Translate Tagalog to Spanish For Learning Español: Was It The Easiest Way For Filipinos?

As a learner of Spanish, I tried at first to translate the Tagalog language to Spanish as an option to hasten my learning process. My thinking then was: there were numerous, probably thousands of Spanish words already integrated in our everyday Tagalog and maybe it would be the fastest way of hacking it.

When I first tried using the Spanish-in-Tagalog technique in a Cancun locals’ market – while my wife was buying some souvenirs & presents, I spoke like Tarzan in a “me Tarzan, you Jane” kind of talk. Mi esposa negocio, was my way of saying my wife is a businesswoman. I uttered some Tagalog words that I think were derived from Spanish.

I knew then that my sentences were grammatically wrong, but the good thing was – the “tindera” did not laugh at my mistake. She responded back to me in a Spanish rat-tat-tat way. Did not understand a bit of what she’s saying so I thought then that I really regretted not taking my Spanish subjects seriously back in my high school & college days in the Philippines.

But even if I did, I don’t think those lessons are enough to learn how to speak the language.

I tried looking for references and resources online on learning Español by translating Tagalog to Spanish and also inquired from friends and relatives in the Philippines of any books they know available at National Bookstore of the same subject.

I found none whatsoever. The closest I found was this copy of English-Español-Tagalog dictionary. But most of the resources I’m finding online and off were English-Español.

So, in short, only English-Español books and online resources were my only option. Specially that I’m more inclined to learning Spanish in the Mexican setting, most of what I’m finding were instructed in American-English.

But, I also found out that being a Filipino native speaker, it does not matter if you speak Tagalog, Kapampangan, Ilocano or Visaya – still was a big help in learning Español better than if you’re a native English-speaker.

Primarily when it comes to pronounciation, it’s second nature to us to pronounce a Spanish word correctly.

We also lessen the memorization needs for a lot of words, specially the months, numbers, time, things in the kitchen/house, etc. There really are a lot of Spanish in the Filipino language.

But we also have to be aware of the so-called false cognates or same words, different meanings in Filipino to Spanish. For example in Tagalog “syempre” means “of course” but in Spanish “siempre” means “always.” Other examples of Tagalog-Spanish false cognates are: siguro (Tagalog) – maybe, seguro (Spanish) – sure; kubeta (Tagalog) – washroom/toilet/comfort room, cubeta (Spanish) – bucket; puto (Tagalog) – a rice cake, puto (Spanish) – prostitute (male); etc.

Even so, still, I think that even for an old guy learner like me, the learning curve for us Filipinos trying to learn Spanish was lessened because of the fact that there are thousands of words that translates Tagalog to Spanish.

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