It sounds intimidating to learn another language and even more so to teach your child a language that you may not be fluent in either. But learning another language with your child can be turned into an enjoyable educational activity that you can share together.
Here are 7 fun ways to learn Tagalog with your child (in no particular order):
Read bilingual books
A wonderful way to build language and literacy is through books. Immersing oneself with a wide array of quality picture books builds vocabulary and adds context through corresponding pictures. The Filipino children’s book selection is amazingly growing due to talented and passionate authors, illustrators, and publishers who are dedicated to spreading the Filipino culture through books.
Some places to find Filipino/Fil-Am children’s books are:
Also, check your local libraries, bookstores or Filipino festivals in your area. Selections can vary depending on your location. Another tip (if your library has the policy to request books) is to ask your librarian to consider purchasing a suggested booklist.
(Please contact me if you know a good place to get Filipino children’s books that is not listed above and I can update the list.)
Arts & crafts that incorporate Tagalog vocabulary
Incorporating Tagalog vocabulary in arts and crafts is another fun and simple way to reinforce the language. Even if the craft was not initially intended to be focused on Filipino culture or language, the vocabulary can still be tied. For example, talking about the colors or shapes that are used in the craft can be a way to implement Tagalog. (For craft ideas, check out our page Tagalog Activities & Book Units which has many different ideas).
You can also follow us on Instagram (@filamlearners) where we also share more craft ideas and activities to try out to teach Tagalog.
Playing games such as Memory, matching card games, Pictionary, Charades are enjoyable bonding activities to review and teach language (regardless of which language).
Apps & Videos
Watching appropriate children’s videos or playing educational apps is another way to learn a language. Here are suggested YouTube channels and apps (but please preview them first to gauge the appropriateness for your little ones).
Involving your children in the kitchen not only teaches them cooking skills that set them up for independence and educates them on nutrition, but is also a seamless way to have conversations and build on language. You can share more about the culture of the food and key vocabulary of the ingredients, cooking utensils, and skills such as stirring, baking, frying.
Below is a video from FilipinoPod101 teaching basic Tagalog words themed around the kitchen.
Here is a three-page printable of some basic phrases to use when meeting someone new. They can be kept as reference charts or cut up to be used as vocabulary cards. I included phrases using both formal and informal tone.
In Tagalog, there are two tones for conversation: formal and informal. With formal conversation, “po” is added as a form of respect when speaking to someone elder or someone respectable. Informal conversation is used when speaking to peers or those who are younger.
The third page of numbers 1 – 10 in Tagalog was added in case you want to identify the number of children or siblings you have.
We hope these help you for the next time you meet someone new and want to practice using Tagalog with them!
Learn about the flag of the Philippines with this craft. This two-page printable has basic facts about the meaning of the colors and symbols of the flag. It includes a Philippine flag craft for the child to color, cut, and paste.
Read more about the story behind the Philippines flag with these sources:
Ready to learn the Filipino alphabet with us? We have a funand special challenge to help you learn more Filipino vocabulary, more about food, culture, and geography using each letter sound of the original Filipino alphabet, known as Abakada.
In collaboration with Filipino children’s book author, Joy Francisco (@littleyellowjeepney), and Filipino food vlogger, Jeanelle Castro (@Jeanelleats), we will be sharing words and phrases focusing on one letter of the Abakada each week. Make sure to hop on Instagram to follow our challenge, which starts the week of November 10 and will be going on for 20 weeks.
We want this to be an enriching experience to learn from one another, so we welcome your participation. Whether you learn the words for yourselves, share the vocabulary with family and friends, comment on our posts with words you know that go along with that week’s featured letter, or share relevant content on your social media during each week’s challenge, there are many ways to partake in the #AbakadaChallenge.
To go along with the challenge, I made a printable booklet for you (and/or your kids) to write down or draw the words that we share each week and any additional words you come up with or find from other resources. Feel free to take a picture of your completed pages each week or after the whole challenge and share it with us by using the hashtag #abakadachallenge or tagging @filamlearners@littleyellowjeepney and @jeanelleats so we can see all of the amazing words you are learning.
Other resources to learn the Filipino alphabet:
Want to learn the Abakada song? Click below to listen and watch the Abakada version from Robie317.
Recommended Books to teach the Filipino alphabet:
A special thank you to Jeanelle & Joy for this wonderful collaboration and for the inspirational work they do.
Want to learn more Tagalog for yourself & your kids?
Check out our Tagalog membership/subscription for Parents.
Pan de Sal Saves the Day is a Filipino children’s story about a girl named, Pan de Sal, who starts off feeling self-conscious in comparison to her classmates and later discovers her talents and uniqueness as a person. As people, sometime in our lives, we go through moments of feeling not good enough or comparing what we look like or what we do with someone else. This book is a wonderful introduction to some aspects of Filipino culture while also bringing concepts of self-worth and pride to the forefront.
Pan de Sal Saves the Day is written by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco, illustrated by Mark Salvatus, and published by Tuttle Publishing. It is a bilingual book written both in English and Tagalog and a great picture book to add to your young child’s library.
To help you bring the book to life, we have created a unit of 6 activities that you can do with your child or student.
The activities include:
Book discussion questions
“What Makes You Special” picture and writing activity
This post includes a chart of singular and plural pronouns for reference. In addition, there is the audio for some of the plural pronouns. If it is not noted, the phrases listed in the themes area are primarily directed to a single person or can be universally for both singular or plural. Any phrase you see with a (+2) indicates that the phrase is directed to 2 or more people when speaking to them. For many of the sentences, the singular pronoun can be swapped out for the plural phrases without changing the sentence structure. We also include any exceptions where the order of the words is moved within a sentence.
If this chart is overwhelming, don’t worry too much about it at this moment. For now, focus on hearing the recorded phrases and getting accustomed to how they sound, rather than overthinking rules.
(Next project for near future: I plan to color code the pronouns in the guides and flashcards so you can quickly know when you can swap out words to make them singular or plural).
You — Ikaw
You (+2) – Kayo
You — Ka
You (+2) – Kayo
You (I to you)– Kita
You (I to you) (+2) — Ko Kayo
Belongs to (person) — Kay
Belongs to (+2 people) — Kina
They (+2) — Sila
Their (+2) — Kanila
Your – Mo
Your (+2) — Niyo
To you — Iyo
To you (+2) — Inyo
For you – Sa’yo
For you (+2) — Sa inyo
The words below indicate plural pronouns.
Us (You + I) — Tayo
We (Other people + I) — Kami
Our — Natin (including person who you are speaking to)
Our — Namin (excluding person who you are speaking to)
The use of “po” for respect
In Filipino culture, it is important to show respect when speaking to elders. It can be children and adolescents to their elders, and even adults speaking to their elders. One way to do this is to use “po” when addressing others formally and respectfully.
I am so inspired by this month’s Filipina feature — Roanne de Guia-Samuels and am so thrilled to be able to share more about her with our community! Roanne is a loving mom, dedicated psychotherapist, and creator of the blog, Kalamansi Juice. She is such a resourceful woman and shares beautiful insight on supporting mental health and happiness. Almost every post she shares on her blog and on social media has been so relatable to me as a Filipina mom. It is such a breath of fresh air hearing her perspective on well-being and parenting. Read on to find out more about Roanne.
Q: Where do you currently live? Where are you from?
A: I live in the East Bay in California. I was born & raised in Manila, Philippines.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your cultural background.
A: I come from an ethnically diverse background, my grandmother was Irish/Scottish who married my grandfather from mainland China. My mother grew up with the label- ”mestizang intsik”. My father was born & raised in a province called Marinduque. He came from humble beginnings and sold coffee to help his family make ends meet. Both my parents still live in the Philippines. Together with my brother, I immigrated to the States to live at a relative’s home at the age of 23.
Q: What do you want others to know about the Fil-Am/Filipino culture?
A: Filipino culture is like a song. The songs we know from the heart are not once we necessarily know the exact words to but ones whose hymn, rhythm, tone, and inflection reach the inner recesses of our soul. Filipinos communicate through their food, through their haplos (touch), through their pasalubongs, through the expression of their unique Pinoy Love Languages ( ex. Lambing, Tampo, etc). Filipinos are people whose heart will always speak louder than their voices.
Q: What do you currently do or have you been doing in hopes to contribute to the Fil-Am/Filipino community?
A: I am the creator of Kalamansi Juice, a platform that provides happiness tools that elicit self-awareness and practical tips for Filipino families living abroad. I am also a licensed Psychotherapist that has dedicated my clinical practice in only serving Filipino women, specifically Filipino moms.
Many Filipino women living in America (and abroad) hold traditional cultural dialogues in their head that clash with the Western cultural norms. Through my creative work- my blog, my other writings and free resources, I hope to forge a new way of reflective thinking that reconcile the Western way of living so that you can confidently decide what Filipino values to keep and what to leave behind, living your best life, tailored to you and your family.
Q: What or who is your inspiration behind what you do?
A: My parents were civic-minded people. In particular, my mom taught me the value of serving the community. I remember for 10 years during our Noche Buena, a time where both kids and adults flash their best bestida/baro(dress) and work the whole day towards creating a feast that can feed the entire barangay, my siblings and I spend the day preparing food in styrofoams ala assembly-line style so that we can traverse under the bridge, along the dark alleys in Manila to give the neediest their taste of Noche Buena. This is a reflection of my mother’s and not mine, nevertheless, it gave the lessons of empathy and service beyond any book or class can ever teach.
Since my mother fostered an environment that allowed me to hang out with people from different walks of life, I’ve realized at a young age, that riches lie in the mind. I’ve met both- the rich, happy man and the poor happy man, and conversely, the unhappy rich woman and the unhappy poor woman. True wealth is cultivated in the mind. I became a therapist because I believe in changing the world, by helping facilitate change, one mind at a time. I have the best job in the world because as a prerequisite, it holds me accountable with my own, so I’m always learning, always evolving.
For additional Happiness Tools including relaxation exercises for both Adults and kids and Mental Health handouts in Tagalog ( Ano Ang Stress? AND Simpleng Kalungkutan o Depression?) check out our Happiness Tools Page @ https://kalamansijuice.com/happiness-tools/
“If you see the Butterfly, somebody you know will die. Or has already died. My dad wasn’t clear. He just said if the Butterfly lands on something of yours, you should expect Death to come knocking at your door.”
Whew! That opening immediately sent shivers down my spine when I first sat down to read My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva. Set in the Philippines, Villanueva brings to the forefront the significance of superstitions in the culture. Superstitions are deeply rooted and can greatly impact actions and reactions to situations in life. In this middle school contemporary novel, Villanueva embeds the superstition of the large black butterfly.
This chapter book is a tale of ten-year-old Sab (Sabrina) and her quest to reunite her broken family for her upcoming eleventh birthday. Her older sister, Ate Nadine, has not spoken to her father in years and Sab does not know why. Her motivation to both discover and mend the roots of the family rift is heightened when she sees the giant black butterfly, which her father has taught her to be a death omen. Seeing it, she knows she has limited time to act upon her only wish to celebrate her birthday at her Lola’s resort with all of her family there.
Throughout the story, we follow Sab’s journey to uncover more about her Ate Nadine and why she dislikes her father so much. We watch each layer of truth slowly unfold and the emotional impact on each member of the family.
Along the way, we also get a taste of the culture of the Philippines, family dynamics, societal issues, and also the effects of our behaviors and mistakes on our family’s relationships.
My Favorite Quotes:
There were several quotes in the book that caught my attention and provided opportunities for reflection. Here are some I would like to share with you:
“Dad described the Butterfly as being black as a starless night sky. It’s a giant compared to your garden-variety moth — probably even bigger than my hand. Its dark, mysterious vibe is beautiful and sinister at the same time.”
I think that although she is describing a believed “death omen” the description is just so captivating and mysterious — as black as a “starless night sky” and “beautiful and sinister at the same time.”
I love this quote because it is a good life lesson — to not just sit around waiting for death. To enjoy each day of your life and take action to enjoy your life the best way possible. Although Sab sees the black butterfly, her best friend, Pepper, encourages her to not waste time feeling bad for herself, but to change her mentality to spend her supposed “last days” fulfilling her wishes.
This statement displays the contrast between Filipinos and those who were raised in the U.S. Pepper, Sab’s friend, grew up in the U.S., where superstitions are not as strongly immersed in the culture. Pepper doesn’t fully understand the level of seriousness Sab feels from the superstition of the black butterfly. It reminds me of how my Titas and Titos from the Philippines bring up many more superstitions in the conversation than my family who was born and raised here in the U.S. I always wondered why they would see or hear certain things happening in the Philippines, but not here in the U.S. So, reading this part of the book was very relatable to my own relatives and their beliefs.
I appreciate how Gail Villanueva brings in real societal beliefs regarding skin color and definitions of “beauty.” It is a tough pill to swallow and a “truth” that is hard to admit, but to this day, there are people who still believe that — “white is beautiful, brown is not.” There are many who strongly disagree. But there still remains the belief in this throughout our populations and still communicated (whether overtly or subconsciously).
Age Appropriateness & Topics
My Fate According to the Butterflyis intended for ages 8 through 12 (grades 3 through 7). Although this is the target age range, it is recommended to read it prior to having your child or student read it to be fully prepared and comfortable with the discussed topics in the book. It is an honest storyline, bringing up real-life issues, which I really appreciate. There are several topics we tend to hide from our children due to fear or uncomfortableness, but it is good to bring those real topics to the forefront through age-appropriate conversations. The story shows a torn family due to a “mysterious” reason which Sab later uncovers.
The storyline includes relationship dynamics such as a separated marriage, a homosexual relationship, and brings up substance abuse.
While it does include these topics, Gail Villanueva weaves them in very respectfully while maintaining the depth of emotions that can be involved. It brings up true to life issues between family. It teaches valuable lessons about communication, appreciation for family, living your life without regrets, the importance of having faith in others, and the process of forgiveness.
There are some challenging truths and lots of big feelings for Sab and her Ate Nadine. The author takes the reader through the emotional struggle of the characters and brings it to a beautiful resolve in the end. You will have to read it to find out how it all comes together.
My Fate According to the Butterfly will be launching on July 30, 2019! Check out the book’s website to learn more about it and how to pre-order/purchase it.
Interview with the Author:
I wanted to learn more about the author and her inspiration behind the book, so I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to ask Gail Villanueva a few questions to share with you:
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
A: I was writing short stories and making comic strips the moment I learned to read at age seven. I had a hard time learning how to. With my grandmother’s help, I eventually learned how to associate words with images.
But it was when I read To Kill A Mockingbird in fifth grade that I decided I wanted to become an author. I reached the end of the book with this question: Why did it have to be a white girl who tells the story of a black man? Like, couldn’t a black author tell their own story?
It was at that moment I resolved to one day write a book with a Filipino main character. A Filipino book by a Filipino writer. My book may never become a classic like Harper Lee’s (anyone can dream though haha), but I would write about Filipinos because I’m Filipino.
Q: What are your favorite genres to read? What are your favorite genres to write?
A: I read just about anything middle grade—except for horror. I scare easily, so reading horror books will give me nightmares for days. I really love writing real-life stories with a touch of magic in present-day settings and have dabbled with contemporary and historical fantasy.
Q: What inspired you to write My Fate According to the Butterfly?
A: I wrote My Fate According to the Butterfly when I was receiving rejection upon rejection for my first (and currently-shelved) book. It was inspired by my relationship with my own younger sister, Joyce. She’s very like Sab in many ways.
Q: Do you relate to any of the characters in My Fate According to the Butterfly?
A: I relate to Nadine, being an older sister myself. I was also part of my school paper in college. But I’m similar to Pepper the most. She may be a white American, but her personality is kind of like mine. I love strategizing, coming up with solutions to problems, and playing puzzle games. I don’t like kwek-kwek as much as Pepper does, but I do have the tendency to become a bit uncomfortable when family and friends go all feel-y on me.
Q: What do you hope your readers will take away from My Fate According to the Butterfly?
A: I wrote My Fate According to the Butterfly with Filipino representation in mind. I grew up not seeing myself in the books I read and I wanted to change that. But I would love for this book to become a mirror to anyone (Filipino or not) who needed one. Because seeing yourself represented is very empowering. It tells you, the reader, that you can be anything you want to be. At the same time, I would love for my book to become a window to our culture and encourage empathy in kids—especially privileged kids—since I strongly believe that empathy helps us become better human beings.
Gail D. Villanueva is a Filipino author born and based in the Philippines. She’s also a web designer, an entrepreneur, and a graphic artist. She loves pineapple pizza, seafood, and chocolate, but not in a single dish together (eww). Gail and her husband live in the outskirts of Manila with their dogs, ducks, turtles, cats, and one friendly but lonesome chicken. Her debut novel, My Fate According to the Butterfly, is coming from Scholastic Press on July 30, 2019
Counting is a basic skill that children learn at a very young age. It is very easy to apply in our daily conversation as we count items around them such as toys, snacks, people, cars we see on the road, etc.
We have a few resources to share below to teach numbers 1 – 10 in Tagalog.
Throughout the book, it shows 10 different insects hiding in nature, and counts from 10 to 1.
Tagu-Taguan is completely in Tagalog and a great way to introduce lots of vocabulary.
Francesca: Isa, Dalawa, Sorpresa!
Francesca: Isa, Dalawa, Sorpresa!, written by Cel Tria and illustrated by Gel Relova, is a charming book about a girl, Francesca, celebrating her birthday. This is a bilingual book (English & Tagalog) that introduces learning concepts including colors, numbers, and birthday party elements. It too counts down from 10 to 1 as we learn a new element for the party. (We did a whole review of the book & e-Book of Francesca in another blog post. Read our full review here).
Isa, Dalawa, Tatlo … Ito Ay Obalo!: Numbers and Shapes in Filipino
The pages have a clean look of vibrant colors and basic shapes with the Tagalog and English words for the numbers and shapes.
Joy Francisco continues to add on to her developing series of books to introduce basic learning concepts and Tagalog vocabulary. You can learn more about her and the other books she has produced on her website, Little Yellow Jeepney.
Printable Coloring Activity
To reinforce learning, we created a printable coloring booklet to teach numbers 1 through 10 in Tagalog.
In addition, my kids came up with and recorded an original Fil-Am Learners song to practice singing numbers 1 through 10 in Tagalog.
Do you have any resources to teach Tagalog numbers? Feel free to share with us! We love learning the wonderful assortment of resources available to enrich our language and culture.
Francesca: Isa, Dalawa, Sorpresa! is a charming children’s picture book about a birthday party for a young girl named Francesca. It is translated in both English and Tagalog and introduces the concepts of numbers 1-10, colors, some clothing pieces, and Filipino party traditions.
Author, Cel Tria, and illustrator Gel Relova, did a beautiful job of creating a bright, joyful book to teach children basic Tagalog vocabulary with a theme that is so relatable to children.
Not only is this adorable book available in softcover, but you can also get an interactive e-Book version of Francesca: Isa, Dalawa, Sorpresa! Philip & Ana Publishing took it a step further and made it possible for children to listen to the narration of the story (by Nikki Gil-Albert) in both English and Tagalog, but to also have the capability of interacting with the words and pictures on mobile devices. Having the touchscreen capability and hearing repetition of the words in English and Tagalog strongly reinforces learning and the retention of the words. This is such an innovative Filipino children’s book! How many Filipino children’s books can you name out there that currently do this?
Want to see inside the book? I made a video walk-through of the e-Book and softcover. Get a closer look at the features of Francesa on our IGTV video post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzTmCqRggi7/
Interview with the Author – Cel Tria
Q: Where did the inspiration come from to create Francesca?
A: “Francesca is a work of fiction but I’ve drawn from our various experiences as a family. I was inspired by both our daughters and also by the people we’ve met along the way.
I loved how Gel, the illustrator, captured the multiculturalism of the guests. I described the ethnicity of each character and they all turned out so well! Regarding the games, I remember the first piñata with strings that I bought, and I thought that it might not be as exciting, but it is definitely safer! We never had pabitin in any of our kids’ parties yet, but both my husband and I recall having participated in them as children.
And look at this photo, notice the similarities with the balloons page. We had a celebration with just 3 guests because the table for the tea party only had 4 matching chairs! But it was fabulous anyway and the kids had fun and they became best friends.
The spread on the food table is what you would typically find in Filipino celebrations everywhere.
Q: What other work have you written?
A: “I’ve written the next book in this Francesca series. (Yes, it’s a series!) I’m excited about that and the creative process. We’re about to start the illustrations. It’s so much fun imagining the scenes, communicating those visions to Gel and then seeing her wonderful interpretations.”
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
A: “Originally, when we were living in the States, I was hoping to import books and make them available to the Filipino community because we ourselves found it difficult to access this kind of materials for our children. Then when the iPhone/iPad came out, I thought that would be a good medium too, with sound and interactive features. I encountered setbacks in trying to bring in existing content in either format though.
One day my husband suggested that I could make my own, that maybe I should write a book. It took a while for this to sink in, but when it did I thought it was a marvelous idea. I loved reading since I was a kid and had been writing for school papers. The possibilities of creative writing were delightful! That was around 2013 when I started, and by then, we have moved to Australia. ”
Q: What are your favorite genres of books?
a) To read: “When it comes to adult genres, I am now more inclined to read non-fiction. Recently, I really liked books by Gretchen Rubin and Malcolm Gladwell, I appreciate the fascinating information presented based on lots of research. I’m happy to admit though that I love children’s fiction and still read them! (For research, wink, wink!)”
b) To create: “So far, I’ve only written children’s picture books, but I’d like to try my hand at chapter books as well, and adult fiction and non-fiction. However, I think I’ll always love the process of creating picture books because it’s so great to see imagined scenes manifested in lovely illustrations.”
Q: Will you tell us more about Philip & Ana Publishing Company? (How it came to be and what you hope to do?)
A: It is a publishing company registered in the Philippines, started in 2016 by 5 Filipina founding directors, including myself. We mostly communicate online because of our locations, 3 different regions in the Philippines, Japan and Australia. The goal is to promote the love of reading and learning, create content that celebrate the Philippine languages and culture and other cultures of the world, and give back to the community. We dream of many more Filipinos enjoying the habit of reading, wherever they are in the Philippines or in the world. We want to help children who are not so privileged get access to books and find joy in them. We hope you can support us by purchasing our books. Give them as gifts! Tell your family and friends!
Q: Any upcoming projects and/or events that people can look out for?
A: “There are two projects that we’re working on right now, one is by a Filipino author who lives in New Zealand, about the best friend that a kid could ever have and the other one is the second book in the Francesca series. Both are being illustrated by Gel too. Watch out for them!”
Q: Where can people learn more about you?
A: “You can find us on Instagram @philipandanapublishing, or on our FaceBook page “Philip & Ana.” We also have a website, www.philipandana.com .”
Interview with the Illustrator: Gel Relova
Q: Where did the inspiration come when creating the illustrations for Francesca?
A: “When I started working on this book, I researched traditional Filipino birthday parties here in the Philippines. I remembered some of the games that we played when I was young, the colorful piñata and toys inside small plastic bags (like yo-yo’s and jackstones!) which were strung on 4 by 4 wood called Pabitin. I tried capturing those fun memories and imagined how it would be for Francesca.”
Q: What other work have you illustrated?
A: “I have been illustrating for various Philippine companies and publishing houses for a few years now. They’re mostly for books, magazines, print ads, and other materials. I also collaborate with other illustrators for exhibits here in Manila. You can view some of them on our org’s website at ang-ink.org.”
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be an illustrator?
A: “My childhood consisted of Disney animated movies, cable TV cartoons and Japanese manga. As a kid, I was always trying to draw and copy them. My sketchbook was filled with drawings of Ariel and Jasmine, Lisa Franks, and the whole sailor squad. When I became a teenager and I still had the same passion that I’ve had for drawing when I was little, I then decided that I wanted to create my own artworks for a living.”