Hey guy, let´s switch skills? you get my reading and in return you hand me your listening skills. Deal?
If you understand 80% of a TV show or of a podcast, that seems no short of outstanding to me. I am serious, no kidding!
Well, maybe the podcast is made in studio and talked in a way that is directed to students, or maybe you have issues with more "formal" texts. Say, news in a newspaper is more formal than, say, the magazine People, In Touch etc.
Hard to say, because there are several factors into play. For example, maybe you are used to American English, then you try watching the news or listening the BeeBee (BBC) radio news. To me, there are a big difference in pronouce and accents, so it may give the impression (to a learner) that his/her English is no good. It´s misleading indeed.
Now, comparing podcasts or TV with radio broadcasting, the formers are easier to understand, why is that? because you can have "clues", you see the environment, you see their body language, you see their mouths forming the words. Whereas a radio broadcast, is a real acid test, because you don´t have no clues that gives you such advantages, it really proves if you need to train your listening...you have to make it out what they are talking.
But it´s not the end of the world, if you say you can grasp what they say in a podcast or TV show, you are getting closer.
There are magazines, and sites with both, a text and its respective broadcasting, so train and train and you´ll succeed at last.
When you feel you are tired, try another skill or read some fun (comics, what about Peanuts? or Dilbert, or some othere comics?) or listen a music (sing along with the lyrics, you can take the lyrics from the Internet)
The secret is in the balance, a kind of tripod:
1) You have to convince yourself, incentive yourself, see you in the future..."ah, I am going to listen a song and sing along" or "I will be able to interview that star" or still "I will be able to talk to that beautiful girl etc..."
2) Seek the best material on English you can afford, the best teachers and the buddies most interested in English you know. You have to hang with the crowd that is better at it than you are. For example, on the Web, and in Brazil there are good sites, good people around.
You can´t be best learner of the world, and have a half-cocked teaching. If so, you lose time. Use your instincts.
3)Grade yourself, give you points, do exercise and exams. Use percentage, numbers, what you have.
Don´t do nothing without metrics, you need to know where your English stands.
For example, I used to solve crosswords, from the beggining I measured how many I got right (measured in percentage).
So, if there was 57 words across and 50 words down, then it tallied 107 (to me). If I got 54 words right, I would consider my score 50 percent.(54x100)/107=50.46...
Argh! I thought, I am such a slow guy! definitely I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer! Well, until I began to score up to 90%, but then...some happened to derail my confidence...
I scored 100 percent in a row, then I just couldn´t get that the following, it was a mistery, difficult, enigmatic...Ow! it hurts! it threw a monkey wrench in the works!
But then, I devised a new scheme to ramp up my self-confidence again...
Statistics, it makes wonders! Well, if I scored 100 in a crossword, 90 in the next, and then 50%, then overall I have (100+90+50)=80 (%)
Wow, not bad then!
That´s a good method, it works with me, if an item in a magazine is a turn off, then I think that 15 or 20 others I can read nicely. No problem at all, nobody is going to be unhappy about it. My day is saved again.
Well, don´t about you, but I think at least I told a good story, he he. Or didn´t I?
Ah, and have fun. Don´t be hard on yourself, and whenever you can, seek things you are interested into.
If you like photography, you can go to youtube and see that clip with a guy telling the last of the new camera with GPS built-in, he shows the zoom out and zoom in...etc. If you like cars, why don´t learn something about suspension, intelligent all-wheel drive, and so and so forth.
And I recommend Emanuel and others replies posted here about the matter. And, Ready, Set, Go!