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?

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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