How to Learn Indonesian Quickly and Easily
If you want to learn Indonesian you've come to the right place. Whether you're looking for an in-depth program for self-study, a private teacher to learn Indonesian via Skype lessons or in person, or simply learning Indonesian for fun, we have a wide variety of material to help you learn Indonesian quickly and easily.
It's 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?
First of all, don't get stuck into the 'formal' grammar forms of prefixes and suffixes. You must start by learning daily expressions that you can use easily and regularly.
Second, with our program you essentially 'speak to learn' Indonesian. It's not a matter of memorizing anything. Simply through physical practice, focusing on proper pronunciation, you will begin to say things without thinking or translating from English.
And that's another vital aspect to remember: don't translate. Don't try and construct sentences following English patterns, simply use words that you know in patterns that you're family with. And keep it simple! For example:
Mau teh? (Do you want some tea?)
Mau. (Yes, please.)
Mau ikut? (Do you want to come with us?)
Mau. (Sure, that'd be great.)
Answering a question using the verb rather than saying 'yes' is very common.
Bisa? (Can you .....?)
Bisa. (Yes, I can.)
And note how short expressions are. This is very common and you need to get used to 'inferring' the entire meaning based on the context.
To sample some of our material for learning Indonesian, simply click on any of the samples to the right, or go to the section that matches your current level:
Beginner Intermediate Advanced
If you're ready to choose which program is best for you then get started now!
How to Learn Indonesian Grammar
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.
It is much more effective to learn the grammar slowly and gradually 'as needed' while learning to speak and understand real, natural Indonesian as it is spoken daily.
Also, it is much more effective to 'learn it physically' rather than 'mentally'. 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 intensively 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.
Your 'intuitive mind' is capable of remembering much, much more than your 'conscious mind', so using flash cards, etc is not nearly as effective as speaking out loud reading specially designed dialogues.
We also provide exercises so you can check to see what you remember. 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 small, progressive steps. We provide both and you, the student, are free to progress at your own pace.
Selamat datang, ___ Bintang Bahasa. di ke
The next step is to try filling in the missing word without any prompts. Again, each student progresses at whatever pace is comfortable for them.
Selamat datang, Bintang Bahasa.
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 learning 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 and then listen to yourself to make sure you're 'matching' the sound. Our teachers are also very strict in helping you develop good pronunciation. It's not difficult, but without particular focus, it often gets missed.
The simple word 'ke' is often mispronounced as "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, which have become bad habits; and they're very hard to break.
Try the samples below to see where you're at with your 'basic' Indonesian.
"Welcome to Indonesia." (?)
Selamat datang di Indonesia.
Selamat datang ke Indonesia. (wrong)
"What are you doing?" (?)
Lagi ngapain? (really the only expression used by Indonesians in informal speech although: Anda sedang apa? is technically more correct)
"it seems" / "I think" (?)
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.
"She's listening to music on the radio." (?)
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?"
Or simply, "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 these expressions:
"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."
"The power's out." / "The electricity's out." (?)
'mati' = dead ; 'lampu' = light(s)
"It's going to rain." / "It looks like it's going to rain." (?)
Mau hujan. / Kayaknya mau hujan.
(tell your driver to fill up the car with gas) (?)
Tolong, ngisi bensin.
(and when the taxi stops to fill up he might say) (?)
Maaf, harus ngisi bensin.
(or more likely) Maaf, ngisi bensin dulu, ya?
'dulu' = before (a long time ago); first, beforehand
This is a very common structure: "..... dulu, ya?"
And the meaning of 'dulu' is quite different from "Dulu saya ...." (Before I ... / I used to ...)
(and if you need some air in your tires, what would you say?) (?)
Ngisi angin. [literally: Fill wind.]
(and the expression for 'catch a cold'?) (?)
Masuk angin. [literally: Enter wind.]
Notice how the last few examples all worked on developing a deeper understanding of the words 'ngisi' and 'angin'. This is another key element of a good program. It must build on previously introduced material in order to strengthen the understanding, and you're literally strengthening the neural connection. The student doesn't have to do anything. The program is doing the work.
Ready to get started learning Indonesian?
Click here for detailed information on learning options.
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 set of lessons with one of our talented teachers or get one of our learning packages. If you have any questions, simply send us an email.
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 because we translate words and sentences instead of complete ideas. As illustrated in the above examples, we focus on communicating ideas and our learning material helps you develop this ability almost effortlessly.
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.
What other points do I need to remember?
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.
To see the text along with the above audio, click here to open a new tab with the audiio and PDF together. Casual Indonesian - Slang with PDF
Are there other good sites to learn Indonesian?
There are several other sites to help you learn Indonesian for free, but quite honestly, if you value your time, then it's best to pay for the program that can help you learn in the shortest time possible. Below is a list of the main sites we've found and our 'review'. Feel free to check them out and if you find any other good sites, please let us know and we'll list them here.
Other sites to learn Indonesian:
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 but you won't find a clear, step-by-step approach there.
Their adaptation of the material Learn Indonesian in 7 Days is quite good and it's good introductory material.
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.
Now claiming "the largest, most comprehensive Indonesian Language course available online today" is Learning Indonesian. Our review: I have to honestly say our program is more comprehensive and certainly more effective. I hate to be critical because they're doing some good things but the pace is sooooo..... slow! 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. Perhaps it has improved, so worth a look.
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 links Our review: A++ ; great for learning other languages also.
The University of Hawaii has quite a lot of material available along with a complete course from beginner to advanced. It costs $49. Our review: Quite good but rather traditional in its approach.
Linguanaut also has material arranged like a phrasebook. Much of it is completely unnatural, such as the page on verbs and 'tenses'. Our review: don't bother