Looking back at 2016: 13 reasons we loved last year

No. 1: We had the opportunity to continue working with so many amazing people. We learn something from each and every person and have a huge amount of respect for everyone who decides to learn this weird and wonderful language.

No. 2: Having successfully passed their Simplified Naturalisation interviews, a few of our learners became Hungarian citizens. Congratulations to Elena, Joe, Hunter and Brian – we know how incredibly hard you have all worked so you totally deserve this.

No. 3: We had quite a few people who passed their citizenship interviews this year. Now we can’t wait to hear about the positive outcome of the application process and hope they will get invited to an oath ceremony soon.

No. 4: During the summer, Renata spent two weeks in Pécs, attending the University’s training course for teachers. This fantastic course was delivered by Szilvia Szita and Kata Pelcz, authors of the MagyarOK book series and we very much think these are the best books currently on the market and the course itself was very informative and inspirational.

No. 5: We continued translating your important documents. Amongst others, we translated all sorts of certificates (birth-, marriage- and death certificates and also divorce decrees), contracts and personal letters. We very much enjoy the thorough work every translation needs and hope to translate more of these documents in 2017. Every single document is worked on by two people: one translating and the other one proofreading the translation. We have our own stamp and each translation we provide is a certified translation accepted by Consulates around the world.

No. 6: We continued to deliver English lessons and started preparing people for the Life in the UK test. Passing this test is needed in order to apply for British Citizenship. Both of us being dual British-Hungarian citizens, we very much believe dual citizenship is useful and important for every Hungarian living in the UK and this is even more the case now the UK has voted for Brexit.

No. 7: We found ourselves branching out in new directions, since several of our students asked us to provide them instruction and advice on how to write official letters in Hungarian, and also to help them prepare for the oath ceremony, so that they would be able to take part in this special event feeling confident and proud, which they did!

No. 8: There were several occasions last year when we were able to be of assistance to our learners in situations that were important for them.  For example, Julia helped Wissam order a traditional Hungarian costume for his lovely daughter, who as part of a school project introduced Hungary as her favourite country. We were delighted when Wissam shared photos of his little girl at the ’Hungarian stand’ she had set up, complete with a real Hungarian flag – handmade in Hungary! – and lángos for the hungry visitors – I wonder who made the lángos!

No. 9: Shade stayed some days in Budapest, but he was also determined to travel to the small country town where his great grandparents had lived before they emigrated to America in the late 1890s. Julia was very worried when Shade contacted her, asking about the cost of a taxi from Budapest to Parád – there was no way she would let him spend that much! – and she managed to put him in contact with a ridesharing website, and he was able to organise his trip himself, although he is only a beginner in Hungarian. At the end of his day trip, Shade did the 2-hour journey back to Budapest on the bus, opting to experience real, everyday life in Hungary. His driver only knew a few words in English in typing, and almost none in speech, yet Shade was able to meet at the department store near his room on Rakóczi út at the right time. The driver left him off in Gyöngyös, and Shade found a bus from there. The bus driver forgot to tell him when they got to Parád, but Shade saw a building with “Parád” on the side and jumped up in time. Julia was very proud of him, and she smiled when he wrote, “Not many people speak English outside Budapest, do they?”

No. 10: In 2016 lovely people who have made Hungary their home have continued and have begun learning with us. It is so refreshing to hear how positively they feel about Hungary, and how they appreciate the country, her people and Hungarian culture. Surely, such positive thoughts and energy help to make the world a better place.

No. 11: In October, our learner Bill and his wife Ágnes travelled down by train from their home in Budapest to spend the day with Julia and her husband.  They visited János’s apiary (bee yard) and had a very entertaining bilingual morning there.  It was such a pleasure for them to meet in person – icing on the cake of a friendship that has flourished during the months of Hungarian language learning on Skype.

No. 12: We started translating documents for bilingual weddings back in 2014, and since then, each year we were approached by people requesting assistance with their wedding.
In 2014 we had the privilege to assist with Jono’s and Erica’s wedding, in 2015 Chris’s and Csilla’s and Zsolti’s and Tania’s fantastic weddings took place and in 2016 it was Giannis’s and Kinga’s turn. We do realise that a wedding is one of the most important events in every couple’s life and although our share was just a small part in the success of these days, we felt we had a huge responsibility in making these weddings the special occasions they deserved to be.
For some of these weddings, we provided our translation service and translated the texts of the legal ceremonies, the blessings, the families’ speeches, best man speeches and most importantly, the vows themselves. Some other weddings, we also went in person, and provided in-person interpreting services to make sure the two families were able to talk to each other and that there were no communication barriers on these very important days.
Now we are wondering: who will get married in 2017? If it’s You, and would like our linguistic assistance for your big day, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and have a chat with Renata about how we could help you.

No. 13: To close the year in a celebratory fashion, at the end of November we went with our London learners to the Hungarian restaurant The Rosemary for a Hungarian meal. The food was of course delicious, it was a great opportunity for our learners to get to know each other, and chat about their experience of learning Hungarian. When ordering their food, as part of experiential learning, our learners were able to use their Hungarian in an authentic communicational situation. We are currently in the process of organising our next dinner together to which hopefully Julia will also come over from Hungary to join us!

Many thanks to Wissam, Bill and Shade for sending us their photos and allowing us to use them for this article.





Going on holiday to Hungary? Let’s practise your Hungarian!

The title may sound a bit strange, but I know how easy it is to go on a holiday and NOT use the language you have been learning. It had happened to me before: I went to Germany to attend a professional development course and because my German is a bit rusty, I opened my mouth and English words came out. So in the end I decided I would take it easy and just speak English. Then I came back to London and was extremely frustrated and annoyed with myself: I had an opportunity to practise my German and didn’t take it.
So if you are planning a trip to Hungary and have been taking lessons please read on to find out what challenges you will face, how you can overcome these and find more opportunities to practise your Hungarian.

Around three weeks ago, two of our learners (an amazing couple) went to Hungary. I put together some unusual homework for the trip to inspire them to learn as much Hungarian as they can whilst in Budapest. Then I posted this in our FB group ‘Hungry for Hungarian’ and a few lovely people also added their two cents. Here is our advice:

1. It will be tempting to use your English: many people in Hungary speak great English and as soon as they hear you have an English accent (or any accent for that matter) they will try to talk to you in English. But make sure you stick to your gun – think of it as a free lesson, you are there to practise your Hungarian so do SPEAK HUNGARIAN. You could do what one of our learners, Brian did and just tell people: ’Nem beszélek angolul. Beszél japánul?’ (Or whatever rare language you may speak as a native or a second language.) Chances are the person won’t turn around and start talking to you in Japanese, Vietnamese or Urdu.
Brian says: ‘I lived through this and spoke at length. a) If it is a young Hungarian (aged between 20-40) they usually speak very well in English but not in German or Russian. b) If they are late 50s or 60s+, they don’t usually speak English but do speak some German or Russian. (I actually loved this part as I speak German and Russian and it made for a very nice conversation.) I learned so much from the lovely elderly at the Rudas Gyógyfürdő , after classes three times a week. One day a few months ago during my studies, a very nice elderly gentlemen who only spoke German wanted to know how to get to the Buda side from Pest, the 20s something lady at the pékség could not understand and so I stepped in and said to the elderly man in German, let me help you. I directed him to the Buda side via the villamos and the sweet girl in the bakery started speaking English and I said sorry but can we only communicate in Hungarian. She agreed and thanked me with Csöröge like my nagymama used to make. So just ask nicely and state you don’t speak English (in magyarul) of course.
2. Go into a bookshop and buy a book, magazine or DVD entirely in Hungarian. Write down five words the shop assistant used and you recognised and understood them. (If you want to you could record the conversation on your mobile phone and listen and take notes later.)
3. In a restaurant, study the menu. Write down the name of three dishes that you like, find intriguing or would like to look up in Google pictures or perhaps try next time.
Also write down and learn the name of the dish you chose to eat and underline the words here that could go with this dish: finom, szörnyű, fantasztikus, olcsó, drága, hús, vegetáriánus, zsíros, leves, zöldség, tészta, krumpli
Of course, don’t forget to order in Hungarian!
4. Go the a market hall (called Nagycsarnok, or Fővám téri központi vásárcsarnok: https://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%B6zponti_V%C3%A1s%C3%A1rcsarnok) or any shop (which is not a self-service supermarket) and buy some fruit, vegetables or anything you need in Hungarian.

By Thaler Tamas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Thaler Tamas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ask and take a note of how much these things cost:
egy fej saláta: ……. forint
egy kiló krumpli: ……. forint
egy kiló alma: …… forint
egy kiló kenyér: …….. forint
egy liter tej: …….. forint
egy tejföl: ……. forint
If the person behind the counter has the time and is willing to chat with you, try to strike up a conversation, you could tell them you are learning Hungarian and ask what food they recommend you should try or which place to go.
5. Go to a movie and watch a Hungarian film. Or watch an English language film you’ve seen a few times so you will understand the Hungarian spoken. Write down the title of the film and a few words you want
to look up in a dictionary.
6. Go to one of the spas (eg. http://www.szechenyifurdo.hu/, http://en.rudasfurdo.hu/ or http://www.gellertbath.com/) and try to talk to the locals like Brian did.

By Roberto Ventre (Flickr: Gellért Gyogyfurdo - Budapest) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Roberto Ventre (Flickr: Gellért Gyogyfurdo – Budapest) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

7. Spend the afternoon learning how to cook a Hungarian dish (if you google ’főzőiskola’ you will find a few). If you are around A2 level you could go to a Hungarian cooking class and improve your Hungarian as well as your culinary skills.
8. Angel says: ‘As I walked in my small village and Budapest, I wrote everything I didn’t understand. Business signs were good–doctor’s offices, pharmacies, gyms, signs on buses and metro, then I challenged myself to remember next time I walked. Museums usually have info for exhibits in magyarul and angolul – if I really loved something, I copied the magyarul, then the memory of that visit became sweeter. Oh, and I practiced my pronunciation with the announcements on the metro. It was important to be able to read ingredients on labels. Speaking of cost–try catching the total of anything you buy, without looking at the receipt they hand you or the register–quite a challenge for me.’
9. My colleague Julia has a
lso added her two cents: Sit in a coffeehouse or outside one and listen to Hungarians speaking. How much do you understand? What familiar phrases do you hear? What do you notice about the intonation and pace of speaking? In a coffeehouse you can easily make notes without being conspicuous. A very special Hungarian coffeehouse is the New York Kávéház. (http://www.newyorkcafe.hu/new-york-kavehaz.html)

By Andreas Poeschek, fotografikus.hu - Andreas Poeschek, fotografikus.hu, CC BY-SA 2.0 at, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1593562

By Andreas Poeschek, fotografikus.hu – Andreas Poeschek, fotografikus.hu, CC BY-SA 2.0 at, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1593562

Over the past 120 years since its opening it has been a renowned centre for literature and history in the making, and has become known as the World’s Most Beautiful Coffeehouse!

10. Most importantly, enjoy Hungary! Please share any tips and comments with us below. Many thanks!



Thank you so much to Angel, Brian and my amazing colleague Julia for their valuable tips.








Do schools kill creativity?

Do schools kill creativityThe other day I watched a video on YouTube dealing with the education system and the influence it has on natural human creativity. The video was of the 20-minute talk given at the end of a conference by Sir Ken Robinson. He raised some interesting points, and gave a very graphic explanation of how the aim of most schools is to train and programme children to meet academic requirements. Gradually, the creative instincts of children die because they are not nurtured, and individuals who are artistic rather than academic eventually believe they are inferior to those who are good at maths and science.
It is strange how great a shift takes place when children go to elementary school. In Hungary children start ‘real’ school at the age of six or perhaps seven. Until then, during the years they attend nursery school, their days are filled with play, fairy and folk stories, music and children’s rhymes, painting and drawing. Children are encouraged to be creative; at least, they are exposed to many things that provide an outlet for their creativity. Then, when children leave nursery school and begin their first year at elementary or primary school, they are suddenly faced with new demands. They must learn to conform to standard requirements. Children must practise until they are able to form letters that precisely match those the teacher has inscribed on the board, and a picture that is an expression of a child’s most creative thoughts is pigeonholed according to a number (mark) the teacher scribbles at the bottom of the drawing.
And yet, creativity is said to be an important aspect of intelligence. Most modern IQ tests include sections that measure creativity, because we now realise that human intelligence is not purely a mental thing, but is also emotional and creative. Why is it, then, that so much emphasis is placed on the sciences, and that mathematics is still at the top of subject hierarchy? One reason is that parents encourage their children to study and do well in subjects that will help them find employment. Hardly anyone would agree that studying art or acting was the sure way to a successful career. Likewise, very few writers can boast of being financially secure. If so, it has taken them years to make themselves a name.

Most schools feel obliged to offer a curriculum in line with society’s expectations; indeed, there are certain governmental stipulations that regulate what is taught in schools, and even the methods that can be used.
However, there are schools that diverge from generally accepted content and methodology in order to allow children to develop their abilities and natural creativity. These include the Waldorf and Montessori schools, which are not mainstream, but are still the choice of thousands of parents all over the world, who want their children to have an education that nurtures creativity and allows children to develop their natural talents and abilities. The existence of such schools shows that there is still hope for human creativity.

At Hungarian Language Solutions we try using this natural creativity during our lessons and help you reconnect with your inner creative self. We watch you very closely to see which are the areas you enjoy and where you feel most creative. This is very important, as this happens to be the same place where you can achieve the creative state called the ‘Flow’ (for more information on this please read our article)
Our aim is to keep you in this creative state and use it wisely, so we design exercises that help us do this. This way, hopefully, we don’t just teach Hungarian, but add something you enjoy, something extra that enhances your life!
What do you think? Do you find it easy to reconnect with your inner creative self? Do you find doing this helps when learning Hungarian?

Get in the mood for Easter – Learn a Hungarian Easter poem!

You might not know it looking out the window but spring has officially started!
On Monday we celebrate Easter, and on this day in Hungary men visit all of their women relatives, friends and colleagues. Friends in groups, fathers with their sons and single men leave early in the morning and their ‘tour’ sometimes lasts all day long. They greet girls and women with little poems and sprinkle them with cologne or water. The girls in turn treat them with hand-painted eggs and home-made cakes.
As a preparation for this, one of our learners has asked for a little Hungarian Easter poem to learn.
So Boys, if you would like to greet your Hungarian girlfriends with an Easter poem on Monday, you could learn the following:

Zöld erdőben jártam,
Kék ibolyát láttam.
El akart hervadni,
Szabad-e locsolni?




Have a listen to this little recording and perfect your pronunciation as well!

A very unusual present: Christmas Gift Vouchers for Hungarian Lessons

Christmas Gift Vouchers for Hungarian Lessons

A very unusual present: Christmas Gift Vouchers for Hungarian Lessons

Last week a gentleman contacted me asking how come Christmas vouchers are not available to buy on my website. It turns out his wife has been thinking about taking Hungarian lessons for a while but somehow never got round to actually starting it. So he realised this could be a very nice Christmas present (which just proves for us ladies how thoughtful our partners and husbands can be!) and asked me to prepare a voucher in his name.

The business side of my brain says it should have been me coming up with this idea but as it was not the case I thanked him for his suggestion and worked out the following scheme.

You can buy as many lessons as you would like but from 3 lessons upwards you get an extra lesson free. E.g.:

3 in-person or Skype lessons + 1 free lesson: GBP 60.00

4 in-person or Skype lessons + 1 free lesson: GBP 80.00

5 in-person or Skype lessons + 1 free lesson: GBP 100.00

The lessons are the usual high-quality, good-value for money lessons I deliver with well-designed and thorough lessonplans and useful follow-up vocab lists guiding our work.

If you would like to give the gift of a unique language or would prefer to keep this present for yourself you can contact me here saying how many lessons you would like to pay for and I will be in touch about payment methods and send you your pretty gift voucher.

Walking down the High Street yesterday I realised that shops are full of clutter and presents that will probably be returned soon after Christmas. I am confident that my Christmas gift vouchers will not fall into that category and will represent a meaningful present and actually add something extra to your loved one’s life.

Your questions about Hungarian citizenship answered

This has been an exceptionally busy autumn so far and I have received quite a few emails enquiring about the new Hungarian citizenship law and my experience helping people prepare for their Hungarian citizenship interviews. Although I replied to all emails I was also thinking it would be nice to compile the answers here hoping that they might be useful to others, too.

Recently I have been contacted by an American lady asking whether there is a test she needs to sit. The answer is: no, there is no test, but there is a short interview you need to pass. The purpose of the interview is to establish that you fulfil all four criteria mentioned in my previous post and to check your ability to communicate in Hungarian.

Someone else asked me whether he would be allowed to keep his current citizenship after taking up Hungarian citizenship. Of course I am no legal expert but my understanding is the following: Hungary allows dual citizenship but you need to check whether the country where you have your existing citizenship allows it also. If it does then there should be no problem and you will be able to hold both citizenships. (I am a British-Hungarian dual citizen myself: both Hungary and the UK allow dual citizenship, but please check your individual circumstances before applying for Hungarian  citizenship.)

A gentleman from Canada asked me how long in my experience it takes to become a Hungarian citizen. Well, in my experience it is quite a long process and I have heard the processing authorities are very busy. E.g. a couple of my learners applied for citizenship in July 2011 and had their interviews in Budapest in September 2011. Then it took the authorities quite a long time to process their documents and they finally had their citizenship ceremony in April 2012. Only at this point when they received their Certificate of Hungarian Citizenship were they able to apply for Hungarian passport.

I have also been asked how many lessons one needs to have in order to pass the interview. Unfortunately I can’t give a definite answer to this question: some people need more, some fewer lessons. This depends on many factors such as your ability to memorise foreign words, how much time you have to study on your own, etc. Also, some people are very confident with a limited amount of fluency (and good on them, there is nothing wrong with being confident!) and some need a bit more practice to feel confident.

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch – this happens to be an area I am reasonably knowledgeable in and extremely passionate about!

Also, if you are preparing for your Hungarian citizenship interview or learning Hungarian for yourself without applying for citizenship please join our Facebook group ‘Hungry for Hungarian’. Here we chat about Hungarian music, literature, traditions, citizenship and all things Hungarian. By clicking on this link our group should come up and if you click ‘Request to join’ I will be able to add you. Hope to see you soon!