Fungarian Hungarian Frolics in Budapest

No romantic city break in Budapest is complete, in my humble opinion, without a foray into the almost unfathomable Hungarian language and so, on our recent trip, Iain and I booked a one hour introduction class with Miklos, Director of Fungarian (as seen on Channel 4 Travel Man).

Iain and I had high hopes for our hour with Miklos looking to master some essential Hungarian survival phrases and we were not disappointed. Miklos has been teaching English since the 1980s and in the last decade has been teaching Hungarian to enthusiastic language lovers through Fungarian and, more recently, is offering language and cultural tours of Budapest that link to the school curriculum for students through Ed Tours Hungary.

I admit I was very apprehensive attempting to speak what is considered by many as one of the most difficult languages to learn, but Miklos put us at ease, reminding us that ‘Budapest is an open air classroom’ and teaching us some of the basics to get by. 

During the hour we learnt that Hungarian:

  1. Is a Uralic language.
  2. Is a phonetic language.
  3. Does not have genders.
  4. Is agglutinative.
  5. Has 18 noun cases.
  6. Uses gemination, or consonant elongation with pairs of short and long vowels.
  7. Has vowel harmony with rules over which group of vowels can be used in the same word
  8. Always has stress on the first syllable
  9. Puts important information at the start of a sentence or phrase as in “English I am” so good for channeling your inner Yoda.
  10. Talks about people as having one eye, one ear, one hand and one leg. To hear something with ‘half an ear’ is to hear a rumour.

We quickly discovered that vowel length can be a bit of a minefield and that there are some ‘false friends’ that can cause some blushes / giggles when misused by the unsuspecting foreigner. We have it on Miklos’ good authority that the following words are always tricky for native English speakers:

  • Busz (English: bus) pronounced with a short vowel means “f**k”
  • “Pussy pussy” is used by some women when greeting each other to mean “kiss”
  • “Egeszsegedre!” (English: cheers!) can be transformed into “to your whole arse” if your vowels are out of place!

With all this fun, how much Hungarian did Iain and I actually manage to learn in an hour? Quite a good amount and I now feel I can confidently say the following key phrases below. Check out videos of us speaking some Hungarian on the Lingua Centra YouTube channel.

  1. Szia = hi!
  2. Jo Napot! = hello!
  3. Köszönöm = thank you
  4. Kösz = thanks
  5. Igen = yes
  6. Nem = no
  7. Út = road
  8. Utca = street
  9. Busz = bus
  10. Angol vagyok = I am English
  11. Skot vagyok = I am Scottish
  12. Clare vagyok = my name is Clare
  13. Magyar = Hungarian
  14. Hol van a mosdó = where is the toilet?
  15. Egészségére = cheers!
  16. Nem értem = I don’t understand
  17. Beszélsz angolul = do you speak English?

Both Iain and I really enjoyed our time with Miklos learning Hungarian outside the Great Synagogue in central Budapest and our only regret is that we didn’t have more time to spend getting to grips with those vowels!

We would highly recommend a Fungarian session to any language lovers visiting Budapest, so make sure you book your session today!

Keep in touch on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and share your Hungarian language experiences.

Podcasts – for language learning on the go

What you need

  • Smartphone (or tablet)
  • Headphones
  • Internet access (not necessarily mobile data)

Step 1 – find and install an app

Any podcast app is likely to do the trick, but I’m going to recommend one that works well and probably does and has what you need. Either way, install an app of your choice.

I recommend Podcast Addict. It’s available on Android, and it’s free! Apple has its own ‘Apple Podcasts’ for iOS, so you could either that or search for an alternative on the App Store.

Step 2 – find something to listen to

You have a couple of options for your approach here and it may well depend on your language level.

Option 1: search for language learning podcasts, of which there are many. On Podcast Addict, you search for podcasts like this:

Podcast addict homepage
Click the ‘plus’ button in the top-right of the screen
Type of search
Choose ‘Search Engine’
Search for something
Search for something
Language learning results
Check out the results

Option 2: have an interest? Mine is technology; yours might be politics, travel, art, or anything else. I won’t guarantee it, but you’re pretty likely to find a podcast for any interest in any language.

So, search for podcasts relating to that interest in the target language. Podcast Addict makes this pretty easy. You can choose the languages that the search will return like this:

Filter by language
Tick ‘Filter language’ & click the ‘aA’ button.
Pick languages
Choose one or more languages, then press your back key
Enter your search terms
Enter your hobby or interest and go for it!

Step 3 – download and listen

You’re all set once you’ve followed the above steps, but I’ve put some (hopefully) helpful bits below about app settings for Podcast Addict.

Got a recommendation for a good podcast app? Let us know in the comments.

Extra info

Settings – downloading and deleting

Set up the Podcast Addict to download whenever is good for you.

Find settings
Settings are in the three-dot menu
Settings > download
From settings, click “Download”
Download settings
Change the download settings to suit you

Once you have set up your download settings, you may wish to setup the app to delete podcasts that you’ve listened to already, just to save space. Here’s how to do that:

Settings > Cleanup
Select “automatic cleanup” from the settings menu
Automatic cleanup
Change your automatic cleanup settings to suit you

Settings – WiFi vs. mobile data

Not everyone has unlimited data. If that’s you, you may wish to change your settings to download new podcasts and updates only when you’re connected to the almighty WiFi.

Network settings
Set you network settings to suit your data needs


Meet the world on your doorstep

Flagged up and ready to mingle at Mundo Lingo London

Iain and I tried out a Mundo Lingo social for the first time last week and, after nearly 20 years of learning languages, found it a really dynamic and refreshing approach to get people talking. Read on for more information on the Mundo Lingo movement and our top tips for getting the most out of your time at an event!

What is Mundo Lingo?

Mundo Lingo has taken the language learning world by storm with over 54,000 likes on Facebook at the time of writing and events across 5 continents, so where did it all begin? Its origins can be traced back to Buenos Aires in 2011 and one British born language lover, Benji Moreira, who wanted to create a welcoming language and cultural exchange environment, and a chance to befriend the local Argentines.

It proved to be a huge success and, as the events attracted over 50 people per week, a flag system was introduced to allow participants to find their language-match without the direct help of the host. This format soon proved popular and in 2014 it was rolled out to new cities across the globe, including Cologne, London, Montreal and Melbourne. In 2017, at the time of writing, Mundo Lingo is established in 15 cities in 13 countries over 5 continents. Please read on or see the Mundo Lingo website for more information on the mission and mantra.

Why should you work Mundo Lingo Socials into your language learning routine?

Mundo Lingo London Managers Jim and Merlina welcome everyone with flags and a smile

I spoke with two really friendly Managers of Mundo Lingo London, Merlina and Jim, who speak 5 languages between them including Indonesian and Slovak. Benji Moreira asked Jim to set up the London Mundo Lingo when it first set up and both Managers recommend Mundo Lingo events to anyone who:

  • Has a desire to practise another language.
  • Is new to a city and wants to socialise and meet new people.
  • Has an interest in meeting people from other cultures.
  • Is visiting a city and wants to meet local people and get tips on best areas to visit.

“I am a firm believer that theory and practice = perfect. After a short stint possibly at a language course teaching the basics, grammar, alphabet, how to form basic sentences, it is more important to practise what you have learnt. This is where Mundo Lingo comes in, and many get the practice that they could be lacking from class.

I don’t believe in spending a lot of money with courses; motivation is your best friend. Even if you don’t live in the target country, always create an environment for yourself where you are exposed to the language or culture daily. Learning a language is a bit like the movie Shawshank Redemption, every little bit that you do daily counts.”
Serene, Mundo Lingo Manager Melbourne.

What we love about Mundo Lingo!

Mundo Lingo is a great platform to mingle with the world on your doorstep. In one evening, I chatted to someone from Russia, Latvia, Belgium, Turkey and France! People were very sociable, it was a really relaxed atmosphere and we stayed much later than planned as were having such a good time! We’ll definitely be back again and hope to meet some new people and make some new friends, so if you’re there come and say “hi”!

How is Mundo Lingo different to other language meet-up groups?

It’s clear to see that Mundo Lingo has a well-established, international reach and reputation, and is run in a very relaxed, freestyle way. Some things the organisers shared with me that I wasn’t aware of was that Mundo Lingo is a not for profit organisation but, due to the support of excellent staff and volunteers a session will never be cancelled, which is great for consistency and fitting in with our hectic London lifestyle!

When you arrive, you can expect to be met by friendly staff, poised and ready with a book of flag stickers, who have an incredible knowledge of vexillology and are able to put any newcomers at ease instantly. The format is completely freestyle, so you can grab a drink, arrange your stickers in order of strength of language somewhere on your person (i.e. native language at the top followed by other languages spoken). Other keen language enthusiasts will arrive and the fun of finding your preferred flags begins!

Top tips for getting the most out of Mundo Lingo – Organisers’ Insight.

Mundo Lingo Managers Merlina and Jim had great advice for any Mundo Lingo newbies:

“Come on your own, or avoid speaking with friends you come with, and keep an open mind, as every time is different. The one thing we can guarantee is that you will meet new people! Ideally try it more than once as there are always newcomers and the crowd can be different each time. It also helps to stay standing so it’s easier to mingle and move around to new conversations throughout the evening.”

Clare’s top tips:

  • Swat up on your flag knowledge, particularly for languages that are spoken in many countries such as Spanish, French, Arabic, as it will help you identify speakers of the same language.
  • We found lots of people keen to practise their English with us, so sometimes you may need to make a special effort to guide the conversation into the language you want to practise to get the most out of the event, but people were very open to this.
  • Someone short like me might be difficult for others to see the flags so maybe position them on your sleeves or sunglasses for better visibility! (photo of me with flags on sunglasses)

    Creative positioning of flags for shorter people like me!
  • Introducing yourself to new people can sometimes become repetitive, so it’s helpful to think of some interesting questions to ask people beyond the typical small talk, so maybe try a few of the ones below:
  1. What is your favourite thing about this city / country?
  2. Are there any differences between this city and your home town / country that surprised / shocked you?
  3. What hobbies do you have outside of work?
  4. What has been the most unusual place you’ve visited?
  5. Do you know of any other good places to practise the language in this city?
  6. Would you be interested in setting up a tandem language exchange to support each other learning?
  7. What have been the best resources or techniques you’ve used when learning a language?

Bring the Mundo Lingo magic to your town or city!

You can set up your own Mundo Lingo – find out more on the Mundo Lingo ‘Join Us’ webpages.

Tell us your Mundo Lingo experiences and how you get on in comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – good luck!