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2A: Measuring Comprehension

Many people try to measure their comprehension by estimating the percentage of words they know in a given piece of content. Unfortunately, this is not very useful for measuring higher levels of comprehension.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. You can know every word in a sentence and still not understand it.
  2. You can fully comprehend a sentence without knowing all the words.

Instead, we've created a system to help you evaluate your comprehension based on how much of the meaning you understand.

Comprehension Levels

The comprehension levels below describe the stages between zero comprehension and full, native-like comprehension.

Level 0: Nothing

  • You don’t understand any of the language.

Level 1: Something

  • You can recognize some individual words.

Level 2: Bits and Pieces

  • You can recognize at least one word in almost every sentence.

Level 3: Gist

  • You recognize around half the words used.
  • You can understand the meaning of some full sentences.

Level 4: Story

  • You understand the meaning of most sentences.
  • You can follow the story, but miss some ideas and plot points.

Level 5: Comfortable

  • You understand nearly every sentence but miss an occasional word or phrase.
  • You may not understand jokes, puns, or nuance.
  • It still requires effort to understand.

Level 6: Automatic

  • You understand everything effortlessly.

Comprehension Varies

It's important to realize that you will have a different comprehension levels with different pieces of content. You may have level 5 comprehension of a children's show, but level 3 comprehension of a news program.

Testing Your Comprehension

Throughout the Refold roadmap, we use the comprehension levels above to determine when you are ready to move on to the next substage. Each substage provides a self-test to measure your comprehension. These tests explain which type of content to use and how to execute the test.

As you progress through the substages, you will use more difficult content and fewer tools to support your comprehension. The one constant between the tests is that you should not be using dictionary lookups. Dictionary lookups artificially increase your comprehension and hide your true ability.

Level Up

To move from 2A to 2B, you should have level 3 comprehension of content aimed at adolescents. Remember, level 3 comprehension means that you can recognize more than half of the words.

You don’t need to fully understand what the words mean in the given context. If you see a word and think to yourself "I know that word but don't understand how it's being used here", that counts as recognition.

To test yourself to see if you’re ready to move to 2B, choose a children's TV show (aimed at ages 7-14) that has subtitles. Watch the show with the subtitles, pausing to read each line. Turn off your pop-up dictionaries so that you’re not tempted to look at definitions or translations.

If you can recognize most of the words and you can understand some full sentences, then you're ready to move on to Stage 2B. Congratulations!

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