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  • Two Hundred Foreigners, Eager To Learn Hungarian

    This year’s one-month summer course of Debrecen Summer School, where almost 200 students studied the Hungarian language and simultaneously immersed into Hungarian culture, is over. The participants came from as many as 37 different countries, and the largest contingent was from China this time.

    A total of one hundred and sixty certificates were issued during the course of four weeks, and one third of them were excellent. Following the closing written exams, the teachers also evaluated the oral fluency in their respective groups. There were groups for beginners as well as for near-native speakers, the latter being reserved for the most accomplished users of Hungarian as a second language.

    “It was perhaps this year when we had the highest number of advanced learners, teaching whom is always a real challenge for the staff. They had to be taught by using special compilations of teaching material, as there are no textbooks available for this level,” said DSS Director Péter Szaffkó.

    Students who speak Hungarian as a heritage language have usually one Hungarian parent or sometimes two Hungarian parents who live and/or work abroad, which is why they need help and practice primarily in matters of reading or writing in the target language.

    The most popular extracurricular events were the folklore nights this year, too. Dances from the regions of Hajdúság, Felvidék, Kalocsa and Moldva were taught and practiced, while for dinner, there was always something typical served from the given region.  Pieces of special folk wear were available for those who wished to try them on, and those with an artistic vein could paint genuine motives on pebbles and stones, which they could then take with them as souvenirs.

    According to the organizers, the so-called afternoon and evening “extra” activities were also very successful, including the classes in phonetics, the literary club classes, and the Hungarian cuisine workshops, where participants could try their hands and luck at preparing traditional Hungarian dishes. Equally popular were the bicycle trips to nearby locations, the sightseeing tours, called “Debrecen by Night,” and the guided tours to Debrecen’s Jewish quarter.

    “Due to the increasing amount of interest, we are planning to expand the range of extra offers next year because we would like to make sure that everybody should find something among the colorful activities that they would be eager to participate in,” said Director Szaffkó.

    There was also one group of participants who studied the ropes of how to organize and coordinate a summer school. Members of the group came to Debrecen sponsored from funding that DSS had applied for, and they took part in certain extracurricular activities and events both as organizers and as observers, which they then evaluated together with the staff of the summer school in the morning classes.

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