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Adapting old Berlitz book for self study?

  Tags: Book
 Language Learning Forum : Language Programs, Books & Tapes Post Reply
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 Message 1 of 2
16 January 2014 at 8:22pm | IP Logged 
So I recently found an old Berlitz book on for Hungarian

I think it was meant for use in classroom use unlike their later "Self-Teacher" method, as there's no English translations provided. I think the idea was that you would use it along with a native speaker who would point or draw things while saying the words and try to build up your knowledge through context.

Even though it doesn't seem particularly friendly for self-study it also seems a lot more extensive than most other beginner courses I've seen.

I tend to like working through several different courses at the same time, and have a bit of an affinity for old language books. I'm wondering, does anyone think there are some useful ways this could be utilized for self-study? Perhaps by trying to work through it with a pop-up dictionary along side of other more traditional self study courses?

Edited by YnEoS on 16 January 2014 at 8:23pm

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 Message 2 of 2
16 January 2014 at 10:00pm | IP Logged 
Interesting, it may be possible to download the text file so that you can copy and paste the text into Google translate for some help. Or you could use a pop-up dictionary. It could be useful to integrate it, as-is, with your other resources and try to puzzle it out on your own bit by bit, maybe for 10 or 15 minutes a couple of times a week. What I like about this is that it gives you an opportunity to make your own connections with Hungarian. It's one thing to have your course tell you what something means and how it works and another thing entirely to see that on your own, though I would probably use a short news item or a tweet in Hungarian for those purposes instead of an old textbook to start. Then, I'd try working my way up, slowly, to longer texts- maybe a paragraph.

Barry Farber talks about how he learned Hungarian after WW II by helping to resettle Hungarian refugees in the US. At that time, due to the cold war, there were few Hungarian learning materials available to him, he had a phrasebook and a bilingual dictionary. He also had the benefit of having successfully learned a few languages prior to tackling Hungarian. So, he knew how to learn. He talks about the thrill he got at a US airbase when the Hungarians re-labelled the doors of the building where they were staying.

Barry Farber- How To Learn Any Language wrote:
...The U.S. Air Force gave its Luitpol barracks over to the Hungarians, who promptly plastered their own signs right on top of the English signs on all the doors. The door that once said "Doctor" suddenly said "Orvos." The door that once said "Clothing" suddenly said "Ruha." And so on. It was easy to tell who among the Americans and Germans at Luitpol were genuine language lovers. They were the ones who were not annoyed.

The Hungarian relabelling of everything at Luitpol actually gave me my most explosive language learning thrill. When I went searching for a men's room, I found myself for the first time in my life not knowing where to go.

You don’t need Charles Berlitz to take you by the hand to the right one when the doors read "Mesdames" and "Messieurs," ...No such luck prevailed at Luitpol. The two doors were labelled "Nő" and "Férfiak." I looked at those two words, trying not to let my language lover’s enthusiasm distract from the pragmatic need to decipher which one was which relatively soon.

My thinking went like this. The k at the end of both words probably just made them plural. That left Nő and Férfia, or possibly Férfi. Something came to me. I remembered reading that Hungarian was not originally a European language. It had been in Asia. The Chinese word for “woman”, “lady”, or anything female was nő – not no and not nu, but that precise umlaut sound that two dots over anything foreign almost always represents...Following that hunch I entered the door marked "Férfiak." The joy that came next should arise in tabernacles, not men’s rooms. To my satisfaction and relief I walked in and found five or six other férfiak inside!...I learned Hungarian fluently – and badly. Many years later I decided to return to Hungarian and learn it properly and grammatically. It’s a little like being back in Latin class, but this time I have a much better attitude.

I like this story because it shows what can be done with the advantage of having learned another language to a high level. The good thing is that you aren't limited to a dictionary and phrase books to make Hungarian comprehensible to you. You aren't limited to this old textbook and a dictionary. So, in short, have fun with it as an exercise and check of your progress but don't knock yourself out over it. Concentrate on your more modern learning materials and if you want to add in some native material, to get the benefit of synergy, to start, get a twitter account and follow people in Hungarian who interest you. A tweet is only 140 characters, not Harry Potter, and- you don't have to tweet to follow.

Edited by iguanamon on 16 January 2014 at 10:50pm

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