Learning Hungarian - material, tips, organisation?

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Learning Hungarian - material, tips, organisation?

Postby SárgaFa » 2015-08-10, 15:37


I was living in Debrecen last year and even though I took up some free classes of Hungarian provided by the university I never really got a real grasp of the language, aside from the basics. Because I left the country and stopped having any contact with the language I had forgotten almost everything, until about 1 month and a half ago when I decided to begin learning the language again. I am aware the language is difficult, but I really like it and I also loved the country so I am extremely motivated to learn it properly this time.

So one month ago I decided to start following some websites to refresh what I had forgotten about the language and I am now following Zsuzsa Pontifex's "Teach Yourself Hungarian". I'd like to ask you guys what do you think about this book - if it presents the language in a clear way, and if you have any other suggestion of a better book for me to learn the language.
Also, since I still have no grammar, I would like to ask you which grammar would you advise me to follow. Preferably one that presents things in a systematic, accurate and complete way (i.e. showing exceptions, extras and examples) - even though some grammatical features may become complex I want to have the chance of learning them properly as I make progress on the language.

Lastly, I would only like to ask if you, experienced learners or native speakers, have any useful advice for a beginner learner of magyarul.

Nagyon köszönöm szépen!

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Re: Learning Hungarian - material, tips, organisation?

Postby Levike » 2015-08-10, 18:12


About learning material I cannot say anything. But whatever question you may have regarding the language, just post it somewhere here on the forum and I'll gladly answer.

One thing that helped me a lot while learning my languages was listening to songs together with subtitles, preferably in the original language. You look up all the words of the lyrics and eventually they are going to get stuck in your head. Songs usually have simple day-to-day words that are worth knowing.

Szivesen. :wink:
Nem egy nap alatt épült Buda vára.

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Lalaith en Noldor
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Re: Learning Hungarian - material, tips, organisation?

Postby Lalaith en Noldor » 2015-08-29, 23:09


I don't know if that book you're following is good or not, but I skimmed my pdf now, it seems similar to Colloquial Hungarian, which I used for a while when I started learning Hungarian. Books that I've been using are Hallo, itt Magyarország I and II, Lépésenként magyarul and Jó szórakozást magyarul - however, I guess they are better used when studying in class rather than on your own. As for the grammar, I most definitely recommend Hungarian: An Essential Grammar by Carol Rounds. I loved it and whatever other grammar I considered wasn't as good, at least for me.

Jó szórakozást magyarul! ;)
(hr) - native, (en) - proficient, (hu) - advanced, (pl)- dabbling in, (de) - love-hate relationship

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Re: Learning Hungarian - material, tips, organisation?

Postby Levo » 2015-10-08, 12:11

Welcome here, SárgaFa!

You can consider Lalaith en Noldor's words, because she speaks really good Hungarian, I met her :) She taught me the expression Krcanin) :)

I have just looked around in the bookstore of foreign languages, and they have some good books that teach Hungarian for foreigners. Most of the books are mentioned by Lalaith above.
I have never studied them thoroughly, so I cannot say an opinion now, although Unilang and Hungarian learners were always in my mind :)

Otherwise, I know how you feel. I have similar issues with most languages I start to learn.

All I know is that, in the case of learning other Finno-Ugrian languages (Finnish and Estonian), it was of great help to learn the different stems of the word right at the time you learn a new word. It made a lot of things way easier than if you hadn't done it on time.
Then you'll know the conjugated forms of each word at once. And no need to be afriad of the "each Hungarian word has 98793875639532 forms!!!" cliché.
A big advantage of Hungarian (within the borders of Hungary) is the lack of living dialects. The pronounciation has no difference in spoken and literary language. Actually we speak the same way as in the television, which is not the case with Norwegian, German, English, etc... Yes, there are some villages with palóc and whatever dialects, but the majority speaks standard Hungarian everywhere.
You can just choose a radio-channel or a movie and you'll get the same Hungarian that we use every day.

If you ever plan to come here, let us know and I could help you in the bookstore in Budapest.

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Re: Learning Hungarian - material, tips, organisation?

Postby chung » 2016-01-25, 19:59

Lalaith en Noldor's suggestions for books are good. TY Hungarian and Colloquial Hungarian (the editions by Rounds and Solyom) are definitely similar in coverage and whichever one you choose will come down to personal taste (I give a slight edge to TY over Colloquial here) while with Rounds' book on grammar there's no contest. It's damned good. Don't forget also to get a dictionary (a cheap(er) medium sized one edited by one of Éva Szabó, Tamás Magay or László Országh will be OK).

Once you complete TY Hungarian, I would recommend that you start then to make small efforts to incorporate native material. You can listen to Hungarian songs (plenty of these on YouTube) and follow the lyrics or read short comic strips (e.g. Dilbert, Garfield). If you're OK with practicing online, there're also e-magyarul 1 and e-magyarul 2 which are useful if you already know the bare basics in Hungarian and can read just enough to understand the instructions.

There's also the old material from FSI although you might find the Graded Reader a little bit more interesting than the actual 2-volume course.

Lastly there's also Hungarian in Hungary which is a set of short amateur videos demonstrating Hungarian in use as if you were a visitor in Hungary. You can use the transcripts to follow the short dialogues.

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