Learning Something New: Magyar Nyelv
At the start of 2021, I told myself that my year goal was to become conversational in Hungarian. Of course many other notable things in my personal life and career happened but this was still my driving focus every day.
How it all started
In December of 2020, I stumbled upon an article for the Simplified Naturalization process which is available for several European countries. Among them, is Hungary where my maternal family emigrated from in the early 1900s. I was incredibly intrigued by the idea of being able to live, work, and spend lots of time in Eastern Europe as it’s always been a goal of mine to live abroad.
There are several requirements for Hungarian Simplified Naturalization, one of them being able to speak and write in the Hungarian language in order to submit your application without assistance.
Starting the last week of December 2020, I began studying the Hungarian language. This post is a culmination of the last 10 months from reviewing resources, talking about my timeline and experience, to evaluating the costs. If you have any specific questions, please reach out to me and I’d be happy to chat! For information on my experience, at the Los Angeles Consulate, I have posted in the Immigration Journey in Hungary Facebook Group.
Starting January of 2021, I dedicated at least an hour a day to learning Hungarian and preparing the documents/translations/etc. for the Simplified Naturalization Interview. Due to quarantining for COVID and working from home, I had the flexibility to spend a lot of time intensely studying which helped me learn the language faster than if I had been continuing my normal life.
For context about my background, my ancestor, who I used to apply, is my great great grandmother who emigrated to the US from Hungary in 1907. No one in my family still speaks Hungarian. I do know one other language, Spanish, which really helped me when learning Hungarian since I understand how to approach learning a foreign language. I’ve enjoyed learning Hungarian way more than Spanish since it wasn’t in a school setting with standardized testing. It is a hard language but it’s not impossible and in my opinion, is quite fun.
In the beginning, I used HungarianPod101 and various language learning apps. I tried to learn as much basic vocabulary as possible. There are so many beginner resources to start learning a language that a teacher isn’t needed until you get to the point where you are conjugating verbs. I swear I watched every Hungarian learning resource online from Youtube videos to dozens of websites. I’ll include some of my favorites at the end of this post.
At the end of January 2021, I started taking lessons with two teachers–Anasztajia and Karolina. Over the last nine months, I took two to three iTalki lessons a week. Some weeks life got too busy and I wasn’t able to study; however, I tried my best to stick to lessons and studying consistently.
After learning a lot from Anasztajia and Karolina, I started speaking with other Hungarian teachers who would ask questions in different ways and have various accents. I took several lessons with Zsolt, who I highly recommend for his knowledge on the citizenship interview. I also started chatting weekly with Teo who is great to practice conversation with and helps explain grammar when it comes up.
A couple weeks before my interview appointment (Oct. 2021), I booked one time lessons with a couple other Hungarian teachers on iTalki to practice conversational skills and do mock interviews. I was able to do a quick practice interview with Anett Goldstein as well, who is incredibly knowledgeable. I kept a large document with all their corrections and suggestions so I could study them as I reviewed.
Coloradói Magyar Klub
In the United States, there are various Hungarian clubs that work to keep Hungarian immigrants and descendants connected. I’m lucky that there is one for the state of Colorado and many folks live in Denver. While learning the language, I emailed the club to see if anyone would want to chat with me so I could practice. I received over a dozen emails of people who were willingly to talk with me. It helped me feel so supported in my language learning journey and gave me a chance to hear native Hungarian speakers in person. I met with several women at coffee shops in the area and we would chat about the news, travel, weekend plans, etc. It really helped me improve my listening skills. If this is an option for you, I highly recommend it. I know there are Hungarian communities in Washington, California, Colorado, and many other states.
All costs are in USD.
- 92 Language Learning Lessons on iTalki ~ $1414.20
- Obtaining Required Documents ~ $312.70
- Document Translations ~ $477.02
- Certification of Translations ~ $300.00
- Travel to the Consulate (Denver to Los Angeles) ~ $350.00
For some people, they need more or less language lessons. Depending on where you live, many of these items will vary in price. I used Rush Translate in order to translate my documents and then they need to be certified at the Consulate. If you use OFFI to translate your documents, you won’t need to have them certified by the Consulate.
Genealogy & Translations
I used Rush Translate to translate my documents and then had them certified at the Los Angeles Consulate. Two of my documents were from Hungary, which Krisztián Skoumal helped me acquire since I could not go to Hungary myself.
In order to figure out my exact family tree, I called folks in my family and matched up hints on Ancestry.com. Family Search was also incredibly helpful in finding scans of original documents that exist. I put together a family tree which I submitted with my application.
Favorite Learning Resources
It is really critical to understand what motivates you to learn a language. I originally set up a lesson plan for myself but I found reviewing vocabulary notecards made the whole process draining for me. Instead I really love watching videos and talking to people in person so I prioritized that.
In addition to these resources, I also requested some Hungarian Language Grammar books through my local library. I received various supplemental learning documents from my Hungarian teachers that helped me progress. They have a wealth of knowledge especially in relation to commands and vocabulary you may hear in the citizenship process.
- Beginner Audio Listening Exercises
- Online Vocabulary Game
- Hungarian Sentences Anki Deck
- MagyarOK Audio Listening Exercises
- Hungarian Short Stories
- Drops iPhone App
- Hungarian Grammar Github
- Hungarian Reference, A Grammar Guide
- Beginner Grammar Lesson Blog
- Understanding Irregular Verbs via Reddit
- Six Common Grammar Mistakes in Hungarian
- Understanding the Use of Meg
- Hungarian with SziSzi Podcast & Youtube Videos
- Explanation of Suffix Cases
- Storytime Hungarian
- Mock Hungarian Citizenship Interview
- Hungarian TV Videos
- Daily Hungarian News
- Easy Hungarian Interviews
- Lindie Botes - Learning Hungarian
- Hungarian Lessons with Zsuszi