Seeing one’s progress is an essential part of learning Chinese. The lack of progress is one reason that people give up on their resolutions or stop in the middle of a study plan. Recently I thought of a super simple way to track your Chinese progress.
Answer one question
- Has your Chinese:
- a) improved
- b) gotten worse
- c) the same
- d) don’t know
If you answered (d)
Then you need to think about your learning more. You need to create goals and start tracking your progress.
If you answered (c)
You need to pay more attention to how you measure your level: Sometimes we don’t register improvements in our speaking or our reading/writing. Keep a journal of what you read, record yourself, and occasionally go back and compare your current skills with your past skills. You might be better than you think. Or you might have gotten worse.
Did you answer (b)?
Do you have a plan? Did you actually do what you said you’d do? no? then create triggers for your actions; or try anchoring your study to the start or end of your day. Pay attention to what mistakes you’re making and work on correcting them. Try taking some accountability. I wanted to make studying Chinese a part of my daily routine, so I publicly announced 52 Weeks of Chinese. If I fail to keep up with it, people will know. That motivates me to study more.
Good job. But you’re not done yet. Are your methods and materials still leading you towards your goal? Do you need to adjust anything? Take some time to savour the feeling, and then start planning for your next goal.
Actions you can take
- quickly assess your progress
- stop reading and do 5 minutes of studying.
What I did last week
This past week I’ve been extremely busy (but who isn’t). Last week I wanted to:
- I’ll decide on topics to discuss and record myself discussing them.
Update: I decided to talk about the following topics: great tennis players, Wall Street, the future of China, and learning Chinese. Four topics I love talking or reading about. I will post some of the recordings next week.
- I’ll look into ways to test my character knowledge and calculate my Chinese level
Update: I looked into different ways to test one’s character knowledge. Online, there are a couple tests that try to do this: Clavis Sinica’s really old character test, ZhToolkit’s Wordtest are the one’s I’m familiar with.
Unfortunately, neither really fit my needs: They don’t accurately tell me how many characters I know. I prefer ZhToolkit’s test, but it doesn’t really give me what I want: a simple accurate assessment of my Chinese. I’m interested in how many characters I know, but I’m more interested in what my Chinese level is. I want something like the Chinese Scorecard I introduced last year. Since nothing really fits my needs, I’ve decided to build something myself. My Chinese Reading Level Test will test characters, words, and sentences, and will hopefully be able to accurately predict a learners Chinese reading ability. (If you’re interested in testing it out, contact me.)
- I’ll look for some podcasts or downloadable online radio programs.
Update: I didn’t spend any time looking for podcasts or downloadable online radio programs. I was hoping someone would offer some suggestions. Anyone have any suggestions for this?
Overall I’d give myself a B-/C+. I did less than I wanted, but studying Chinese is starting to become for of a habit.
The plan for next week
I’ve spent more time reading Chinese, and spent some time working on my spoken Chinese, but I’ve neglected listening. This week, I’ll keep up with my reading and introduce some listening activities.
- Read 3 articles on 财新(http://caixin.cn).
- Start adding words to my flashcard sets.
- Look for a language partner.
- Watch the Chinese news once.
- Watch at least one online video with my wife.
Tracking your progress can be as simple as asking yourself one question: Has your chinese improved over the last month?