Why Tagalog Lessons Don’t Have to be Painful

I know that many of you may be holding back from learning Tagalog because you’re afraid it will consist of long hours of focusing on boring grammar rules. And you may be afraid that it won’t be useable for a long time because there’s so much to learn. Well, don’t worry, that’s not how it has to be.
Philippine beaches 1
So you can relax and enjoy all of the beauty our wonderful country has to offer.

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.

Filipino Market
Public Market in the Philippines.
In summary, I believe it’s much more important to teach my students what they need to best function in day-to-day situations. And how to speak and understand Tagalog as quickly as possible. In my career, I’ve had the privilege of teaching students from over 31 different countries. This experience has helped me become a better language teacher. And give me the confidence in knowing that if you wish to learn to speak Filipino, I can help you too.


Many prospective students come to me with the question, is Tagalog hard to learn? If your current language is based on the Latin alphabet, or if you already know some Spanish or English, Tagalog is easier to learn than a language based on a different alphabet, like Japanese or Chinese. But in general, learning always depends on the student’s aptitude, motivation, desire to learn Tagalog, and how hard they work at learning. But in general, Tagalog is a more straightforward language to learn than many.
This depends on the particular student, but with a good Tagalog teacher, a motivated and focused student with a strong aptitude for learning, 20 lessons should be enough to be able to engage in some basic Tagalog communication. Most students take 40 to 60 lessons, which typically puts them at a conversational Tagalog level This is of course, assuming the student practices outside of Tagalog class, too.
Yes, of course. I have many students that just come to me to learn basic Tagalog for many reasons. Some will be visiting the Philippines for a short period, and they don’t want to invest the time to speak Tagalog fluently. Some just want to give instructions to a cab driver, have a basic Tagalog conversation with a street vendor, or ask for directions. And while most Filipinos speak at least some English, there are many benefits if you can speak basic Tagalog.
Yes, much of my teaching is devoted to Tagalog lessons for beginners. In fact, a good 70% of my students know little or no Tagalog when we start with their lessons. This is why my Tagalog lessons are designed to help students learn Tagalog as a second language. In fact, I teach so many Tagalog lessons for beginners that I have devoted a significant amount of time refining my Tagalog lessons to learn Tagalog quickly and easily.