Hey everyone, I'm sure no one cares but for the sake of keeping a record of this journey and they help keep me accountable I will start keeping a log of my Tagalog learning progress. Feel free to chime in any time you want.
I'm am American who has been living in the Philippines for about 8 years now. I picked up many things here and there over the years enough to make people think I knew a lot more Tagalog than I did but never really much more than that. After completing two degrees online in 2018-2019 I had a renewed confidence in my ability to follow through and learn something new and completely. Thus in December 2019 I rolled up the sleeves ordered the books, hired a tutor, and got back in to TLDC.
Things with my tutor went fine but I got too busy and eventually stopped working with him but never lost the passion for learning. Don't get me wrong I've wanted to quit many times but I've kept at it and am enjoying the rewards that come with it.
Early on in the process I stumbled on the various language servers on Discord by way of fellow site member @akosikoneho which provided me with multiple natives willing to help me learn. Some are even dedicated linguists. This along with this site has been invaluable to my progress thus far. Si @akosikoneho has since become my mentor, and is to date the most accomplished foreign learner of Tagalog I have met thus far. If are you are reading this @akosikoneho, thanks my dude! A second shout out must go to the very talented Si @jkos the owner of TLDC. I don't want to imagine what this process would have been like without TLDC, the dictionary, the reading tool and the flash cards.
So that's the background, now here are the goals (in 1.5 more years):
1. Understand most things written including news and Facebook and chat in the same way that I read english. 2. Understand modern televisions and movies with ease, news, rom cons, including understanding when to laugh 3. Ability to overhear and in general understand tsismis happening around me
Much less important (but still a goal, and will happen in time, but would not consider it a failure if not fully achieved):
4. Produce completely modern Taglish on the fly without the "this sound weird to my native ears factor". I'm not too worried tho because if 1-3 can be achieved this will come naturally to me. I naturally remember things, identify patterns and differences and mimic them. I just have not acquired the hundreds/thousands of hours of listening and reading that would make these patterns clear.
I will follow up with my current process in the next post.
I've acquired countless books, sites, apps, programs, and maybe I can post more on that some day but I will just now tell you that my biggest gains came from hitting sentence based flashcards hard. When you do this you start to naturally get a feel for the grammar which is much easier then trying to digest the crazy conjugations of this language. I have a long way to go but once I finally started to understand, focus, aspects, case markers a whole new world unlocked.
What I'm doing now daily:
1. Read enough in the reader tool to add 75 new words to my study list. If you aren't doing this, you need to start, today.
2. Adding those 75 words in to my Anki flash card deck and learning them + the past reviews. This is an ambitious goal no doubt but I'm highly motivated. If one could keep this up, you would be at 10,000 words in just 133 days. I'm ok if it takes a little bit longer, even 2x or 3x as long would still be an amazing accomplishment.
3. Passive listening of Glosika's 5000 bi lingual sentences while working and doing other things. It's surprising what can sink in when you least expect it.
4. Watching at least 1 episode of the teleseries "Be Careful With My Heart". It's only 30 minutes and believe it or not I actually can enjoy cheesy crap like this. I am AMAZED at how well I can already watch this show in just a few months.
I think this will evolve and things will be added, but I will attempt to stick to #1 and #2 no matter what for at least 6 months.
05/22/2020 -Read 5 chapters of a book in the Reading Tool -Imported and learned 75 new words while reviewing the previous days 75 new words in Anki, total of 150 words currently in play -Listened to hundreds of reps on Glosika. -Unable to watch the teleseries because TFC.tv was running way too slow, this must be due to the lock down as my connection is fine. I will try again tomorrow.
Mood: Excited, I feel I have finally built a solid framework to move forward with my acquisition of this language.
05/23/2020 -Read 1 chapter of a book and a 2 page new article the reading tool, added 90+ unknown words to my cards. -Discussed news article with Discord linguists -Did my Anki rounds, +75 new words. Currently studying 225 new works. (+75 Daily)
Mood: Positive. The +75 new words is very ambitious and requires a lot of energy to process including the reviews from prior days. I believe its worth it! Every day I'm more amazed at what I can read and understand in the reader tool.
I also decided that starting either today or tomorrow. I will do at least 1 lesson of my LearningTagalog.com subscription since I already own it. I might as well complete the course, also it can be used as a metric of progress.
Edit: Also, my Grab drivers were chatting me in Tagalog and it felt great to actually understand what they were saying, without either being unsure, or saying "sorry, can you please say that in English".
05/24/2020 -No real progress got intoxicated for the first time since lock down. Passed out.
Mood: never drinking again.
05/25/2020 -Almost finished my Anki review when it changed days on me and gave me even more. But at least I did this. -Still kinda messed up from the drinking, but taking this as a new lease on life really pumped up to this this hard, but I had real work to do on a project today.
Mood: down that I didn't get more done, but excited about starting a new path.
-Pre update..so yeah wow, I'm reading Lazada reviews now and so amazing to know what they are saying.
-More reading just 1 chapter of a book (these are very short chapters), loving how I'm really understanding the story now that I learn a couple hundred new words in prior chapters. Need to step this up but accomplished a lot chores today.
-Anki flash card reviews done, and a new plan for flashcards moving forward. I still intend of averaging 75 new words a day but I find 75 new words + reviews to be a little over kill. I love my days when it is just review. So what I'm going to try is to build up the new word pool from reading during the week and dumping the ~500 words in to Anki on Saturdays and suffer through the new word exposure all at once and then just beat down the reviews during the other 6 days of the week.Yeah either was this is aggressive and it's painful but it works. Burn out is impossible for me on this front. I'm doing this for my self, not for a job, not for anything, I don't think its impossible to burn out on this. If it gets too hot I will just slow down a bit but it wont reverse the big gains I will get by attempting.
What I want to try is using the TLDC flash card system to initially learn and master words over a period of time and then transfer to them Anki for long term spaced repetition. I'm just waiting on @jkos to implement some key features to the study cards to make that easier to do (essentially integrate the study cards with the regular flashcards, and allow for merging of decks).
-Completed 3 Lessons in LearningTagalog.com, I already owned this so I wanted to finally complete it, and it's amazed to go through it now because it makes clear how much I have grown over the months and things just make so much more sense now. I love how when you reach a certain skill level in something you then have the tools to move forward even farther, if that makes sense.
-Listened to maybe 30 sentences x 5 reps while cleaning up.
Mood: super positive, happy with the results, wishing I had more time to study but now I must get back to what pays the bills.
Didn't want to let this die completely. The studying has been on going but not as hard as in the past and was just too lazy to post here but I have taken some time off social media to focus harder on making gains.
The current focus is READING. Since my goals really are to just be able to watch, listen and read more than anything else this is the most important thing I can do. I recently purchased about 50 BI LINGUAL (Filipino/English) childrens books (more like stories) and will be working my way through them. The goal is to read one story per day, note unknown words, process the meanings based on the bi lingual translation and then build a custom flash card set here on TDC.
My first batch of 20 I plan to complete in 20 days, but you know how that goes. Will try to update with each book.
Mood: Thank god I have this hobby else I would probably getting pretty
Also, my Grab drivers were chatting me in Tagalog and it felt great to actually understand what they were saying, without either being unsure, or saying "sorry, can you please say that in English".
@AMBoy Oh yeah...in a Grab taxi was one of my two first memorable breakthroughs...
Early on, In a Grab taxi I managed to have a short conversation and the guy didn’t bother to over simplify or over enunciate his Tagalog when talking to me, which felt great.
The other was when hotel staff wouldn’t let a relative in our hotel and wouldn’t call our room to confirm he was a guest...(they were treating him poorly, I’m assuming because he didn’t look like he had money, and he’s from a remote part of the Philippines)...and he had to spend several hours waiting downstairs until we figured out what was going on. When I finally came down to get him, he went on an emotional rant and I was able to console him somewhat, all in Tagalog. Felt good to know what he was saying and be able empathize.
If you don't want to do flashcards, you could consider just trying to expose yourself to written and spoken Tagalog and that will subconsciously drill a lot of the vocabulary into you. So instead of spending one hour jamming in all the words via Anki, you could instead spend an hour reading some material or watching some videos at your language level.
I personally have been doing this over the past six weeks and I enjoy it more - it allows me personally to expose myself to more of the language while watching enjoyable content. And I feel like I've progressed a lot more in my Tagalog (I'm probably around upper B1 CEFR).
For more context, I linked a video from a well known polyglot, Steve Kaufmann, who gives some reasons for why one might opt against flashcards (link below):
I know some people legit swear by flashcards and love them, but when I used them, I hated spending 50-60 minutes each day going through all the vocabulary. So I eventually gave them up, even though they did work.
You may still find flashcards useful though, and if you want to still use them, why not use them?
@Scrover Thanks for the message! I've been wondering who has been tearing up the leader board. Yeah, I hear ya, I'm very familiar with what with Steve teaches. That's basically why I pushed @jkos to make the reader tool 2.0 in the first place I'm actually doing both, though my stats suck right now. I will get the the 500 words a week FROM the reading of books, news, and transcripts. With a lot of the deep words I'm soaking up though, I will likely never read enough to see them repeated with enough frequency to commit to memory. If I sound like I'm complaining about cards, I don't mean to sound that way. I love them, they are easy enough for me and the results are amazing. I don't know of a quicker more solid way for effective way to committing to memory. My mind just works well like this.
So I totally agree with your method just that I'm doing both, I will get my unknown words from the reading itself, and then hammer it home with cards. It's already been so amazing just a week later reading the news again. Reading is very important, maybe the most important but I think cards just help me move the needle faster. Frankly not even enough Tagalog content worth reading tho, so I suspect even with this plan I'll soon run out of words anyway.
You should start a journal!
EDIT: added SHOULD to the above line, wasn't trying to be pushy lol
I will likely never read enough to see them repeated with enough frequency to commit to memory
I do still think that reading + flashcards is the best combination, although I’ve been doing more reading lately since it’s more enjoyable to me (and easier than cards). But part of the equation is also not doing things in such a way that makes you bored out of your mind. ; )
One thing to mention about your quoted comment above, @AMBoy , is that when you read long form written content written by a single author, an writer will tend to favor certain words in their vocabulary...which means that even though a word may be fairly rare in a general corpus of Tagalog text, that author will use it repeatedly in her/his own texts, which effectively will drill the language in your memory. So reading is still pretty good for memorizing new vocabulary even for a lot of rare-ish words.
I do still think that reading + flashcards is the best combination, although I’ve been doing more reading lately since it’s more enjoyable to me (and easier than cards). But part of the equation is also not doing things in such a way that makes you bored out of your mind. ; ) One thing to mention about your quoted comment above, AMBoy , is that when you read long form written content written by a single author, an writer will tend to favor certain words in their vocabulary...which means that even though a word may be fairly rare in a general corpus of Tagalog text, that author will use it repeatedly in her/his own texts, which effectively will drill the language in your memory. So reading is still pretty good for memorizing new vocabulary even for a lot of rare-ish words.
@jkos I hear ya, I love the rather instant feedback and metric of progress I get from flashcards. It's just a lot more efficient to me, I'm a long way from being bored at this point. My goal is a somewhat high level of mastery that I'm just not going to get by learning "on the go", at least not in a reasonable for me time line. I think it would be easier in other languages that have tons of compelling content perhaps. I'm not a polyglot I don't want to be, this is national language of my adopted home and I take it pretty seriously. I like Steve but I see him more of a hobbyist these days as some of the languages hes "learned" since he switched the lingq days are laughable. Google "meaningful conversations arabic" and you will see just how meaningful his skills are . Lingq was pure genius though and a game changer in the right hands with the right content.
So reading + cards is really prefect best of both worlds and faster progress, and it will be reading, watching + cards as soon as you give me a way to move the video to the far left..
In my opinion, if you're around A1/A2, I think one should either:
1. Expose themselves to more material intended for language learners, gradually increasing the difficulty.
2. Use the Listening Practice Videos on this site as opposed to reading the news articles, if one wants to increase their vocabulary.
The listening videos with transcripts on this website are very useful, and because the vocabulary used in these videos are more common, you'll get more exposure to the more common words used in the language. You can also read the transcripts while listening to "read while listening", which is what I do.
From my experience using this website, I would say probably the easiest resource on this site with transcripts that is intended for native speakers would be the MichelleFamilyDiary videos. This would be followed by the Acy De Castro and Pao Adventurer.
The reason why the news isn't something I recommend for beginners is because the news is a lot more at B2+ level, and can frustrate A1/A2 people with all the words they don't know. I can remember when I was at a lower B1 level and I would feel really frustrated reading the news myself and read only at 25 words per minute. It was a significant step up from what I had listened to earlier and the vocabulary used is completely different. Previously, I was mainly listening to easy-to-understand speakers such as akosibail, Dwaine Wooley etc.
Instead, if you wish to read, reading some material intended for foreign language learners and importing it into the reader may be useful. It's probably my only suggestion for the reader tool - there isn't enough of this actual "beginner-like" sort of material imported in the reader tool as of yet.
It's a similar story with things such as teleserye and movies - I'm watching my first Filipino movie on Netflix and it's not the easiest. It currently takes me 6 minutes to go and 100% fully understand 1 minute of video. Plus all the innuendos, double meanings and unfamiliar sayings can make things awkward without previous exposure to them.
EDIT: I've generally done journals on occasion, but I haven't enjoyed them myself so I probably won't create one. But I don't mind helping others out to learn Tagalog!