1) Things to Consider When Learning How to Speak Tagalog

2) Some Tips to Get You Started Learning Tagalog

3) Filipino Superstitions

Things to Consider When Learning How to Speak Tagalog

So you are thinking about learning Tagalog or maybe you have made up your mind and are determined. Whether you are undecided about Tagalog or just interested in learning other languages I am going to talk about some of the things you need to consider while you learn to speak Tagalog (Filipino). Although this article is about Tagalog specifically the concepts more or less can be applied to learning any language really.


Learning Tagalog isn't hard it just takes a while. learning foreign languages is a lot like losing weight. It is a slow calculated process that will require daily effort. You will not accomplish your goal over night, and progress will be slow and gradual. Where many people get discouraged is they feel like they have been studying, but still understand nothing they hear. The reason for this is simple which brings me to my next point.


Speaking Tagalog is a different skill from listening or understanding spoken Tagalog. When you talk to someone you respond to questions or ask questions or talk about your day. You will talk about things that you have the vocabulary to talk about, and much of your conversations are “scripted”. Much of language is a sort of song and dance where we say things like “how are you” and respond “fine”, without even thinking about it. No one responds to how are you with the sky is blue, and I like cheese. Most responses are entirely predictable. In the early stages of a conversation. The reason you don't understand other people is because they are past all of those “how do you do” formalities and are now talking about their plans after work or what other people are doing. Listening to other people talk near you is much more challenging then listening to the response to a question you just asked. For this reason understanding a movie or song in Tagalog probably won’t happen for you for a while. This “scripted” speech I am referring to is how some polyglots deceive people into believing they became fluent in only a week or three months. Those people would be unable to really talk about anything with substance all they know how to say is there little introduction, and explanation about how they have learned this language, and if you pay attention sometimes they answer a question strangely or don’t answer questions and that is because they knew what they were going to say before you said anything and they are taking a gamble that the conversation is going to be that predictable conversation they always have. There is truth to this I myself have hound that almost every conversation I have had with a Filipino that I haven't already met has gone the exact same way. I am asked how did you learn Tagalog, or where did you learn Tagalog, are you pure white, is your family Filipino, do you have a Filipino girlfriend or wife. 


What Tagalog vocabulary should I learn? The short answer is ultimately we want to learn all of it, but we realize that that is impossible and pointless so how do we decide what words to learn first and how. My Tagalog will be different from yours, which will be different from another student’s and the reason is simple. I talk about different things then you do. I know vocabulary for drinking, smoking, and gambling, because I was a Marine and it is what I used to do, but you may like soccer and know words for that, because that is what you talk about with your friends. This ties back into why speaking is different from listening. When you speak you have the ability to engage and steer the conversation, but listening is passive and you have no control of the subject or vocabulary used. Start with those conversation phrases like “salamat” meaning thank you and “kamusta ka” how are you etc. Then start your focus on verbs, because verbs are everything, and the nouns will come in time. Adjectives will help you describe nouns you don't know for example: What are those round rubber things under a car? A tire? Yeah Tires sorry I forgot that word. This technique is know as circumlocution or circle talking. This is a technique I use all the time. If I didn’t know how to say dry I would just say not wet. If I cant remember the word for address I may say where do you live instead of what is your address. This will take time to develop it is basically thinking outside the box so you can speak more with what you have. 


How many words do I really need to know? Well this is sort of language dependent, but generally about 2,000 words is really all it takes to be conversationally fluent. With that being said though conjugations of verbs don’t count as more words for example: if “to do” is the word then learning “did” and “will do” isn't three words that is still just one word. Breaking away from scripts and just learning the grammar will increase your speaking ability very quickly.


When learning how to speak Tagalog there is something you should watch out for. There will be a Spanish word, an English derived word, and a Tagalog word or two for almost every word. You should learn them all, but if you are unsure which is more common please refer to my website. I use common tongue here and you won’t have 300 year old Tagalog taught to you like it is still spoken today. I teach “real” Tagalog as in what you will hear when you go outside. Other sites teach old school pure Tagalog and that is great, but that is not what I am about here.


Don’t go to fast! If you try to learn too many words at a time you will likely not really retain them, and also may confuse them with the words you learned around the same time period. A good pace is focus on two to three new words a day. Use those words all day  in different sentences in different ways, and make them relevant to your day. For example when I went to six flags one of the words I chose was Pumila to get in/wait in line. As you can imagine I used that word many times that day. Or the word “Kasya" when my brother-in-law helped me move into my house. The words bayaw and hipag didn’t matter to me until I had a brother and sister-in-law. Pick you word or words of the day and you should hit your target 2,000 in about a year and a half. That is a realistic goal.


If you have anymore questions or like my article I am always open to fan mail. Please email me at





Some Tips to Get You Started Learning Tagalog

  1. Download some sort of flashcard app on your phone. I of course recommend using quizlet so you can use the flashcards I already provided you just click here  While I wait in line, sit on the toilet, or take a brake at work is when I get some of the best studying done.
  2. Try replacing English words with what Tagalog words you know so far. Since Taglish is is a mix of English and Tagalog anyway it won’t sound so strange. Just tell your filipino friends what you are doing and not to correct you. It is just a good way to practice vocabulary.
  3. Watch my videos over and over to remind yourself the concepts, and then make sentences and email them to me at
  4. Find a good dictionary you like that you can reference quickly. My website is mobile friendly so you can click here and access my dictionary at anytime.
  5. Unless you have learned a language from nothing to fluency before you really don’t know what you need and don’t need to know. So unfortunately you must put your trust into someone who can teach you from start to finish. There are several courses available out there, and most of them when it comes to Tagalog are terrible. That is why I recommend you use my videos from start to finish or you can hire me privately to teach you  by emailing me at

Filipino Superstitions

Filipinos are very superstitious by nature. Most americans view superstitions as fun, and don't really take them very seriously, but not filipinos. Most filipino superstitions are a long list of dont's and can be very inconvenient and even hold people back in life. Some superstitions are harmless like don't stretch while eating, don't walk bear foot in the house or you will get sick, if you buy someone shoes for someone else they will run away from you. Some are not so innocent like how you can't carry your parents in their funeral or have to spend large amounts of money to feed everyone at a funeral if you are the family who lost someone. Some people will literally put themselves in debt to fulfill these superstitions. You also can't get married the same year of a death or another wedding. Some people may put off getting married and having kids for years, because of superstitions like these. Filipinos believe in ghosts, monsters, curses, fortunetellers etc as well. Fortune tellers known as Manghuhula's prey on this by taking poor peoples hard earned money for a good fortune or to simply avoid being cursed. Religeon is also a large part of filipino culture. Approximately 80% of the Philippines is Roman Catholic. The idea of being athiest or non-religeous is almost inconceivable. The more Tagalog you learn and the more you interact with filipinos the more you will realise how many superstitions there are and how prevelant they are in the culture. You may have gotten the impression that I am against superstition. The reality is that I don't have a problem with other peoples beliefs as long as it doesn't hurt anyone or effect other peoples lives. Sometimes these superstitions do cross that line in my opinion.