The terms Filipino language and Tagalog are at least for the purpose of this blog interchangeable. The Filipino language is the national language of the Philippines. There are close to 100 million Tagalog speakers in the Philippines. And since my teaching process is the same, regardless of what term you want to use, I will be using both terms in this blog as well.
Many teachers focus excessively on grammatical rules. And while I realize that there are essential grammatical rules, I find it’s much better for my students if we only focus on the most important grammatical rules so they can learn words and phrases more quickly. Always remembering that the goal is for them is to learn conversational Tagalog.
My Tagalog course prepares students to be speaking the language in the real world quickly. It’s a lot more fun. And a lot more useful if you are just trying to learn Tagalog as a second language. The whole goal of your learning is to help you have a better life, not memorize things you may never use. And there are so many ways Filipino language lessons can help you and improve your life.
Most Filipinos are friendly and kind, and they will often go out of their way to help a foreigner. They typically have a great sense of humor too, which is often referred to as being jolly. And while most Filipinos speak at least some English (it is, after all, an official language of the Philippines), it is always appreciated when a foreigner speaks to them using at least some Tagalog phrases. They won’t expect you to sound like a native speaker. But they will appreciate your effort.
I know everyone has their reasons for wanting to learn to speak Tagalog. Some of my students want to be closer to a loved one. And I can tell you from my own experience that there are not many ways to show your girlfriend, wife, boyfriend, or husband that you care about them more than to make an effort to learn how to talk to them in their native tongue.
I have actually had students take months of lessons in secret and then surprise their girlfriend by talking to them in Filipino. What a wonderful surprise it was! And a great reason to learn Filipino!
Other students wish to learn Tagalog because they are moving to the Philippines, and they realize knowing the language will help them in their day-to-day life. As mentioned, English is widely spoken in the Philippines, but it can still sometimes be difficult to communicate without knowing Filipino.
If you are in Manila, it’s easier to get by speaking only English. Still, if you go into the more rural areas (we refer to these areas of the Philippines as the Province), it will be significantly harder to communicate if you don’t know how to speak Tagalog.
Also, as you can probably imagine, there’s a strong correlation between the level of education and English proficiency. In other words, you shouldn’t have a hard time communicating with your doctor or dentist in English. But you might have a problem telling your taxicab driver how to get to the doctor’s office. It will also make it much easier in situations such as negotiating prices in street markets or the fare with a tricycle driver if you know how to speak Tagalog.
And if my student wishes to learn about the Philippines’ culture, I’m more than happy to help them with that as well. Because I believe that fitting in isn’t just about learning Tagalog, it’s about understanding the local culture. What is considered polite. And what is considered impolite. And understanding Tagalog slang and idioms. And knowing what’s important to Filipinos. And what is essential to know if you are in the Philippines.