My daily Hungarian battle plan

Posted by Cat Ramos

It took me a fair amount of time but I think I found a workable study plan for Hungarian. As there are considerably less available materials, I needed all the help I could get. Compared to French, I am having a more difficult time with this language, mainly because it is so different from the languages I know. The vocabulary, the grammar patterns, even the letters are different.

Nagyon sok sző gyönyörű. Például: apa, csokoládé, király, szerelem. (There are many beautiful words. For example, father, chocolate, awesome, love). But there are also very difficult and nosebleed-inducing words like:


Do not be discouraged! It will get easier. If I can do it, so can you!

I think I have gotten over my fear of the Hungarian vowels. A – á, e – é and so on. Also, I am slowly getting the hang of vowel harmony, a unique feature of the language. It seemed impossible at first but I stuck with it and now I realize that Hungarian is a very logical language. Even with exceptions, it has very consistent rules compared to other languages.

Here is my daily task list for my Hungarian studies:

1. 5 minutes of flashcards on Brainscape – I have several decks and a lot of the items have audio. As I finish a lesson on Hungarianpod101, I look for sentences that I feel will be useful for me and put them in a deck. What sort of sentences? Well, for example, a francba! This means “darn it” 😉

My Hungarian decks on Brainscape
My Hungarian decks on Brainscape

2. Memrise – for every session, I do a review of the previous materials then I do a new set of items. Here is a list of what I am studying so far:

IMG_9034 IMG_9035

I know it’s  a lot. I am actually planning to remove those without audio and those that only teach individual words. The very last one, “Pimsleur Hungarian with audio” is made by yours truly so I could review the words and sentences I learned through the Pimsleur Hungarian audio program. Note that the deck is only a supplement for review. You have to get the audio course for studying, then use this deck for reviewing.

3. 30 minutes of any of the followingAssimil Hungarian (1 chapter), HungarianPod101, Complete Hungarian  and Colloquial Hungarian. I am still waiting for the Teach Yourself: Complete Hungarian book I ordered from National Bookstore. I was there today to follow up on it and they said sometimes they have problems with Customs. Tsk tsk. Customs again?

Hungarian Pod 101 progress chart
Hungarian Pod 101 progress chart

A simple task that works really well for me is handwriting sentences. I copy down anything that Endre, Tünde, Péter, Anett and István sent me (email or Skype). I have a notebook with sentences and phrases that I feel would be useful for me. Because of something called Total Physical Response, handwriting helps commit something to memory compared to simply looking. I am too sleepy to look up TPR now but if you are curious, Google is your friend.

What else is missing in my plan? Well, I am eagerly waiting for the Duolingo Hungarian course to get released into beta. Once that’s done, users can already start the course. There might be bugs and errors after the beta release and it might take some time to get into the stable phase but who cares? I just want to start studying ASAP! The original plan was to release it in September and then the date kept getting moved back. The last time I checked (this morning!), the date was in December. 🙁

Aside from this, I need my Teach Yourself: Complete Hungarian book too. I wanted to get Assimil Hungarian too; I actually ordered it the same time as TY. But National’s quoted price? P12,000. I know, right? Haha. I asked them to double check with their Purchasing Department; I was thinking there was an extra zero in there. My Assimil French book + CD package was only P4,000 so it is impossible that the Hungarian one would cost so much.

One important thing I want to add to my plan: sessions with an italki teacher. I narrowed down my choices to two teachers but I could not find a convenient schedule because of the time zone differences. Or I could just suck it and wake up at 4am. In this cool Christmas season weather? Not gonna happen. Eventually, I also need to have regular speaking sessions with language partners on Skype. Right now, it’s all just chat because of the time difference again. When Endre and I talk, we use English (and sometimes a bit of Tagalog) but that’s it. I also need to keep using the language. I try to write short paragraphs on italki, on Twitter, on emails and chats. It doesn’t matter if I make mistakes. Mistakes are good as long as you learn from them.  The people at italki are very forgiving and Hungarians are always willing to help you study their language.

All in all, my Hungarian takes about an hour per day. I try to do this everyday. Operative word: try. There are days when I do not have the time or the energy to study anything. But I do not beat myself up over not being able to listen to a podcast or do my flashcards. I know that I have to take a break too. The next day, I go back to studying again. The important thing is to do something everyday, no matter how short. If I am tired, I can just do flashcards and ignore the rest. The small things you do on a regular basis are more important than the big things you do once a week.

Hungarian is an elegant language; it is well-structured and very logical. It will be difficult at first but…próbáld meg! (Try it!)

I have a similar battle plan for French, and I will lay it out in another post. Until then…viszlát!

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4 thoughts on “My daily Hungarian battle plan

  1. Oscar

    I am learning hungarian as well. I am on my second week, but no good progress. I think I need good plan like yours.

    I am planning on buying the subscription in, I read your plan and you mentioned about the website as well. What do you think about the website after you learn from them?

    Köszönöm Szépen!

    1. catchan1980

      Szia Oscar!
      I recommend that you get at least a basic subscription to Hungarianpod101 so you can get the PDF files as well as the audio. I am doing the absolute beginners level and so far, I feel that it is a bit random. Mostly just memorizing short phrases. They also provide additional vocabulary so you can make short sentences on your own.

      I thought your name sounded familiar then I realized I replied to your discussion on italki 🙂

      Good luck with Hungarian!

  2. Stephanie

    Sounds like a very workable plan! So interesting that you’re learning Hungarian…

    1. catchan1980

      Thank you, Stephanie! I hope to get proper lessons with an italki teacher soon, like what you are doing with your languages. There’s a different kind of motivation — and pressure, I guess 🙂

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