General Hungarian Course Feedback

  • 371

I was thrilled to see that Hungarian is an option now on DuoLingo, and so I hope this feedback is helpful to improving the course and not seen just as criticism.

I lived in Hungary for a few years and so I'm not starting the language from scratch. But I have to say that I don't enjoy this course as much as the other languages I'm working through. There are several issues I'd like to mention.

The first issue is the sentence length. Sometimes the sentence length is almost laughably long. I realize you can fit a lot into a Hungarian sentence, but it's a lot to remember, not to mention to type —especially in a timed practice, which I've completely given up on attempting anymore. I can only compare this to the other languages I've done, and even in the languages where I've completed the entire tree, the sentences are not so long. I can only imagine how a beginning student of Hungarian would feel encountering some of these sentences.

The other issue is that within a lesson there is no flexibility. That is, if I miss something, I'm sure to encounter it again before the lesson is over, and it will come back again and again until I get it right. I suppose this is a good thing in the long run, but psychologically it's very frustrating and makes doing the lessons not very much fun. The other languages seem a bit more forgiving. I will encounter more than once the sentences I've missed, but not necessarily within the same practice set. Sometimes there's another sentence that is obviously working on the same grammatical point, but it's a variation. For me, it makes a big difference.

The other issues are ones that I think will be corrected as the beta version is tested more and more. One is that a lot of the English translations are not accepted. For example, "kids" was not accepted in place of "children." "Next to" and "beside" were not interchangeable as they are in English. Things like that.

More seriously, there is the problem of awkward English translations. Many times the differences in the way things are said in Hungarian and in English are not taken into account. For example, I would never say in English that people are playing "on" a tree. When I come across these sentences in Hungarian, I sometimes can't tell if that's the usual way to convey climbing in a tree, or if it's equally awkward in Hungarian as it is in English.

I hope this feedback makes sense. And as I said, I don't mean to criticize or sound harsh. But I do want learning Hungarian in DuoLingo to be as positive and enjoyable as I've found the other languages to be. It's so great that Hungarian is offered. It is such a cool language!

September 29, 2016


"For example, I would never say in English that people are playing "on" a tree. When I come across these sentences in Hungarian, I sometimes can't tell if that's the usual way to convey climbing in a tree, or if it's equally awkward in Hungarian as it is in English."

This has been my main issue with the course, too, especially when an awkward-sounding English sentence is the "main" (or suggested) correct answer. It not only makes me wonder about the Hungarian - like you - but it actually makes me start to doubt my English... I'm a native speaker, lol. I wouldn't call it a major problem, but it is pretty annoying.

And I hear you on the sentence length! Although I don't have a problem with the actual length of the sentences, it's a bit confusing that "complex" sentences (ie long-ish ones with several commas) are introduced so early, and the relative lack of alternate translations accepted makes it a pain more than anything. I'm hoping that once the course is out of beta, and has a more complete set of accepted answers, the longer sentences will be a lot less annoying.

September 29, 2016

Oh man, agree with you 100%. Although I should note that most of these problems are clustered in the particularly difficult middle of the course that I call "the Grinder". These problems need to be addressed, but most of them are confined to relatively minor amount of the course. I think that once you're past the Grinder - the three Directional Preposition lessons in a row mark its end - I think it's smooth sailing and once again fun to learn Hungarian.

Just for context for non-learners, if any are reading - this is the kind of sentence length we're sometimes faced with as Hungarian learners:

Sok különböző helyen dolgoznak takarítónők: mozikban, iskolákban, egyetemeken és börtönökben is.

Have fun doing that as a listening activity! It also takes up a full four lines on a "Pick All Correct Translations" activities.

September 29, 2016
  • 371

Thanks for the heads up on the three Directional Preposition lessons marking the end of the Grinder section. That's exactly where I am, and you've given me the motivation to plow on through to the other side in hopes of happier days ahead. :)

September 30, 2016

Me too. I felt so stuck there with no advance preparation as there is for other sections.

November 15, 2017

What I'd like to add is that I think the problem isn't really that the sentences are too long, but that the lengths aren't justified. "Különböző" doesn't add anything, & you don't need more than two locations, either. If you got "mozikban" right, you can probably conjgate "börtön" properly too.

September 30, 2016

I agree with your assessment. I'm about halfway through the course, and it has been a struggle. However, I think a lot of these issues will be fixed as the beta progresses. The most frustrating things are translations that are awkward or improper English, and not accepting multiple valid translations, which I think are gradually being improved as people report them.

Excessively long sentences exacerbate this. It's really demoralizing to spend the time translating a particularly long sentence, get everything correct, but fail the question because I translated 'kicsi' as 'small' instead of 'little.'

October 1, 2016


October 9, 2016

I'm hitting some Hungarian "beta" issues as well, especially the need to "remember mistakes" rather than "learning the logic". I have made a general request for an "override" feature which would make learning from beta courses much more enjoyable :

October 1, 2016

+1 on the long sentences ruining timed practice!

October 1, 2016

I totally agree with this - there is no reason to have such lengthy sentences especially for people new to the language and gradually developing their ability. It is massively demoralizing and frustrating when you are trying to learn something new and it's go way too many subjects objects and adjectives in it. At least until, the user is much more experienced, have them learn simple sentences first, before geetting onto complex things!

October 8, 2016

So many helpful and constructive comments, already 1 year old, but the course is still in the same shape. I have the feeling that the contributors have no intention to turn Duo Hungarian into an enjoyable course. The "grinder" still grinds along happily... and I do not think it ends after the locational exercises. I am doing pronouns right now, still in the "grinder". I know everything about flying kindergarten teachers, but have not learned the past tense yet. Oh man!

March 12, 2018

It has become better in the last year but it seems to be a gradual thing over topics! Like, the earlier ones have shorter better-constructed sentences but yeah, there is still a lot of grinding!

I started on this back in August of 2016 and I do about 30mins a day- I'm still nowhere near proficient but I can definitely understand more Hungarian and I've seen improvements to it since when I last commented above!

All that being still has a decent way to go!

March 12, 2018

[deactivated user]

    I have only been doing the Hungarian course a short while so far in preperation for a trip there. However I find the choice of words used to build vocabulary very annoying. I need "tourist" words related to travel, shopping, eating etc. I would have thought these would have been a natural choice for adults first words. Also many practice sentences are borderline nonsense with no context.

    March 5, 2017

    I agree somewhat on "no context" with some sentences. May I suggest taking with you "Beginners Hungarian Dictionary" by Usborne, if you buy it used can purchase Amazon for few dollars. I am lifelong Hungarian speaker born in Cleveland, but I am learning some new words that excites me. Have traveled to Hungary about 8x.

    March 5, 2017

    Arriving at the very end of the Duo tree, I feel more and more frustrated by the number of twisted sentences that interfere with the learning process. The examples are badly chosen (sentences that need context to be understood, in the Duo App which is based on out of context sentences...!!). Bad English translations, many mistakes.

    I am really glad that course exist but it is stuck in its actual form since a very long while now and I can't get why it seems to be so complicated to find native speaking Hungarians working as English translators, linguists or teachers that could help improving the course.

    At a point, when you see that many people are actually following the course (so it is a success and there is a need for it), and if you know that it is poorly done ==> don't you feel like improving it?? Why starting something to give up in the middle (bêta)?!

    February 10, 2019

    I would like to see the percentage of how proficient I am in Hungarian. I have been speaking all my life but still learning new words, but as I can see in German for example, I am 47% proficient and it grows weekly, giving me confidence to continue. Please consider adding this feature.

    November 15, 2017
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