animated business woman holding a pencil checking off a checklist

8 Ways to Track Your Language Learning Progress

Do you ever wonder if you’re really making progress in your target language?

Or are you stalled, stuck on a plateau or even faceplanted into a brick wall?

Enter language trackers.

Language trackers periodically check your progress, making it a motivational method especially helpful to solo learners who may not have the standard progress reports generated in a classroom setting.

They also keep track of your daily language learning, motivating you to attend whatever the day’s lessons are.

In this post, we’ll introduce the best language trackers and how to use one successfully.


The Best Language Learning Trackers

1. A Notebook

Language trackers don’t need to be complicated to work well. Going “old school” with a notebook, colored pencils and a checklist is a simple, personalized method to track your progress.

A few columns to show your lesson schedule and the areas you’re working on is more than enough for a first tracker.

For example, write the dates in a column if you have lessons five days a week.

Next to that, note the specific activities you’ll accomplish. Maybe reading dual-language books and vocabulary building are your core language focal points, so you’ll write those down in this second column.

You can make a similar column for whether you’ve achieved certain learning goals.

Every day you accomplish a goal, whether related to study (completing a lesson) or progress (learning a set of vocab words) check it off, give yourself a sticker or color in the column.

You’ll feel great watching the evidence of your time spent with your target language grow!

2. A Calendar

Whether it’s on your phone or a wall, as long as you can mark off the days you work on your target language, a calendar can track learning.

Depending on the size of your calendar, you might not be able to pencil in all the areas of study (vocabulary, writing, reading, speaking, etc.), but it’s not even necessary.

If you show up day after day and work consistently toward your language goal, your skills are improving.

3. Built-in Language Tracking

Many language learning apps have a tracking feature already built into their program. In many cases, there are ways to track both daily study time and progress.

Think Duolingo, with its lingots and streak count.

The little owl does more than make things fun. He actually rewards your progress and motivates you to make time for study.

I have to admit, I’ve had a long Duolingo streak with a language simply because I didn’t want to disappoint the owl or break the streak count! (You can also check out our full Duolingo review here.)

FluentU has a similar streak feature to encourage daily study.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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The program combines authentic videos in your target language with interactive subtitles that teach words in context, and every word you learn is tracked.

lingq logo

LingQ is a flexible app that offers vocab tracking. You can also use it to track the amount of time you devote to different skills.

It focuses on learning naturally with imported content from the web, so it’s a great way to get in extra practice to supplement a more formal learning course and to watch your word bank grow while you’re at it. (Read our in-depth review of LingQ here.)

4. A Habit Tracker App

Your phone can work as a language learning tracker if you download one of the habit trackers designed to increase productivity by creating new habits, focusing energy on goals and showing just how well you’re doing.

A great one to try is called Habit List. It’s a free app with a clean interface that allows for flexible scheduling of up to three habits with no extra purchases.

So if you’re working on multiple languages, this is the go-to app. If you’re concerned with only one language, you can use also it to track your gym days or any other practice that’s important to you.

habitica logo

There are even trackers that gamify your habit. Habitica turns any life activity into a game.

It’s easy to set the game up by listing the habits you want to cultivate or strengthen. Every time you check in to the game, you get credit. It mounts up to a point where you’re challenged to go on quests, accomplish tasks and even have pets.

5. A Bullet Journal

This is the one I personally use and consider the best tool for language tracking—the bullet journal.

A bullet journal is a completely customizable option, but most language bullet journals include basic pages for tasks, goals and progress trackers to show what’s been completed.

It’s usually a small notebook, so it’s portable, which I like.

It can also be as creative or minimalist as you want. My progress trackers are color-coded, but that’s just me. Someone else’s might be a pencil line graph, and that’s fine, too. The point is to track!

6. Pre-made Templates

A pre-made language learning log template makes organizing your study time a breeze.

Seesaw (iOSAndroid) is a digital portfolio app that’s used in classrooms for communication between students, teachers and parents but it can work for solo learners as well.

Use it to add folders for skills, track progress, share progress if you’re working with a language partner, voice record (helpful for logging progress!) and more.

Google Apps offers another option that makes it easy to create your own log. Simply download the template, customize it and you’re ready to begin logging your progress.

7. Excel Spreadsheets

Excel spreadsheets are great for keeping track of just about anything, including language learning.

To build a spreadsheet, launch Excel or create a new sheet in Google Drive.

Fill in the top cells according to your program goals (vocabularyreadingwriting and all the rest).

Then determine when you’ll accomplish those items and assign cells down the left side of the page as time markers (a monthly grid works well, so numbering the vertical cells from 1-30 is a quick method).

Tekhnologic also has a great downloadable spreadsheet perfect for building a huge vocabulary list.

You can make one sheet for several languages if you’re studying more than one. Additionally, you could make several sheets to track various goals (activities or length of time studied, for example).

8. A Blog

Lots of learners are going public with their language journey by keeping blogs. Luca Lampariello and 5-Minute Language are two of my favorite language-learning blogs to read.

Blogs are updated regularly, consistent with the idea of a language log. Also, they’re generally written in a conversational tone, so sharing with other language learners can almost become a social event!

Allow comments on your blog so you can also enjoy chatting with other learners. Who knows? While you’re busy logging your learning, you might inspire someone else to do the same thing.

Or you could trade tips with others and learn new ways to increase your program’s productivity.

How to Start Tracking Your Language Learning Progress

If you’re not using built-in tracking, you might wonder how to track your progress. We’ll get into all of that here.

Decide what aspects of your language program you want to track.

Do you want to monitor vocabulary acquisition, reading proficiency, writing skills or conversational skills? If your goal is fluency, they should all be part of your program, so it makes sense to watch each of them if you can.

Assess where you are in your language learning.

If you know your proficiency level, you’ll be able to determine where you want to go and set goals accordingly.

These downloadable language tracking sheets are used in classroom settings to gauge English proficiency, but they can be modified to suit any language.

While these are intended to be used by teachers, they can give you a good idea of your goals and help you note your progress at any given point.

Beginner learners would benefit from downloading the Kindergarten sheets, which place 500 words as the first linguistic vocabulary benchmark for a Level 1 learner.

The scale on each tracking sheet increases until the Grades 10-12 sheets, which put linguistic learning in the 5,000-word range.

Start tracking study time and/or tasks.

One of the best features of any language tracker is that it allows you to track your study time.

Do you want to devote one hour a day to learning? Two?

Whatever fits your program and schedule, factor that in when you use your tracker. You’ll be able to see just how much time you need to accomplish your tasks—and you’ll be able to make time in your schedule to get the job done.

Use your language learning tracker daily.

A language tracker isn’t a stagnant tool. Ideally, you’ll use your tracker daily as you confirm you’ve completed your language studies.

At the end of a week, month or year, you’ll have a clear view of what you’ve been doing with your study time.

Review your progress periodically.

I suggest doing this monthly.

At the end of every month, you can see what you did, what you concentrated on and how many hours you devoted to studying a target language.

This is also a good time to break out the tracking sheets above or review whatever built-in progress trackers you have. If you see that you’re flagging in a certain area, adjust your course to get back on track.

Maintain a list of words you know.

If you’re just starting to learn a language, try keeping a list of all the words you’ve learned.

Being able to see at a glance how much you already know can be incredibly motivating. Plus, you might even find yourself memorizing a few extra words to watch your list grow.

Record yourself speaking your target language.

These recording sessions shouldn’t be spaced too closely together, or the progress may seem insignificant. Instead, aim to make a recording every 4-8 months.

You may choose to speak on the same topic if you want to see how your vocabulary has progressed, but discussing any topic will still help you see improvements in your pronunciation, confidence, grammar and rate of speech.

Imagine a scenario in detail.

Choose any scenario you want. It could be renting a car, having a friendly conversation or having a business meeting.

Every 4-8 months, try to imagine how that conversation would go. Go through what you would say and what someone might reply.

Then, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you communicate at all in this scenario?
  • Do you have to substitute some words that aren’t ideal?
  • Do you have the exact words you want?

Refer to the ACTFL’s Can-Do Statements.

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) provides “Can-Do Statements,” which are performance indicators to assess your skill level.

Since all you have to do is check which statements are true for you, it takes very few minutes to determine what level you may be at in various skill areas like “interpersonal communication,” “presentational speaking” and more.

Once you know your level, try reassessing your skills every six months.

This will help you see which areas have progressed and which aren’t as quickly as you hoped.

Try proficiency tests and other online assessments.

language trainers logo There are plenty more online skills assessments and proficiency tests out there.

Sources like Language Trainers and Dialang can provide a snapshot of your skills. Since these tests are based on exam performance and not self-reflection, they’ll give you a more objective idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

Not only will skills assessments help you determine your present level of proficiency, but you can also use them to track growth over time. Like the other assessments, try repeating the same test or assessment every six months to get an accurate idea of your improvement.


Adding a tracker to your language routine—and using it consistently—can drastically increase what you get done. It can also provide a tangible assessment of a program’s effectiveness.

Bring your language learning to the next level, and keep your face out of that brick wall by tracking your way to success!

And One More Thing...

If you dig the idea of learning on your own time from the comfort of your smart device with real-life authentic language content, you'll love using FluentU.

With FluentU, you'll learn real languages—as they're spoken by native speakers. FluentU has a wide variety of videos as you can see here:

FluentU has interactive captions that let you tap on any word to see an image, definition, audio and useful examples. Now native language content is within reach with interactive transcripts.

Didn't catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? Hover your mouse over the subtitles to instantly view definitions.

You can learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU's "learn mode." Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.

And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You get a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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