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Lesson Transcript

Michael: What are some common Hungarian proficiency tests?
Boglárka: And how do I choose the right one for me?
Michael: At HungarianPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following situation: Emma Epres is chatting with Jack Jones about her Hungarian studies. She is trying to stay motivated to study harder, because she has to take a proficiency exam. She says: "I have to take the ORIGO exam."
Emma Epres: Le kell tennem az ORIGO vizsgát.
Emma Epres: Le kell tennem az ORIGO vizsgát.
Jack Jones: Az ORIGO vizsgát?
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Emma Epres: Le kell tennem az ORIGO vizsgát.
Michael: "I have to take the ORIGO exam."
Jack Jones: Az ORIGO vizsgát?
Michael: "The ORIGO exam?"

Lesson focus

Michael: For many Hungarian learners, one of the goals when they finally master the language is to spend some time–or even their future—in the country where the language is spoken. If it’s also on your bucket list, or if you plan to apply to a university or find a job in Hungary, or if you want to permanently relocate to a Hungarian-speaking country, proof of your Hungarian knowledge will come in handy.
To show that you are fluent and that you won’t have any problems in your daily life caused by the language barrier, you might be asked to present evidence of your proficiency in Hungarian.
Hungarian proficiency tests can serve as this evidence. In this lesson, we will talk about what proficiency tests you can take, and which one will be the most fitting for your purpose.
Currently, two language exam systems offer Hungarian as a second language exam: ORIGO and ECL. When taking the Hungarian language exam,
Boglárka: magyar nyelvvizsga
Michael: you have to choose one of the two. So, which one will be the best for you?
Both are aligned to international guidelines, and while they are very much the same at their core, each also has some unique features. To make it easier for you, we’ll compare the two in this lesson.
Michael: Let’s take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Emma Epres says, "I have to take the ORIGO exam?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Boglárka as Emma Epres: Le kell tennem az ORIGO vizsgát.
Michael: And now let’s take a look at our second sentence.
Do you remember how Jack Jones answered, "The ORIGO exam?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Boglárka as Jack Jones: Az ORIGO vizsgát?
Michael: The ORIGO is one of the major Hungarian exams.
Boglárka: Origó
Michael: is short for the ELTE university’s
Boglárka: Origó Nyelvi Centrum
Michael: in Budapest, Hungary. With the ORIGO exam, you will be tested on your skills in four areas: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. In this sense, it's just like any other language exam. You may, however, choose to take only the written
Boglárka: írásbeli
Michael: or the oral test
Boglárka: szóbeli.
Michael: The entire exam, both oral and written, is conducted in Hungarian, without a mediating language. Therefore, mediation skills, like translation and interpretation between Hungarian and English, are not measured—one less worry! Now, let’s look at the exam levels offered:
There are three accredited levels to choose from: B1, or Threshold User,
Boglárka: alapfok
Michael: which is the foundation level. It assesses whether you can meet the basic communication demands of everyday life, both socially and at work. The next level is B2, or Independent User,
Boglárka: középfok
Michael: which is the intermediate level. This exam assesses whether you can create and maintain complex social, cultural, and work relationships using the appropriate language. Lastly, there is the C1 level, or Competent User,
Boglárka: felsőfok.
Michael: This is the advanced level—for which you will need to have a sophisticated vocabulary and a rich variety of stylistic apparatus. You must also be familiar with different language registers. The exam assesses whether you can approximate the linguistic and cultural performance of native speakers.
You can also take the exam at the basic A2 level, or Waystage User, but that would not be accredited. This exam is mainly recommended to kids aged 10-14 who have learned the Hungarian language for at least 200 hours and are interested in finding out their knowledge level. If you don’t quite feel ready for a more advanced exam, you could start with this one to get a feel of how language exams work, and prepare you for future ones!
Whichever level you choose, remember you will be tested on your skills in four areas. So, let us look at these four testing categories separately. The first is
Boglárka: [NORMAL] szóbeli kommunikáció [SLOWLY] szóbeli kommunikáció
(pause 4 seconds)
Michael: meaning "oral communication." One candidate is tested in front of two interviewers, in four parts. There is guided conversation, talking about a certain topic based on a picture, situational roleplay, and, if you are doing C1 level, you will also do interpretation of a text.
Next is
Boglárka: [NORMAL] beszédértés [SLOWLY] beszédértés
(pause 4 seconds)
Michael: which means "listening comprehension." In this stage, you will listen to two audio files and then complete some related exercises such as multiple choice, matching of short texts, summaries, and so on.
Then, we have the third stage:
Boglárka: [NORMAL] szövegértés [SLOWLY] szövegértés
(pause 4 seconds)
Michael: meaning "reading comprehension." Here, you will read both a shorter and a somewhat longer text, and then complete some related exercises. Then, lastly, you will complete
Boglárka: [NORMAL] írott kommunikáció [SLOWLY] írott kommunikáció
(pause 4 seconds)
Michael: which means "written communication." For this, you will be asked to compose two texts. Depending on your level, this could mean an invitation, message, personal letter, e-mail, comment for a blog, and so on. Fun, right?
Now, let’s look at the ECL exam. ECL stands for European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment of Modern Languages—quite a mouthful, I know!
Like ORIGO, ECL is also a monolingual exam and only Hungarian will be used. The difference is that this one is both oral and written—meaning you don't have a choice, you have to do both. The levels tested are A2, B1, B2, and C1.
The listening, reading, and writing categories will follow the same testing format as ORIGO. What is slightly different is the oral communication part. Instead of just one candidate, they take two or three candidates at the same time, in front of two interviewers.
The first part is just a 3-5 minute introduction to get you warmed up, and it’s not assessed. Next, the examiner will initiate a guided conversation between you and another candidate. After that, you will talk alone about a certain topic based on a picture, and there is some situational roleplay. Those three parts are the same as ORIGO. Unlike ORIGO, though, C1 candidates won’t have to do interpretation of a text.
Well, now that we have described your Hungarian proficiency exam options, we should also talk about what obtaining these certificates will mean for you. After all, it’s quite normal to wonder what to expect from foreign employers—like whether your certificate will be accepted or not!
Rest assured, the Hungarian Language Proficiency Exam does not stand on its own: it follows and is based on the guiding principles of the European Council, called the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
The 6 reference levels of this guideline are the European standard for grading an individual's language proficiency, namely: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.
The good thing about this is that your certificate will be understood and accepted worldwide!
Michael: In this lesson, we had a look at the two most common Hungarian proficiency tests, which are
Boglárka: Origó és ECL
Michael: and what their content looks like. If you have questions we have not covered in this lesson, you can find further information on their websites, which will be linked in the lesson notes.
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: So, have you thought much about where you would like to take your Hungarian proficiency test? The international centre for ECL is situated in
Boglárka: Pécs,
Michael: Hungary, but there are approximately 200 exam sites worldwide. This exam is offered twice a year, in June and December.
Then, the
Boglárka: Origó Nyelvi Centrum
Michael: is situated at ELTE university in Budapest, Hungary. This center was founded in 1967, and it has been providing language courses, as well as assessments and qualifications, for almost 50 years. If you want to take the ORIGO exam, there are more than 60 exam locations nationwide to choose from. They organize an exam session every month, with the written part typically being around the 7th-10th day of the month, while available times for the oral part (if applicable) last for roughly a week around the day of the written part. The application deadline always precedes the date of the written examination by approximately one month. A detailed overview of the ORIGO exam dates for this year can be found on this link: https://www.onyc.hu/vizsganaptar


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Boglárka: Viszontlátásra!
Michael: See you soon!

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