Manila - Post Report Question and Answers

How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None really. Of course a bit of Tagalog goes a long way in being polite (general greetings). There is a tutor at the Embassy. But not Tagalog is needed, almost everyone I've met speaks very good English. - Mar 2023

Very little. English is commonly spoken, especially in the city. Going to rural areas (the provinces) you’ll run into some people with less English, but I never ran into a situation where no English was spoken. - Mar 2023

Every sign, menu, and official notice is in English. Everybody reads and writes English well and speaks it at least on a basic level. It helps to speak slowly and clearly and avoid slang to be understood well. Security guards and construction workers may not speak English , but your waiter or customer service representative will. It helps to know Tagalog but it is not necessary. Filipinos will be pleased that you are trying. - May 2022

You do not need to know Tagolog here. Although many people appear to speak English, often you will realize that you are not being understood even though the person has spoken some English to you. Great local teachers if you want to learn. - Apr 2021

Very little. I speak some Tagalog, there are parts of the Philippines where English is not well-understood, but Metro Manila is not one of them. You can take local language classes, they are inexpensive. Even a tiny bit of Tagalog will go a long way. - Oct 2020

Filipinos are great English speakers. Learn some Tagalog to be polite, but it isn't really needed. - Feb 2020

English is an official language, so if you speak English only you are fine, though you can run into a few situations where it is difficult. There are options to learn Tagalog and I have picked up a few words, but it really isn't necessary. - May 2018

None. Many locals speak English fluently, and most understand enough for day-to-day interactions. - Feb 2017

You can get by with just English, but if you want to have a meaningful conversation with anyone outside the top 15% you need Tagalog. That being said, the top 15% all live in Makati or the Fort. Most Filipinos speak some English. - Jul 2016

It helps, I was told none, but I wish I had taken the FAST course, would make day to day life a bit easier. - Jan 2016

English is widely spoken, although it is often pretty basic. Misunderstandings frequently occur when expats think that someone replying "yes" to a question actually agrees with them, when they are really just expressing that understand the question. - Jan 2016

English is everywhere in Manila. I get by without speaking a word of Tagalog. - Jan 2016

A little will help to make purchases. - Sep 2015

English is widely spoken. - Aug 2015

None. It's nice if you can say thank you, but except for taxis I've never experienced a time when it's been difficult because of local language. - Aug 2015

English is fine. - Sep 2014

For the most part you can get by with just English, but the people that you have contact with do appreciate it if you try to speak some of the language. - Jan 2014

None. - Dec 2013

None. - Nov 2013

You don't need to know any, learn to play a bit of charades and you'll do just fine. Learning to say "salamat po" [a polite version of "thank you"] is much appreciated. I am learning Tagalog and everyone I've talked to really loves that I'm taking an interest in the culture. - Aug 2013

Nothing. Most people speak English, but it is nice to know a few words. - Apr 2013

None. English level is extremely high here. - Feb 2013

None, everyone speaks at least passable English. - Sep 2012

None, although the local version of English gets frustrating at times - May 2012

None. Most people speak English, and though sometimes you have to repeat slowly and rephrase things, you get used to it. - Mar 2012

None. - Jan 2012

None though helpful outside of Manila. - Jul 2011

None -- I found some guerrilla Tagalog to use with cab drivers (to show them I didn't just get off the plane here) was helpful. - May 2011

None - we have no Tagalog and get along just fine. - May 2011

You can get by on English alone, but a little Tagalog goes a long way and will save you lots of money and hassle. Do not expect the English here to be of the same level as at home, and remember that the underlying Philippine culture makes the meanings of many expressions different. There may be seven ways of saying "yes" but six of them actually mean "no." - Feb 2010

None really. Mostly I want to learn so I know what people are saying like my help or to direct people. - Jan 2010

English is an official language and is thus spoken everywhere. Learning a few words of Tagalog is definitely appreciated, but not usually necessary. - Jul 2009

Speaking Tagalog is helpful and I wish I knew it better but not necessary. The biggest problem here isn't the language gap but the cultural way of conversing. Most people do not expect you to speak to them so they aren't listening when addressed. It is necessary to learn this, since you are already going to deal with limited English, it is important to learn how to address people and make sure they are listening. - Apr 2009

None, but people are happy to hear expats speak Tagalog and it helps with bargaining. Most Filipinos speak some degree of English. - Jun 2008


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