How Do You Measure Success in Language Learning?

Many of us in the mining industry are logic-based thinkers who rely on quantitative statements every day.

  • How much profit is that new design estimated to bring? How much will that design cost? What is the cost-benefit analysis?
  • What were our safety statistics from the last year and how does it compare to the safety to performance of the previous year? Are we on track to achieve our safety improvement KPIs?
  •  What is the mineralogy of the ore body as we progress through the ore profile? What changes are needed to be made in order to fully optimize recovery? Blending ore types? Process changes? Extractive reagent changes?

Numbers. They make us feel safe. They are our “bread and butter” (means our main source of income – idiom lesson for free there guys and gals!)

So, when we start to learn a language, what are the metrics we can use to monitor our progress and to know when we have actually reached our goal (or how far we have to go?).

It’s nice to try and measure performance in exams, certificates, and qualifications. These are in fact paper-based and number-based outcomes that we can show others so they can see what we have achieved. It’s comforting for us to rely again on numbers. IELTS scores, language assessments are examples of measures of success.

But language learning doesn’t closely follow a numbers system and show quantifiable outcomes so easily. We need to use creative and different ways of measuring our success to FULLY recognize (and celebrate) our achievements. LET’S CELEBRATE!

I have seen language learning described as a really fun road trip – and I have to say, I really like this description. Yes, the final destination is important, but the journey itself is a big part of the experience. We can take detours, get lost and find amazing sights, and yes, there are long stretches of boring highways often involved also (particularly if we want to get somewhere quickly).

Some of my tips for measuring success are below:

1.      Keep a vocabulary journal.

When you see the pages filling up and you review this time and time again, you will quickly see your progress. The words become more familiar, you can use them more effectively. Seeing it on paper gives our brain a chance to recognize the growth that has been happening!

2.      Record yourself speaking in English.

hate watching videos of myself. That’s kind of funny in my line of work – I need to do it ALL THE TIME. I have become more comfortable with it, but it is still not the most fun part of my job. BUT, I can clearly see my improvement when I review earlier and later videos, and you will too. Then you can understand the REAL progress you have been making.

3.      Keep a journal/blog.

I say, keep it publicly. Online. Nothing keeps us focused as much as accountability by others. The same as the video, it is easy to compare 6 months ago to today and see the true improvement.

4.      Keep something aside that you REALLY struggled with.

This can be your marker for improvement. Was there a movie that you couldn’t quite understand? An article that didn’t make complete sense? Maybe some strange Australian speaking in connected speech that you have great difficulty in following? By returning to this item again in the future, you will feel so relieved when it becomes easier each time until it is a piece of cake!

5.      Ask other people’s opinion

If you have fluent English speakers around you, (and you feel brave enough), ask them for their feedback. If you get an authentic answer of someone else seeing steady improvement, you will be able to reflect on your own achievements more fairly. We tend to be our own harshest critic, so external opinions can help to stop that instantly.

And if after all of that you still need some numbers, find an online English assessment and compare your score to 6-12 months ago.

Language learning is a long journey. Your motivation and confidence will go up and down regularly throughout the process. Pause occasionally and review your progress. The measure of success may be subtle and easy to overlook, but if you keep your eyes open for it, you will see it. And this will keep you motivated for the long job ahead.

“The English language is a work in progress. Have fun with it.” Jonathon Culver

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