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.

 

 

 

 

How to decide whether to learn Hungarian one-to-one, or in a group setting?

Well, there is no simple answer to this question, as basically your requirements, flexibility and the type of learner you are, all play an important part in your decision making process. I think you should take all the factors below into consideration before paying for a language course, or start taking individual lessons.

For an excellent look at this topic, please read Abroad Languages’ Group Courses vs. One-to-One: Which Will Help You Learn Languages Faster?

In this article learners are encouraged to carefully consider all pros and cons and decide on the course they think they will enjoy most.  ‘After all, if you are having fun, it will be easier to learn and improve your languages skills.’

Learning Hungarian in a group setting

Group lessons can be very interactive and interesting and my opinion is that in a group setting your Hungarian teacher/tutor will usually have lots of opportunities to deliver a fun lesson. With more learners there can also be interaction between the students as well as with the tutor.

Also, please do not underestimate the power of learning from other non-native speakers. Although this short article is about learning Hungarian, similar considerations apply to learning any language in a group setting.

In his well-researched and very informative article, ‘Foreign Language Study: A Language Learning System’, Jeff Blum says he attended a conversation club at a local bar whilst travelling in Latin America. Jeff found that it was very useful to notice the mistakes others made and reflect on whether or not he was making those same mistakes. Lots of research prove that reflection is a very important part of the learning process, so whether you attend a conversation club, or taking lessons in a group setting, reflecting on other learners’ mistakes and phrases used can be extremely useful.

Group courses are offered in various levels from beginner to advanced, and I think it is extremely important that when you are looking to start taking group lessons in Hungarian, you find a group where the level closely matches your existing level of Hungarian. If you are miles ahead of the rest of the learners in your group then inevitably you will be bored and wasting your time and money. If, however, you are a little bit behind the rest of the group, but you do have the time and dedication to study and work hard then this can actually turn out an advantage: a friendly group can provide an added incentive and ‘pulling power’ to individual learners who are lagging a little bit behind. On the other hand, you need to be careful that this gap between yourself and your classmates is not too big; if the gap is too big, then you might struggle keeping up with the group. If, for example, you are an intermediate learner of Hungarian who has previously studied Hungarian grammar explained in English only, then attending an advanced group where explanations are delivered in Hungarian might mean a lot of the explanation will go over your head.

Also, in a group your Hungarian teacher/tutor won’t always necessarily have the time to deal with your individual questions. Remember: the more people are in a group the least time each person can get.

One more thing to keep in mind is that if you are planning lots of holidays or are susceptible to catching every outbreak of flu then you might miss a lot of lessons; for of course the group won’t be waiting for you. Whilst if you are taking one-to-one lessons, then your Hungarian tutor will hopefully be understanding and won’t charge for any lessons skipped provided that you gave sufficient notice in advance.

Private Hungarian lessons

Therefore if you have little spare time in your life, it might be a good idea to start taking one-to-one rather than group lessons. This way, you don’t have to share the time and attention with anyone else: in a one-to-one setting, it is about you and your progress, only.

I obviously can’t talk about other Hungarian tutors, but this is how one-to-one lessons at Hungarian Language Solutions work. Your first lesson is free as I feel it’s only fair that you can see what you get for your money before committing yourself. During the first lesson, as well as giving you a taster of the Hungarian language, we also use the opportunity to get to know you a bit better and find out a little about your goals.

Lessons are designed with you in mind: we think long and hard about what kind of learner you are (e.g. based on the 4MAT System there are four learning types: the ‘why’, the ‘what’, the ‘how’ and the ‘what if’ type. But more about this in a later post.). We also put a lot of time and thought into thinking about various ways to make lessons fun and effective. I, personally, love tutoring Hungarian so much that sometimes I wake up during the night and start thinking about what else I could do in the lessons, and how I could help a client’s progress.

Every learner is different so each lesson plan needs to reflect this. At Hungarian Language Solutions each lesson plan is customised to match your needs and we encourage you to be very vocal about your goals: we can help you the most if we know what your goals are and what you would like to get out of your lessons.

Whether you are having your lessons in person, or on Skype on the Internet, our lessons do not end once the 60-minute period is over. We are here to provide continuous support; so if you get stuck with anything, you are free to contact us with your questions during the period between lessons.

In general, we always treat clients the way we would like to be treated ourselves: with respect and lots of attention.

This is clearly important when learning any language, not just Hungarian: you need to make sure you work with a tutor who takes the time to customise your lesson plans and provides all the support you need in order to maximise the advantage of the one-to-one lessons you are paying for.

Conclusion

So these are a few of the important points to take into consideration when deciding between group and one-to-one learning, and please don’t forget: whichever route you decide to go down, the important thing is that you enjoy the journey.