You are about to begin the Philippine Headstart course. This course is designed to enable you to communicate in situations which you are likely to encounter in the Philippines.
The emphasis of the course is on speaking and understanding Tagalog, and you will be working extensively with the audio for the course.
Individual learning styles vary, so we have built a certain amount of flexibility into the materials to accomodate these variations. The recommendations that we make here have been successful for most students. If you have approaches that work better for you, by all means, use them.
1. We discourage you from trying to read the Tagalog text without listening to the audio. If you attempt to read and then listen to the audio, you will quickly discover that what you hear often doesn’t sound like what you see, and you will have wasted valuable time.
You will notice that when some words are pronounced by themselves, they will sound different from the way they sound in a sentence. Look at the English sentence “Did you eat yet?” which usually comes out sounding something like “Jeetjet?” Tagalog is no different, so pay careful attention to the way words combine with each other in sentences.
2. You should never repeat anything you don’t understand. This does not mean that you must be able to translate everything word for word; it simply means that you should be able to attach a meaning to what you hear and repeat. A good technique is to try to form pictures of what you are repeating.
In certain kinds of exercises you will find yourself becoming very good at making the correct responses without being aware of what you’re saying. Guard against this!
Always think about what you’re saying. When you begin to think in Tagalog, you’ll find it much easier to monitor what you’re saying. It won’t matter that there is no word-for-word correspondence between Tagalog and English, because you won’t be thinking in English and translating words. You’ll be translating thoughts.
3. You may need to refer to your book the first time you do some exercises, but don’t be satisfied with your performance until you can do the exercises in the pauses allowed on the audio without referring to the book. If you cannot keep up with the audio, take it a bit slower; stop the audio and give yourself time to formulate your response; repeat the exercise a couple of times. If you still can’t keep up, go on to the next exercise or take a break and then try again.
4. At first it will seem as if you are never going to be able to make some of the sounds you hear. Remember, you are overcoming 20,30 or 40, or more years of speech habit and your muscles will need retraining. It’s almost as though you suddenly had to start writing with your other hand; it can be done, but it will take some practice.
5. You will sometimes find grammar notes and literal translations in the Notes on the Conversation immediately following the conversation, and sometimes, as appropriate, with the exercises. The notes are important only if they fit your particular learning style and make it easier for you to learn the material. Memorizing grammar rules is NOT an objective of this course.
6. Lastly, and most importantly, practice speaking Tagalog at every opportunity; talk to your friends, you roommates, and to yourself. Use what you learned. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the words and structures you learn.
Play with the language! Make new sentences, even if you have to use an English word. Express your thoughts, that’s what language is all about.