SOAS University of London

SOAS Language Centre

Filipino (Tagalog) at SOAS Language Centre

Filipino (Tagalog) or Wikang Filipino refers to the national language of the Philippines. Mostly synonymous with Tagalog, Filipino is from the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. It is the lingua franca of the Philippines, spoken by some 28 million Filipinos natively, and over 40 million as a second or third language. Filipino is spoken in many countries outside of the Philippines as a result of considerable out-migration. It is the 6th most spoken language in the U.S. and the 18th in the U.K.

Filipino is a relatively easy language to learn. It uses the Roman alphabet and has easily recognizable markers for objects, persons, and adjectives. Its verbs use infixes to give it a sense of time. The root verb “aral” for example takes on different aspects of action completion : nag-aral (completed) nag-aaral (on-going)  and mag-aaral (future).

Because of its complex colonial history, its vocabulary is a mix of indigenized Spanish, English, Nauhtl, Sanskrit and even Arabic words. A Spanish-speaking person will easily recognize one of the more than 4,000 Filipinized words like mesa, silya or gusto. Many Filipinos also frequently switch between Filipino and English.  English and its local variety called Filipino English (Llamzon, l969) or Philippine English (Gonzalez, 1972) or Taglish -  is spoken by 56% of the population and makes for a linguistic atmosphere that is fluid and highly convivial.

Interest in learning about Philippine culture is growing steadily in the UK. There are an estimated 250,000 Filipinos living in the UK, and there is an increasing number of second and third generation Filipino-British heritage-learners. Tourism and academic research also contribute to the increasing interest in learning the language, especially when it is taught within the context of Philippine cultural and communicative practices.

SOAS LC offers the following courses in Filipino:

Filipino (Tagalog) Beginners