I have to admit. This journey has been harder than I expected. Living in New Zealand where everyone speaks English and where I only had a handful of Filipino friends to speak to made it difficult.

My mum tried a different approach. She forced all her friends to only speak to me in Tagalog. This was even more difficult as I still had no idea what they were saying or what was going on. My mum even messages me in Tagalog and sometimes I can figure out 40-50% of what she is saying. Otherwise, it has been google translate to help me with the rest.

Family supporting me during Miss Universe


I have now been back in the Philippines for 3 weeks and I have had so much time on my hands that I am actually getting the hang of it. I have been self-teaching at least 3-4 times a week as well as using a really cool app from Learn Tagalog Fast. I think I paid like $5NZD for it and its been great in teaching me Taglish. Taglish is a mixture of English and Tagalog which for me will be so much easier to start off with.ย Here in Manila, no one speaks pure Tagalog. The app I been using is quite fun. Each lesson has a content page with the words, meanings and recorded pronunciations. After you have read the content and attempted the challenges at the end you click the “Quiz” button at the top and take a 10 question quiz. You can either move on to another lesson or re-attempt the quiz.


What has been the biggest challenge is retaining the knowledge. You can learn something if you repeat it over and over again but that word gets stored in your short term memory because its hasn’t be embedded through an experience or a sense (Smell, Taste, Touch, Sight). So in order for me to retain the language I have to apply it. I have been using it in my everyday interactions with my drivers, guards and service people. It’s funny because if I start our conversation with the tiniest amount of Tagalog they either freak out or start speaking to me in Tagalog (which then I freak out because I haven’t got there yet) and then I have to explain that I only speak a little.

I have found that these experiences are the ones that help me retain the words. Another persons reaction or the creation of a memory. It actually is what is keeping me engaged in learning Tagalog. Its even better if I am around a Filipino friend because I can ask them what a word is or attempt to string together a sentence for the thing we are doing. They are good at telling me an alternative way of saying it or giving words of encouragement if I get it right. My brother is the coach of the Lady Volcanoes which is the national women’s Rugby team here in the Philippines. I have been going to a few of their trainings to meet new people, get some exercise and surround myself in Tagalog. It has been a great way for me to learn as most Tagalog words have been followed by an action. Therefore, I can create a memory. Plus, I have 30 girls I can tap on the shoulder if I want to know a word which is great ๐Ÿ™‚

My next steps is to find a tutor and expand my vocabulary.ย  A tutor will give me a person to answer to if I don’t meet my learning goals and expanding my vocabulary will help bridge that 40-50% understanding and hopefully get me to 70%. Hopefully, in my next update I will be able to write in Taglish ๐Ÿ™‚


Learning Tagalog: Part Two

  1. If you want help in translation… I can help.. For Free you want it translated in visaya or tagalog.. Just message me..

    And here is a tip.. Try translating filipino music. It helps.. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. the tagalog words used in the song “Lupang Hinirang” (national anthem) is quite deep. but it is still good to translate it.

    I suggest OPM (original pilipino music) in filipino.


  3. The fastest way to learn Tagalog is to “think” in Tagalog as well. As a half-Japanese, half-Filipino, I needed to learn quickly so I can continue my studies in the Philippines. I used to construct sentences in Japanese, translate it in my head before blurting them out. This made my sentences jumble. When I started thinking in Tagalog, the words started coming out from my mouth naturally.

    Also, when I started tutoring, I’d just make my students tell a story, or describe how was their day, narrate the TV show they watched, etc. Nothing complex. Avoid Tagalogs that you “should” learn, for starters just try to know the things you “like”. E.g. If you like street foods, try remembering the names of the foods first, then the tastes like “masarap ito” (this is delicious), “maasim ito” (this is sour), “kulang sa asin ito” (this needs salt), “pahingi pa ng kanin” (give me another rice), etc.

    So, 1) think in Tagalog, and 2) learn the Tagalog of the things that interests you.

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