Our Hungarian Language Classes For English-Speaking American Adults

This past school-year season we offered Hungarian classes for English-speaking adults for the first time. Starting last fall, we completed two 14-week sessions, offering beginning, and beginning-intermediate classes. Since we couldn’t meet in person, considering we were living through a pandemic, we held our classes online, through Zoom meetings.

Though we had reservations about this form in the beginning, it worked out for this class, since it offered opportunities for students from other parts of the US to join. Over the two sessions, we all got used to teaching and learning online. 

Held once a week, for one hour, the classes were designed to help English-speaking adults understand the basics of the Hungarian language and to give them a solid base to build on their Hungarian listening, speaking and writing skills. 

I was impressed by the progress of the students, who went from having no understanding of the language, even of the alphabet, to being able to hold short conversations in Hungarian. They found the Hungarian numbers easiest to remember, since they follow a logical, easy to understand system. However, they told me they had the most difficulties with the way our language forms words and sentences. This was to be expected, since it is the aspect of the language most different from English. Which is why we spent most time working on this aspect, and by the end of the sessions, I was impressed by how well my students understood it all. They were able to form full sentences using the correct forms of Hungarian words, and hold basic conversations, set as real-life examples. 

Naturally, we worked most on everyday conversational needs, and used texts we came up with that relate directly to experiences of American adults, emphasizing real-life scenarios where they may use the Hungarian language. 

Our Hungarian Language Course

Designed specifically to address the needs of English-speaking adults living in the US, with examples that relate to American English idioms and phrases, the course is based on the MagyarOK textbooks, used for teaching Hungarian for foreigners in the University of Pécs, Hungary. However, we changed things at times to fit our specific needs for English-speaking American adults. We found that this combination provides our students with an understanding of the basic structure of the Hungarian language as it relates to English, specifically to American English. 

Over the course of the sessions, we used specific examples and texts that helped our students acquire a limited use of both oral and written language for use in real-life situations like traveling to Hungary and Hungarian-speaking regions, and participating in Hungarian cultural activities in the US. 

The course also aimed to provide a base for further studies of the Hungarian language and culture. 

Since we felt the classes were a success, we will resume them in the fall. We will keep them online, since this form worked well with our Zoom sessions, and offered opportunities for students outside of Phoenix to join. If we see a need for it, we might add in-person classes for the next session. 

On my part, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank all our students who joined the sessions for choosing us. I know you can find many opportunities to learn Hungarian; we are only one of many different options, so we are grateful for those who chose us. 

Published by

Emese-Réka Fromm

A Hungarian native from Transylvania, Réka Fromm has been a Phoenix resident for almost three decades. She is a travel writer, translator and recently started teaching Hungarian for English-speaking adults through HCA Phoenix. Her online home is at Wanderer Writes, where she publishes travel and culture-related stories.

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