Living in the Philippines

How about English in The Philippines

English is recognized in the Philippines as a second official language and also admitted to court.

English is also taught as a major subject in schools and so it is true that almost every Filipino speaks at least a few words of English. This is even true for many old people you meet somewhere far from the cities in the deepest province.

I am often asked how to get along with the English language in the Philippines? The answer is: actually quite good. Much better than Thailand, for example, but here and there you'll reach the limits of the feasible.

As described above, Filipinos learn English at school but just like in other non-English speaking countries, they rarely use it after that and so much of the learned vocabulary is often lost again.

Do they understand me?

If you talk to them in fast fluent English, they always nod in a friendly and approving way, but then you will realize that they did not understand a word of what you're saying. This is especially true if you live in the deepest province and want to explain to a craftsman what he has to do.

Speaking English seems to work a little better in the larger cities. Obviously, the townspeople often have to deal with foreigners, where they can and must practice the formerly learned.

English in TV & Politics

In Philippine television and also in political speeches, you often get to hear "Taglish". This is a mixture of about 80% English and about 20% of the actual language Tagalog, as it is spoken mainly in Manila and the surrounding area (Luzon).

It's to despair: You might be just happy if you understood a few sentences in the news and soon it becomes interesting, they switch to Taglog and you are lost.


You can get along well with English in the Philippines, even with authorities and especially when you come from countries that do not have English as their native language and it does not speak perfect itself. As far as the English language is concerned, then you are on an "eye level" with the Filipinos.