Why should we track languages?
Tracking both your language progress and what you’ve done in a language is not necessary by all means, but I would recommend it for a few reasons.
Not only does it help you see what resources and methods are working, but it also keeps you motivated and accountable for your learning. Tracking how much you’ve done is not a race with yourself or with others – it can merely serve as a good encourager when you are feeling down about seemingly slow progress. You can look back and feel all warm and fuzzy about how much you’ve really done!
I was feeling upset about how little time I felt I spent on learning Spanish. But after I started tracking my time on app, I realized I spent around 3 hours a week on it, just from 20-ish minute sessions each day!
Tracking progress and process
You can view tracking your language learning from two ways:
- Tracking what you’ve done in language learning. This can be how much time you spent on an app or working through a textbook, or it could just be logging the types of resources you interacted with and which skills you worked on in a week.
- Tracking your development in a language. You can keep logs of your progress and use these to measure how much you are progressing in a language.
I started tracking my language activities at the start of this year and it has been eye-opening to see what kind of resources and skills I gravitate towards when given free rein. For example, I absolutely love listening to podcasts. I find most of my learning time is spent listening to podcasts instead of working through textbooks.
Not in the mood for reading? Here's a video!
Method 1: Keeping threads on Twitter
Lots of people on #langtwt (Language community of Twitter) have started keeping threads of their daily, weekly or monthly language activities. It’s a fun way to see what everyone is up to, which resources people are using, and to feel part of a community. By making your goals public, you might also feel a sense of motivation and drive to keep going.
I keep a thread of my quarterly language goals and update it every 3 months with my thoughts, updates to my plans, and general goals for each quarter. I have pinned it to the top of my profile so I am reminded of my goals often.
🌏 2021 Languages Thread— Lindie Botes | 린디 • 琳迪 • リンコ (@lindiebee) December 2, 2020
I am taking a quarterly approach to language goalsetting in 2021. This thread will be updated every 3 months with focus & maintenance languages, checklists and mindsets 💕🤓
Method 2: Log your time on Toggl
Another app I think is great for logging your study time is Toggl. (Not sponsored).
All you need to do is press the start button to start counting minutes, and then fill in the activity or language you worked on when you’re done. You can also log past hours on the app. I created “projects” with my languages, and then I label the specific time logged with the activity I was working on. My Toggl has entries like “italki – Hungarian”, “Busuu app – Spanish” and “Essay writing – Tagalog”, for example.
There are lots of other time tracking apps out there that you can try if you don’t enjoy Toggl. Personally I like seeing the ring chart at the end of a week or month to see which language takes up the majority of my time.
Method 3: Notion
If you’re active in the online language learning community, you’ve probably seen many people share their Notion setups. This post is not sponsored by Notion, but I’d like to share with you why you might enjoy using Notion.
If you like logging things digitally, you can give Notion a try and use it to record either what you’ve done in a language, or which languages you study when. You can even create journal entries on Notion to track your actual progress. I created a space called Language hub on my Notion dashboard for all things language-learning. It was a little difficult to keep up because I realised I’m much more a fan of pen and paper. If you’re someone who enjoys having everything in one digital space, you could create a similar language hub to track your progress, process, resources, homework, lessons, or whatever else you decide to add.
Last year I simply recorded the name of the language I learnt every day so I could check back at the end of the month to see how many languages I spent time on. I didn’t write down what I did or how long I spent on it, but you can choose to do so if you like.
Method 4: Keep a language journal
By far my favorite and most-used method of tracking both progress and process is by keeping a small weekly calendar. I track which lessons I have in each language, what I’ve done, and how I felt. Any milestones, like having my first conversation, finishing a chapter or being on a language podcast will be logged in this journal as well.
At the front of the journal is a calendar where I can have a color-coded monthly view. For the weekly view, I just log my language activities. Right at the back of the journal I do a monthly review of what worked and what didn’t work in terms of resources, time management and productivity.
I used to write a journal entry each week, but realised that writing WHAT I did each week and reflecting on that is better than writing IN a language – because I get enough writing practice during my italki lessons and homework anyway.
There are so many ways you can track your progress. Voice notes, videos that you look back on, a daily journal in another language, you name it. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide if this is what you’d like to spend some time on, and how it might help you.
The biggest benefit I get to tracking my process and progress is being able to look back and analyze what works and what doesn’t. I like to be agile in adjusting my methods and resources regularly so I can optimise my learning progress. If something’s not working (like trying to write something in Tagalog every week) I don’t feel held down by solid goals and I have the flexibility to change it up for something better.
I hope this post gives you some ideas for how you might log your progress. Enjoy each step and good luck with your language learning!