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Passing the ECL Hungarian Language Proficiency Test

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Language learning is all fun and games…until you reach a plateau. 

You may start asking yourself “But where am I going with this?” And you wouldn’t be the only language-learner doing so. 

When learning a language, it’s normal to lose motivation every now and then. That’s why it’s important to set goals and milestones for yourself; there’s no better way to keep yourself motivated and pumped through all those hours hunched over books. 

Do you know what else makes a great motivator? Tangible progress! The most effective way to monitor your progress, test your mettle, and find room for improvement is through a Hungarian language proficiency test. 

This article is the guide for preparing for the ECL Hungarian language exam. 

If you have no idea what we’re talking about, stick around. We’ll give you tons of information about this test, including how it works and what you can expect to see on it. And if you’ve already decided you want to take the ECL Hungarian exam, keep reading for tips on how to prepare and succeed! 

A note before we start: If you’re not sure what level of Hungarian you’re at, we recommend taking a free online test first. This will allow you to see where you’re at, without spending the money you would on an official test. If you’re not satisfied with your score on the free test, don’t fret: HungarianPod101.com is here to help you sharpen your Hungarian skills! 

Now, let’s start with a quick comparison of the two main Hungarian exams.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Hungarian Table of Contents
  1. ECL vs. Origó
  2. The ECL Listening Test
  3. The ECL Reading Test
  4. The ECL Writing Test
  5. The ECL Speaking Test
  6. Tips on Preparing for the ECL
  7. Conclusion: HungarianPod101.com Will Help You Ace Your Exam

1. ECL vs. Origó

Currently, there are two official Hungarian proficiency tests available for foreigners: the ECL and the Origó. Both exams are a great way to test your knowledge if you want to live and work in Hungary, or even if you’re just curious about how far you’ve come in your Hungarian studies.

You can register for both exams online:

  • The registration deadline is usually one month before the exam date (but double-check on the website). The sooner you register, the better! 
  • You’ll need to pay a fee before you take the test. This is usually between 30,000 and 35,000 Ft (around €90-100), though this can vary based on the level you’re taking.

The Origó and ECL language tests are similar in that they’re both monolingual Hungarian exams. They’re both accredited, and they both have four sections: writing, reading, listening, and speaking. Do note that Origó allows candidates to take the oral and written tests on the same day or on different days. In order to pass either test, you must: reach at least forty percent on each section AND reach at least sixty percent overall. 

1- Origó

Origó is named after the language center of a Hungarian university in Budapest: ELTE (Eötvös Loránd University) Nyelvi Centrum. Origó offers tests for other languages, as well, and creates its own tests and exercises. You can easily apply for any exam on the official website, though you can only take the tests in Budapest. The Origó website also features samples (displayed in Hungarian) to give you a better idea of what to expect.

The structure and components of Origó exams are fairly similar to those of the ECL exams. Here, we’ll cover the unique components of the Origó test:

  • There is one candidate in front of two examiners.
  • The conversation is guided.
    • You’ll talk about a given topic based on an image. The severity of this topic differs based on the exam level you’re taking.
    • You’ll roleplay (act out a situation).
  • You’ll need to interpret an excerpt (only at the C1 level).

2- ECL

The abbreviation “ECL” stands for “European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment in Modern Languages.” 

It’s an international examination system that offers standardized tests in the languages of EU countries. ECL offers Hungarian language exams for four levels: A2 (waystage), B1 (threshold), B2 (vantage), and C1 (effective operational proficiency). For these, you can find sample sheets containing examples of exercises that you might encounter when you sit for the exam. You can take the ECL test in Pécs, Hungary.

From now on, what you’ll be reading applies to the ECL Hungarian language aptitude exam.

A Guy in a Blue Shirt Who’s Happy about His A+ Grade

2. The ECL Listening Test

Duration15 to 35 minutes (depending on the level)
MaterialsAudio files (there will be two)
TasksAnswer questions and complete exercises related to the audios
Question TypesMultiple choiceShort answerMatching Completing sentences & chartsPlacing words where they belong
Additional NotesYou will hear the audios twiceThe audios’ complexity varies by levelFocus on the core meaning for the best results

As you saw in the table, the complexity of the audios you’ll hear vary based on level. This means that you need to study your vocabulary accordingly! The higher the level, the broader and more diverse your vocabulary should be. For example, at the A2 level, you’ll need to know generic, everyday words and phrases; at the C1 level or higher, you should know words and phrases in a range of fields and topics.

The best way to expand your vocabulary is to test yourself from time to time. Aim to learn a few new words every week or month, and occasionally write your own tests to see how much you know! 

In the meantime, here are some examples of questions likely to appear on the listening test: 

  • “What color is the car?” (Milyen színe van az autónak?) [A2]
  • “Where do the students meet?” (Hol találkoznak a diákok?) [A2]
  • “In what show did the actress appear last year?” (Múlt évben milyen műsorban szerepelt a színésznő?) [B1]
  • “What interested her/him in books other than images as a child?” (Mi érdekelte gyerekként a mesekönyvekben a képeken kívül?) [C1]

If you keep the things we mentioned in mind and practice a lot, you should be fine during the exam. Don’t hesitate to hear what an actual A2-level audio sounds like.

A Girl Holding Her Head and Studying

3. The ECL Reading Test

Duration60 to 90 minutes (depending on the level)
SectionsTwo sections
MaterialsTwo texts, one shorter and one longer
TasksAnswer questions and complete exercises based on the texts
Question TypesFill-in-the-blankShort answerMatching
Additional NotesThere will be 20-30 questions or blanks on your sheet (but fewer questions the higher the level is).

Again, the complexity of the texts and exercises varies based on the level you’re taking. At the A2 level, you should be able to comprehend the general meaning of short, simple texts on familiar, general topics like public notices, travel brochures, and timetables.

Here’s an example of something you may read:

  • “In Hungarian cities, you have to board buses and trams through the front door. It is possible to buy a ticket from drivers of buses and trams.”
    A magyar városokban az első ajtón kell felszállni a buszra, a villamosra. A busz vagy a villamos vezetőjétől is lehet jegyet vásárolni.

The B1 level differs only a bit from the A1. On this level, you have to understand the general meaning of texts on a variety of topics. You should also understand essential details of simple passages on familiar topics such as job advertisements, instructions for use, personal letters, and domestic bills.

If you pass a B2 exam, it means that you can understand specific information about a certain topic and recognize the tone and purpose of passages taken from newspapers, magazines, regulations, formal letters, reports, etc.

If you take a Hungarian exam at the C1 level, you must demonstrate the ability to comprehend information and ideas, to recognize the tone of the speaker, and to identify the purpose of different types of texts written for the general reader.

Example:

  • “To what causes can the shorter length of the earlier Kipling-edition be attributed?”
    Milyen okokkal magyarázható a korábbi Kipling-kiadás kisebb terjedelme?

You can read more about these requirements yourself on the official ECL website.

As with the listening section, your vocabulary should be adequate for the level you plan on testing for. However, in this case, you probably have it easier as the words are actually written down, so you don’t have to guess what word you heard in order to make sense of the text.

A Woman in a Red T-shirt Holding Her Head in Front of a Computer

4. The ECL Writing Test

Duration35 to 75 minutes (depending on the level)
SectionsTwo exercises
Materials
TasksWrite two pieces of text
Essay TypesYou may be asked to write texts in the following formats:
Letters of invitationOrdinary messagesPersonal lettersEmails (formal and informal)Internet blog or forum commentsReports (official and personal)EssaysMagazine articles
Additional NotesThe length of the texts you’re supposed to write vary from level to level:
A1: 50 words per written pieceA2 and up: An additional 50 words per level (C2 will have 200 words)

There are four key areas you should focus on while writing:

  • Grammar
    • Do you know whether to use á or a?
    • How are your sentence structures looking?
  • Spelling
    • Practice, practice, practice, to ensure that your spelling is impeccable! 
  • Handwriting
    • The examiners won’t be able to read or correct your work if it’s illegible. 
  • Layout & Aesthetics
    • Make sure that your text is well-organized and neatly put-together. 
    • A paper full of crossed-out words and scribbles may cause confusion! 

Here’s an example of a task you might get for a B2-level ECL exam:

  • “Your Hungarian friend is going to visit you and your family and inquires about your eating habits. Reply to him/her in an email.” (ca. 150 words)
    Az Ön magyar barátja meg fogja látogatni Önt és a családját, és az étkezési szokásaikról érdeklődik. Válaszoljon neki e-mailben! (B2)

For this exercise, you’ll be given guidelines for how to compose the email.

Students Taking an Exam

5. The ECL Speaking Test

The ECL oral test comprises two or three candidates having a conversation in front of two examiners. 

The examinees start by introducing themselves. This part is not assessed, but it helps ease the candidates into the exam and loosens the tension a bit. Then comes the guided and assessed conversation between the examinees. They have to talk about a certain topic based on a picture and act out a situation. The topic can be about anything—depending on the level again—from your daily routine, to holidays and issues concerning health.

It’s advised to sometimes disagree with your partner and to provoke each other a bit, rather than agreeing on everything. This way, you can show the examiners that you have a wide range of vocabulary and that you have the tools needed for a debate. However, it’s essential to respect the other person’s opinion and to remain polite throughout the conversation. 

Another crucial thing to watch is how much you speak. It almost doesn’t matter what you say, just say something. If you stay silent most of the time, the examiners won’t have anything to assess. Thus, they might give you a percentage at the end that doesn’t reflect your actual knowledge.

Multiple-choice Exam Sheet

6. Tips on Preparing for the ECL 

Studying for a Hungarian language exam is just about the same as studying for any other exam. However, in the case of Hungarian, you might want to pay special attention to spelling; Hungarians tend to write and pronounce words differently than an English-speaker is used to. Therefore, you might want to do as many mock tests regarding Hungarian grammar and spelling as you can.

Another way you can practice is by watching Hungarian talk shows, series, or movies. There’s no better way to learn all the slang you can expect to hear in day-to-day Hungarian conversations. This is also a very fun way to learn and study! 

An important part of any language is speech. Although you can hear people talking in movies and series, it might be a good idea to invest in some CDs and listen to a few songs as well. Or, you can buy a Hungarian book and listen to the CD it comes with multiple times until you understand the conversations fully.

You can practice your Hungarian alone in your room in front of a mirror, or even with online tutors, but the best way is to talk with a native speaker. In today’s world, there are many apps you can download to meet and talk with people from all over the world. Now may be the time to try one! 

Do you plan on visiting Hungary anytime soon? Try to make a friend there! They can be your penpal, though you can also call each other from time to time. 

What matters is that you practice the language.

Language Skills

7. Conclusion: HungarianPod101.com Will Help You Ace Your Exam

Now that you know everything about ECL and a little bit about the Origó Hungarian language proficiency test, you can decide if you want to jump straight in or practice some more first. Either way, you can count on us to provide you with all the learning tools and support you need.

We’ve given you a basic summary about ECL and its contents, with a few examples. Now, you can decide whether ECL is something that would work for you, or if you should delve into Origó a bit more. One thing is for sure though: they’re not going to be much different. But if you feel like Origó would work better for you, go for it. All that matters is that you feel comfortable and are confident in your knowledge.

If you have any questions about either Hungarian exam, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. We’re all in this together, right?

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Essential Vocabulary for Life Events in Hungarian

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What is the most defining moment you will face this year? From memories that you immortalize in a million photographs, to days you never wish to remember, one thing’s for certain: big life events change you. The great poet, Bukowski, said, “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well, that death will tremble to take us.” The older I get, the more I agree with him!

Talking about significant events in our lives is part of every person’s journey, regardless of creed or culture. If you’re planning to stay in Hungary for more than a quick visit, you’re sure to need at least a few ‘life events’ phrases that you can use. After all, many of these are shared experiences, and it’s generally expected that we will show up with good manners and warm wishes.

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Table of Contents

  1. Life Events
  2. Marriage Proposal Lines
  3. Talking About Age
  4. Conclusion

1. Life Events

Do you know how to say “Happy New Year” in Hungarian? Well, the New Year is a pretty big deal that the whole world is in on! We celebrate until midnight, make mindful resolutions, and fill the night sky with the same happy words in hundreds of languages. No doubt, then, that you’ll want to know how to say it like a local!

Big life events are not all about fun times, though. Real life happens even when you’re traveling, and certain terminology will be very helpful to know. From talking about your new job to wishing your neighbors “Merry Christmas” in Hungarian, here at HungarianPod101, we’ve put together just the right vocabulary and phrases for you.

1- Birthday – születésnap

If you’re like me, any excuse to bring out a pen and scribble a note is a good one. When there’s a birthday, even better: hello, handwriting!

Your Hungarian friend will love hearing you wish them a “Happy birthday” in Hungarian, but how much more will they appreciate a thoughtful written message? Whether you write it on their Facebook wall or buy a cute card, your effort in Hungarian is sure to get them smiling! Write it like this:

Boldog születésnapot

Older Woman Blowing Out Candles on a Birthday Cake Surrounded by Friends.

Now that you know the words, I challenge you to put them to music and sing your own “Happy birthday” song in Hungarian! It’s not impossible to figure out even more lyrics, once you start discovering the language from scratch.

2- Buy – vásárol

If there’s a special occasion, you might want to buy somebody a gift. As long as you’ve checked out Hungarian etiquette on gift-giving (do a Google search for this!), it will be a lovely gesture. If you’re not sure what to buy, how about the awesome and universally-appealing gift of language? That’s a gift that won’t stop giving!

Two Women at a Counter in a Bookstore, One Buying a Book

3- Retire – nyugdíjba megy

If you’re planning to expand your mind and retire in Hungary, you can use this word to tell people why you seem to be on a perpetual vacation!

Retirement is also a great time to learn a new language, don’t you think? And you don’t have to do it alone! These days it’s possible to connect to a vibrant learning community at the click of a button. The added benefit of a Daily Dose of Language is that it keeps your brain cells alive and curious about the world. After all, it’s never too late to realize those long-ignored dreams of traveling the globe…

4- Graduation – diploma szerzés

When attending a graduation ceremony in Hungary, be prepared for a lot of formal language! It will be a great opportunity to listen carefully and see if you can pick up differences from the everyday Hungarian you hear.

Lecturer or University Dean Congratulating and Handing Over Graduation Certificate to a Young Man on Graduation Day.

5- Promotion – előléptetés

Next to vacation time, receiving a promotion is the one career highlight almost everyone looks forward to. And why wouldn’t you? Sure, it means more responsibility, but it also means more money and benefits and – the part I love most – a change of scenery! Even something as simple as looking out a new office window would boost my mood.

6- Anniversary – évforduló

Some anniversaries we anticipate with excitement, others with apprehension. They are days marking significant events in our lives that can be shared with just one person, or with a whole nation. Whether it’s a special day for you and a loved one, or for someone else you know, this word is crucial to know if you want to wish them a happy anniversary in Hungarian.

7- Funeral – temetés

We tend to be uncomfortable talking about funerals in the west, but it’s an important conversation for families to have. Around the world, there are many different customs and rituals for saying goodbye to deceased loved ones – some vastly different to our own. When traveling in Hungary, if you happen to find yourself the unwitting observer of a funeral, take a quiet moment to appreciate the cultural ethos; even this can be an enriching experience for you.

8- Travel – utazik

Travel – my favorite thing to do! Everything about the experience is thrilling and the best cure for boredom, depression, and uncertainty about your future. You will surely be forever changed, fellow traveler! But you already know this, don’t you? Well, now that you’re on the road to total Hungarian immersion, I hope you’ve downloaded our IOS apps and have your Nook Book handy to keep yourself entertained on those long bus rides.

Young Female Tourist with a Backpack Taking a Photo of the Arc de Triomphe

9- Graduate – elvégezni az iskolát

If you have yet to graduate from university, will you be job-hunting in Hungary afterward? Forward-looking companies sometimes recruit talented students who are still in their final year. Of course, you could also do your final year abroad as an international student – an amazing experience if you’d love to be intellectually challenged and make a rainbow of foreign friends!

10- Wedding – esküvő

One of the most-loved traditions that humans have thought up, which you’ll encounter anywhere in the world, is a wedding. With all that romance in the air and months spent on preparations, a wedding is typically a feel-good affair. Two people pledge their eternal love to each other, ladies cry, single men look around for potential partners, and everybody has a happy day of merrymaking.

Ah, but how diverse we are in our expression of love! You will find more wedding traditions around the world than you can possibly imagine. From reciting love quotes to marrying a tree, the options leave no excuse to be boring!

Married Couple During Reception, Sitting at Their Table While a Young Man Gives a Wedding Speech

11- Move – költözik

I love Hungary, but I’m a nomad and tend to move around a lot, even within one country. What are the biggest emotions you typically feel when moving house? The experts say moving is a highly stressful event, but I think that depends on the circumstances. Transitional periods in our lives are physically and mentally demanding, but changing your environment is also an exciting adventure that promises new tomorrows!

12- Be born – születik

I was not born in 1993, nor was I born in Asia. I was born in the same year as Aishwarya Rai, Akon, and Monica Lewinsky, and on the same continent as Freddy Mercury. When and where were you born? More importantly – can you say it in Hungarian?

13- Get a job – munkát talál

The thought of looking for a job in a new country can be daunting, but English speakers are in great demand in Hungary – you just have to do some research, make a few friends and get out there! Also, arming yourself with a few Hungarian introductions that you can both say and write will give you a confidence boost. For example, can you write your name in Hungarian?

Group of People in Gear that Represent a Number of Occupations.

14- Die – meghal

Death is a universal experience and the final curtain on all other life events. How important is it, then, to fully live before we die? If all you have is a passport, a bucket list, and a willingness to learn some lingo, you can manifest those dreams!

15- Home – otthon

If home is where the heart is, then my home is on a jungle island completely surrounded by the turquoise ocean. Right now, though, home is an isolation room with a view of half a dry palm tree and a tangle of telephone wires.

If you’re traveling to Hungary for an extended stay, you’ll soon be moving into a new home quite unlike anything you’ve experienced before!

Large, Double-Story House with Lit Windows.

16- Job – munka

What job do you do? Does it allow you much time for travel, or for working on this fascinating language that has (so rightfully) grabbed your attention? Whatever your job, you are no doubt contributing to society in a unique way. If you’re doing what you love, you’re already on the road to your dream. If not, just remember that every single task is one more skill to add to your arsenal. With that attitude, your dream job is coming!

17- Birth – születés

Random question: do you know the birth rate of Hungary?

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to see a friend’s baby just after they are born, you’ll have all my respect and all my envy. There is nothing cuter! Depending on which part of the country you’re in, you may find yourself bearing witness to some pretty unexpected birth customs. Enjoy this privilege!

Crying Newborn Baby Held By a Doctor or Nurse in a Hospital Theatre

18- Engaged – eljegyzi

EE Cummings said, “Lovers alone wear sunlight,” and I think that’s most true at the moment she says “yes.” Getting engaged is something young girls dream of with stars in their eyes, and it truly is a magical experience – from the proposal, to wearing an engagement ring, to the big reveal!

In the world of Instagram, there’s no end to the antics as imaginative couples try more and more outrageous ways to share their engagement with the world. I love an airport flashmob, myself, but I’d rather be proposed to on a secluded beach – salt, sand, and all!

Engagement customs around the world vary greatly, and Hungary is no exception when it comes to interesting traditions. Learning their unique romantic ways will inspire you for when your turn comes.

Speaking of romance, do you know how to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” in Hungarian?

19- Marry – házasságot köt

The one you marry will be the gem on a shore full of pebbles. They will be the one who truly mirrors your affection, shares your visions for the future, and wants all of you – the good, the bad and the inexplicable.

From thinking up a one-of-a-kind wedding, to having children, to growing old together, finding a twin flame to share life with is quite an accomplishment! Speaking of which…

2. Marriage Proposal Lines

Marriage Proposal Lines

Ah, that heart-stopping moment when your true love gets down on one knee to ask for your hand in marriage, breathlessly hoping that you’ll say “Yes!” If you haven’t experienced that – well, it feels pretty darn good, is all I can say! If you’re the one doing the asking, though, you’ve probably had weeks of insomnia agonizing over the perfect time, location and words to use.

Man on His Knee Proposing to a Woman on a Bridge.

How much more care should be taken if your love is from a different culture to yours? Well, by now you know her so well, that most of it should be easy to figure out. As long as you’ve considered her personal commitment to tradition, all you really need is a few words from the heart. Are you brave enough to say them in Hungarian?

3. Talking About Age

Talking about Age

Part of the wonder of learning a new language is having the ability to strike up simple conversations with strangers. Asking about age in this context feels natural, as your intention is to practice friendly phrases – just be mindful of their point of view!

When I was 22, I loved being asked my age. Nowadays, if someone asks, I say, “Well, I’ve just started my fifth cat life.” Let them ponder that for a while.

In Hungary, it’s generally not desirable to ask an older woman her age for no good reason, but chatting about age with your peers is perfectly normal. Besides, you have to mention your birthday if you want to be thrown a birthday party!

4. Conclusion

Well, there you have it! With so many great new Hungarian phrases to wish people with, can you think of someone who has a big event coming up? If you want to get even more creative, HungarianPod101 has much to inspire you with – come and check it out! Here’s just some of what we have on offer at HungarianPod101:

  • Free Resources: Sharing is caring, and for this reason, we share many free resources with our students. For instance, start learning Hungarian with our basic online course by creating a lifetime account – for free! Also get free daily and iTunes lessons, free eBooks, free mobile apps, and free access to our blog and online community. Or how about free Vocabulary Lists? The Hungarian dictionary is for exclusive use by our students, also for free. There’s so much to love about HungarianPod101…!
  • Innovative Learning Tools and Apps: We make it our priority to offer you the best learning tools! These include apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Mac OSX; eBooks for Kindle, Nook, and iPad; audiobooks; Roku TV and so many more. This means that we took diverse lifestyles into account when we developed our courses, so you can learn anywhere, anytime on a device of your choice. How innovative!
  • Live Hosts and One-on-One Learning: Knowledgeable, energetic hosts present recorded video lessons, and are available for live teaching experiences if you upgrade. This means that in the videos, you get to watch them pronounce those tongue-twisters, as if you’re learning live! Add octane to your learning by upgrading to Premium Plus, and learn two times faster. You can have your very own Hungarian teacher always with you, ensuring that you learn what you need, when you need to – what a wonderful opportunity to master a new language in record time!
  • Start Where You Are: You don’t know a single Hungarian word? Not to worry, we’ve absolutely got this. Simply enroll in our Absolute Beginner Pathway and start speaking from Lesson 1! As your learning progresses, you can enroll in other pathways to match your Hungarian level, at your own pace, in your own time, in your own place!

Learning a new language can only enrich your life, and could even open doors towards great opportunities! So don’t wonder if you’ll regret enrolling in HungarianPod101. It’s the most fun, easy way to learn Hungarian.

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