The Truth Behind Babbel Tagalog

  • March 29, 2021

Updated December 15th, 2023

So you’ve decided to take the leap and learn the Tagalog language. Perhaps you're traveling to the Philippines soon. Maybe you have a loved one who speaks Tagalog, or maybe you’ve fallen in love with Filipino culture. 

Whatever the reason, you’re excited! You can’t wait to start speaking like a Filipino. You’ve heard of Babbel’s language courses, and think to yourself, “Babbel would be a great way to start learning Tagalog”. But there’s one problem:

Babbel doesn’t offer a Tagalog course.

Why is there no Tagalog course on Babbel?

I’m not exactly sure why Babbel isn’t offering any Tagalog lessons. I suspect that perhaps they’ve shied away from Tagalog because it’s simply not as popular as other foreign languages. Maybe Tagalog is on Babbel’s to do list, but they just haven't gotten around to it. 

Another reason could be that Tagalog isn’t as closely related to English as popular foreign languages like French or Spanish. Babbel does offer courses on languages as diverse as Turkish, Russian, and Indonesian so maybe that’s not the case? 

Alternatives to Babbel Tagalog

Don’t let the lack of a Babbel Tagalog course stop you in your tracks. There’s more than one way to learn Tagalog. Here’s a few helpful alternatives that will help get you up and running with the language. 

Filipinopod101

FilipinoPod101 is a library of podcast-style and video lessons that range from beginner basics to intermediate Tagalog. They cover all kinds of topics, including things you would expect like grammar rules, but also offer unexpected topics like Tagalog in family scenarios or in a medical setting.

How it works

You can follow a suggested path through the huge library of lessons or you can pick and choose as you like. You can even download the lessons for later review.

Most of the lessons follow a similar format. You start with a casual podcast-style introduction from the hosts. Then you’ll hear a dialogue in Tagalog, presented by native speakers. Next, you can go through the dialogue with subtitle translations. Then the hosts will discuss the dialogue, going over elements like key vocabulary or a cultural note.

Premium subscriptions also give you extras with the lessons, like flashcards or a grammar bank to help you review.

Cost

One of the great things about FilipinoPod101 is that you can start off with a free version. This works especially well if you want to use this resource as a supplement, rather than as your main course.

You can pay $8, $25, or $47 per month to access the Basic, Premium, or Premium levels respectively. Each level gives you more lessons and auxiliary resources.

Pros and Cons

The biggest con to FilipinoPod101 is that it is not super interactive. It has no voice recognition software for speaking practice and limited activity. Mostly, it consists of audio and video lessons.

The big advantage is that it has a huge array of audio and video lessons, with new lessons posted pretty often. They are (overall) super high quality. You can learn a lot from watching them! Honestly, this program makes a wonderful supplement to almost any other language-learning program, though it might not work well as the core of your Tagalog program.

 

Pimsleur Tagalog

Pimsleur’s Tagalog program focuses on teaching conversational Tagalog and listening comprehension through audio lessons. The venerable Pimsleur method is built on the concept of Spaced Repetition Theory, which is the idea that repeating key information at specially timed intervals can help you permanently remember that information.

How it works

Pimsleur offers a series of 30-minute audio lessons followed by activities including speaking practice using voice recognition software, and some limited reading activities. 

Each 30-minute lesson features a narrator giving prompts and a dialogue spoken by native speakers. The narrator often asks you to repeat a word or phrase out loud. This active listening is the most important element of the program, and can you build both listening comprehension and speaking skills.

The audio lessons rarely teach grammar explicitly. Instead, you pick up elements of sentence structure from the interactive audio lesson. 

The app also provides some more visual elements in interactive activities following the lesson, though you will definitely find that the program works best for an auditory learner.

Cost

Access to Pimsleur’s Tagalog app costs $19.95 per month. You can also upgrade and get access to all of Pimsleur’s languages for $20.95 per month.

Pros and Cons

The downside to Pimsleur is that it does not dive deeply into the structure of Tagalog through dedicated grammar lessons. Instead, it focuses on providing a set of core vocabulary that you will need constantly in everyday conversation.

The advantage of using Pimsleur is that you will find yourself comfortable speaking Tagalog with a basic level of fluency very quickly. You will have a dependable stock of useful words and phrases that you actually remember from one week to another, too.


Learn Tagalog with Master Ling

Ling looks a bit like Duolingo, but it has a heavy focus on presenting beginner language courses for the “less popular” languages, like Tagalog, Albanian, and much more! It uses short lessons, lots of interactive activities, and point tracking to create a gamified setting for learning.

How it works

Ling offers 50 different units, with each unit focused on a theme such as numbers or transportation. Overall, Ling has a beginner-level focus, with some more advanced units thrown in as well.

Each unit contains four lessons. The lessons take less than 15 minutes to complete and contain three different ways to practice a new skill or vocabulary word, followed by a dialogue and a chance to engage with the dialogue.

Sometimes the dialogue contains vocabulary you haven’t learned yet, but you can often intuit it from context. Finally, each lesson concludes with an exam to test your knowledge.

Besides the basic four lessons in each unit, you can also select the option to do a speaking or writing activity in Ling. The speaking lessons are cool because the app features voice recognition software. While not perfect, this does give you an opportunity to test out your Tagalog out loud!

Cost

You can subscribe to Ling on a monthly, yearly, or lifetime model.

Monthly: $8.99

Yearly: $79.99

Lifetime: $119.99

Pros and Cons

The biggest downside to Ling’s Tagalog course is that it doesn’t focus much on grammar. You won’t find traditional grammar lessons--Ling focuses on teaching vocabulary.

That said, Ling offers a reasonably priced, fun way to introduce yourself to Tagalog. It will work especially well for someone with limited study time, because of its short and engaging lessons.


Italki

Italki is both an app and an online platform for connecting language learners with certified tutors. It is a great resource if you can afford to pay for hourly personal lessons. Italki hosts thousands of certified tutors, making it easier to find just the right person to coach your Tagalog journey.

How it works

One thing to know before searching for a tutor on italki is that you will find two different types of teachers available. The one most people search for is certified tutors. These teachers have gained approval through italki and have either a teaching certificate or degree from a university or can prove that they have previous teaching experience.

The other option is community tutors, who do not get certified by italki. They often focus more on serving as conversation partners than on offering a structured learning program. That said, most community tutors are native speakers, and they may offer a valuable perspective as well.

You can select either option as you start a search. Generally, you want to begin your search by selecting your target language. This will bring up all the Tagalog tutors currently available. The number changes all the time, but is well over 200!

Next, you can sort the results to get the tutors who best fit your needs to the top of the list. You have several options here. You can sort by times available, allowing you to easily find a tutor who fits your schedule. You can sort by pricing, to find a tutor you can afford. Or you can sort by ranking, to find the tutor other students think is the best. 

You can even sort by home country, to narrow down your tutor pool to just native speakers from the Philippines if you prefer.

Whichever tutor you pick, make sure you read student reviews. This is the best way to find out if the tutor will fit your learning style. You should also look into the teacher profile, to see their ratings and how many classes they have taught. You can even see how many students returned for more than one lesson which is a great indicator of tutor quality.

For example, a previous student might note that the tutor is funny and engaging, but does not focus a lot on grammar. If you really want to focus on sentence structure, you will know that this tutor is not the best fit without wasting your time, or theirs.

Once you find a tutor you like, you can follow their guidelines for booking, scheduling, and holding tutoring sessions. Typically, you will hold virtual video classes together.

Cost

One of the tricky things about using italki is that tutors set their own rates. This means that the cost can fluctuate a lot, depending on who you work with. Some tutors charge very little, perhaps as low as $6 per hour. Others may charge as much as $60.

Pros and Cons

There is not really a downside to italki except for its fluctuating cost. Having a personal tutor is an incredible way to develop your own personal learning plan, get real-life conversation practice, or target your linguistic weaknesses.

Plus, italki features so many tutors that you can easily find just the right match for you!

*With a purchase of $20 or more. After you complete your first lesson 10 free Italki credits will be added to your account.

Mondly Tagalog

Mondly offers a sleek app-based Tagalog course with a structured, linear progression through the basics of the language. It operates somewhat like a cross between Duolingo and Rosetta Stone but is more user-friendly. Mondly’s goal is to create a playful, fun way to gain beginner fluency in a new language.

How it works

Mondly is based on the concept of limited but consistent access. Every day 12 hours you unlock your daily lesson and every week you get a new weekly lesson plan--if you sign in regularly! The idea is that you will not get overwhelmed with a ton of material this way.

Alternatively, you can also sign up for the paid version, and skip around in lessons instead of going through them in this structured way if you prefer.

Short, gamified lessons cover topics like entertainment, shopping, weather, and even romance!

You can win or lose stars as you either succeed or make mistakes in each lesson, This earns or loses points, which is an incentive for a goal-oriented learner to focus.

The lessons do tend to focus on everyday conversation rather than grammar, which means that you will not get an in-depth understanding of Tagalog from this program, though you will learn a lot of vocabulary and basic, useful phrases.

One of Mondly’s newest options is a VR app where you can converse in a simulated setting to practice your Tagalog. 

Cost

You can subscribe at a monthly rate of $9.99 or pay for a whole year at a rate of $48 per year.

Pros and Cons

The biggest downside to Mondly is that takes a surface-level approach to teaching Tagalog. You will learn plenty of useful conversational phrases, but you probably will not come away understanding how to compose a complex sentence of your own.

That said, Mondly does offer a fun and engaging user experience, especially for a Tagalog beginner.

Drops

Drops is a fun way to learn Tagalog vocabulary. It uses gamifed lessons and features over 2,000 vocabulary words, made accessible by over 100 subject-based lists organizing the words.

How it works

When you sign in, you can select a topic like nature, home and wellness, or fashion. You will then move on to lessons focused on teaching vocabulary that relates to that theme.

The main way Drops teaches vocabulary is by helping you associate a new word with an image. Then you progress through a variety of activities including animated games, to help reinforce the new word or phrase. Activities can include matching, dragging and dropping, swiping crosswords or puzzles, and spelling.

One of the great features Drops offers is that it notices when you have a hard time with a new word. It saves up those words in the “Review Dojo,” where you can circle back to focus on those tough concepts.

Another great feature is the comprehensive review dictionary, where you can scroll through the words and associated images to remember what you have learned.

Cost

You can access a limited amount of Drops material for free, but to really use the app you have to subscribe.

Monthly: $13.99

Yearly: $69.99

Lifetime: $159.99

Pros and Cons

The biggest disadvantage to Drops is that it will not work well as the core of your Tagalog learning program. It focuses too heavily on vocabulary and does not provide lessons on other core aspects of language learning, like listening and speaking.

That said, it would make an excellent and easy-to-use supplement to build your vocabulary. Tools like the review dictionary can serve as a reference even after you finish learning new words in the app.

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