Learn Tagalog online for free through your library!
To celebrate the recent release of Mango’s Tagalog course to libraries, I sat down with our resident Tagalog-speaker, Eon Rodrigo, for a little chat about the language and his native country, the Philippines.
Originally from Batac, Eon joined Mango’s creative team in 2011. During our conversation, Eon offered up his advice to learn Tagalog, indulged us in his recommendations for top-notch Filipino food, and even provided insight into his favorite Tagalog word (you’ll never guess what it is!) Read on below for more on my conversation with Eon.
Tiffany Neumeyer: Hi Eon, thanks for sitting down with me today.
Eon Rodrigo: No problem.
TN: For starters, could you tell our readers a little bit about your background?
ER: Sure. I was born in Batac, which is in the northern Phillipines. Growing up, I spoke Ilocano at home, but both Tagalog and English were taught at school. When I was three, my Dad emigrated to the United States in order to offer our family a better life. Nine years later, my Mom and I were able to join him.
TN: So you were 12 years old when you moved. Were you completely fluent in English at that time?
ER: Yes, but I spoke it with a very heavy accent, so I was extremely shy around other kids to begin with. It actually took almost two years until I was able to completely drop my accent. Watching TV – especially music videos – really helped me.
TN: Since moving, have you had the chance to go back and visit the Philippines?
ER: Yes, once, in 2005 – but I’m hoping to go back again sometime this year.
TN: What is your favorite thing to do or see when you’re over there?
ER: Obviously, catching up with family and friends is the most exciting and important thing. But in my free time, I love spending time outdoors or going to the beach. My family lives 30 minutes from the Pacific, so it’s an easy drive. Plus, living in Michigan now – where it’s relatively flat – makes me appreciate the beautiful mountain landscape that surrounds my hometown in the Philippines. Oh – and the food! I can’t forget the food. It’s awesome.
TN: I bet. Do you have a favorite dish?
ER: It’s really hard to pick just one. Given a few, I’d say chicken adobo, arroz caldo, and Ilocano empanadas. The empanadas sold by the street vendors there just can’t be beaten.
TN: Shifting gears to a completely random question: what would you say your favorite word or phrase in Tagalog is?
ER: That is a random question! I guess I would have to say “pare” (PAH-reh), which means “buddy” or “friend”. It’s a pretty common word that you’d hear a lot on the streets. Another word that I love is “kili kili” (kee-LEE, kee-LEE).
TN: What does that mean?
ER: Armpit! I know it’s a strange word to like, but it just sounds so funny in Tagalog!
TN: Haha, I have to agree with you there. So Eon, what advice would you give to students learning Tagalog?
ER: First of all, I would encourage them to try to think in the language as much as possible. Just like with most foreign languages, it’s almost impossible to directly translate phrases from English into Tagalog. So I would encourage students instead to focus on learning the rules and structure of the language – and then try to formulate sentences while thinking in Tagalog. It’s much more effective than trying to directly translate from English.
Also, don’t be afraid to pronounce something incorrectly. Most Tagalog words are written exactly as they sound – but even if you do make a mistake, that’s just part of the learning process!
TN: Agreed 100 percent! I’ve just got one final question, Eon. What’s your favorite part of Mango’s Tagalog course?
ER: There’s so many great features, but I personally like the Cultural Notes. It’s a feature that I’ve enjoyed in all of Mango’s courses, not just Tagalog. For me, to learn a foreign culture provides you with greater insight and understanding into the language. For example, when is it appropriate or not appropriate to say certain things? When should a formal or informal case be used? These are all things that are important to consider when learning a foreign language.
TN: Eon, thanks so much for giving up some of your time to sit down with me today. I really appreciate it! And readers – don’t forget to check out Mango’s newest library course and learn Tagalog!
To find a library near you that offers Mango, click here.
Eon’s favorite Mango feature is the Cultural Notes. What do you like best about learning with Mango?