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Apr 4, 2019

Learning Hungarian with Drops: Milestone 6

Throughout the challenge, I planned on studying daily with Drops. I hoped that by the end of the project, I’d have had the time to learn all the words currently in the app.

Our team did an incredible job curating word lists with highly relevant and practical vocabulary, so much of what I learned with the app will be immediately applicable to my ultimate goal. Additionally, my experience has shown me that learning tons of vocabulary up front is an incredible way to make huge strides in language learning from the start.

But this milestone was the first (and only) milestone I didn’t reach during the challenge. Though I did reach it shortly after. More on that in a moment...

* Is this the first post in this series that you’re reading? Follow this link to learn more about my Hungarian language challenge.

Milestone 6 Stats

By Milestone 6, my goal was to have learned all the words in Drops. It made sense prior to the content expansion. But after the expansion, there were almost 2,500 words. It two months, that’s almost 50 words per day!

So by the time the trip to Budapest rolled around, how many words had I learned in Hungarian?

According to my Drops stats, I had learned just shy of 450 words.

It may not seem like a lot, but as I said before, it’s amazing what you can do in a language even with a limited vocabulary.

Learn a new language with Drops

What My Language Study Routine Looked Like

So why did my vocab learning slow down? Because right before the trip, I switched from learning as many new words as possible to making sure I really knew the words I had already learned. My five-minute sessions were more often spent in the Drops Dojo reviewing rather than in new topics.


Because my goal was to speak Hungarian. If I had 2,500 words that I knew passively, meaning I would recognize them if I heard or read them but couldn’t pull them out in a conversation on my own, I wouldn’t accomplish my goal of surprising the Drops founders. Instead, I needed to be able to use the words I learned. That’s why it was important for me to make sure I truly knew them before adding new words into the mix.

This meant all of my study time was spent either 1) roleplaying situations I’d experience while in Hungary or 2) reviewing the words I learned in the Drops dojo.

On the plane to Budapest, I did finally return to learning new words. Because I had more than 15 hours of travel time, I felt confident that I could do more than just review and continue adding to what I already knew in Hungarian.

And if you’re curious about how many words you can reasonably learn on a two-hour flight, it’s about 50 words if you split your study time between learning new words and review sessions. I did two to three learning sessions for every one review session.

Thoughts About My Hungarian Learning Progress

After the trip, I went back and dove into the new Topics I hadn’t yet explored in Drops. With the mission over, my Hungarian learning goal changed. Leading up to the trip, I had two very specific goals:

  1. Learn enough Hungarian to get around in basic travel situations so that my trip would be more enjoyable and;
  2. Learn the words I’d need to know to discuss my Hungarian project with the founders of Drops in Hungarian.

Now that the surprise is over, my new goal is to be able to discuss simple work-related and hobby-related topics in Hungarian with my co-workers. There are lots of Topics in Drops I didn’t get to prior to the trip to help me do this, so after I enjoyed having the chance to really spend time with them.

A Note About Missing the Mark

Missing this Milestone could have been an enormous setback for me if I had let it. I could have felt discouraged or disappointed, and feeling that way could have derailed my entire project. But it didn’t because I didn’t let it.

I simply adjusted course and adapted my plan so that it stayed in line with my #1 goal--surprising the founders of Drops.

I also didn’t let not achieving this Milestone when I planned stand in the way of me reaching it all together. I simply adjusted course and set a new deadline, using the frustration of missing the mark the first time to motivate me not to miss it the second.

Learning Hungarian with Drops

When you don’t achieve a goal as your originally intended, that doesn’t mean that you can’t go after it all. In this case, I stand by the expression “better late than never.” Even though I didn’t learn all the words in Drops prior to the trip, I had definitely learned enough words to accomplish my final goal, even if I missed one of the stepping stones along the way. Going back and reaching that goal after that fact gave me an extra little boost in satisfaction because despite doing it later than planned, I still did it.

What about you? What do you do when you don’t reach your goals as originally planned? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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