Tracking your language study plan
One of the most common complaints I hear from language learners is that they don’t feel like they’re making progress, no matter how much time or money they spend. While there are a couple of reasons why this happens, one of them is the fact that they don’t track the progress of their language study plan.
Tracking our foreign language progress and seeing how our language study plan is (or isn’t) working for us is pretty unnatural to some people (myself included), so they don’t think to do it. However, tracking can help us in a ton of ways, like:
- reminding us how far we’ve come
- giving us clues as to which strategies are working and which aren’t
- showing us how we’re spending our time
- telling us how we can solve our language learning problems
….and so much more, really depending on how we’re tracking and what information is important to us. Fortunately, there are lots of apps and programs that we can use to effectively track our language learning, with almost unlimited potential for what exactly we’re tracking.
So let’s dive into it: 4 awesome apps for tracking your language study plan.
First up, let’s talk about the language tracking app I recommend to literally everyone who asks: Polylogger. Polylogger is a fairly new app/website designed by a language learner, for language learners. It’s available on desktop, Android, and iOS.
It’s simple, yet effective. Every time I do anything in a foreign language, I just open up the app and plug in what I used, how many minutes I used it, the language I was studying, and which language skill I exercised.
I love how easily Polylogger shows me my progress over time. I use this to get real data (not just emotions, which aren’t effective for judging this kind of stuff) on how consistently I’m using different resources, when and for how long I’m taking short-term breaks, the ratio of what skills I’m practicing, and more.
I also use Polylogger a lot to see the differences in my approaches to different languages! As you can see here, for example, I can tell that while I’m studying my intermediate/advanced language more sporadically, I also have more stamina for it than I do with my beginner language. Interesting!
It’s not the most fancy and you can’t add a whole lot of details (like if you didn’t study for a week because you were sick), but Polylogger is great at what it does, and there are other apps for that anyways (which we’ll get to in this post).
Do you get sucked into the gamification of Duolingo, but hate that you’re just motivated to earn XP and not necessarily motivated to do anything real? Habitica may be the free app/website for you. It has a lot of the functionality and dopamine rush of Duolingo, but it’s totally customizable for you to track/remind yourself to do any habit, to-do, or anything to learn a language (or anything else, really).
Habitica has you organize your tasks into three different categories: habits, dailies, and to do’s. Habits are tasks that you can check off multiple times a day (like drinking water, or like reviewing Quizlet flashcards); Dailies are tasks that you want to do every day (like taking medication, or like reviewing your Speechling feedback); To Do’s are tasks that just need to be completed once (like calling your insurance company, or like getting 85% correct on a Conjuguemos quiz).
The more tasks you set up and complete, the more rewards you can earn to dress up your personalized character, and the more you level up. Seriously: if you’re a gamer, Habitica could be a great way to motivate you to practice every day using strategies that are totally customizable and thus actually effective for you.
Are accountability partners and short-term challenges really motivating for you? Habitica’s got Guilds, Groups, and Challenges.
Short-term challenges like this are a great way to take advantage of those dopamine-boosts that normally get you excited to use an app for like a week. Instead, find an app or a strategy that might not be the most exciting to plug into your Habitica, and join one of these challenges! Voila, your language learning motivation is officially hacked!
Because Habitica is such a blank slate and SO customizable it could take a second to get used to and personalized, but once you get into the flow of things it can be really powerful.
Also, since it’s not meant specifically for language learning you’re not going to get any kind of analytics or other information to help you make any kind of educated decisions like you would with Polylogger, but if you’re looking for tracking to help keep you motivated and keep poking at your brain, give the app a shot!
Toggl isn’t specifically a language learning tracker either, but it is definitely used by some language learners to keep track of how much time they’re spending on a language and how that time is being spent.
Sure, it’s technically best for project management, freelance work, etc., but I wouldn’t sleep on Toggl for language learners, especially if you like to use several different resources/methods, or like to learn multiple languages at once.
Basically, you set up “projects” within Toggl, and whenever you work on them, you use its timer to keep track of how long you’re spending on a particular thing.
As you can see, I used Toggl to track 30 minutes worth of French practice…then quickly realized it’s not the right tool for me! Nonetheless, it would be incredibly easy to use Toggl to track which resources you’re using, which skill you’re building, which languages you’re studying, maybe specific kinds of media you’re enjoying…the sky’s really the limit!
If you’re a busy student, parent, or have a busy job, you could also use Toggl to get a clearer understanding of what time you have in your everyday life to fit more language learning in!
Again. while Toggl is highly customizable and brings us a TON of features and data, it’s not strictly a resource for language learning. However, if you are looking for a way to track your life a bit more and get a firm grasp on how much time you can actually expect to spend on your language learning, Toggl may be your guy.
Last but not least, we have Notion. Full transparency: I tinkered around with Notion for language learning a little bit to prepare for this post, and I’m kind of in love. It’s overwhelming at times, with the sheer amount of options available, but you could use it to track literally anything you could possibly imagine. Plus you can make it pretty.
Here I’ve created a pretty simple homepage for my language learning. Each language I’m learning has its own little home, and all of those little homes are customized with icons, backgrounds, etc. You can create literally any kind of page you could possibly desire:
- Foreign language book reviews including difficulty, length, how much time they took, if they were in their original language or translated, 1-5 star rating, etc.
- Daily language journal where you note down your energy level of the day and how that contributed to your language learning. This would be a great way to track how excited you are about your language strategy in the long term, like if you feel really stoked for like a day and then instantly lose it
- iTalki tutor reviews, so you can keep track of which tutors you like, what you like about them, the words or phrases they taught you in individual sessions, pronunciation lessons you’ve learned, and more
- A roadmap for your long-term language learning that you edit as you go
Seriously. Like, anything. And there are SO MANY options for Notion templates and ideas for language learners that you just have to Google and play around with.
Now obviously Notion isn’t specifically meant for language learners. Nor is it necessarily for daily tracking (though you can absolutely use it like that, as long as you remember to come back to it every day). But as for complex ideas and pure flexibility over whatever it is that you’re tracking and the ability to keep it all in one place? Excellent.
What to know about tracking your language study plan
Out of all the apps and all the options mentioned in this post, the most important message I want to relay is to track your language study plan! Of course, what you’re tracking and how you’re tracking is totally up to you, and it may take some experimenting before you find a strategy that you like.
If anything, look to these apps as some inspiration to think about what information is important to you. Do you just want some simple data points to keep track of your habits over time and seeing what’s working and what’s not? Consider Polylogger (meant specifically for language learners, but kind of limited at the moment) or Toggl (not for language learners, but TONS of flexibility as to what it is you’re tracking).
Are you looking for something more motivational than anything else, and want to control what it is you’re motivated to do so that you can ensure that the metrics are meaningful to you? Try Habitica.
Or do you want more of an online journal-esque resource that you can customize to track whatever it is you want, however you want (but you have to create everything from scratch)? Notion it is!
All these apps are available both on desktop and via app, which makes them highly accessible to any language learner with the internet.
What do you like to track?