What’s the Deal With Duolingo Tagalog?

  • November 9, 2020

Updated January 2nd, 2024

Duolingo doesn't offer a course for native English speakers learning Tagalog.

Unfortunately, there's not even a Tagalog course in their incubator yet (this is where Duolingo creates and develops their language courses). 

There are over 90 language courses on Duolingo, but for some reason Tagalog isn't one of them.

Why doesn't Duolingo have a Tagalog course yet?

Often times when a language learning company hasn't released a course on a particular language it's either because 1) the language isn't as popular or 2) The language is far removed from English and is harder to teach than more accessible languages (like Spanish or French for example). 

Is Tagalog too difficult to teach?

But I wouldn't say Tagalog fits in the category of extremely difficult languages for English speakers. Duolingo offers courses in Japanese and Vietnamese which are both significantly harder than Tagalog. 

Is Tagalog not popular enough?

Okay so Tagalog definitely is a popular a language to learn as Spanish, French, or even Japanese. Still, there's well over 22 million native Tagalog speakers, and another 45 million people who speak Tagalog as a second language. 

Surely that's a more popular language than Klingon or High Valyrian, both of which are courses that Duolingo does offer (and both are made up languages!). 

When can we expect a Duolingo Tagalog course?

It's hard to say. As I said before, there isn't even a Tagalog app in the Duolingo incubator yet. It could be years before we see a finished Filipino course from them. 

Alternatives to Duolingo Tagalog

Thankfully you don't have to wait on Duolingo to start learning Filipino. Here's a few effective resources you can use to start learning Tagalog today. 

Filipinopod101

Price

Free lifetime account, or From $4+ per month

Time commitment

15+ minutes a day 

Summary:

Filipinopod101 is basically a huge library of podcast-style audio and video lessons on a remarkable range of topics, like Filipino for emergencies or Filipino for family settings. In fact, the program currently offers over 200 hours of recorded lessons, with more added regularly!

While you can access some content in the course for free, you get the whole video library when you subscribe. Plus, as a subscriber, you can even download all the course material, including the video lessons and the PDF supplements that come with them.

You can take a placement test to see your current learning level and choose lessons based on your level. Alternatively, you can browse the vast library of lessons and just pick out what looks interesting to you. If you want to get involved, you can even create your own learning pathway by arranging the order of lessons you want to take on the course dashboard.

After you watch a video lesson, you can cycle back through it with line-by-line dialogue subtitles, and then review the material with a word bank and a vocabulary list that includes sample sentences for context.

Pimsleur Tagalog

Price

$150 per level

Time commitment

30 minutes a day 

Summary:

Pimsleur will get you conversational in practical Tagalog through interactive audio lessons and follow-up activities. If you want to learn to speak Tagalog quickly and correctly and don’t want to get bogged down in too much grammar, this is the course for you!

First, you should note that Pimsleur’s language program has been around for over 50 years. This means that older versions of the course do exist. Make sure you subscribe to the app, rather than using an older course model like CDs.

The app offers Pimsleur’s traditional 30-minute audio lesson, but it also includes more visual follow-up activities, like lessons on reading Tagalog. It features speech recognition software as well, to help you test out your pronunciation.

Each Pimsleur audio lesson includes a narrator and two native Tagalog speakers engaged in a dialogue. The narrator will provide explanations, but will also encourage you to use active listening skills, by saying words or phrases out loud or responding to the actors in the dialogue. This keeps you from zoning out as you listen! 

Plus, the program uses a special kind of repetition called Spaced Repetition Theory. This means that you will constantly cycle back through material, ensuring that you truly remember it.

Italki

Price

$5+ per hour (varies between teachers)

Time commitment

30 minute or 1 hour lessons 

Summary:

Italki is  one of the most unique language-learning apps for Tagalog out there. This app serves as an interface between you and hundreds of professional tutors. It allows you to search for a Tagalog tutor using many different filters. For example, you can look for tutors who have availability that matches your schedule, or for tutors who offer rates you can afford.

You can also see what country the tutor comes from, how many lessons that tutor has taught, whether or not they have returning students, and what rating other students gave the tutor. 

While italki tutors set their own rates, paying for every half-hour or hour-long lesson will add up quickly. This makes italki one of the more expensive options out there, compared to a low monthly subscription to some of the other apps listed here. 

That said, working with a personal tutor could boost your Tagalog learning exponentially. A good tutor will provide personalized learning content specific to your interests and learning level. They can also provide honest feedback on your pronunciation, and offer real-time conversation practice. 

While you get what you get with an app or textbook, a tutor can dive deeper into something you don't understand, and present it in different ways until you grasp the topic.

*with a purchase of $20 or more. After your first purchased lesson a credit of $10 will be added to your account

Summary:

Mondly promises to teach you Tagalog in just ten minutes a day. While this may be a slight exaggeration, the program does focus on short, lively lessons to make learning both immersive and fun.

Mondly probably has the best-looking interface you will find for any language program. It uses a sleek map-style interface to guide you through the lesson themes. 

It even has an additional VR app you can get to make learning even more realistic! The VR app uses a chatbot to help you feel like you are engaging in a real-life setting like shopping in a store or eating in a restaurant, so you can practice your conversation.

The concept behind the lessons in the Mondly app is the idea of pairing words or ideas with images, making learning seem intuitive. This is similar to Rosetta Stone’s premise, except that Mondly also uses a variety of teaching tools in English to help you understand what you are looking at.

You may find some of the swiping or matching activities a bit boring after a little while, though, so doing a whole lot of Mondly in one day could feel repetitive. Overall, Mondly is like a mix between Rosetta Stone and Duolingo and can provide a fun way to ease yourself into learning Tagalog, especially if you only have a little bit of time each day to study.

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