Headstart for the Philippines Reloaded

Below you will find links to the various lessons of the Headstart to the Philippines course originally published by the Foreign Language Center of the US Defense Language Institute in 1985.

Why “Reloaded”

I enjoyed using this course when I was first learning Tagalog. I used many other resources too, such as Teach Yourself Tagalog, Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur Tagalog, and a few other courses.

The teaching method is a bit “old school” but I still found it useful and even entertaining. It may be because I am ex-military and find the method somewhat nostalgic. I especially like they way the narrator says “REPEAT!”.

The course was originally in audio only format with a book to go along with it. Almost ALL of the training took place on the audio tapes (yes, “tapes”).

For me, audio-only is fine. That’s how the Pimsleur course is presented and I found that course to be very useful when I was getting started. In fact, I ditched my Rosetta Stone and used Pimsleur instead. But, I must admit, I transcribed the entire Pimsleur course too, so I could have something to read. That’s 15 hours of audio!



The Headstart for the Philippines course material has been released to the public domain by the Foreign Service Institute and is available for all to use freely.

I know from reading comments on many blogs about language learning that some people really don’t like audio courses, unless they can read it too. I decided to transcribe the entire Headstart course and put it online so others can listen to the audio and read along and see the written words.

I like to think of it as “reloaded into a more modern format”, a webpage!

I also went through the course and broke up the long audios into smaller, bite-sized chunks. The “chunks” are divided up in natural segments.

First there is the initial conversation for each lesson and the training that goes along with that.

Next, each lesson continues as a series of exercises. I split out the audio for each exercise so it can be played again, over and over.

I transcribed the audio for each exercise so you can read along with the speakers on the “tape”.

It is my belief that a very large part of this course is still very useful and I simply wanted to put it online in a more easily digested fashion.

I have other plans for the material as well and will update this page as it develops.

But It Is OLD!

Although some of the material is a bit outdated, the majority of it is still on target.  I include “Alan’s Notes” within each each section and exercise of the course to let you know what you can skip or say differently. In my notes area I often provide additional insights into the language.

As I said above, I have a lot of Tagalog training materials. Learning Tagalog is passion of mine. I also live with Tagalog speakers and communicate using
the language everyday.

I like to respond to the “but it’s old” statement by saying.. the way I say “Good morning, Frank” is exactly the way I said it when I was a young boy. It’s the same way my father said it too! I say “How much is this?” in English the same way I always did.

I understand that I could also say in English “Yo Bro, Wazzup!!”, but I don’t want to teach that type of language. You can learn that from your “bros”.

The course uses very formal speech. They use the honorific “po” way more than I hear it here. I will address that in my “Alan’s Notes”. They use phrases such as “Ikinagagalak kong makilala kayo.” I’ve only heard that 2 times in the past 3 years here. Yet, in the “Tagalog for Beginners” book I bought, the author uses that phrase in her first lesson. It was written in 2011. (By the way, I highly recommend that book and the accompanying, downloadable audio.)

For me, learning such words as “ikinagagalak” and even “binibini” (which means “miss”) is useful if only for the practice of speaking the syllables. By the way, what do you think they call “Miss Philippines”? Google “binibini” and find out!

I don’t have all my notes for each section written yet. I will be doing that over time. In so doing, I refer to 4 of my most modern Tagalog books which have been published within the past 3 to 6 years. I also question my two house mates that speak fluent Tagalog for their input.

If I were to guess, I would say 97% or more of the course is useful now just as it was back in 1985. In fact, as I’ve been transcribing the course, I am very attuned to listening. So, when I listen to the radio here I chuckle to myself when I hear the same things spoken on the radio that I just recently transcribed from the audio.

The Transcription Process

As of this writing (April 2017) I am transcribing each of the lengthy audios used in the course. I also broke the long audios up into shorter segments based on natural breaks in the training.

For each lesson you will find an audio for the introductory conversation plus the initial training for learning the conversation and related words and sentences.

Then, I created separate audios for each of the exercises. Some lessons have 30 exercise audios.  I find it better to be able to listen to the individual exercises using a separate audio instead of working with the much larger audio file used in the original course. You can download a PDF version of the original written course material from here.

At that site you can also view the PDF online and listen to or download the entire original, larger audio files (at LiveLingua.com). (See the note and link at the bottom of this page.)

My hope is that, as you go through the course, you will download the exercise audio you are currently working on and take it with you on your smartphone, mp3 player, etc. and master it. I think the “bite size” pieces approach is very helpful. Chew it up and digest it.

Description of the Course
How to Study the Course

Module I: Getting to Know You

Objectives
Lesson 1: Greetings and Introductions
Lesson 2: In the Philippines
Lesson 3: Where Do You Live?

Module II: Getting Around

Objectives
Lesson 4: How Does One Get to the Bus Station?
Lesson 5: At the Ticket Window
Lesson 6: At the Gas Station

Module III: At the Restaurant

Objectives
Lesson 7: A Table for Two
Lesson 8: At the Restaurant

Module IV: Shopping

Objectives
Lesson 9: At the Market
Lesson 10: At the Clothing Store
Lesson 11: Buying Souvenirs

Module V: Getting Help

Objectives
Lesson 12: Hiring Help
Lesson 13: Emergency at Home

NOTE: LiveLingua.com has a this course presented in a different fashion then what I did here.  You can listen to the longer version of the audio course there and download them too.  Go here to check it out!

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