The Course on Duolingo...

How can I truly get into the Hungarian course on Duolingo? I'm already at ease with the sound and rhythm of the language, and I'd really like to study it thoroughly, practically as well as academically, at some point in the future.

The problem is that I've tried several times now to get into the course here, but to no avail. I simply cannot catch on to the course's obvious logic and structure. I often lose motivation because the lessons are long, but more so because I am mostly winging and guessing answers (getting most of them incorrect), despite having read through the notes and tips.

Could someone please help me out?

July 9, 2017


Hello Merrowmic,

the problem of this course is, that its editors tried to find a very special way to build it up.

The result was something half-baked (or not even half!) which went public one year before and has already caused a lot of discussion threads here and a lot of threads of uncertainty for nearly each of the learning examples.

A very big problem are too much of too long sentences combined with the fact, that not all the possible correct solutions are part of the Duolingo database - topped with some faulty english formulations. You really have to guess or keep in mind, which solution must be taken. OK, there have been done already a lot of improvements. But run-on sentences, often twisted by relative clauses, can be found yet in the starter lessons - which are absolutely out of place there!

Another example are all those english sentences with "you". Because hungarian makes a difference between 2nd person singular, 2nd person plural, and formal-you in singular and formal-you in plural. So there are nearly always four possibilities to translate it corect into Hungarian, if there is no clear statement in a sentence, that for instance only one person is meant. But only a few exercizing sentences have been "updated" so far.

For example:

Are you going to the cinema?:

Moziba mész? / Moziba mentek? / Moziba megy? / Moziba mennek?

And adding the personal pronoun is also correct:

Te moziba mész? / Ti moziba mentek? / Ön moziba megy? / Önök moziba mennek?

And finally changing the focus from the cinema onto the subject you also get correct sentences:

Te mész moziba? / Ti mentek moziba? / Ön megy moziba? / Önök mennek moziba?

Leaving out the personal pronouns is also correct:

Mész moziba? / Mentek moziba? / Megy moziba? / Mennek moziba?

So you see, you allready have 16 correct solution!

And they become 32 by adding the definite article:

A moziba mész? / A moziba mentek? / A moziba megy? / A moziba mennek? and so on...

The definite article points out, that a certain cinema is meant, while without the article just any cinema can be meant.

But the english sentence: "Are you going to the cinema?" does not give any precise context information about this fact. So all of those 32 possible sentences are correct.

This problem is known since the course started one year ago. And the contributors were flooded by reports and it lasted months till they have been worked off. And in their last comunique about the status of the course they were happy some weeks ago, when the number of reports went down onto a level, where they could hope for leaving Beta phase. I really ask myself, if they are daydreaming?

July 10, 2017

Thank you for this very insightful response.

First of all, I want to say that the Hungarian language has grown on me, and that I have the full intention of studying it to an intermediate degree in future.

I really relate to the concept that your examples illustrate. I somehow managed to get as far as lesson one of the Accusative 1 skill, but in all honesty, I haven't actually been able to retain the knowledge gained or even to really make sense of it all in general.

In my personal opinion, I think that the course here puts the learner in too much of an advanced set-up, despite me being able to see their logic behind it. A lot of the time, it feels more like I'm in an A2 class for Hungarian, where I'm expected to already know certain linguistic aspects of the language.

The tips and notes are great, but the amount of odd vocabulary and the length and complexity of the sentences create a strange sort of dichotomy instead of a fluid harmony.

From the first skill I was already slightly overwhelmed. I don't mind learning a lot of vocabulary but not when I have literally just begun to learn a language.

Coming back to your examples, what you said about the pronouns is very true. I experienced a(-n) (un-)fair amount of frustration due to getting answers incorrect, as they were sometime so long and complex that I'd gotten lost along somewhere. And a pronoun missed, or an alternate one provided often led to my answer being marked incorrect. Then I had to suffer the same sentence several times, because I am not going to copy the answer and then paste it in when the sentence comes up again. I'd only be cheating myself that way.

So I think it would be best if I learnt some basic Hungarian grammar and vocabulary elsewhere first, then come back and reattempt the Duolingo course. Who knows, perhaps I will eventually learn much more from the course and spare myself a lot of frustration that way.

July 10, 2017

Just hang in there. I started Hungarian last August and noticed recently that the lessons were notably simpler and easier. It's probably not for everyone, but I write down all the sentences and translations. At 52, my brain is not very sponge-like! I still struggle with the very odd English translations. I don't hesitate to report problems in the hope that it will help someone else.

July 12, 2017

Yes "Patsy" to write the sentences down is good advice, and it's the only way I have managed to get as far in this course as I have. Another thing I would recommend to anyone who is serious about learning Hungarian is to try the reverse course "English for Hungarians" it really is not as difficult as it sounds, and the course seems far better structured with sentences that you would use in everyday life, but again the secret is to write the sentences down!

July 14, 2017

Yes Andera "daydreaming" is correct. Reading the last progress report I got the impression that the contributors are desperate to get out of Beta, but I personally think that at the rate this course is progressing (and the reworking of the course that needs doing) they are still two years away at least

July 14, 2017

The course is pretty terrible... I spoke hungarian fluently/regularly until about 5 years ago (thought this would be a fun way to brush up!) and I know all of this stuff and I'm having trouble getting through it as well

Hopefully soon some of these major issues that other people have already pointed out can get fixed

July 13, 2017

Me too -- I speak Hungarian fluently, but since my (Hungarian) husband and I live in the States, I thought I could keep up with reading and grammar with Duolinguo, but I cannot even test out of the basic levels because I used "kocsi" instead of "auto," translated "nagy" as "large" and not "big," and...the worst one... used "felett" when they accept only "folott."

July 17, 2017

I've done all of those exact same things as well! So frustrating

July 17, 2017

Review and reinforcing: hundreds of XP per skill before moving on. It will come. My normal strategy is to do each lesson in a skill two or three times (at which point it's beginning to get automatic) and then head to timed practice. I also intersperse with the app, something I find worthwhile essentially only for Hungarian out of all my trees. But I definitely start new skills on the web and only attempt the app when already somewhat familiar.

July 10, 2017

I love the course. It is a very welcome change from the ridiculous short sentences in the Welsh course that takes ages to teach very little. But perhaps having done Turkish first helped. You could always finish that one first. It has long sentences too but has had more time to accept alternative translations for them. The grammar is very similar.

July 14, 2017

Thank you for the excellent suggestion! I was getting familiar with Turkish here on Duolingo, and I quite liked the course too. I am interested in learning more Turkish in future as well, so I think I will give your advice a shot. Perhaps it would even facilitate my learning of Hungarian too.

July 14, 2017
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