tracking progress

I have settled on a pretty optimistic approach to my language learning over the past year of independent study. Last year, after some reflection, I realized that I am good at reframing things in a positive way. This positive attitude helps keep me motivated, and it helps me push aside negative thoughts that might otherwise slow me down. My optimism isn't limited to my own language study, but it sure does help it!

As I've been reflecting lately, I think the ability to track my progress is a critical element of what has helped keep me optimistic. In having multiple little indicators of how I'm doing, I can see evidence that I'm learning, which keeps me excited and motivated to learn even more.

When I step back and think about it, my ISP and my weekly practice is littered with these things. I track my Omuzanyo points every week, my Quizlet long-term learning gives me a snapshot on how I'm doing with my vocabulary acquisition, and I have a number of activities I come back to time and again.

One of these elements is a little quiz I try to give myself once a month. This quiz started in my very first week of learning Luganda. I happened to find a set of over 800 Luganda terms on Quizlet (I recently discovered that they belong to my former classmate Lindsay!), and I decided to try my hand at how well I would do, with my very earliest knowledge of Luganda. It did not go well - I got 4 right out of 54 total words  - just 7% correct. I remember that I felt alarmed at just how much I didn't know, and kind of embarrassed to only get 7% on a quiz - even if it didn't really matter!

However, I realized that this gave me a great benchmark against which I could start to track my progress. And so every month since then, almost without fail, I've returned to the set and tried again.

I'm happy to tell you that I just took the "quiz" again, with 250 words. This time, I got 79% correct.

Little rituals and methods for marking progress have turned out to be one of the most powerful parts of my language learning journey. Maybe it's just tracking- and game-obsessed me, but I really believe that being able to see evidence of my progress has contributed to my outlook more than practically anything else. And that positive outlook continues to be one of the greatest tools in my language learning toolbox.


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