Let us learn languages!

It is said that confessing your love and swearing feel the best in the mother tongue, but there are situations, when there would be a demand for them in a foreign language as well. When it comes to language learning, many people still think of memorising grammatical rules. Fortunately, nowadays you can easily make yourselves understood with the aid of your smart devices. What is more, the era when you can use a speech-to-speech translator such as the universal translator of the Star Trek universe is not far away either.

Common language?

VF_3069.jpgWhat if you do not have to spend arduous hours learning several foreign languages? The use of a possible common language is an old ideal. On second thought, there was already a collective language of scientific life in the Middle Ages, Latin. In Hungary, in the Middle Ages and later in the Early Modern Age, the language of administration and jurisdiction was Latin, but the literature of Hungary was also determined by this language. The humanistic poet Janus Pannonius and also Péter Pázmány rhymed in Latin. The Hungarian language replaced it only in 1844. However, before this, the language decree of Joseph II – issued in 1784 – stirred our officials’ bile, requiring that administration must be processed in German.


The birth of the first truly significant constructed language, now known by many people, was driven by the goal of creating an idiom independent of nations and equal for all. In 1887, the Polish eye specialist Lazar Ludwig Zamenhof published his work - in fact a draft of the created language - by the name Doktoro Esperanto, in other words Dr. Hopeful. Although he wanted to call this fictional language lingvo internacia, the expression formed from his pseudonym was so widespread that the name Esperanto eventually became established. The vocabulary of Esperanto consists mainly of the major European languages and, indirectly or directly, words of Latin and ancient Greek origin. Its very simple, exception-free and expressive grammar is related to those of the great Asian languages. Learning Esperanto is easy due to its regular word-formation. Of course, constructed languages existed previously, such as Volapük, but it was effaced gradually with the appearance of Esperanto, as Esperanto proved to be much easier to learn, so the fans of Volapük simply went over to the camp of Esperantists.

However, Esperanto is by no means just a language, but rather a movement, whose primary purpose is to spread the language. Although fewer and fewer people seem to take language exams every year, Esperanto is as much a living language as English or German in this point of view.

The mandatory language will never be a common language


It is likely that several students heaved a sigh of relief as one, when the statement of the Ministry of Culture that compulsory teaching of the Russian language in schools would be abolished with immediate effect on 31 May 1989 was announced. Why was there such repugnance to the Russian language? Because the Russian language was made mandatory in order to educate the “socialist type of person”. However, the “autocrat” language for forty years was one of the most unpopular subjects in schools not only because of that, but also due to the ineffectiveness of language teaching.

Before the end of World War II, students were allowed to choose from several languages in secondary schools, mostly German, French, and English were taught. In September 1949, the Ministry of Religion and Public Education (VKM) ordered compulsory teaching of the Russian language in primary and secondary schools, and a few weeks later in higher education. Today, perhaps many people regret not having paid more attention on Russian lessons, but it is a fact that without motivation there is little chance of learning a language. However, keep up your courage! You can still learn 23 of the 24 official languages of the European Union at any time.

Translated by Zita Aknai
Simon Olga. "Az orosz nyelv oktatása Magyarországon oktatáspolitikai és módszertan-történeti aspektusból" (2006).



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