vacation or her favorite singer.
The second speaking prompt does not involve the examiner, and the candidate should discuss a general topic regarding his life or describe an image that he has been presented with.
The speaking part lasts some minutes, and it is recorded on the spot.
Where should you focus your attention?
This test is perfectly doable with a sound preparation regarding the required topics.
I think the CILS B1 for citizenship is a lot easier (and shorter) than the regular B1 test, so if you need the certification to get your Italian citizenship, don’t look any further.
As a trainer for students who need to pass the CILS exams, I have seen that the listening and communications part might be a little more challenging than the other ones, and so, that is why I ask my students to spend more time on it.
Top textbooks to prepare for the Cills B1 exam
It depends on your starting point. If you are starting from zero, you should make sure you cover the beginner levels (A1-A2) and then learn the B1 grammar soundly.
Once you land the intermediate level, you can start to train to pass your CILS B1 certification. The best is to buy a textbook that collects the certification test samples at your level, like the textbook Percorso CILS 1 – B1
If you are an advanced beginner or a lower intermediate student in Italian, I recommend using the book Easy Italian Step by Step to reinforce your grammar background and fill in the gaps.