You picked Hungarian for me to study for one month to try out the Pimsleur method. I finished the 30-day level one Pimsleur Hungarian course and the results are in! :)

On 15th April I started my 30-day Pimsleur Hungarian challenge. The course I used was from my local library. It came with a booklet with some words to read halfway through the course. Every day I listened to a new lesson and went through the study programme as prescribed by Pimsleur.

My struggles with the course…

My plan was to have a month where I would have uninterrupted time to go through the course at a set time each day. Life does kick in though and I ended up going to the US and Canada, which meant I started my challenge there and not at home as planned. The other issues I faced were my general commitments for work, study and family. We all know those problems right?

One of the most important things in language is keeping it fun so you stay motivated. It’s always best not to stress. I often changed the times and locations of my lesson to listen to the course, so that it fitted around my life. It’s best to keep encouraging yourself during your study, so you stay pumped and learn more when you’re able. :)

So what do I think of the course?

I was surprised by how much I could learn in each lesson. The lessons are well thought-out in that you feel that you are getting quite far in the language with relatively few words and little grammar. Hungarian is described by The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK as a Class 2 language.


I was also aware of the type of grammatical structures in the language from studies of language families. So my expectations were that it would be tough to teach it in the way you can teach other languages. Languages with complicated case systems or agglutinative languages often need more sample sentences to build up meaning for more varied conversations. Then the exceptions can kick in to throw a spanner in the works!

I did on occasion find it tough to concentrate on just listening, I have to admit. But that was not a deal breaker for me with Pimsleur. My main real gripe was the lack of writing…I LOVE to write things out when I study a language! :)

OK, so what level can you expect from Pimsleur’s level 1 course?

Pimsleur say that their course takes you to around an A1 level (when you do the comparisons online). This level is definitely opened to interpretation. After the 30-day course you cannot expect to sit an A1 exam and get 100%, you may not even get near the 60% required for a pass. There would not be enough vocabulary or grammar to use all of the necessary structures for success at that level. You do have a nice introduction to the language though and I feel more confident going back to Hungary in the future now! :)

What do you achieve after 30 days on Pimsleur?

You get a good grounding in how the language is pronounced. They use a great tried and tested method of teaching how to make the sounds by starting from the end of the word and working back to the front. Then they put them all together, so you can make all of the sounds and then put the sounds together to make the word or phrase and say it in an understandable way.

The fab community on the Speaking Fluently Facebook page seems to agree that clear pronunciation is key to language learning. Whilst a native-like accent is a lovely extra, it is not the be all and end all of the learning process. I agree that speaking in a way that is easily understandable to other speakers of the language is the most important thing. We all know what it’s like to ask people to repeat things 100 times and to be asked to repeat things 100 times just to communicate a basic idea or need. Sometimes we are in situations where the message is important, so it is worth putting in a bit of effort to ensure that is possible.

Pimsleur will help you to get those basics down in an easily understandable way. You do still need to make the effort and not worry about sounding “funny”. The sounds in a new language will always sound a bit strange at first and they can make us feel self-conscious. Those new sounds are part of the language and they are as important, if not more important, that getting the grammar down pat. Even Tarzan gets his point across, right? 😉

Pimsleur also teaches you some good basic phrases, which you can re-use and substitute for different words to change meaning. This is a handy tool for travel to the country or for a gentle introduction to the language.

So how well do I speak Hungarian after my challenge?

Honestly, I speak it as well as I would expect to speak a language after only listening to it for about 30 minutes a day for a month…not very well! 😀 It has been a useful and enriching experience though. When I go back to Hungary again, I feel that I can say some basic things and make myself understood more than before. Here is a video of me saying some very basic things in Hungarian with the words, structures and themes presented in the course.

Well, here is a video of me using some of what I learnt…what do




Did you do a challenge too? How did you get on? Or are you planning a challenge in the future? If you speak Hungarian, please do let me know how effective and understandable my Hungarian is after the challenge? Can you understand me?

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