FSI Tagalog Language Course

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What is Headstart for the Philippines?

The Headstart language courses were created by the US Defense Language Institute for military personal who were serving abroad and needed to learn the basics of the language of the country where they were posted. The courses are intended to give you the basic vocabulary and structures that will allow you to deal with the kind of situations you might encounter while living in the country.

The Headstart for the Philippines course, which first appeared in 1985, consists of four core modules plus one extra optional module, with each one being made up of two to three units. At the start of each module, you are given a list of the module objectives, and then in each unit, the new language is presented in the form of a dialog. This is followed by a series of exercises that allow you to practice what you have just learned until you have mastered all the new material.

There is also a series of audio recordings, which form an integral part of the course. These recordings enable you to work on your pronunciation while taking you through the dialogs and exercises. All the instructions you require are included in the recordings, so all you need to do to study the course is to listen to the recordings and follow what they tell you.

Finally, the course materials are also accompanied by an in-depth introduction to Filipino culture that, although now a little dated, contains a wealth of information concerning the traditions and customs of the country.

How can you use Headstart for the Philippines?

Since this course was designed to be used for individual study, you can simply work through the lessons as intended. With Headstart for the Philippines, you should start with Module 1, Unit 1 and work through in order. After reading the module objectives, start the recording for the relevant unit and then do what the audio tells you.

Headstart courses are meant to be flexible. This means that while you will find some suggestions for how to study at the beginning of the course, you are free to learn in whichever way works best for you.

It is recommended that you listen to the dialogs first before reading the text to help you hear the sounds rather than being misled by the writing. However, you can work at your own pace, and you are free to repeat as many times as you need.

There are no prizes for finishing the course quickly. Instead, your goal should be mastery of the language. However, most people find they can work through the whole course in around 30-40 hours.

Since these materials were intended for service personnel, you will find there is a lot of vocabulary related to the military. However, don’t feel you need to memorize all of this – simply focus on the language you think will be most useful for you and ignore anything you think is irrelevant.

Taking it further

Of course, you can’t expect to learn Tagalog from books alone, and as soon as you can, you should start looking for opportunities to practice the new language you have covered. Try to find Tagalog speakers to practice with and make using the language a part of your daily life. If you have the chance to travel to the Philippines, try to speak the language as often as possible – and this way, you will see how much Tagalog you already know.