Best measure of progress
First, my true measure of progress is CEFR, but I can't evaluate my CEFR level daily (I've read that Duolingo plans to do certification exams soon).
I can think of two possible measures of progress that I can graph daily/weekly:
Hours studying, e.g. 2k hours, 15h/week
Words learned, e.g. 4k words, 100w/week
I see that some days I spend lots of hours and words don't really go up, but hours are much less precise and hard to track.
Which is the best measure to set goals and track progress?
Interesting, what I'm actually wary of is one shot tests that claim to measure proficiency. In my opinion neither hours studied nor words learnt can accurately measure progress. A good measure of proficiency is the ability to use words to constructs accurate sentences, to be able to speak, read, understand, and write correctly.
- Can you write a one page essay, or even a paragraph while making few mistakes?
- Can you communicate with someone entirely in the language you are learning?
- Can you understand the news in the language?
If you wish to track progress, my opinion is that you start writing an essay, as you gain more knowledge expand on it and improve it. There are fluent users here who can judge if the content is accurate. Conversational ability can only be tested by speaking, as well as hearing, and immersion offers many texts to practice your reading ability.
I think your idea works better for long term goals, but since it is not quantifiable it can't be graphed or be used to set daily and weekly schedules. I know, I am anankastic, I have the tendency to micro-manage myself.
For example, if one is starting, he obviously can't write anything yet, not even read. It doesn't mean he is not progressing.
I can appreciate that being a software developer, we love quantifiable stuff. In view of that, lets see what you can measure:
- Accuracy rate - Correct answers/ incorrect answers;
- Lessons passed;
- Articles translated;
- Words strengthened per day/week/month;
- Practices per day/week/month;
- Spelling mistakes; and
- Sentences translated;
These are just the one's I can think of the top of my head.
P.S. I think you underestimate a beginner, grasping how to write/read simple words is not as challenging as it seems.
Now it is you that are going a tiny bit over the top. Besides, those are Duolingo's (non-existent) statistics, not Michel's statistics. Even if for now I rely almost exclusively on Duolingo, I need the most useful and most easily estimated/trackable generic measure of French knowledge, so I can predict and plan for the date I will be fluent.
P.S. I was talking about myself, a beginner. ;D
I see. You can choose from among those the ones you prefer, I think the ones below would apply to any learning resource:
- Articles read;
- Sentences read;
- Words learnt;
- Sentences written; and
- Time spent doing each activity.
Also, Duolingo emails some of the stats I showed you before, so they are not non-existent, just hard to extract.
I like to read in the language I'm learning to gouge my progress, the same texts in months-long intervals when possible. It's no proficiency test, but the most satisfying moment I've had in the last half a year was when I accidentally opened a French story and understood the first four paragraphs unaided (of course, I can't actually speak and my grammar is terrible, but I'm working on that too).