The CILS a1 Exam: A Comprehensive Guide to Help You Succeed
There are different levels of language certifications for Italian speakers. One can choose between an elementary, intermediate, advanced or a mastery level.
The most known certifications for Italian are CILS and CELI.
The CILS certifications are issued by the University of Siena that promotes the Italian language and its literature, while the CELI certifications are issued by the university for foreigners of Perugia.
What is the CILS a1 Exam?
The CILS A1 is a language certification that aims to attest your elementary competency in beginner Italian.
You can obtain the CILS A1 Italian language certification after passing the CILS A1 test in Italy as well as abroad in the various institutions such as universities or institutions recognized by the Ministry of Education in Italy.
What Does A1 Mean?
The CILS A1 is the first level of the CILS certification. The level “A1! refers to the common European framework of reference for languages (CEFRL) and attests the candidate competency in using very basic vocabulary and grammar to satisfy the common practicalities, introducing himself or herself and talking about his or her family, friends and hobbies, as well as ask simple personal questions. He can interact in basc mannar as long as the counterpart speaks clearly and slowly.
How to Prepare for the CILS A1 Test
To achieve an A1 level of Italian, you must learn and master the fundamentals of Italian grammar and vocabulary. You can do so by enrolling in language classes or hiring a private tutor. In any case, make sure that you are always given a clear itinerary of the A1 Italian level’s fundamentals. Passing an exam requires mastering all aspects of the language (to be clear, an app that teaches you a few conversation topics and the most Italian common verbs will not be enough on its own).
I usually recommend the following textbooks in my A1 Italian classes:
- Un giorno nuovo in Italia A1 (textbook and method for A1)
- Italian sentences builder (drills and translation exercises for A1)
- My very selection of short stories in Italian for beginners
- The absolute beginner podcast series of Italianpod101 (for learning the pronunciation and tuning up your listening skills form day one)
How Long Does It Take To Learn Italian At An A1 Level?
Because time is relative, the quality of the time you spend with your language, rather than the quantity, will determine your success as a student. If Italian is your first foreign language and your native language is not a romance language (e.g. Spanish or French), I’d estimate that it will take you between 3 and 6 months to achieve A1 Italian.
Italian Fundamental Grammar To Master For The A1 Level
- the verb to be and to have
- the definite and indefinite articles
- the present tense
- the present tense of irregular verbs
- the modal verbs (volere, potere, dovere, sapere)
- the simple prepositions
- the passato prossimo (the main Italian past tense)
Italian Vocabulary And Conversation topics To Master For The A1 Level
- introducing yourself
- talk about what you in the free time
- describe your city or your home
- talking about your family
How Is The CILS A1 Structured?
The exam is divided into 5 sections and will last around 2 hours.
Listening comprehension (test di ascolto)
The CILS A1 listening practice consists of two parts: listening to two short texts and then completing two different multiple choice exercises. The audio tracks will be repeated twice.
The reading comprehension (test di comprensione della lettura)
The reading comprehension test (test di comprensione della lettura) will last 30 minutes and will be divided into three parts, each of which will require you to read some basic text messages and answer multiple choice questions or matching exercises.
The grammar and vocabulary section (test di analisi delle strutture di comunicazione)
The grammar and vocabulary section will take 30 minutes and will consist of three fill-in-the-blank texts. The goal is to assess your basic grammar and vocabulary capability in Italian. You will be required to supply the correct article or verb)
The writing production (test di scrittura)
The writing production (test di scrittura) will last 30 minutes and will consist of writing prompts. The first exercise will ask you to describe something (e.g. your family, your house or your neighborhood). Your texts should be no longer than 40 words.
The speaking part
The oral production test is divided into two parts and is administered individually. The examiner may step in to assist a candidate who is having trouble speaking. This part of the exam will last around 2 minutes.
It’s a face-to-face conversation on a specific situation. These are just a few examples of potential situations.
- You’d like to purchase a sweater. Go to a store and seek advice from the clerk. The clerk is replaced by the administrator.
- You’d like to get a driver’s license in Italy. Request information from the driving school’s office. The school administrator takes on the role of a teacher.
The examiner will ask you to choose one of the topics and will ask him to speak on your own.
Examples of potential conversation topics for the CILS A1 or CILS A1 integrazione.
what you do on national holidays
- your job
- your favorite sport
- your family
- describe an image
How To Find The CILS A1 Exam Samples
It’s critical that you set aside time and resources to familiarize yourself with the exam structure before taking it. This is a copy of a previous CILS A1, which can be found on the CILS website. If you want to get more practice, I recommend getting the Quaderni, which is a collection of mock tests from previous years’ A1-A1 CILS exams.
The CILS A1 integrazione (CILS A1 for integration)
A separate note goes to the CILS A1 integrazione
It is a nationally recognized Italian language test that certifies that foreigners living in Italy have attained an A1 level of proficiency in the language. Only those who are already living in Italy can take the CILS A1. The exam is very similar to the regular CILS A1, with the exception that the assignments are more suited to students who already reside in Italy. They will, for example, use vocabulary and situations that the candidate may have already encountered or will encounter during her stay in Italy, such as handling groceries, driving licenses, enrolling in Italian lessons, and asking for information.
Exam samples for the CILS A1 integrazione can be found on this page
Why Taking an A1 Proficiency test in Italian
Not sure if taking a beginner Italian certification is something you want to do? Let me explain why you should think about it.
Language certifications for beginners is an excellent way for adult learners to set their goals in their Italian study time. You surely know that, as an adult, learning happens differently if you ever studied or dabbled out of school in a foreign language. Apart from the traditional setting of classrooms and teachers, it is sometimes difficult to evaluate one’s level. Taking a beginner certification in Italian is a simple way to determine where you are in your language journey and to provide structure to your Italian learning.
Preparing for a language exam entails mastering all four major language competencies: reading, listening, writing, and speaking in Italian. These features are often overlooked in a conventional language teaching environment, in favor of just speaking.
Taking an Italian language certification as a beginner is not for everyone, but it is a fantastic method to increase motivation for reaching a language level and, of course, learning a language thoroughly.