Culture / Language / LIVING IN GERMANY

REVERSE INTEGRATION: Teaching your German Spouse Basic Filipino Expressions

Out of all of the things that we, as migrants, have learned to adapt to, I think that language is probably the most important. Learning German and being able to speak it confidently was, for me, a key factor to integration and was the most instrumental aspect in helping me feel “at home” in Germany.

But what about in the literal homes we share with our German partners? How do you communicate with the person closest to you? Most likely, you speak German at home with your husband or wife. So do I. This somehow happened automatically. As my German language skills became more advanced, we started using less and less English to the point that we converse 100% in German.

Strangely, we never considered speaking in Filipino.

Dear Readers, do you ever wish that you could converse with your husband in your native language?

Recently, my husband announced that he would like to learn basic Filipino expressions. This announcement came out of the blue, with no pressure from me whatsoever 😉

In my excitement, I started babbling random expressions that I thought would be helpful as a first lesson:
Gutom ka na?
Anong oras ka uuwi?

Meron ba tayong beer?
Gusto ko pumunta sa Media Markt mamaya.
Mahal mo ba ako? Ikaw, mahal na mahal kita.

He would repeat once or twice after me, but ultimately, our exercise turned out to be a failure.

Clearly, I got ahead of myself. This is obviously not the best way to teach someone who has zero knowledge of the Filipino language. From the Integrationskurs, we were told that learning a language requires a systematic approach that will address both passive (listening and reading) and active (writing and speaking) skills.

In this post, I would like to share the tool that my husband found to be most effective in learning basic Filipino expressions.

Nemo Tagalog Mobile App (Free/Paid)
(Available for Apple and Android)

Since our smartphones are practically attached to our hips, we thought that using an app would be more practical for casual learning. Our goal was not for him to understand the technicalities of grammar, but simply to be able to understand and say expressions that are used in daily life. Therefore, we didn’t even consider buying textbooks, but perhaps at a later time, when his skills are more advanced.

After testing a few “learn Filipino” apps on the Google Play Store (we are Android users), we agreed that Nemo Tagalog is the best in terms of user-friendliness and scope (more about the scope below).

Nemo Tagalog Mobile App

The app is easy to navigate and has handy features for easy learning such as a playback audio recording of a native Filipino speaker, so you can hear the correct pronunciation. Even better is that the app has a Speech Studio (image below, left) which allows you to record your pronunciation and compare against the reference. You can also save the phrases that you most frequently use as Favorites for easy access (image below, right).


I found that the features related to pronunciation extremely important, since my husband tends to speak like a robot when reading Tagalog words out loud. The audio recordings are clear, accurate, and pleasant to the ear. Since using this app, he has learned to pronounce words more smoothly, almost like a native. The app seems to have helped develop in him a feeling for how syllables are accentuated in the Filipino language as well.

In the free version, you can get access to all of these features, plus the 6 basic phrasebook categories.

The free categories are enough to cover the most frequently used expressions, like those seen in “Essential Phrases”:


I mentioned that this app is one of the best in in terms of the scope. Let me explain more…
If you opt to purchase the complete version for €7.24, you will get access to even more expessions under the categories seen below:

The paid categories are great for building vocabulary once your German partner has mastered the fundementals in the free version. The phrases are also searchable, so you don’t have to browse through every single category in order to find the translation that you are looking for.

Once you download the free version of the app, you can tap on “What’s In the Full Version” at the home screen to see the full list of words that you can get in the paid version.

Screenshot_2015-08-07-08-35-57      Screenshot_2015-08-07-08-31-09

Users of this app may not learn grammar, or how to correctly form the past/present/future tense in Tagalog, but it will be enough for them to learn basic expressions to practice on you at home.

My husband has been using this app for a little over 2 weeks now. We had this random conversation a few days ago:

HIM: Gusto kong magsanay ng Tagalog sa gabi.

ME: Sigurado ka?

HIM: Oo, sigurado

ME: Sige, mamayang gabi.

HIM: Sakto!

All that, in acceptable pronunciation (no strange robotic accent, and emphasis on the correct syllables), without even once checking the app! 😉

How about you, dear readers? I’d love to hear from you! If you have any recommendations or tips to share about teaching your spouse how to speak in Tagalog, please leave them in the comments below.



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