Review of Pimsleur Tagalog

  • March 30, 2021

In today’s review we look at Pimsleur’s course for the Tagalog language. Pimsleur is one of most well known language learning courses out there (behind Rosetta Stone and the newer Duolingo). It has a long standing reputation as a great audio course so I’m excited to take a closer look at what they offer for the Filipino language.

Let’s dive in 🙂 

Pimsleur Tagalog Review Summary

Pimsleur Tagalog is ideal for beginners who want to start speaking Tagalog right away. Pimsleur’s trademarked method is a great way to build your conversational skills. After finishing their Tagalog course you should be able to confidently hold basic conversations in the language. 

Pimsleur Tagalog is available as a downloadable audio course, or through the Pimsleur app. 

The main drawback of Pimsleur Tagalog is that there are only two course levels available. 

If you’re new to the Tagalog language and you want to develop your conversational skills, this is the course for you. 

Is Pimsleur Tagalog the right course for you?

Yes if you’re a beginner

Pimsleur courses are designed to be used by anyone learning a foreign language. Whether you know some basic Filipino words and phrases, or you have no knowledge of Tagalog at all, Pimsleur will teach you what you need to know to start speaking with real people.

Yes if you want to learn conversational Tagalog

Pimsleur is an audio course centered around speaking and listening. It’s main focus is to help you understand native Tagalog speakers when they talk, and develop your vocabulary and pronunciation enough so that they understand you when you speak. If you’re looking for a reading and writing course then you may want to look elsewhere. 

No if you’re an intermediate to advanced speaker

Unfortunately Pimsleur only offers two levels in their Tagalog course (other Pimsleur courses have up to five levels in a language). While these two levels are great if you're a beginner, more advanced students probably won’t get as much value from them. 

Strengths of Pimsleur Tagalog

It’s great practice for understanding native Tagalog 

When you first learn Tagalog one of the biggest hurdles is simply trying to understand native speakers when they talk. At first it feels like they’re speaking at lightning speed as you struggle to pick out a word or two. Pimsleur’s method teaches you listening comprehension through correct Tagalog pronunciation. In each lesson you learn a set of new filipino phrases. You learn those phrases by mimicking a native speaker, practicing each phrase word by word and syllable by syllable. Gradually you link each word together until you can say the entire phrase without thinking. 

This process helps you speak naturally and sound more like a Filipino. It also helps you understand these phrases instantly when you hear them. Given that Pimsleur uses common conversational phrases, odds are that after working through the course you will be able to understand at least some of what you hear in most Filipino conversations. 

It’s the best audio course for conversational Tagalog

No other audio course teaches conversational Tagalog as well as Pimsleur. All Pimsleur courses use a unique prompt-recall-response technique. In each lesson, after you’ve learned your new set of phrases, you will be prompted to ask and respond to questions in Tagalog. You have a limited amount of time to respond before the correct answer is given. As you progress through the program words and phrases from previous lessons will be mixed and matched with ones from previous lessons. The prompts are unpredictable, so you never know what’s coming next. 

This method simulates the pressure and awareness that occur in real life conversations, and it’s what makes Pimsleur such an effective audio course. 

Weaknesses of Pimsleur Tagalog

There are only two levels available

Most PImsleur courses have five levels for a language.  At the end of all five levels you can expect to speak an intermediate level. For whatever reason Pimsleur only offers two levels for Tagalog. The first two levels will bring you to a place where you can comfortably have basic conversations, but it would nice if Pimsleur would add more to their Tagalog course. 

Formal language

Pimsleur tends to teach more formal and polite language. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is something worth considering. The words and phrases you learn in the course are correct and will be understood by people in the Philippines. Just know that you may sound more polite and less casual than normal. Pimsleur was originally designed for traveling businessmen, and sometimes that more formal type of setting makes its way into the lessons. 

Alternatives to Pimsleur’s Filipino course


Filipinopod101 is the popular podcast for learning Tagalog, and also the ultimate resource hub for everything related to the language. Podcast lessons are around twenty minutes long and feature a short dialogue between Tagalog speakers. Every episode has a host (sometimes two) who introduces the dialogue, points out important vocabulary, and breaks down difficult grammar. There are literally hundreds of lessons on Filipinopod101 ranging from absolute beginner to advanced level. Each lesson also has a full transcript in Tagalog and English which you can review later.

In addition to podcast lessons, Filipinopod101 also has a lot of additional reasons for learning the Filipino language. There’s a Tagalog to English dictionary, pronunciation trainer, audio phrasebooks, downloadable ebooks, video lessons, and a lot more. 

Learn Tagalog with Master Ling

If you’re a fan of apps like Duolingo that take a gamified approach to language learning, then you should definitely check out Master Ling’s Tagalog course. Duolingo has no Tagalog course unfortunately 🙁

On the Master Ling app there are 50 units spread across five difficulty levels ranging from beginner to advanced. Each unit has four lessons. The app mainly teaches conversational vocabulary. You won’t find in depth grammar explanations here. The goal of the course is to teach you the phrases you need to start speaking Tagalog from day one. The lessons are made up of mini games and exercises. The pattern of the course is simple. You learn new words and phrases and then review them as you go along. 

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