IWTYAL 113: Thoughts on tracking progress in a language

Keith asks: “What ideas do you have for tracking your progress in a language?”

In this episode:

Possible ways to track progress in language learning:

  • Lists of words learnt
  • Dialogues studied or completed
  • Textbooks finished
  • Exams passed

However, the best way to track progress is to consider how you want to use the language in your life, and draw inspiration from that.

Resources mentioned in today’s episode:


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  • Artie Duncanson

    I really liked your “Can Do” approach to measuring one’s language progression.
    I don’t know if this would be possible in an institution devoted to standardized testing, but your “Can Do” measurement makes me wonder if it would be better in the classroom to have students create a “Can Do” list of their own ahead of time, and then strive for those rather than have the teacher force the students to go through the standard “Lesson 1,” then “Lesson 2,” etc…

    • I agree… **providing** the students actually care enough, or have enough of an investment in the language in order to even want to be able to do things! (I’m thinking in particular about school kids here)

      • Artie Duncanson

        Hmmm. The “Can Do” measurement could be a better means of learning for the students, but is not likely feasible because a classroom could be populated by students who don’t care to learn a language. So the classroom caters to those who don’t care to be there. I remember that being a reality during my school years… it’s quite tragic to those who desire to learn.

        • I always used to feel, as a teacher, that the very best students would never make it to a language school in the first place, because they’d be busy learning at home 🙂

          • Artie Duncanson

            Hahaha, how ironic! That was quite a revelatory statement right there.

  • John

    Actually there is a Cantonese test conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, but it focuses on pronunciation, not communication.

    • Thanks John, I’ll look into it! I was just in Hong Kong for a couple of months and discovered that CUHK have quite extensive Cantonese activities.