Comparison: Hungarian vs French course on Duolingo

Hi all,

I would like to share with you my thoughts on the Hungarian course and contrast it to other courses, for example French.

I have studied Hungarian on my own 15 years ago. I absolutely love Hungarian culture, language, history and art. Everything for me started with Omega band and the desire to understand what they are singing about. I have been to Hungary twice and have had pen pals. My level was pre-intermediate/intermediate.

15 years down the line, I decided to refresh my knowledge and start again using the modern tools, i.e. Duolingo which I already used to study French. Well, I have to say the Hungarian course is EXTREMELY difficult even though I had already studied it previously. Starting from BASICS 1 and 2, the tips don't give enough useful information. It's too much too fast or without enough tips or practice. I am disappointed. Also it has been in BETA for at least 2 years now. The mobile version does NOT support any tips, so it's even harder, if not impossible, to study while commuting (this is my prime language study time).

In comparison, I have started learning French on Duolingo from scratch. I had no clue about the language, culture and so on. The course is structured nicely, with easy and logical progression (actually they dumbed down this year's version which is an overkill). In addition, it is updated with more and more tips and topics every year. I realise a lot more contributors and learners support the French course, but it's useful to see actual evidence of a course being maintained - French now has Stories and Podcasts too (something I envied the Spanish course for a long time!).

Now, using the same platform I am fluent in French but not in Hungarian. Therefore, I can only recommend the Hungarian course here as an additional practice tool for intermediate students, but don't expect to learn all the basics here.

That said, thank you to all the dedicated contributors on both courses. I do appreciate your hard work. My post is not meant to blame or complain, just trying to objectively review and give some "hopefully" useful feedback.

Thanks for reading! :)

August 17, 2019


I agree with you! I recently started the Hungarian course, and I was surprised to see how difficult it is. I am aware it's not an easy language to begin with but this is just overwhelming. The "basics" aren't basic at all. It's really a shame because you aren't the first person I've seen complain about it, and I'm sure it can be very off-putting to potential learners. Let's hope they rework it as they did with some other trees!

August 17, 2019

Amen! :)

Yes, indeed Basics not Basic at all, and as mentioned I am not completely new to this language. I just want to be able to maintain my level. Currently it's not possible here.

August 17, 2019

Maybe the "basics" were a bit difficult to grasp at first, but it didn't seem overwhelming. A certain amount of rote memorization seems inevitable. Hungarian (from English) is my first Duolingo language and so far I've been impressed with how clearly the organizers structured the course. Some of the English is awkward and it's not clear exactly what is meant, but with enough examples, and especially by consulting the discussions, things usually become clearer. The discussions often have excellent explanations that break out distinctions that were not in the tips. I agree that the tips themselves are a bit thin. I use the desktop version most of the time, and perhaps the phone version is more difficult to learn from. Also, I didn't have any background in Hungarian before starting Duolingo, so maybe that has something to do with the difference between your experience and mine. I sometimes consult for additional help, but that tends to make me discouraged since I see how much stuff I haven't yet been introduced to. All in all I think this Hungarian course is pretty good, but I have nothing to compare it to (that is, other Duolingo languages or other Hungarian courses elsewhere).

August 17, 2019

I read that they are revisioning the whole course, and it will be less pedantic and more enjoyable!

August 17, 2019
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Yes, we are making a new version, see the discussion here:

However, I cannot say that it will be perfect and solve all the problems. More likely it will be a mix of new and old skills.

August 18, 2019

Hi - I did not know that. Good to hear! Hopefully they will take on-board all the existing feedback.

August 17, 2019

yes, they are working here on an other "hungarian teaching method" because this one - here in duolingo - you never learn hungarian. Some of us complained that the sentences are very long and complicated, and there is no sense to translate long-long sentences at the very beginning. Nevertherless hungarian is really difficult, but it worth while to lear, but not with this method.

August 17, 2019

There are some frustrating skills in DL - but comparing it to French is unfair. English and French share a lot of vocab, sentence structure, and worldview - Hungarian does not. Even with a teacher it is very hard.

And incidentally, Hungarian sentences are much longer than English ones.

August 19, 2019

I have been using the iOS app to do most of my learning, some times it has been very frustrating, especially Dir Con 1, 2 & 3 :) I have tried to write down as many sentences as possible, mainly for future reference but it also helps when you are trying to reach level 5 because there is more free typing in the harder levels. I do not have any other languages to compare it to either but I did have a very basic understanding before I started the course, thanks to previous visits to Budapest where I made friends and I had Hungarian neighbours for a while too. Apart from the sometimes very long and odd sentences, the only other thing I find a little frustrating is sometimes the word order in the sentence changes when you get to a higher level in a lesson (you get marked wrong for putting in the sentence you were told in the lower levels).

Overall I have and still am really enjoying the course, I am nearly at the end now but will not stop using DL on a daily basis!

August 17, 2019

hmm, interesting. I'd never studied Hungarian at all, am now on day 260, and have found Duolingo's Hungarian course to be great! Hungarian is a very different kind of language than French (which is relatively similar to English), so it's going to be a challenge, but I have to say I am incredibly impressed with the Hungarian course. The tips are helpful, and I also find the structure of the course to be good. Especially given that this is a free resource, I'm more than happy with it.

My one suggestion -- and I haven't really gone that far in any other Duolingo courses other than Turkish, which I had studied before -- is to work in more day-to-day kinds of vocabulary. It's great that I can say The Dutch tourist is running alongside the Japanese, but it would also be nice to be able to say basic things that would be needed if I happened to visit Budapest.

August 27, 2019

What is your native tongue? Judging by your English you could be a native speaker of English, but even if you are not, you already speak it well. Thus learning French vs Hungarian will definitely be a lot easier, because the structure and vocabulary of the two languages is much much closer.

September 3, 2019
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