Elementary Tagalog: Tara, Mag-Tagalog Tayo! Come On, Let's Speak Tagalog! (MP3 Audio CD Included) Hardcover – Aug 10 2012
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I don't want lengthy notes about grammar theory, but I do like explanations. A lot of modern language books take the approach where they expose you to the language and let you figure out the grammar on your own. Me? Just tell me what I need to know and I'll take it from there. What I was finding in Tagalog was two kinds of books, ones written a long time ago that had some good grammar explanations but were a little out of date and new ones with up-to-date content but without much structure.
This book seems to have both. The language in it is right up to date, so when I try something out on my wife she doesn't go "that's correct but we never say that any more", and there's enough, but not too much, grammar. I was also glad that the lessons weren't just about traveling in the Philippines and site-seeing. I got the workbook with the textbook and was surprised how much I used it.
My only advice to the publisher would be to slow down the audio in the first unit or two. Even though I've been exposed to a lot of Tagalog, I wasn't quite ready for full-speed speech in chapter 1. On the whole, this is a graet addition to the Tagalog language.
The content is organized well. Starting with an overview, in each unit there is a vocabulary list and sample dialogue, then short activities to reinforce comprehension. Perhaps the activities are too short, but successfully completing them encourages the learner to continue. The grammar sections are concise and the terminology may be too academic for some, but remember that this is a textbook and not a quick language guide for tourists.
The workbook provides more comprehensive activities per unit than the textbook, and these activities focus the learner on the topic from different angles: match Tagalog words with English; fill in the blanks in Tagalog sentences with missing words and phrases; re-write questions as sentences, and vice versa; edit sentences to be grammatically correct; reading comprehension; transcribe the audio; translate English into Tagalog.
The balance between reading and listening is helpful because, as a learner without an instructor, I know my ability to read Tagalog would quickly surpass my listening (and speaking).
Very appealing is the selection of vocabulary, allowing the learner to engage in real world conversation and not sound like a walking textbook. Having a native speaker as learning partner would help, to answer questions about usage. A few times I wondered if the vocabulary list examples actually corresponded with their appearance in the dialogues--or was I reading typos?
The cultural notes are important, as knowing how native Tagalog speakers think will enrich learning the language by understanding its context. The Roman alphabet, and words of Spanish origin, also contribute.
The textbook also includes a Tagalog-English wordlist, an English-Tagalog wordlist, a one-page index of major grammatical terms, and an audio CD. The CD is also tied to the paperback workbook. The workbook follows the same outline and progression as the textbook and conveniently offers an answer key.
Kudos all around for a strategically organized and attractive beginning textbook. You would do better in a formal classroom environment than trying to teach yourself with this book, however. Despite the many and good aspects, the textbook alone will not give you enough feedback to reach the desired proficiency. Minimally, find yourself a willing and capable Tagalog speaker to help you go through the lessons.
There are some potential shortcomings in this otherwise excellent textbook. If you are trying to learn on your own, you may face some frustration.
The introductory notes about how to pronounce (and read) Tagalog are pretty clear, but (even as a teacher of linguistics) I wish the authors explained "stress" more clearly.
The two wordlists are helpful, but there are curious omissions (no "when," "who,", "why" in the E>T side) and missing links between the two sections.
The one-page Index is likewise a potential frustration. There is no link to "stress" and only two to "focus," although both are important and difficult concepts for the language learner. [The second reference to "focus" points to the wrong page.]