It’s here, the moment you’ve been waiting for! Everything that I worked towards as a part of my surprise Hungarian language project led to this moment--surprising the founders of Drops in Budapest, Hungary.
* Is this the first post in this series that you’re reading? Follow this link to learn more about my Hungarian language challenge.
After a week in Budapest, we worked out a time to sit down with Daniel and Mark, the creators of Drops. The marketing team and I brainstormed how we could get them alone in a room with our cameras for enough time to surprise them.
We arranged a meeting with them on the last day of our get-together for a variety of reasons--location, lack of distraction, and availability. Plus, I secretly craved getting those extra days of study and exposure to the language in beforehand.
There were more questions and requests to dodge: Why couldn’t we do the meeting earlier? What if we combined it with this other thing? Did it need to be at our workspace? What was it about?
We tried to be as vague as possible, but the pair were certainly curious and the anticipation was building.
This small, fun surprise that I had planned felt like it was becoming this enormous thing and my confidence wavered. What if my Hungarian wasn’t good enough to impress them? What if I choked on camera? What if they were disappointed at what the surprise meeting was about?
It turned out that all of those worries were just in my own head. My Hungarian did turn out to be fine enough that they assumed I had studied much longer. I didn’t choke on camera (though I admittedly was nervous). And while they may have expected something else, Mark later told me he thought I was going to talk about something related to our company posts on Instagram, they were both impressed and pleased.
We got into the room, the cameras started rolling. I asked Drew and Ashley (the team members filming) if they were ready. They said yes, and I switched into Hungarian. Én is kész vagyok (“I’m ready, too”).
Watch the video to see their reactions:
My stats between Milestone 6 and Milestone 8 were nearly identical. Rather than learn new words, it was really important to me at this stage to master what I already knew. That means my known words in Drops still hovered at around 450.
Again, you can do a lot with a limited vocabulary.
In the week leading up to the big reveal, I spent as much time as I could using Hungarian, though this was still pretty limited due to the circumstances around the trip. I also spent a little bit of time each morning reviewing words in the Drops Dojo before heading off to our meetings.
I also wrote out bullet points (in Hungarian) for some of the things I wanted to say when the time came. This was a script, in a way, though it wasn’t one I’d have on hand when the surprise happened!
As I shared earlier, I was a little nervous. Yes, even polyglots get nervous--especially in situations where they feel like they have to “perform”.
That peak in the image above is my heart rate when it came time do the big reveal. But I didn’t let my nerves stop me. Instead, I found confidence in the work I did leading up to that moment. I know I studied hard and that I knew enough to do what I needed to do. I needed to trust in the work that I did to prepare.
Overall, Drops helped me build a really strong foundation in the Hungarian language with lots of useful vocabulary. It was an enjoyable learning experience, and I definitely plan to hang on to Hungarian. I plan to continue studying it and sometime in the next six months will drop by again to update you on how it’s going.
What’s my plan going forward?
I’ll continue to review the words I’ve learned in the Drops Dojo, take lessons with my tutor in italki, and will finally get around to that coursebook I bought.
Drops is a great app and it does one thing incredibly well--words. To have a conversation and to really use the Hungarian language, I needed a little more than just vocabulary. That’s why I started taking lessons in the last week and a half of my project. I was able to start giving all the words I learned in Drops context and that, in turn, made everything more memorable.
There was one obstacle, however, and it was that new words were also coming up in my lessons. Because they weren’t in Drops or because I hadn’t gotten to them in the app, figuring out how I would hang on to them as well (without adding another resource into the mix) proved to be a challenge.
The result was that I had to get highly selective about how I studied and practiced the language. If my tutor suggested a topic that didn’t overlap with my studying on Drops or to the surprise, I had to say “No, not yet. Maybe after this trip.”
But having those same conversations over and over, roleplaying the same situations and having them turn out a little bit differently each time proved to be excellent preparation for this project and ultimately, the big surprise.
Overall, I feel that this project went really well. I’m really happy with the results. Focusing on vocabulary with Drops before diving into lessons and then real world contexts really helped me prepare in a way that not only made sense but was effective offered me just what I needed.
I feel a little like a broken record because I keep repeating this in the various updates surrounding this project, but words matter immensely when learning a language. If I hadn’t learned as much vocabulary, I don’t believe the project would have gone the way it did.
I look forward to continuing my Hungarian studies with Drops and future opportunities to use the language with other members of our team.
What about you? What languages are you working on at the moment? What learning strategies are you finding effective? What are you struggling with? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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