I wonder if you’re like me when it comes to tracking everything?
I used to hate it passionately. I mean, how much geekier can you get? And all these vain people scrupulously jotting down their weight. Pathetic!
And then one day I decided to buy myself scales. I joyously stepped on them just to see that I hit 100 kg mark. WHAT?! I came to my sense around that time and started tracking, not only my weight but my learning progress as well.
Can you actually imagine a runner who just runs around and one day shouts out: “I’m gonna win a marathon”! And then an old man standing nearby strikes a conversation, something along these lines:
– “That’s amazing! So what’s your best time so far?”
+ “Best? Uhmm, dunno really. I guess it’s not that important to me.”
– “Have you ever run a marathon before?!”
+ “I’m not sure. But once I ran so long that my feet hurt and I had an ouchie.”
That would be weird, right? And yet, a lot of us actually do it. Very often we start thinking that we don’t get better anymore. WHY?! (a dramatic pause and Carmina Burana in the background)
Not only is it a cool word, but also one of the most important (and frequent) processes which occur in our lives!
And therein lies the rub. We get used to our current skills level. And that’s why we NEED tracking. The best part is that it does not need to be sophisticated to be effective.
At the bare minimum, it should be able to show you if you’re moving in the right direction. Or moving at all. Because the chance is that you’re spinning your wheels knee-deep in a turd ocean of self-admiration!
6 Ways To Track Your Progress In Language Learning
Of course, to start tracking anything, you need a place to note your progress. Remember, it doesn’t have to be high-tech. You can use a notebook, Google spreadsheet, Excel or Calc (Open Office).
I assume that you already use Anki. If you don’t, download it immediately (unless you use some other spatial repetition programme).
Anki makes tracking your progress really easy. The first important piece of information for us is the number of words you’ve covered so far.
If you see that within a month you’ve moved from 406 to 700, it’s a clear sign that you’re on the right path.
The second thing worth tracking is the recall rate (especially correct mature).
This piece of information clearly tells us how well you remember the information you learn. If it’s alarmingly low (below 40-50%), it’s a signal that you should seriously consider improving your learning techniques.
Usually, we either read e-books (e-articles) or paper ones. In my opinion, you should track the medium which you use more frequently. When it comes to reading, a good tracking criterion is to simply note down the number of pages you’ve read.
It doesn’t matter whether you listen to podcasts, music or simply watch TV-series. Tally it up and enter the data.
If you write mostly online, start counting how many words you have written (use Word Count Tool). Otherwise, start counting the number of pages you’ve written.
Let’s be honest, it’s not the easiest thing to track. I’ve never done it as I prefer tracking words. But if you know that speaking is your absolute priority – go for it. Check when the Skype conversation or a meeting with your friend starts and when it finishes, and sum up the total number of hours.
If you really put the effort into your learning, I’m sure that after just a few weeks you’ll be amazed to see what you’ve accomplished so far!
It sounds daunting, and I agree. But for me, it comes naturally. As I’ve written before, preparing the outline of the grammar is something which should be done before you start learning a language on your own.
Once you have it, start crossing out the grammar topics which you’ve covered or just put a date next to them. It shows how much further grammatically you should get to achieve a certain level.
Benefits Of Tracking Your Progress
1) you never hit a plateau
You see and know that you’re making a progress.
2) increased motivation
You can admire your hard work at any time. Open Excel and take a look at yourself, you sexy, hard-working beast! And that obviously helps you stay focused.
3) instant feedback
You see when you slack off or that your learning methods need a change. The data don’t lie! Also, it helps you see patterns in your learning.
4) you don’t focus on the negative
It’s a sad fact but we tend to focus on negative things in life. Your successes stop giving you joy after a couple of days. We lose sight of our achievements. Your language log will keep on reminding you about them!
Tracking is a powerful tool in language learning. It would be a shame not to take advantage of it. Of course, you don’t have to go over the top. It’s enough that you start tracking elements which are the most important to you.
So go ahead and let me know how it works for you!