You’re so good at languages already – celebrate it! 2


Celebration - language learning

Photo: Mark Willard

Why don’t we celebrate our success more?

Language learning is fun but it’s also a challenge. There are always new challenges no matter how fluent you get. Always new words to learn, new strange grammatical structures you’ve never heard about, new ways to pronounce things and phrases that make you sound more cool.

We all find parts of language learning difficult and we all struggle with some aspects of it before we finally get it. But when we do get it, we should all make sure we celebrate our success.

A lot of language learners have a tendency to focus on just that – what else they don’t know, instead of recognising and celebrating what they already know so well.

Want a reason to celebrate? Look back over your learning

When learning a language, we obviously need to look ahead to make sure we stay focused on our goals and are ambitious enough to keep moving forward.

However, looking back over your past achievements is as important in language learning as looking ahead. Looking back allows you to remember yourself in the past and how little you knew compared to now. It allows you to see the progress you’ve made no matter how small it is. This is a great way to improve and maintain your motivation levels and to really believe in your ability to attain fluency.

How to record progress

Below, I share with you a couple of ways in which you can keep track of your progress so that you can then easily look back at it and celebrate your milestones.

I’m going to release an e-book very soon with a lot of detailed advice on keeping language logs among lots of other things. If you’d like to find out about the details of this before everyone else, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page!

Keep a language journal

language journal reviewing progress

Photo: Barry Silver

One of the things that have helped me a lot to stay motivated and positive when learning languages is keeping language journals.

A language journal is basically a diary where you record what you’ve learned each week. It doesn’t have to be very detailed, you can just focus on the highlights from the past week, even if it’s just one little thing.

All the little things will add up and after only three months of learning, you’ll have fifteen little achievements to be proud of.

A physical as well as an electronic copy of a language journal will be included with my e-book. If you’d like to hear more about them, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of this post!

Make a language vlog

This is another fun way of keeping a record of your progress. You can use a simple smartphone to take short videos in which you sum up what you’ve learned every week. You can also add a little demonstration of your language skills by saying something in your target language.

Vlogging will allow you to not only look back at your achievements but also to see how your accent and pronunciation have evolved over time. Here’s an example of a language vlog I made as part of my 21-day Swedish language challenge. There’s of course no need for you to publish your vlog anywhere – you can keep it private although making it public is fun and allows you to interact with other language learners and potentially get some praise from them!

Do a reading progress test

A reading progress test is a simple test you can do at home every few weeks or months to see how much your reading comprehension has improved. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Find a text you want to read.
  2. Get a highlighter and highlight the sentences you don’t understand at all.
  3. Calculate the percentage of sentences you do understand as a proportion of the whole text.

You can do the same thing with individual words.

Repeat the test after a few weeks to see whether you can understand more sentences than previously.

Do a listening progress test

record player listening comprehension test

Photo: Marco Selvaggio

A listening progress test works very similarly to a reading progress test:

  1. Find a recording you want to transcribe that has a written version as well.
  2. Play it, pausing frequently to allow yourself time to write it down.
  3. Compare your transcript with the written version of the recording.
  4. Calculate the percentage of words you got right as a proportion of the whole recording.

Again, it’s something you would do with the same recording after a few weeks to check your progress in listening comprehension.

Review your progress frequently

My tip for you would be to review your progress frequently – even as often as every day, depending on your other priorities and your lifestyle. If you want to ensure it really happens, schedule it in – set a reminder on your phone to check your progress every four weeks or so and find reasons to celebrate.

Have fun with language learning and treat yourself

There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself when you’ve had a great week/month.

And remember – no matter how hard you’re finding this one grammar point, pronunciation thing or vocabulary list, it’ll pass. You’ll finally get it and once you do, you’ll be so proud of yourself. You will also definitely deserve some macarons.


 

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Agnieszka

macarons celebrate language learning success

Photo: ZakVTA

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  • Love this post, Agnieszka! I think a big reason people give up on their language goals is that they feel like a hamster running on a wheel. Recognizing your wins is *vital* to maintaining motivation, which means it’s vital to language learning.

    I do the reading and listening comprehension tests, but I really need to start recording my speaking progress. Vlog time! haha

    • That’s a very good metaphor, Ron. I’ve seen this behaviour in language learners multiple times. It’s very difficult to convince them, though, that they’re actually doing well and should move on. Perhaps an idea for a future language blog – how to motivate other people 😉

      I’m looking forward to watching your vlog updates then! 🙂