Tagalog is a really fun language to learn, but it doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of resources available for more popular foreign languages like Spanish, French, Mandarin or Russian.
After innumerable searches and personally testing things out, here are some of my favourite resources for learning Tagalog.
If you know of anything else I should add, please let me know!
italki – find language partners, have your work corrected or find an affordable tutor. Since most Filipinos speak English, it might be difficult to find a Tagalog language partner unless you can offer a language other than English in exchange. But the text corrections are very useful, and tutors charge as little as five dollars an hour.
My review of italki.
anki – intelligent, friendly flashcards using spaced repetition. Great for learning vocabulary. I have two main Tagalog decks, one with mixed vocabulary from different sources and one image-only deck that I made using the base vocabulary list from Fluent Forever.
KalyeSpeak – a fun podcast that will help you “learn Filipino as Filipinos speak it”. There’s a lot of English in the explanations, but the Filipino dialogues are very useful, as is the cultural information. It’s full of false enthusiasm and silly low-brow humour, and I laugh out loud every time I listen to an episode.
Memrise – very visually appealing spaced-repetition program that can help you acquire basic vocabulary and sentence structure. Some Memrise courses to check out: Basic Tagalog, Essential Tagalog, Foundation Tagalog and Hacking Tagalog.
Evan’s Nanay – YouTube channel with beautifully illustrated bilingual Tagalog-English songs and stories for children.
Tagalog Phrases – huge list of Tagalog sentences, sorted into categories. Includes audio (spoken by an actual human being) and word-for-word translations into English.
Tagalog for Beginners – nine-lesson course for beginners on Unilang. Includes basic grammar and sentence structure explanations.
Tagalog Filipino Learning Links – huge collection of links, organized into thematic modules.
GLOSS – exercises and activities from the Defense Language Institute. There are 115 Tagalog lessons available for different levels.
Tagalog songs, stories and cartoons – I put together this half-hour YouTube playlist of short (2-4 minute) Tagalog songs, stories and cartoons.
Tara, Mag-Tagalog Tayo! This textbook and workbook, with MP3 audio, is my primary resource for learning Tagalog. It includes audio and dialogues, reading comprehension exercises, vocabulary practice and very accessible grammar explanations. Highly recommended, but you’ll benefit from access to a native speaker for the role-plays and other activities. (cost for both books is about 55 dollars in Canada)
Complete Filipino: A Teach Yourself Guide. This book with audio is my secondary resource. Each unit includes two or three dialogues, language explanations and short exercises. Very useful resource. (cost for the kit is about 30 dollars in Canada)
Canadian Online Book Store
I live in a small village with a decent library, but there are exactly three Tagalog children’s books, and they’ll take nine weeks to get to me through inter-library loan. The two major online retailers in Canada (Amazon and Chapters) offer very limited – and very expensive – options, so I looked high and low for a Canadian store with decent shipping. Finally, a link on reddit led me to this Toronto-based store with very reasonable prices and low shipping costs (within Canada – internationally, I think you’ll pay quite a bit more):
Pinoy Culture – good source of bilingual Tagalog-English children’s picture books. Books cost between six and eight dollars. I paid five dollars shipping for four books and received them 12 days later.