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In the past quarter century, Hungary has offered fertile ground for innovative developments in foreign language (FL) education. The appropriate, albeit disparaging, label applied to Hungary in the mid-1970s – ‘a land of foreign language illiterates’ (Köllő 1978: 6) – no longer applies. In the wake of the dramatic changes of 1989, the number of FL speakers rose quite rapidly. As a beneficial side-effect, applied linguistic and language education research, areas which used to be relegated to the lowest rung of the academic ladder, began to be recognised as legitimate fields of scientific inquiry, offering young researchers the opportunity to embark on an academic career. As a result, Hungarian authors are now regular contributors to distinguished journals, and researchers from Hungary are welcome speakers at international conferences.
However, Hungarian authors often choose to publish their research studies in local journals and volumes which are not easily accessible to the international research community, especially if written in Hungarian. The aim of this review, therefore, is to give an overview of such studies to demonstrate the breadth and depth of recent research conducted in Hungary.
Hungary is a small landlocked country in Central Europe with a population of over ten million. The official language, and the mother tongue of the vast majority of the population, is Hungarian. Belonging to the Uralic language family, Hungarian is unrelated to any other European language except Finnish. In order to minimize the effects of their linguistic isolation, Hungarians have always attached great importance to the learning of foreign languages.