Get Certified! A Short Guide To The Italian Language Certificates
An official certification exam for the Italian language, in fact, in addition to providing strong personal gratification and a detailed assessment of the progress achieved in learning the Italian language, also offers the possibility of obtaining a legally valid document, usable in the workplace, in the academic environment or to submit applications for residence permits in Italy or the Italian citizenship. For this reason, in addition to a wide range of Italian courses for foreigners, many Italian language schools provide their students with the opportunity to take an official certification exam on-site.
In the effort towards the standardization of administration and contents of the Italian certification exams, the 4 major Certifying Entities (Dante Alighieri Society, University for Foreigners of Perugia, University for Foreigners of Siena, Roma Tre University) created the CLIQ – Certificazione Lingua Italiana di Qualità consortium.
The Italian language exams that are part of the CLIQ are:
• PLIDA – Progetto Lingua Italiana Dante Alighieri of the Dante Alighieri Society;
• CELI – Certificato di Lingua Italiana of the University for Foreigners of Perugia;
• CILS – Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera of the University for Foreigners of Siena;
• IT – Certificazione Italiano of the Roma Tre University.
There is also a further certification, which is not part of the CLIQ consortium but refers instead to an association of Italian schools for foreigners, called AIL – Accademia di Lingua Italiana. This exam is still valid for obtaining a permesso di soggiorno and citizenship and is recognized by some Swiss institutions.
1. The PLIDA
Let’s start with our personal favorite, as our school has been a PLIDA Certification Center for ten years now. The PLIDA certificate, issued by the Dante Alighieri Society, it is widespread all over the world, with 320 Certification Centers in 68 countries. The exam is structured in 4 parts corresponding to the 4 basic skills (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) and the duration is variable as it depends on the exam level.
The certified levels are A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2, based on the subdivision made by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Each section of the exam is assessed independently, therefore to pass the exam students must obtain a sufficiently high grade in each part. Should they fail in one or more parts of the exam, they will be given the opportunity to make up for the sections in which their score was not sufficient.
PLIDA exams take place on fixed and uniform dates for all PLIDA Certification Centers around the world. Extraordinary sessions are also provided and can be activated upon request.
In addition to the standard format, there is also the PLIDA Juniores, the Italian certificate for adolescent students (aged 13 to 18). The difference lies in the choice of texts and their context of application. Furthermore, in recent years, the Dante Alighieri Society has provided two new formats for levels A2 and B1, specifically intended for students about to apply for a residence card in Italy (A2) or Italian citizenship (B1): these consist of a simplified exam format comprising only the speaking test and valid only for the purposes of applying for a residence or citizenship card.
2. The CELI
The Certificato di Conoscenza della Lingua Italiana (CELI) are certificates for general Italian devised for schooled adults and issued by the University for Foreigners of Perugia. The CELI evaluates the communicational skills and abilities of the candidates, and it can be used in the work and school sectors. In addition to the traditional CELI certifications, there are also the CELI Immigrati and the CELI Adolescenti. The CELI Immigrati is addressed to foreign citizens who have immigrated to Italy, and it is also a good choice for students with poor schooling. The CELI Adolescenti is instead aimed at young people between 13 and 17 years old.
In this case, as well, the exam is structured according to the 4 basic skills (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) and articulated on the CEFR levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2). It is possible to take the exam at the University for Foreigners of Perugia or in one of the many CELI Certification Centers.
3. The CILS
Created by the University of Siena, the CILS certification certifies linguistic and communicative competence in Italian as a second language. The CILS certification has been the first certification for the Italian language to apply six levels of linguistic-communicative competence set in the Common European Framework of Reference and to offer specific certifications for foreign workers in Italy. Again, the exam is divided into four parts corresponding to basic communication skills, which are assessed separately one from another.
4. The IT
The IT certificate is a certificate of general competence in Italian as a foreign language, offered by the University of Roma Tre. This certification is recognized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, although initially was exclusively aimed at an academic audience and was therefore only available for intermediate levels (B1 and B2), today it includes the six levels proposed by the Common European Framework of Reference.
The IT exams are today aimed at foreigners who must certify their proficiency level in Italian in order to obtain a residence permit (A2), at students who want to study in an Italian university (B2), and at non-native teachers of Italian (C2). The exams are held several times a year at the University of Roma Tre, at the Centro Linguistico di Ateneo, and at other IT affiliated institutes in Italy, but also abroad.
5. The AIL
AIL is an association of national and foreign Italian language schools, institutes, and experts operating in the field of teaching the Italian language to foreigners and in the field of Italian language certifications. AIL certifications are internationally recognized and are aimed at all people for whom Italian is the second language or a foreign language.
The Accademia Italiana di Lingua structured the exam following the linguistic and communication levels established by the European Council, but also offers the possibility of obtaining diplomas in entrepreneurial languages. The DILC B1 exam is recognized by the Swiss Federal Office of Vocational Training and Technology in all commercial and vocational schools of the Swiss Confederation. As a result of great interest in the renewal of the residence permit, the DELI A2 integration exam was also created. The AIL certification favors aspects of practical communication in daily and working life.
The exams are held four times a year, on the same day in the few AIL accredited institutions in Italy and Switzerland. The texts are unique and their correction and final evaluation are carried out in the Florentine headquarters to guarantee a fair vote.