Resources for Learning Bisaya?

MarkL's picture

Hello everyone,


What resources do you recommend for learning Bisaya?


I have a few small books but they're not written very well and have some mistakes.

One problem I have with reading Bisaya is when people use a lot of slang words and

a few inconsistencies in spellings, for example "ug" versus "og".

That's a simple example but sometimes I see other, bigger words, with different spellings.


I'm hoping to find some good books and maybe audio (spoken slowly) that would help.



My 2 Cents

Hello, Mark, welcome to the wonderful study of Bisaya/Cebuano/Sugbuanon/Binisaya etc. Unfortunately, study materials for Bisaya are extremely limited, incomplete, or outdated. I have yet to find a comprehensive system wherein one could grasp the language through textbook learning. Moreover, what you are likely to find at a National Bookstore is very, very lacking for self-learning if they even have anything in stock. I ,however, have compiled a list of 3 books that will at least help you. The biggest problems and lacking feature of Bisaya learning is verb conjugating and the disonnect between generations and localities in voacbulary. An older Bisaya speaker will say something a different way than a younger Bisaya speaker, a Bisaya speaker living in Cebu will say something in a different way than a Bisaya speaker living in Mindanao. Don't let this discourage you. But, I would suggest finding someone near you that has a decent grasp of your native language and have them translate and write down various sentences and questions that you're likely to use in your life. You,likely, don't need to know how to talk about astrophysics in Bisaya, so focus on the basics. Be encouraged that most Filipinos near cities have enough English language skills that even mixing English and Bisaya will be understood. The positive stereotype of Filipinos being helpful is very true, so do not be shy to even ask random people for translations. More than likely, they will be more than happy to help you.  

Concerning your comments on spelling, there is no universal governing body that dictates what is accepted as proper spelling, unlike in Spanish or English. So, as a general rule, spell it how it sounds to you. 'I will go' can be spelled 'muadto ko' or 'moadto ko', people can be spelled 'Taw' or 'Tao'. Nothing is right or wrong. Some Bisaya speakers will even omit letters or use numeral as letters. 

No audio files exist that I know of without cost, but labor is relatively cheaper here. Habal-habal drivers, kids, and relatives of spouses will likely sit and repeat words while you record them for free or the cost of a bottle of Kulafu (for adults only), some candy, or 50-100 pesos. I would not suggest going to people that market themselves as Bisaya teachers unless budget is of no concern. If budget is of no concern, any student from the University of San Carlos or other prominent universities will likely be the best teachers because their grasp of English is near native if not better, they understand how Bisaya is spoken today amongst the different socioeconimic classes of the Bisaya world, and the money that you pay them will help them complete their studies.  

Concerning 'ug' and 'og'. 'Ug' is generally reserved for 'and' while 'og' is used as an indefinite article like a/an.

Niadto ko sa wet market ug nipalit ko og mansanas. I went to the wet market, and I bought an apple. 

 The below mentioned texts can be found with a google search and are free and readily downloadable 

Cebuano for Beginners Maria Victoria, R. Bunye, Elsa Paula Yap by University of Hawai'i Press (1971)

Cebuano Grammar Notes Maria Victoria, R. Bunye, Elsa Paula Yap by University of Hawai'i Press (1971)

Cebuano-Visayan Dictionary Maria Victoria, R. Bunye, Elsa Paula Yap by University of Hawai'i Press (1971)

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in Bisaya studies from Harvard and Oxford, so if I mispoke or said something inncorrect, I am sorry. 

I hope this helps someone,