Beginning Tagalog - Book only
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A comprehensive, one-year introductory textbook for Tagalog, the language spoken in the Philippines.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
FROM THE INTRODUCTION: "Beginning Tagalog has been designed to meet the specific needs of adult native speakers of English who wish to learn spoken Tagalog, though students with other language backgrounds may be able to follow the course with profit. With fairly intensive class scheduling, and assuming laboratory assignments and home study, the text can be covered in one academic year. The text is designed to accomplish two aims. The first is to impart oral control of Tagalog and, by means of an acquaintance with the major patterns of the language, to provide the means for additional independent study that will lead to a full mastery of the structures and a vocabulary that is sufficiently broad to meet the needs of most students. The second aim is to provide accurate, up-to-date information about the patterns of Filipino culture that will enable a student to understand the social customs, standards, values, and aspirations of the Filipino people, in order to prepare him for sympathetic, enlightened, and useful participation in the context of Filipino society. . . . The text consists of 25 units and appendices. In the first half of the text, the student plays the part of hearer and speaker, with only incidental reading of oral dialogs and drills. From Unit XIII on there is a reading section designated for each unit, correlated with the primarily spoken materials, but designed to promote facility in the orthography and distinctive patterns of the written language. . . The basic format is as follows: A. Basic Dialog B. Cultural and Structural Notes C. Pronunciation Exercises (to Unit XIII) D. Drills and Grammar E. Cumulative Drills F. Visual-Cue Drills G. Comprehension-Response Drills H. Readings (from Unit XIII)"
| Categories: Learn, Learn > Beginners
| Supporting language: Tagalog
Platforms/media types: Printed Matter
Paperback: 526 pages
# ISBN-10: 0520001567
# ISBN-13: 978-0520001565
# Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.2 x 1.1 inches
| Don't let appearances put you off!, July 12, 2004
By M. Beddow "Michael Beddow" (Leeds, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This is an excellent book, despite its unfortunate presentation. It's the only introductory manual I've seen that isn't scared to describe and teach Tagalog grammar and usage without fudging the significant differences between Austronesian and European languages. Other texts do that in a vain attempt to make Tagalog seem "easy" to foreigners, but the end result is that they make it harder than it needs to be, because they present a Europeanised version of the language that leaves learners helpless when confronted with authentic texts and native speakers.
The key to grasping Tagalog is understanding the related concepts of "topic" and "focus", and this course has as its backbone the mastery of those notions. It also avoids the misleading claim that Tagalog has "tenses" and teaches how aspect plus particles does the same job in a different way. Another strong point is its detailed representation of pronunciation and intonation in the dialogues and examples. Stress is crucial in Tagalog for distinguishing between very different meanings of words apparently spelled the same, and solo learners especially need to see the stress patterns of the new words they learn (other manuals tend to mark stresses only in glossaries at the back, but just as students of French need to learn the gender of each and every noun as they first meet it, so learners of Tagalog need to see and learn up front the correct stress of every new piece of vocabulary).
The only criticism I have of the core content is that it doesn't teach the techniques of root derivation which all learners need to acquire if they are to venture beyond the textbook itself (e.g. by dipping into the Tagalog resources available on the Internet). The majority of Tagalog words encountered "in the wild" are not to be found in their apparent alphabetical place in dictionaries. To look them up you need to know how to spot the root of the word, under which the dictionaries list it. If this issue had been tackled, then this book, used in conjunction with Fr Leo English's superb Tagalog-English Dictionary (sadly not sold outside the Philippines) and the Revised Edition of Carl Rubino's bilingual dictionary (much more restricted in scope than Fr. English's, but good for current colloquial usages) would really be all the serious learner needed to get a good grounding in the language.
Given its fine qualities, it's a pity the book looks so awful. Large areas are taken up with poor-quality artwork with very dated images, and the real meat of the linguistic commentaries and cultural notes is mingled, without adequate typographical distinction, with often unnecessary full expansions of all the possible responses in the various drills suggested for class use. Given that the original work was always designed to be in two volumes, it would have been preferable to put these drills in vol 2 and incorporate the readings which make up Vol 2 (alas long since out of print) into Vol 1. Or at least the drills could have been moved to an appendix in Volume 1 so as not to swamp the exposition of key points.
But despite the poor design and layout, the editing has clearly been meticulous. Typos and misprints can be disastrous when introducing a language to learners who are in no position to spot them, and they are pretty frequent on some of the other Tagalog primers on the market. But in this book I have yet to discover a single misprint, or indeed any error of any description.
It would be great if this book could be given a thorough design makeover (including making the readings available in print once more) while retaining those high editorial standards. But even in its present unappealing guise, it's the best there is, by a long way.