My wife has been working on her Language passport. It is put out by the European Union and called a Europass. The Language Passport records your proficiency in the languages you know so you can describe you skills to others for work or school. We have something similar here in Canada to gauge French proficiency (mostly for government jobs), but the Europass is a do it yourself template to describe your skills. I'm now in the process of filling out my own. It's great because if you speak another language, like Spanish for instance, you can record the level you understand in Spanish, but you can also include how much you understand in similar languages. Like many of you know, most people who speak Spanish are able to understand other romance languages such as Italian, Portuguese, French and some dialects of Tagalog to varying degrees. This means that you can now mark down skills in 5 languages. Most of the “bonus” language skills will be in listening comprehension and reading, but it always makes you feel good to know you're not starting from scratch. you can even give yourself half or a quarter level to give a more accurate indication of where you are.
Each language you include is broken down into six sections. A1 and A2 are introductory levels, meaning you can understand a few words in the language. B1 and B2 take things further, with you being able to understand more complex subjects. C1 and C2 round out your language learning, indicating you clearly understand complex subjects at full speed. What I like about this passport idea is that it is further broken down into five different types of communication including listening, writing, and speaking. The website has a document with a good explanation. Here's the link.
The point of this exercise is to take a snapshot of your language learning. From there you can then design a road map to get you to improve your skills. If you want to stop right there, great, but if you want to keep going, that's even better. You can then review your passport in the future. If you look for ways to incorporate your new languages, you will soon find yourself climbing the lower ranks of the passport. You will find that it takes minimal effort to get to the A1 or A2 levels, but each higher level will call for exponential increases in time and effort. I'll use my passport as an example. Since my wife is from Latin America, I have an excellent opportunity to improve my Spanish. I have plenty of brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law that speak only Spanish. We also listen to Spanish radio stations over the internet. One of my problems is that some people made fun of me when I first started learning. I actually stopped speaking Spanish with people outside of the family. They would talk to me and I would respond in English. My pride wouldn't allow me to speak, because I didn't want to sound dumb. Unfortunately, this put me way behind in my Spoken interaction and Spoken production. Now I'm committed to getting all my Spanish skills to C2 because that's part of my life. The passport is a bit of a kick in the pants to let me know what I should be focusing on.
If you are currently learning a language, give the passport approach a a try. The Europass website is hard to navigate and the actual passport is ugly, but just fill it in for the exercise and to see where you sit. Be honest with your skills. It's better to estimate low now so you can see some progress in the coming months. I'll keep you informed of how I'm doing with my Spanish. I'm also starting to pick up some German, so don't be surprised to see some more language posts on the blog.