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Opinion about the course...

Important: This post is only intended for users who are either taking or have taken this course. And, contributor(s), of course.


Before I dwell into criticism and solicit the same from other users, I do want to thank the contributors for putting it together. It is greatly appreciated.

My main criticism is for the way sentences in English have been framed. At this point, I've probably reported a dozen or so sentences and I am only 118 lessons (36%) into the course. I believe one or two have already been accepted by the team, or that might have been from other courses, not sure...

I take no pleasure in saying this, but nearly every sentence is a near literal translation of the original sentence in Hungarian. Also, other sentences in English, which aren't literal, make little to no sense at all. This really ought to be cleaned up. Do you, other users, feel about the course this way, as well?

The other issue I found with the course is, consistency. Or, lack thereof. It is inconsistent in the sense that, most sentences require translation in both, English and Hungarian, and transliteration. Or, not all. Why is that? This particular critique is not so important, but it does play a role in the overall learning experience.

I appreciate all of your feedback and comments.

August 27, 2016



Does anybody know when the course will be out of beta mode? I have submitted so many corrections now I am starting to get very frustrated. Only two have been accepted and when I go back to repeat lessons I find the issues I had last time are still there. Someone said it in the comments - it feels like we are learning bad English, not good Hungarian, because the the phraseology and vocab is so restrictive. They still don't accept 'town' for 'város', only city. Or 'hill' for 'hegy', only 'mountain'. These are very simple adjustments, I can't really understand why they are not being picked up on?


Does anybody know when the course will be out of beta mode?

I believe there's a certain quality level required of courses before they come out of beta mode - expressed in terms of reports per 100 users. I think the level is something like "less than 3 reports per 100 users per day". The current status is around 20 reports per 100 users -- see the graph at https://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/hu/en/status and the status update "Another update" (currently the topmost one).

These are very simple adjustments, I can't really understand why they are not being picked up on?

I'm not privy to the internal workings of the team, but I would guess: because it takes time.

There are no salaried full-time developers maintaining the courses. This is all volunteers.

I believe it says when you sign up that you should expect to spend at least five hours a week on course maintenance (first creating sentences, then once the course is in beta, not only expanding but also processing reports and generally improving it), but it may be that some only have one hour a week, or no time at all. So things move slowly.

Teams may look as if they have five or eight or ten members, but often it may be the fact that many of them are semi-inactive at best, and contribute a bit here or there but not enough to make a noticeable dent.

Also, I don't know whether there is an easy, reliable way to make a global change of the kind you describe: "Anywhere that mountain is accepted for hegy, make sure that hill is accepted as well".

There is a "Bulk Edit" feature where you can create a request for a task to be run by Duolingo staff to do this sort of thing but I haven't used it and am not sure how well/reliably/quickly it works.

So it may come down to looking at each sentence individually -- you'd have to find them first. And there are thousands of sentences. And the incubator interface is not the quickest.

So I believe the task is not quite as simple as you are making it out to be. Well, simple maybe (as in "not complex"), but not easy.

In the end, I think the bottleneck may be volunteer manpower (and motivation).


Thanks for your reply.

It's not that I'm blaming the developers. I guess I was getting suspicious about whether the course was going to be kept running, as there seems to be so many issues with it right now. I've come here with a good understanding of Hungarian already and some of the things the game picks me up on just drives me mad and puts me off using it. It's probably in large part to me complaining about my answers that's holding the beta mode back. I play every day and I must submit at least 10 corrections.

I think I did believe there would naturally be 'bulk edit' feature as you put it for replacing, or adding in a secondary definition if necessary, so thanks for opening my eyes to the ins and outs of the operations behind it all.

Otherwise, I'm pretty pleased with the course. Certainly the voice for this course is waaayy better than others (i.e. Russian). So good job there.


You are not alone with your opinions about this course. I share every word of your article, I already posted some comments like yours, too. Additonal I have to say, that problems of consistency will be solved little by little. Going through the first lessons again now I see, that there are allready a lot of them well done: sentences in simple AND continuous form are accepted now, which was not the case at the first try about five or six weeks ago, and for instance "a sportoló" does not only have to be "the athlete" but also "the sportsman".

The problem of literal translation will be much more difficult to solve. There is someone, who thinks, that a sentence like "Elolvasom a könyvet." has to be translated with "I read away the book" to keep the consistency between those sentences and the diffeence to "Olvasom a konyvet."- which is absolutely rubbish :-) The sulotion of this can only be to accept sentences with and without the prefix as correct for "I read the book.". And to explain, that the meaning of the prefix is to be understood as a perfective mode.

Another big problem are those stupid sentence with those always flying kindergarten teachers. Some people are really convinced of the idea, its easier to learn a language by memorizing absurd situations. And they seem to be the majority at the key places for this course.

And finally you find a lot of run-on-sentences, mostly combined with subclauses - noone would ever speak this way, if he/she wants to be understood. This course is not for teaching officialese Hungarian. The longer a sentence become, the more possibilities of word order do appear. I don't need to explain, what it leads to.

And those last two problems finally will never be solved - I am affraid - because these sentences are not wrong at all.


To be fair, subclauses are the colloquial, not officialese way to solve run-on sentences. Compare:

Annak a könyvnek a címe, amit elolvastam, Nemo kapitány. "The title of the book I read is Captain Nemo." (Note: instead of amit, amelyet would be the right pronoun to use in less colloquial language.) - informal

Az általam elolvasott könyv címe Nemo kapitány. "The title of the book I read is Captain Nemo." (Literally: the by-me having-been-read book's title is Captain Nemo). - formal

You can see how longer subclauses can turn into crazy long adjectival phrases where the noun is at the very end, so you'll have to wait through the entire row of adjectives to even learn what the subject (or whatever role that noun plays in the sentence) is. So yeah, I disagree about subclauses making sentences hard to understand - or at least, not any harder than the corresponding English translation.


Thank you for the comment.

I did not argue about subclauses in general but in combination with run-on-sentences like this one: "Ezek a bogarak nem azok alól az ágyak alól jönnek ki, amelyikekben ti fekszetek, hanem a mögül a szekrény mögül, amelyikben sok ruha van."

And your example above:

(1)Annak a könyvnek a címe, amit elolvastam, Nemo kapitány.

(2)Az általam elolvasott könyv címe Nemo kapitány.

My alternative:

(3)Elolvastam egy könyvet: Némo kapitány a címe.

So long :-)


I doubt your alternative could fulfill the same role in a conversation as the first two sentences. Just imagine a teacher talking to a student:

"So tell us about the book you read." "I read a book! It's titled Captain Nemo."

Anyway, I think sentences with subclauses, even ridiculously long and ridiculously overcomplicated sentences are needed in a course. It basically instructs the learner to still be aware of marking the case/postposition twice (under those beds = azok alól az ágyak alól), while not making the sentence revolve exclusively around it, which would be too easy.

The problem lies rather in how the system doesn't accept a lot of correct alternatives. Regardless, I don't think the way to solve these tough-to-pass sentences is by removing them but by accepting all correct solutions. We'll just have to be patient and hope the course creators will manage to do that in a few decades, for future generations who'll want to learn Hungarian :)


: "Ezek a bogarak nem azok alól az ágyak alól jönnek ki, amelyikekben ti fekszetek, hanem a mögül a szekrény mögül, amelyikben sok ruha van."

This is a bit awkward sentence.

I will make it more simple. ' Ezek a bogarak nem az ágyatok alól jöttek ki, hanem a ruhásszekrényből. " Those bugs didn't come from under your beds, but from the wardrobe "


The book what i have red is the Captain Nemo. - A könyv, amit elolvastam az a Némo Kapitány.

"Olvasom a konyvet." I would rather say " Olvasok egy könyvet = I'm reading a book "

And why not " Flying birds = repülő madarak" instead of " Flying kindergarten teachers "

In this sentence they make more sense:

The kindergarten teachers take care of the children, while their parents are working - Az óvónők vigyáznak a gyerekekre, amíg a szüleik dolgoznak.


Dziękuję for your thoughts and information you share, Andreas.


My biggest gripe with the course at this point is that many of the sentences are fairly needlessly long: "The Korean boss is standing and shouting in front of the sad Japanese cooks" (or whatever it was). A chance to add a low-learning-value adjective rarely seems to have been not taken.

Now, this is good for vocab review. It's fine for lessons I'd say. The problem is that I find timed practice about the most useful way to get new highly unfamiliar vocabulary (i.e. almost all thereof in Hungarian) to stick in my brain. Apparently the time added to the clock does vary based on sentence length (7 seconds for "short"; 10 for "long" I saw in a couple threads from years ago - still the case?) but by nowhere near enough. And that's assuming you can get it right, which becomes a much, much dicier proposition. The Hungarian course easily has the longest sentences of any I've done - combined with the most unfamiliar word order. It was some very rough going to gain a foothold at the beginning of the tree, so an added benefit of dealing with this could be increased learner retention.

I don't apply this criticism as much to the sentences that are lengthy by virtue of containing relative clauses. That's valuable Hungarian grammar that just necessitates longer sentences (although I bet they could have been shorter than they are, which I would support). It's adding the grammatically uninteresting (after all they don't even decline!) attributive adjectives, extra independent clauses, and the like where the value gained seems to not match the increased difficulty of using all of Duo's built-in functionality.

  • 935

This is an old discussion thread, but maybe new posts will be read by the team? I took two years of Hungarian at university, lived in Hungary for three years, and am using Duolingo to keep the language fresh in my brain. Hungarian is one of five languages that I regularly practice on Duolingo.

While I'm very happy that Hungarian is offered on Duolingo, I have to say, it is the most frustrating of all the languages that I do here. As mentioned in this thread, there are often unnecessarily complicated sentences (extra vocabulary practice, I assume), and so many of the English sentences are awkward —I would never say some of these things when speaking English. It becomes a practice in memorizing the answer that Duolingo wants from me rather than in understanding or translating.

The biggest problem for me with the course is that it's not fun. It's too frustrating. I often quit the Hungarian lessons mid-way through and tell myself I'm just going to give up on the whole course. Then I see how few crowns I have in Hungarian —when I really should be closer to some of my other languages. I decide to try again, only to get discouraged and frustrated and give up.

I so wish that the Hungarian course were fun and doable— like the other Duolingo courses I use.


So, actually with an early childhood (to about age 7) background in Hungarian I sailed through the course except for the middle part. There were too many errors there, not just in English translation but also in the Hungarian. Sentences that no one would say.

I got a lot of help from other people here who helped me with questions about post positions and word order. They also recommended other good sites that would complement DUO.

Nothing is as good as conversation. I found a woman to talk to you on the telephone and I lost my shyness about making mistakes. She corrected me gently and offered other solutions for my mis-remembered grammar.

Why I came to do was to learn to write correctly and to increase my vocabulary. The first part was very successful. The second part not very much. I am starting to read and I’m Garian which is actually much harder than writing. But that’s what I would have done if I had been in elementary school in Hungary.

When I was in high school in the United States I was on the school newspaper and our teacher made us do daily vocabulary building exercises, crossword puzzles, learning about the roots of words like the brilliant spellers in the Scripps national spelling bee.

I may not get to that level in Hungarian but my goal now is to develop an adult vocabulary.

At the same time I need to freshen up my French and German and that is pretty easy here because those languages and Spanish are the best designed courses.

Been helping to make corrections and they are being accepted every week.

My advice: use the course for what it is and move on from here. Don’t give up!

Please visit me and clubs on the app. There is no one posting anything there except me. There are cartoons to caption, mashups of ideas using two pictures, questions to answer about what you like - some are super easy and you get experience points for answering!

It is an opportunity to have conversations in writing with other people who are taking the Hungarian course. After each posting there is a place for comments but no one answers. Please joun me and spread the word. It is only on the app, but free.


I've just quit for two months. Thinking of getting back now... but you nailed it when you said: " It becomes a practice in memorizing the answer that Duolingo wants from me..." The only way to get through some lessons. Learn Duolingo Hungarian. Enough flying kindergarten teachers... :)


Seems to have got better lately. Zsuzsi (and possibly others) have been hard at work adding additional valid translations.


I agree with the prevailing sentiment here. I have commented elsewhere that it looks like there is a deficit of competence in English on the team. It doesn't look like they even know how absurd some of the translations are. One response I got suggested that a native or high level English speaker just deal with and clean up the English. That person would not have to speak good Hungarian, but would have to be able to communicate with the team to get a sense of meaning in extreme cases of total gibberish. In this way, a large number of responses could be processed in a relatively short time with the least labor. I understand this is not a solution to the whole problem, but it might help with this piece of it.


I sent a message to one of the team members (the one who had the blue circle around his photo) volunteering to do just this. So far I haven't heard back, but I'm optimistic. I hope there won't be a bureaucratic problem due to the fact that I'm not bilingual. I am not asking to join the team, but merely to help them correct the English sentences.


I hope they respond. I have found this beta to have been prematurely released. The amount of time and effort I waste on these complications has made it not worth it for me so I have given it up. I will use the other resources freely available and might return after this thing is substantially cleaned up or out of beta.


I got an email yesterday from Duolingo saying that this course IS out of beta. A friend of mine who takes other courses got the same email.


guess it says the course is out IN beta, at least for me it still says beta on the page and looking at the status, it is at the start of beta rather than towards the end of it, not sure that has any real meaning though...


I checked, and it is still in beta, which, as I said, doesn't work for me so i quit.. Am now enrolled in nyelviskola Budapesten. I am happy and remain appreciative of all the help on these discussion boards.


I am going to Budapest in the fall and I will be living there for a while. I plan to enroll in a language school. Which nyelviskola are you attending? If you recommend it could you please post a link to it?


Re sentence length. I'm sorry to say Hungarian (written) sentences ARE very long (in the real world). I have started reading magazines - not academic tomes or intellectual essays just plain old women's magazines (that was what was easy to get hold of). ALL the sentences are long, convoluted and consist of multiple clauses. Two clauses would be short! I realize people here are beginners but being exposed to how Hungarian is written is not a bad idea.


I agree. Right now I am having trouble with postpositions and since the answers are not consistent I don’t know when my answers are wrong or if the Duo answers are mistaken. The same question comes up with one answer accepted this time and a different one another time. I


To sherm0. I am going to Budapest in the fall and I will be living there for a while. I plan to enroll in a language school. Which nyelviskola are you in?

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