5 ways to learn Hungarian in Budapest


  • Petra Berende

05/10/2015 3.49pm

Whether you just want to memorize some basic phrases or aim to speak like a Magyar native, there are many diverse methods for learning the Hungarian language. Options include a three-hour crash course including a brief tour around Budapest’s must-see sights, extensive classes spanning weeks or months, and even a few specialized podcasts and textbooks, all providing foreigners with alternatives to master this country’s notoriously difficult tongue, while breaking down language barriers to ease day-to-day survival in the Magyar metropolis.

Photo: Fungarian

Fungarian – a cheerful crash course


Learn the basics of Hungarian within a laid-back city-center café surrounded by the chatter of local guests by signing up for an informal introductory lesson with Fungarian – one of Budapest’s most enjoyable tour companies. Ordinarily held in a pleasant coffee shop across the street from the Dohány Street Synagogue, Fungarian’s one- and two-hour classes provide an easy and lighthearted way to learn essential Hungarian expressions while offering basic orientation to Budapest’s geography and culture, along with 20-30 crucial Hungarian phrases to ease navigation around town. A three-hour course includes a brief sightseeing excursion covering some of the city’s prime sights – including Andrássy Avenue and Heroes’ Square – while the popular “Lunch & Class” option provides language basics over a hearty meal at a traditional Hungarian restaurant.

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Location: Zenit Café, Budapest 1075, Dohány u. 1/A (other locations available by request)

Photo: Berlitz

Berlitz – professional practice


As a well-established international institution offering linguistic education for over 20 years in Hungary, Berlitz organizes Magyar-language trainings in diverse forms ranging from private one-on-one lessons, classes for two people, and group courses for 3-5 participants. The education is monolingual, so all instructions and exercises are in Hungarian, as the main focus is to develop the students’ communication skills with the local language. After registration, attendees can join personal advisory discussions free of charge, when the school introduces their education method along with the curriculum to prepare tailor-made programs for participating students.

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Location: Budapest 1052, Váci utca 11/B, and Budapest 1065, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 29.

Photo: NovoSchool

NovoSchool – playful customized lessons


Offering multiple Hungarian-language lessons of 40 modules (40 lessons lasting 45 minutes) at all levels – from beginner to advanced to pre-citizenship programs – NovoSchool’s comprehensive language courses are fully customizable, yet they adhere to the curriculum advised by local regulations. The program revolves around the speedy acquirement of the language, and the lessons represent everyday situations that everyone encounters while going about life here in Budapest. The focus is on vocabulary and key phrases mixed with the necessary grammatical elements, and the lessons include several real-life situations, like a coffeehouse visit. The school offers courses anytime throughout the year.

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Location: NovoSchool, Budapest 1091, Üllői út 63.

Podcasts – listen and learn


If you don’t have time to take regular language classes but still want to acquire basic Hungarian communication skills at your own pace, there are a few podcasts and mobile apps available online that focus on the Magyar language. To get familiar with essential expressions and situations, listen to the casual audio podcast of Let’s learn Hungarian, including lifelike situations, phrase explanations, and handy transcripts – and all of this for no charge. The Fun Easy Learn mobile app provides elemental Hungarian vocabulary with easy-to-understand illustrations, thematic topics, and gleeful games for those who want to scratch the surface of local linguistic challenges.

Photo: Juhász Norbert - We Love Budapest

Hungarian-language textbooks – study anytime


Anyone can still self-educate themselves the old-fashioned way by investing in one of the many Hungarian-language textbooks – several tomes teach Hungarian with various structures at different levels. Among them, the Beginner’s Hungarian Dictionary presents basic Magyar vocabulary and phrases for situations ranging from introductions to eating out to asking for directions, with every lesson enhanced by colorful illustrations. Meanwhile, the Teach Yourself Hungarian Complete Course Package offers advanced learning methods developed by experts in the language, including intriguing dialogues, pronunciation guidelines, grammatical explanations, and plenty of practical exercises.

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