Progress Tracker Updates

November 29, 2010, 08:31 AM posted in General Discussion


We received a great deal of feedback from you about our progress tracker, which was created earlier this year. We've taken many of your suggestions and integrated them into our simplified, updated version. Today I'd like to introduce some of these changes.

Before replacing the old progress tracker with our updated version, we'd like feedback from the community at large. We've already received some great feedback from users who tested the progress tracker for us (thank you!) And would now like to open it up to everyone. You can check out the new version here.

This is what the current progress tracker (the one the update will replace) looks like:

We've broken up progress into different sections to make it clear where this information is coming from (lessons studied, test scores, etc.) and what trends your progress is taking.


My Lessons

In this view, you can see the distribution of the lessons you have marked as studied across different levels. You can also see, in green, the number of lessons at each level ChinesePod recommends you complete before moving up a level. Your studied lessons (in dark blue) are a percentage of total recommended lessons (in light blue) at each level.


Placement Test

Your next graph is a placement test graph. If you've never taken a placement test, you can click on the link to do so. The more times you take the test, the more points on the graph you'll have. All of your tests will be plotted together, regardless of length (we have progress tests of different lengths).


Level Test

The next graph is similar to the placement test. This is the level test. You are tested with questions from one level only. If you've taken this test at different levels (intermediate and upper intermediate for example) then you'll have a different graph for each level. Each point on the graph is a different occasion on which you've taken the test.


Teacher Service users (Guided, Executive, etc.) will see this bar graph (not available to basic and premium subscribers) at the top of the Progress Tracker page, which indicates how far along in their course they are.


Send us your feedback!

We truly hope you find these changes helpful. Our central goals were making it clear what data was being represented and allowing for a more straightforward representation of learning trends for each individual user. Of  course, if you have questions, comments or feedback, please contact us at, respond to this post in the comments section, or PM anyone on the team! We hope to formally make the change from the old progress tracker to this updated version next Monday, December 6th.


If you'd like to comment on the Progress Tracker Blog Post, you can find it here.


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November 29, 2010, 09:26 AM

I think the new progress tracker is a great improvement. Just one small glitch: the chart displaying the percentage of my completed elementary lessons is wrong.  It correctly shows the number of lessons completed (60/80) and it event says 75% completion but the bar shows something like 45% completion.

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Interesting. I'll have the team look into this error. Thanks for letting us know!

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November 29, 2010, 09:51 AM

Heh. I kind of feel like all the feedback I sent in was ignored. Sob! 

I did report it during the beta, but similar to the error above, my total "bar" for elementary is bigger than my bar for intermediate, which is wrong, given it's supposed to be 80 compared to 120.

My comments about making such a big deal about the placement and level tests still stands. for reference, they were:

The level and placement test graphs are massive. Is there a need to separate them into separate graphs? They are given a LOT of space here. 

To be honest, the problem here is that the level and placement tests are not very useful full stop. The problem being that they draw from the entire corpus of Chinesepod lessons. I'm just starting Intermediate, but there's no way I know every character shown in elementary and newbie lessons, so my placement and level tests always undermark me severely. In fact, to test it, I just took a placement test - it's put me at 27% - newbie. When I took the same test back in March 2010, I got 24% - newbie. 
Obviously you're not looking at the tests with this exercise, but giving them such a massive space on the progress tracker puts a lot more emphasis on them, and it's actually very dispiriting (for me!) to see I have apparently made so little progress in the last 8 months, whereas realistically I know I'm a million times better than I was back then! 
A simple fix would be to have the level tests at least draw from the material in your own "studied" lessons only. Thereby giving a much more accurate reading and justify the huge amount of space given to these tests on this new page. 

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Wtf, also, something has happened to the "studied" lessons! At the weekend I'd studied 70 elementary lessons. Now on the manage lessons page, and on the new progress tracker, it's only showing 56 lessons studied! Where are my other studied lessons?! The old progress tracker is showing the correct number:

newbie: 20

elementary: 70

intermediate: 8

The new one (and manage lessons page) is showing:

newbie: 20

elementary: 56

intermediate: 5

Help! Please fix this! :-(

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Xiao Liang,

I understand what you're saying about the Level/Placement tests being over-represented, but allow me to explain briefly why it makes sense to test you on material you don't know.

If you're only tested on material you've studied, that's just review. But if you're tested on material at your level which you haven't studied, you're not actually being exposed to 100% foreign material. Because we always focus on high-frequency language, the more lessons you study, the more the proportion of words that you already know in every unstudied lesson keeps going up.

So if you've only studied 2 Elementary lessons, the rest are going to be hard. If you've studied 80% of the Elementary lessons, however, then the ones you haven't studied yet are likely to be mostly easy for you.

In practice, this means that the longer a learner studies a particular level, the easier each subsequent lesson is, on average. The tests reflect that. I hope this makes sense!

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A little bit. But they're not really level tests then, don't you think? Let's suppose chinesepod is the only place I learn chinese (which it practically is). How does it make sense to test me on something I've never seen? I'm just not going to know this vocab. Otherwise how would it make sense that I've studied 70 elementary lessons, I'm listening to intermediate lessons and understanding them, yet your level and placement tests both put me as a newbie?

I just look at that and feel terrible about my progress. It's counter-productive, and doesn't help me learn anything.

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Hi xiao_liang

You raise an interesting point and I can give you some feedback from two 'placement' tests I've done outside of ChinesePod. One in Sydney, before commencing a course. There was a short introductory conversation with a teacher. The guy then handed me a book (guessing my level from the initial conversation must have influenced the choice of book?) I'd never seen before and asked me to read (out loud) for about five minutes, and then he asked me questions about what I'd read, a test of comprehension. I had never seen this book before in my life. But everyone's experience is different so giving this kind of test does help teachers to 'place' you relative to other students.

Then in China, similar thing - an HSK format test - but I had done no 'studying' for the material - everyone (from several different countries) was in the same position, being unfamiliar with the material.

I don't know if this helps ..

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Hey XiaoLiang, you have your girlfriend and your Chinese friends and new family in China who can give feedback on your progress (some more candid than others perhaps, but all of them must be encouraging, right?). I don't have people like that. But I still don't, to be honest, turn to the Progress Tracker to see how my Chinese is/isn't improving. I have a good enough idea--from how well I do or how hard I find it whenever I try to make myself understood in speaking or writing, how well I can understand when listening or reading. Also from how hard/easy I find lessons here. I too also find issues with the tests here (it's too easy to submit a still-incomplete test by mistake, for one. my main beef--the dictation questions should have higher value, in other words you should be able to make one tiny error in the sentence and still earn a point or two for that question). But if you realistically know you're a million times better than you were back then, isn't that all you need to know?

I guess I seem to be saying the Progress Tracker here isn't too useful. Well for those people who do find it useful, it is. For me, I guess I wouldn't miss it, if it were gone one day, as long as the My Archive box stayed.

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This progress tracker is not useful for me too. When I tested myself, I'm still a Newbie, even though I can now understand about 80% of Jenny's comments in the Intermediate lessons. I'm also skeptical of a theory (is this a tested and proven academic theory or Cpod's own theory?) of testing on materials you have not studied and don't know. It doesn't make practical sense to me that a language placement testing would be based on vocab on lessons not yet studied.... maybe such a technical approack is OK if one is taking a formal exam such as HSK and is expected to accurately know tones and pinyin spellings as well as write Chinese characters, but not practical and is certainly discouraging for adults who just want to learn a foreign language. The design of the placement test seems also contradictory to your guideline that after studying 80 or so Ellie lessons, one can then tackle the Intermediate lessons.

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Had similar issue, although very comfortable with upp int / adv /media my level was elly :-)

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November 29, 2010, 09:14 PM

I have no idea if the new system is there or not as it still just simply does not work for me!  The old one did not and this one works exactly the same as the old one.

It seems I have been at ChinesePod too long and done too many lessons and the number confuses the length of the URL causing a blank box with a broken image.

I don't know what the fix for this would be, maybe I need to be able to choose a time period that would be represented or something?  I'm not too sure that I have even studied as many lessons as it is suggesting I have and would be happy for it to be restricted to the ones I have done the exercises on ( a very small amount) as this would encourage me to sit and do the exercises more ( a lengthy process that involves trying to get the house to myself as my study is in a corridor!

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Hi trevorb, I've just looked into your progress tracker and I can see that you've completed 0/12 courses lessons you've been assigned. I can also see your course test score on July 9th and August 23rd as well as the percentage of Newbie, Elementary and Intermediate lessons you've completed. Can you send me a screen shot of the blank box with a broken image to me at Maybe it is a compatibility issue with your internet browser.

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November 30, 2010, 03:08 AM

One feature I'd like to see, ideally, is the ability to separate test results for the different scripts (Pinyin, Simplified, Traditional). I like to use the Pinyin tests and end-of-lesson exercises to test my general comprehension and the Simplified ones to test my literacy with characters. They're different skills, and it'd be nice to see my progress charted separately. 

Just an idea, of course- not sure how feasible it'd be, or whether anyone else would find this useful.

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November 30, 2010, 03:44 PM

Hey so that's what the current progress tracker looks like. I didn't know. I've not once seen the Your Progress Over Time graph on mine (I mentioned this issue when the Progress Tracker was first rolled out, not that it matters now since it's going to be replaced).

Thanks for adding the division marks on the y axis but I still think it's hard to see what level we've placed in, in the Your Placement Test Scores graph.

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I think you have the same issue as me, you've done too many lessons so you just get a broken image thing instead of the Progress chart. Its still broken in the new version though....

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I haven't done "too many lessons"! The current version can't count my Studied lessons correctly anyway. The new version is showing OK for me. Guess it could be a browser incompatibility thing.

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November 30, 2010, 09:48 PM

so the "my course progress" is supposed to be on the number of courses Grace has worked with me over the past 55 weeks? shouldn't that be around 240 lessons over the past 55 weeks or so? not just 50 lessons?

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You might have the same problem as me. The update has deleted a whole bunch of "studied" lessons.

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@Pretzellogic and Xiao Liang:

Hey guys,

Rob here - I'm the Teacher Services Manager and will be looking into this case.

As far as I know, for Teacher Services students like pretzellogic, you can only view your current course in the progress tracker. Your current "Course" corresponds to all the lessons your teacher assigned to you (usually monthly). That's not to say that all your old lessons from previous courses can't be viewed by clicking "Manage Lessons" on the bottom of your dashboard. At the end of your course, when you've studied all the assigned lessons with your teacher, she will close the course so nothing will appear in your progress tracker until the next course. Essentially it's a reference to give you easy access to how far along your current course you are.

XiaoLiang: Got your post in the blog, BTW! Glad you finally got a VPN to allow for the academic serenade. When you say "studied" lessons, are you referring to the lessons in your lessons tab, your courses tab, or both?

I got Zhang Feng here behind me today and will look into this, but thanks for the feedback and help in developing it.

Talk to you soon,


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Hi Rob, you've replied here to pretzellogic signed in as pretzellogic.