Tagalog is related to the Malay languages but is historically influenced by Spanish and English. It forms the basis of Filipino, the national language of the Philippines and is spoken not only in the country but by millions of Filipinos who live and work around the world. Learning this tongue connects you to the country's culture and history.

Learn the basics. A simple and low-cost way to discover the language is through the many websites that offer online lessons. Tagalog1 (see Resources) offers nearly 160 lessons and includes audio files to help with the pronunciation.

Try audio. Because the language uses the same alphabet as English and words are spelled the same way they sound, learning to read and write is not as critical as learning to listen and speak. Thus, a tape offers one method that frees you from a computer and Internet connection. Pimsleur (see Resources) offers different sets, all designed for use without written materials. Its website also features a sample lesson.

Take a class. Though Filipino classes are rare, you'll find them in major cities with large Filipino populations, such as Los Angeles or New York. Start at the local universities and colleges or ask around at Filipino community centers or ethnic grocery stores.

Hire a tutor. If you can't find any organized Tagalog classes, you can post an ad for a tutor on CraigsList.org. Alternatively, look for an online tutor who can deliver lessons via email, text chat and voice chat. One excellent resource is Language School Teachers (see Resources).

Practice. Use your favorite search engine to find Filipino clubs, stores and restaurants, where you can practice your skills. To practice over the Web, try searching for "Filipino chat room," though this option primarily uses text only. For speaking practice, use the search function of an audio messaging systems, such as Skype, to find groups or individuals willing to converse in Tagalog.

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