French, Hungarian, Japanese

Super Language Overhaul

Posted by Cat Ramos

I have a confession: I don’t think I would succeed in my very first italki challenge.

It was going well and I had this plan of taking 5 sessions of French first, then Hungarian second. I finished all my sessions for basic French almost midway into the challenge. Then after that, I booked another package of 5 sessions with Zita for Hungarian.

Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t so good to be studying two languages. I started with my new job in the middle of January. Since then, I have been in training and now, my team has gone live on 4 client projects.

On two occasions, I could not make it to my French session with Clarisse because our training had to be extended outside normal work hours. I had to contact Clarisse to reschedule. It was embarrassing. I know how hard she prepares for each class and cancellations can be difficult for a teacher. But there was really nothing I could do. Thankfully, she was understanding enough. Still, I don’t want to inconvenience her anymore. So after my 5th session, I had to step back and reevaluate my short and midterm goals.

I discovered Brian Kwong’s Add1 Challenge, where participants commit to learning a new language in 3 months. Learners will be separated into smaller groups, which will be your support and accountability team. Each member will commit a specific study time every day (for example, one hour for 6 days a week, one rest day) and update the team on her progress. Members are expected to encourage each other throughout the challenge. The interesting thing about this challenge is that a person is only allowed to learn ONE language in that period. Why? Brian says you need to focus all your energies into that one language. You cannot have different languages fighting for your attention, otherwise you won’t make a large progress in any one of them.

Makes sense to me. So for the next three months, I commit to learning Hungarian for one day everyday. Why Hungarian and not French? Certainly, the “commercial value” of French is bigger hence it would be logical to want to learn this first.

But French is a Romance language, with many words and patterns that are already familiar to me. Hungarian, on the other hand, is from another planet, er, another language family: Finno-Ugric. What? Exactly.

For example, the French “restaurant” is the same in English. Also the same as the German “Restaurant”, the Spanish “restaurante” and the Italian “ristorante”. In Hungarian? Étterem. Another one: vendeglő. Notice the cute things on top of the vowels?

Also, the grammar structure in Hungarian is very different. It is very logical, but very different. The English prepositions become POSTpositions in Hungarian.

And don’t even get me started on vowel harmony. I think I am getting the hang of this harmony, though…but not quite there yet.

Anyway, the ultimate point is, I need more help with Hungarian than with French. More guidance, more explanation from a qualified person. I want to see how far I can take this in 3 months. But the ultimate goal is to be at B level by the end of the year.


Also, due to something that one of my Hungarian tutors told me, I am going full speed ahead on my JLPT review. I’ve put this off for as long as I can remember. I even rationalized against sitting the N1 exam by saying I won’t be needing the N1 content in real life.
But real life has come knocking with some opportunities and so I answered the door and said “damn it, I will do the exam even if it kills me.”

OK, maybe I won’t go as far as to lose my life over a piece of paper 😉 The point is, I know this certificate will open many more doors for me. Much more than my current N2 certificate did. To make more time for my study, I will no longer teach on Saturday afternoons. I have some great materials now, thank you to my co-teacher Grace-sensei who suggested the books.

Here is a very crude tracker of my daily goals for these two languages. Yes, I started tracking today! I am happy to say that I survived day 1, week 1 of Sou Matome…I am supposed to do 2 pages for a day for 8 weeks. Can you see how stressful that is? 😀 I will go into the details of these materials and resources in other posts. Expect the items to change as I finish a book or resource.


So my dear French, I bid you goodbye for now…great to see you again, Japanese…and let’s level up, Hungarian!

Facebook Comments


1 Comment

  1. Burnout, baby, burnout! | Cafe Catalina

    […] goals and reasons why I have to do this. For example, world domination. And I mentioned some opportunities that have opened up because I can speak […]

Leave A Comment

Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.