Spoken across the Philippines and actually being the fifth most spoken language in North America, Tagalog is a popular language to learn. The language of the Tagalog region of the Philippines, Tagalog is often confused with Filipino but it is actually its own language.
With the wide global reach of Tagalog, it’s becoming more and more popular among language learners, and there have never been more books and resources to help you learn Tagalog. So, which are the best books to learn Tagalog? Let’s dive in and find out.
What Different Kinds of Tagalog Books Are There?
There are a ton of different kinds of Tagalog books that can help you learn the language. From grammar books to story books to dictionaries and cultural enrichment books, they all play a role in your language learning journey.
19 Great Books to Learn Tagalog Quickly
Pick a few of the books below to help you learn Tagalog and see what kind of Tagalog language book works best for you.
1. Tagalog Grammar and Vocabulary Books
There’s no better place to start with a language than with vocabulary and grammar. Especially considering Tagalog’s grammar can be tricky, you want to get a handle on that as soon as you can.
These are the best places to begin your Tagalog journey, and there are resources that go all the way up to an advanced level.
2. Let’s Learn Tagalog Kit
Looking for a quick Tagalog learning resource to test yourself on the go? This collection of 64 physical flashcards is perfect for challenging and quizzing yourself in between lessons, or as a refresher.
There are images and context clues, with each section being grouped according to a theme to help you out and give you guidance.
If you’re looking for some bonus content, you can download the eBook version which comes with audio recordings of each word to help you with pronunciation as well as your speaking and listening skills.
Whichever version you use, you’ll need another book or resource to use alongside it, but it’s a great tool for revision or as a supplementary Tagalog learning technique.
3. Tagalog-English/English-Tagalog Standard Dictionary
Okay so whenever we’re learning a new language, vocabulary is going to be one of the first things that we dive into it.
You’ve got to build up that bank of words and phrases so that you have the building blocks to form sentences and conversations further down the line. That’s where a translation dictionary comes in so handy.
This dual translation Tagalog-English dictionary is great because it goes both ways. Sometimes you can’t think of the word you want to use in English and sometimes you see a word in Tagalog that you’re unsure of and you need to find the English version to understand the phrase.
In addition to 20,000 different words, this dictionary also has slang words and phrases and even has some basic grammar tables in it.
4. Lonely Planet Filipino (Tagalog) Phrasebook & Dictionary
If there’s a brand that’s known for its high-quality, travel-related content, it’s Lonely Planet. So, their Tagalog phrasebook and dictionary is a handy guide that is perfect for taking with you on your travels around the Philippines.
With useful, everyday phrases that you’re likely to use while you’re away, it’s a practical book that’s definitely going to be worth the space in your backpack!
As a bonus, there are also pronunciation guides and grammar advice in the book that you can refer back to at any time. While this book isn’t designed to be a textbook for Tagalog, it does serve as an ideal reference guide to use while you’re away.
5. Tagalog Picture Dictionary: Learn 1500 Tagalog Words and Expressions
Do you consider yourself to be more of a visual learner? Then this Tagalog picture dictionary is going to be right up your street. With over 1500 words and phrases from over 40 themes and categories, this dictionary gives you a great vocabulary bank with the added bonus of pictorial context clues.
What’s great about this particular resource is that it really brings those cultural insights to life, and helps to make that connection between the language and the people who speak it! The online version of this picture dictionary also includes audio recorded by native Tagalog speakers to help boost your pronunciation skills.
6. Tagalog for Beginners: An Introduction to Filipino, the National Language of the Philippines
One of the most annoying things about a lot of beginner language resources is that they teach you a ton of words and phrases that you’d never use in real life.
Animals and colors are great to learn, but if you’re going to visit the Philippines there is a whole host of more useful words and phrases you could be learning instead. Tagalog for Beginners focuses on the practical and realistic scenarios that you’re likely to encounter.
The book is full of engaging exercises and activities, and there are additional speaking and listening exercises online, recorded by native Tagalog speakers.
In addition to the book prioritizing realistic scenarios, it also educates and informs you about Filipino culture, which is so important when you’re learning a new language.
7. Intermediate Tagalog: Learn to Speak Fluent Tagalog (Filipino), the National Language of the Philippines
Following on from Tagalog for Beginners, we have Intermediate Tagalog. This is for when you want to take your language learning journey to the next level and really step up your game. Much like the beginner version, there is a significant focus on realistic situations and cultural insights, which is amazing.
The book features 20 structured lessons that teach users how to explain, reason, and storytelling in Tagalog. These are high-level skills that’ll definitely bring your Tagalog practice to a conversational level.
There’s also an extensive vocabulary list in the back of the book and a list of common grammar errors to look out for. It’s little tips and insider information like this that sets this series of books apart from the rest.
8. Tagalog Storybooks and Activity Books
Looking for a Tagalog book that’s a little bit more interactive? Storybooks and activity books are great ways to work through what you’ve learned in a creative way. These are also amazing resources if you’re trying to teach someone younger to speak Tagalog.
As an aside, you might want to have a basic knowledge of Tagalog to follow the narrative of the storybooks.
9. Bahay Kubo and Other Filipino Folksongs for Children
A common way to learn part of a new language is through song. Just think about how many people know Spanish words thanks to Shakira or Korean words thanks to BTS. Songs are a fun way to learn a language and they stick in your head!
This book is designed for children but even the adults in your family will be singing along to these 22 folksongs! There are lyrics in both English and Tagalog, so you can see the translations of what you’re singing, and the illustrations tie everything together.
10. Dingding, Ningning, Singsing and Other Fun Tagalog Words
Tagalog is full of really fun words to say as the name of this book implies. Although it’s designed for children, the book is full of useful vocabulary and shows how alliterative Tagalog pronunciation can be.
There are a ton of fun and creative illustrations throughout the book that helps with context and serves as a reminder for days to come. It’s super engaging, fun, and interactive – exactly what you need when you’re trying to teach Tagalog to children!
11. Pan de Sal Saves the Day
Need something a little bit more advanced and structured to take your Tagalog skills to the next level? Pan de Sal Saves the Day is a heartwarming and touching short story that follows a young girl who is trying to build her self-confidence.
With a narrative in Tagalog and English, it’s fun to follow and a creative way to build up your Tagalog skills.
It’s worth noting that despite the translation in English, this is more of an intermediate book for children. You have to have a basic knowledge of Tagalog to understand the grammar and structure without having to keep flipping back and forth between the two translations.
12. Pan de Sal Saves the Day Activity Book
Feeling inspired by the story of Pan de Sal Saves the Day? Why not check out the accompanying activity book and improve your Tagalog skills even further? This activity book has a ton of fun and engaging exercises including crosswords, word jumbles, and more.
It’s a great way to put your Tagalog skills to the test and interact with the beautiful story of Pan de Sale Saves the Day. Like the storybook, it’s more of an intermediate activity book, but you can do it alongside your kid or fill it out together.
13. Tagalog Short Stories for Beginners
If you want a step up from the storybooks and activity books, or something that’s more adult-feeling, check out some of these Tagalog short stories for beginners. Again, you might need some fundamentals to understand the flow of the story, but as these resources are designed for beginners, they’re a great way to push your new Tagalog skills.
14. Books About Tagalog Culture
Whenever you’re learning a new language, it’s important to understand the culture that surrounds it. It helps to bring context to what you’re learning about and helps you adjust to the conversational language and realistic situations.
15. Filipino Celebrations: A Treasury of Feasts and Festivals
A vibrant and important part of Filipino life is their festival days. There are a ton of them all for different Patron Saints, historical touchpoints, and more. In this beautifully designed book, learn all about the different feast days and festivals, where they come from, and why they’re so important.
In the book, you’ll also find a ton of words and phrases related to different kinds of celebrations. So, if you need words or phrases surrounding birthdays, weddings, parties, and more in Tagalog, this is going to be the cultural resource for you.
16. Salamat Po!: Learning About Showing Respect in the Filipino Culture
Predominantly designed for children, Salamat Po! teaches young people all about the respectful traditions that are practiced throughout Filipino culture. Things like respecting your elders, important heritage-based practices, and more.
It’s a great way to understand the power and values of Filipino culture and will help you understand different formality forms in your Tagalog language learning.
With gorgeous illustrations, Tagalog words and phrases on the theme of respect, and English translations and explanations, Salamat Pol is an ideal book to introduce your little ones to the concept of Filipino culture and heritage.
17. Tagalog Audiobooks
Want to get the hang of the speaking, listening, and pronunciation side of Tagalog? Try listening to some Tagalog learning audiobooks. You can hear how the language is supposed to sound and really start to nail that Tagalog pronunciation.
If you’re looking for a structured language learning audiobook, Pimsleur uses scientifically-proven techniques to build up your confidence when speaking Tagalog. It focuses on pronunciation and understanding but includes elements of vocabulary and grammar to help give you a well-rounded introduction to Tagalog.
With lessons lasting around 30 minutes, it really feels like you’re getting a structured Tagalog lesson, which isn’t always a given with self-teaching resources.
The audio is recorded by native Tagalog speakers, so you can really get a feel for the flow and quirks of the language. You can also get used to listening to Tagalog and start to immerse yourself in the language.
19. Learn Filipino – Level 1 Introduction to Filipino
Want to learn natural-sounding and conversational Tagalog? Learn Filipino – Level 1 Introduction to Filipino is an audiobook that focuses on practical conversational skills that you’re actually likely to use in real life. The audio lessons even include cultural insights to give you context around the words and phrases that you’re learning.
The best thing about it is that it’s completely hands-free so you can go about your business and learn Tagalog. With native speaker pronunciation guides that help you to get a handle on the intricacies of Tagalog, it’s a great little package that is perfect for language learners who are always on the go.
Is Filipino the Same as Tagalog?
Although a lot of people use Filipino and Tagalog interchangeably, they’re not the same thing. Tagalog is the most widely spoken language in the Philippines, spoken by 22 million people worldwide, but it’s actually from the Tagalog region and parts of Luzon which include the capital, Manila.
In actuality, there are over 175 different languages and dialects in the Philippines, and Tagalog gradually influenced a lot of different languages.
Filipino is a mix of Tagalog, English, Chinese, and Spanish words and adapted phrases, so while you’ll definitely find a lot of crossovers, and learning Tagalog will help you learn Filipino, they’re not the same language.
How Many People Speak Tagalog?
Approximately 22 million people in the Philippines alone speak Tagalog as a native language. With it being the fifth most spoken language in North America, you can find around two million native Tagalog speakers across Canada and the US, due to the large migration of Filipino people to the continent.
Is Tagalog Difficult to Learn?
For English speakers, Tagalog is considered difficult to learn due to its complex and different grammatical cases. Once you have those grammatical cases down and worked out, the pronunciation of Tagalog is surprisingly straightforward.
So, if you focus on the grammatical side of the language learning process, everything else will feel way easier by comparison.
Why Should I Learn Tagalog?
So, there are a few reasons why you should learn Tagalog. First of all, the Philippines is growing in popularity as a tourist destination, and you should always learn at least a few key phrases before you travel. It’s a good way to integrate and understand the culture more, and it’s just a respectful thing to do.
Secondly, it’s fast becoming one of the most popular languages spoken in the US, and it’s even the second most spoken language in some US states.
The chances of you meeting a Tagalog speaker or coming across a Tagalog-speaking community is pretty high. It’s super useful to be able to speak to your neighbors in their native tongue and it’s always good to learn about new cultures and languages!
Is Tagalog on Duolingo?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a Tagalog course on Duolingo at the moment, and it doesn’t look like there’s one in the works. It’s pretty strange because there is a ton of demand for it and it’s a popular language, but it might be that the grammatical difficulties are too complex for Duolingo’s easy, bite-sized way of learning.
Best Way to Learn Tagalog
For a lot of languages, the best way to learn is through immersion. When you’re forced to speak a language and you’re hearing it each and every day, you pick up a lot more of a language. It’s the necessity that speeds up the process.
That being said, as much as I’d love to spend a couple of months in the Philippines learning Tagalog, we don’t all have that kind of time and money to spare!
The next way you can learn Tagalog is by utilizing one-to-one tutoring with a native speaker. Platforms like iTalki connect learners and tutors from all over the world for online language lessons via video chat.
It’s a great way to work on your confidence and get real-time feedback from a native speaker in a controlled way before you’re let loose on the world!
Tips for Learning Tagalog
Tagalog can feel tricky at times, and learning any language takes time, effort, and dedication, so here are a few tips to keep your Tagalog journey progressing further.
- Immersion is key
Even if you can’t get to the Philippines or find a group of local Tagalog speakers to talk to, listening to Tagalog podcasts, music, or watching Tagalog language shows is a great way to surround yourself with the flow and feel of the language.
The key to learning anything is to do it over and over again. Keep going through the motions and repeating your vocabulary and grammar rules as frequently as you can. This will help make the Tagalog phrases stick in your head for longer.
- Make a schedule
We’re all busy people, and sometimes our language-learning goals slide. Yes, we might get notifications from apps, but sometimes they arrive when we’re busy. So, instead, make a realistic schedule that you can stick to.
Don’t say you’re going to put aside an hour every, single day, because it’s not realistic and you won’t stick to it. Be kind to yourself with your progress and you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
- Set goals
Keep yourself on track with a set of goals. Maybe you want to be able to have a conversation with a Tagalog speaker in a couple of months at an event, or maybe you’re planning a trip and you want to be ready and able to communicate.
Whatever it is, regularly check in with your progress and goals to make sure you’re on the right track.
Learning to Speak Tagalog is Fun!
If you’re looking to learn Tagalog, there are plenty of amazing resources that you can use to help you on your language-learning journey. These books are all amazing and designed to help you with different facets of your Tagalog process.
Whether you’re teaching your child to learn Tagalog, you’re wanting to gain some skills for an upcoming trip to the Philippines, or just want to learn a beautiful new language, there are books, audiobooks, and creative and engaging books out there to help.
Use a couple of these books alongside each other, or use them as self-teaching resources alongside other Tagalog learning apps, sites, or podcasts. It’s all about finding the language-learning resources that work for you.
We all learn in different ways, so you don’t have to stick with one book or one app. Tagalog is a beautiful language that’s increasingly having a global impact, so it’s well worth learning!