It is actually quite easy to learn Indonesian, in fact it's probably easier than any other language. However, if you don't use a good method, it can be just as difficult to learn Indonesian as any other language.
So what's the secret to learn Indonesian or any other language quickly and easily?
Let's start with a simple dialogue introducing you to Indonesian, or Bahasa Indonesia. Notice the natural repetition of words and expressions and pay attention to the rhythm of the language.
Please note, the audio recordings are realistic, not artificial, slowed down, studio recordings that won't help you cope in real life situations. ;)
Bob Saja (Just Bob)(New pop-out player that stays in view as you scroll down reading the dialogue.)
(Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work in all browsers, so please
click for old player or switch to Firefox.)
Listen to the audio while you read the story.
BelajarBahasa Indonesia diBintangBahasa : (Learn Indonesian at Bintang Bahasa)
(notice that definitions are provided for every new word, and try holding your mouse over the words in the dialogue.)
So... that gives you a feeling for how we start learning. The student is quickly introduced to 10-20 words and they're repeated many times but in a natural manner where the idea is 'clear'. Sometimes the humorous ones take a second reading to follow. :)
For more difficult languages, like Japanese and Russian, we take an even slower pace, but the same method will have you reading the alphabet in no time.
The key is to immediately begin developing a feel for the rhythm of the new language. Get your ear and mouth working first, and you will begin absorbing the grammar naturally, without realizing it, and when you start to study the grammar, you'll be amazed at how much you already 'know' or at least have a sense of.
Here's a casual dialogue which is still quite basic but may be difficult for those of you who have only studied formal Indonesian.
There is also a HUGE difference between Indonesian which is spoken by Indonesians on a daily basis and formal Indonesian which is typically taught. It is far more effective to learn 'formal' Indonesian which is used in formal settings AFTER you have a feeling for the rhythm and the unique characteristics and flexibility of the language.
And to really maximize your learning and get access to an unlimited amount of learning material, join as a member for just $10 a month.
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What makes Bintang Bahasa special?
Bintang Bahasa's philosophy of language learning is simple:
Language is about expressing ideas clearly and easily.
What most schools, teachers and language programs focus on are rules, not ideas. All our material is based on expressing ideas.
We express our ideas with language, and the idea remains the same regardless of which language we use to express it.
We all know how to express our thoughts and emotions in our native language but we struggle in our new language. By having a native speaker of the language you're learning help you figure out the 'best' way to express your idea, and making it available online here, then everyone learns how to express common ideas.
Can I really learn Indonesian quickly and easily?
Definitely, yes! The secret to a good language program is actually VERY obvious to most students. The problem is, nobody has ever put a program together based on the NEEDS of the students. We've tried to do that, and we invite you to tell us what else you need or want.
So what should I do now?
Try the material that we have available for you. Go to online material to learn Indonesian, and after you've learned some basics, try writing some of your own dialogues and stories.
We all know that we learn from our mistakes, so why not save ourselves (and others) a lot of trouble by learning from each others' mistakes?
If you send us a dialogue or story written in both your native language and Indonesian then we'll make corrections and post it here so that everyone can learn from it. Good for everyone, right?
There are several other sites to help you learn Indonesian, but quite honestly, most of them aren't that great. Below is a list of the sites we've found and our 'review'. Feel free to check them out and if you find any new sites, please let us know and we'll list them here.
NEW!! See our review of Google's top 100 sites for learn Indonesian and add your comments.
Other sites to learn Indonesian: (this might dated information)
Probably the oldest and most established site is
SeaSite. As quoted by another site: The Centre for South East Asian studies at Northern Illinois University (NIU) has a very extensive web site for those who want to learn Indonesian online.Our review: Definitely worth a look.
Another site with a variety of material is 101 Languages. Our review: Quite a bit of material. Basically set up like a phrasebook. Worth a look.
A relatively new site with free audio files is Learning Indonesian. Our review: I hate to be critical because they're doing some good things but the pace is sooooo..... slow! We're not idiots. You spend a lot of time listening to him speaking English then bits of Indonesian spoken VERY slowly and then a long gap of silence...... Maybe his newer podcasts are better.
To help you with your more advanced listening skills, or just for fun, you can access a lot of Indonesian radio stations. Here's a great link listing all the stations:
surfmusic online radio linksOur review: A++ ; great for learning other languages also.
World Nomad Travel Journals is another good site with some good material. Not a lot of material, but a bit for all languages. Our review: A+ ; check it out
One of the bigger language institutions which has some okay material is
Transparent Languages. I used their CD for learning Russian and it was okay, and I've seen their free downloadable program for learning Indonesian and it's okay... but you could honestly make better use of your time elsewhere. Our review: give it a miss
Keep going? If want to see more of our reviews, basically the best of what we could find in the top 100 when searching with Google, just click here for the drop down window.
All the best in your efforts to learn Indonesian!! And remember keep it fun!
To Learn Indonesian DO NOT start by learning any grammar rules!
We cannot emphasize this enough. Many, many times we have had students start with us after studying elsewhere first and we then have to correct all their mistakes that have become habitual.
For example, in Indonesian the order of possession is reversed. (buku saya = my book ; suami saya = my husband) It's actually extremely easy since 'saya' = I,me,my. After listening and repeating 'buku saya', 'suami saya', 'anak saya', 'teman saya', etc many, many times in simple dialogues, it becomes physically impossible to say 'saya suami' (my husband).
We had a student who had studied for 3 months in Australia before being posted to Indonesia and she constantly made this mistake because she was translating from 'my husband'. It is extremely difficult to correct a bad habit and extremely easy to develop natural reflexes.
How to Learn Indonesian Vocabulary
The most effective way to learn Indonesian vocabulary is simply by reading dialogues and stories of gradually increasing difficulty. Ideally, new words are introduced and repeated again with enough space to almost forget.
We also provide a quick exercise after each dialogue to see what you remembered. Go ahead and try matching the correct English word to the equivalent word in Indonesian.
Each dialogue also has a set of exercises to help 'activate' your language ability. Some people will progress very quickly, and others will need very small, progressive steps. We provide both and you, the student, are free to progress at your own pace.
And obviously, the final step is to try filling in the entire expression in Indonesian (or English to test comprehension).
What's this? :
The 'hidden key' to learn Indonesian quickly and easily, and being able to speak it well, is the 'spiralling' repetition of words and expressions. Previously learned material is presented over and over in an ever increasing 'spiral', with new words and expressions slowly and continuously being added to the mix.
Also, we know where students consistently make mistakes and thus focus the dialogues and exercises to 'miraculously' teach these aspects with no explanation of grammar or anything at all.
For example, 'ke' (to) and 'di' (in,at,on). If you translate "Welcome to Indonesia." you'll get it wrong every time, just like the expression "my husband" (suami saya). Thus, we use this expression in many situations and very quickly it becomes 'automatic'.
Listen carefully when learning Indonesian!
It's very important to listen carefully to how words are spoken in the audio files. Our teachers are also very strict in helping you develop good pronunciation. It's not difficult, but without particular focus, it often gets missed.
Again, the simple word 'ke'. Almost all Australians who have learned Indonesian in Australia say "kay" as in the letter 'k'. It's not. It's pronounced more like 'ku' as in 'cup'.
Again, trying to correct something that has already become 'natural' is extremely difficult.
How well have you learned Indonesian!
Many, many times we get students who have studied elsewhere and have reached a fairly advanced level but have missed out on many fundamentals, or are making some basic mistakes. Here's a quick check to see how well well you've learned Indonesian!
kayaknya (everyone is taught the word 'seperti' but we've yet to meet a student who was taught the word 'kayak' yet it's very, very commonly used) Kayaknya mau hujan. = I think it's going to rain. / It looks like it's going to rain.
Dia sedang mendengarkan musik di radio.
Dia sedang mendengar musik di radio. mendengar = hear ; mendengarkan = listen to
Or casually: Dia lagi dengarin musik di radio.
(leaving your office or house) "Oh, I forgot something."
Oh, (ada) ketinggalan.
Similarly: "Did you forget something?" = "Ada yang ketinggalan?"
It's very important to stop translating from English and simply use Indonesian as it was intended. Developing a 'feel' for a language begins with the very first lesson; if the program is set up properly.
How about this expression:
"I never knew that before." / "I didn't know that."
(Saya) Baru tahu itu.
And Indonesians will commonly use the expression:
"I just knew that." or "I just know that."
And one more:
"The power's out." / "The electricity's out."
'mati' = dead ; 'lampu' = light(s)
So, time to get started learning Indonesian!
Take your time, browse the site, find all the tidbits that you've missed thus far in your learning, and find a good starting point to continue your learning.
When you're ready, sign up for a full program with one of our talented teachers. Simply send us an
Podcast Alley currently has Learning Indonesian podcasts. Our review: keep checking periodically for new and better podcasts
Hello Indonesia is another site that's been around for quite a while and has a variety of material. Our review: worth a look if you have time to spare
Phrasebase is an interesting site. It has a lot of phrases and you can choose your language matches. Not real efficient for language learning but not bad. It also looks like you can make friends and language swap. Our review: worth a look
To find someone to swap languages with the best site by far is Polyglot. I've used it many times. Our review: A++ and completely free
...we'll keep looking and add more as we find them.
Not really worth your time:
These sites have some language information, but not much and nothing that isn't already covered by one or all of the other sites.
Bali: The Online Travel Guide gives a list of useful phrases. Our review: Nothing special for the language info but worth a look for travel information.
Wikibooks are a great concept but relying purely on volunteer labour means a lot of things never get done. There's even less at Wikihow. Our review: no point until it gets filled in
The IALF Language School in Jakarta provides courses for expats. Classes are at their office, and rather pricey. Our review: No online learning material. Better value to have one-on-one lessons which they don't provide.
Belajar Bersama is clearly an Indonesian site and has 7 videos to help you learn Indonesian. You can download all the scripts, and they're just words and phrases. I bet students are asleep within the first few minutes of the video. Our review: give it a miss
Not really worth your time: (continued)
The following sites are okay, but not necessary: (includes directories which simply point you to sites you already know or we've shown you and language sites that don't teach Indonesian)
freelang.org ; languagecourse.net ; languageguide.org ; languagehub.com ; woodriff.org ; edufind.com ; wannalearn.com ; aussie educator (teachers.ash.org.au) ; worldlanguage.com ; edufind.com (ranked in Google and zero info in their directory because you have to pay to be listed) ; soon.org.uk ;
The following sites are from the big companies selling packaged language programs which to our mind are not very good and they're pricey:
Rosetta Stone is perhaps the most well known and guarantees to be the fastest way to learn a language, but it's basically just flash cards. Our review: waste of money
Pimsleur Approach is another of the most well known programs and also guarantees to be the fastest way to learn a language. They are unique, but they're ONLY audio files. What's the point of that? Then you end up like a 1st grade kid learning to read a language that you're fluent in. Our review: might be a good supplement if you have money to burn
BYKI ; The same program from Transparent Languages using the product name: Before You Know It. Our review: give it a miss
Here's a packaged language learning program that I haven't seen: lexicool - EuroTalk Interactive. Our review: If you've got money to burn, go ahead and let us know if it's any good!
Unforgettable Languages is another program with all the gloss and to my mind no meat. Again, like Rosetta Stone, it's basically flashcards and also uses an old technique of imaging, rhyming and word matching to remember vocabulary. Our review: A complete waste of money.
And yet another totally forgettable and ignorable 'fancy package' to learn Indonesian from Delcan Software. Our review: :P not.. Just another flashcard system. Guys, join the 20th century!