Measuring your progress
When learning a language it’s sometimes helpful and useful to get an idea of how well you’re progressing. There are a number of ways to do this, including taking language proficiency tests, setting yourself a task to complete using only the language you’re learning, or seeing how much you understand when you listen to or read the language.
When I read things in a foreign language, I try to understand as much as possible without using a dictionary. Any words I don’t know I try to guess from the context. At first I can understand very little, but as my knowledge of the language improves I start to understand a lot more. One way I gauge my progress is to count how many words I have to look up per sentence, paragraph or page. When I can read whole pages or even chapters of books without reaching for a dictionary, I know I’m making good progress. There may be a few words I’m not sure about, but I tend to leave them, as long as they’re not key to my understand of the text.
When listening to a foreign language, on the radio for example, I try to get the gist of what they’re talking about from the words I understand. If I know more of the language in question, I can fill in more of the details. Understanding the news in a foreign language is relatively easy as I’ve usually heard or read the news in English beforehand and know what to expect. Understanding other material can be more of a challenge.