That's a good question, and one that we feel quite strongly about. Our primary goal is to make our method and material better and better, while spreading the word so people can find us and maximize the effectiveness of their efforts to learn Indonesian.
We've seen the results with students time and time again, and in comparison to other programs, our methods really do work amazingly well. This email that we received from a "language enthusiast" is a much appreciated 'stamp of approval'.
I'm currently studying Cantonese, Mandarin, Classical Chinese, Sanskrit,
Arabic, Spanish, a Native American Salish language, and a little bit of
Indonesian. I'm not yet fluent in any of these languages (except possibly Mandarin and French), so it really just shows that I'm ambitious or possibly insane. But it does cause me to spend a lot of time looking at different language programs and language learning strategies, and thinking about the most
effective ways to learn a language.
Most of the programs I see just
frustrate me with their uselessness. This includes Rosetta Stone and
Pimsleur; although of these two, I think Pimsleur comes closer to natural
language learning. But generally, I react the same way to most programs I
discover. "Please, don't start by telling me how to count to 10. Please
don't tell me polite greetings when I can't understand anything else.
Please, don't just tell me that book is 'buku'. Show me how to form a
sentence already." It's very rare that I think a program gets it right.
We still have many ideas to make our program for learning Indonesian better and better and hope that you will become another very satisfied student.
Are you absolutely committed to learning Indonesian?
If you already know a few words and expressions in Indonesian, click on the audio player below (lower left corner of your screen) and select a file to listen to from the 'PLAYLIST'. Then continue reading to find out the best way for you to learn Indonesian.
The simple dialogue on the right gives you an idea of how we start learning. We simply jump in and get started. There's no need for any grammar explanations or English, simply get started listening and speaking Indonesian. Language learning is a physical process! Learn by doing!!
We also focus on 'intuitive learning'. In the dialogue to the right, even someone who doesn't know a single word in Indonesian can immediately recognize that "Apa?" = "What?", and "Ini." = "This.".
Learning grammar aspects is especially effective when learned intuitively. From multiple repetitions of 'buku saya
', 'buku kamu', etc, this important grammar point becomes 'embedded' in your brain. It's a physical neural connection that is being built, which will 'combat' the urge to say it in reverse if you try thinking in English 'my book', 'your book'. We've seen this problem with students who learned elsewhere and it's a very difficult habit to break once it's been formed.
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?" = "Ketinggalan?" (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 these expressions:
"I never knew that before." / "I didn't know that."
(Saya) Baru tahu itu.
And Indonesians will commonly say in English:
"I just knew that." or "I just know that."
"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?)
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 connections. The student doesn't have to do anything. The program is doing the work.
The Indonesian language is a kaleidoscope of possibility. If you focus on trying to learn the grammar and the suffixes and prefixes, then you're in for a nightmare. Learning these aspects of the Indonesian language MUST come AFTER you have mastered the basics and have absorbed the natural feel and rhythm of REAL Indonesian. For a bit of background on the Indonesian language, go to our new page Indonesian Language - Unravel the Secrets.
As I mentioned above, learning Indonesian (or any language) is actually a fairly straight forward process. The problem is always the method. At LearnIndonesian.org you will discover a new and amazingly effective way to learn any language, and the first thing to remember is that learning a new language is mainly a physical process, not a mental process.
You have to learn to recognize new words (both listening and reading), know their meaning, and know what they mean in relation to other words and the ideas that are being expressed by the 'group of words'. The IDEA being expressed is always the key element. Memorizing vocabulary really doesn't do you much good, it's difficult and boring.
(Click drop down to continue reading.)
Likewise studying grammar. It's really not effective, and should play a supportive role to intuitive understanding which is developed by learning words and expressions from 'situations' where the meaning of what is being said is self evident.
The easiest way to start is simply with scenarios of "What's this? What's that?". This allows for a lot of natural repetition in 'real life' scenarios with a minimal vocabulary (and it's better to set up the physical environment).
In this way, you immediately begin learning the language. There's no wasted time with explanations. You immediately begin trying to pronounce the new words. As new words are introduced, your conscious mind starts focusing on them, and the important words, expressions and grammar are absorbed 'automatically' by your 'intuitive mind'.
The most important aspect is to develop the 'physical reflex' so that you say things correctly without thinking, because more often than not, if you start thinking, you'll start making mistakes.
We had a student start with us who had had about 2 months language training in Australia before being posted to the embassy in Jakarta. She knew plenty of words and was generally able to express herself, but the 'pattern' of her speech was much closer to English than 'native' Indonesian. She also repeatedly said 'saya suami' (my husband).
In Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia), there is only 'saya' for I, me, my, mine. If you read the simple dialogue to the right, you perhaps already realize that the possessive is always after the object. But when you learn using our method, explanation of this grammar point is never needed. Why waste time explaining something that can be learned automatically with no effort?
After weeks of language training with us she still often made the mistake because it had become a bad habit. If she had studied with our program from the beginning, it would have been physically impossible for her to make such a mistake. Her 'mouth' would have already been conditioned to saying: suami saya, anak saya, buku saya, rumah saya, etc. etc.
Again, learning a language is more of a physical process than a mental process. Stay with us as we help you learn Indonesian quickly and easily.
My current passion/obsession is to finish developing a new method for learning any language. I have searched the internet over and over and I have yet to find anyone teaching languages effectively. Even (and especially) the big companies (Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, Berlitz, Rocket Languages, etc) do not measure up to their promises. Please come visit our new site:
It's really not rocket science, and it seemed obvious to me as a student/ teacher/ engineer. Perhaps my lack of formal training has allowed me to keep an open mind to see the obvious.
For learning Indonesian, there is even less material available. One booklet that is reasonably good, albeit a bit out-dated, is "Bahasa Indonesia in 7 Days". The author does make some good points:
Face it--whether you are in Indonesia for one week or for 10 years, it is not only polite and useful to know a little of the language, in many cases, it is outright necessary. If you don't want to be trapped at the Hotel Borobudur or restricted to traveling with a translator, you need to be able to communicate with that cheerful, friendly, curious populace out there. This booklet provides one approach to learning a very basic level of the Indonesian language, Bahasa Indonesia, with no strain.
I have yet to encounter a structured, functional approach to learning Bahasa Indonesia. Phrase books confront the linguistic novice with a barrage of special purpose phrases ("Is the play a comedy or a tragedy?"). They are often badly organized into social situations (going to the market, at customs) where you are likely to have neither the time nor the inclination to be fumbling around with a silly little phrase book even if you did bring it with you, which is highly improbable. With these books, you can either memorize several hundred phrases that may or may not have an application. Or you can keep the book in your pocket and hope that your fingers are fast enough to find the phrase for "turn left here" before the taxi takes you completely out of town in a straight line.
Grammar books and dictionaries, although fine for a long-term study of the language, are even more of a hindrance in taxis and at the supermarket checkout. Language tapes also have their place in learning to communicate but this approach requires time and effort to achieve practical results.
What is required for the short-term visitor and even for the newly arrived longer-term expatriates is a list of common, useful and necessary words and phrases grouped into bite-sized quantities so the most important ones can be learned and used first.
The most useful phrase book I have found is Indonesian Words and Phrases by the American Women's Association. It provides some very important basic concepts and I recommend it highly but no one wants to memorize an entire book the first day in a new country.
We completely agree with him. And he wrote this before we started our program so hopefully he would also give us 'two thumbs up'. :)
We're now working on a new series that introduces 10 new words per page, and gets you using these words as quickly as possible. It's designed as an audio series, so it's perfect for learning and reinforcing what you've learned while doing other things. And each audio comes with a full transcript.
Indonesian is a very easy language to learn, so a little effort goes a long way. We have a very handy little booklet and audio file 'Tiba di Bandara' (Arrive at Airport) which adheres to the concept of 'keeping it real' and progressing step-by-step (word-by-word).
It's actually much better than a traditional phrasebook because it literally almost leads you by the hand (tongue?) from arriving at the airport, getting through immigration, getting a taxi, going to your hotel, calling your friend, meeting him for lunch, and going to his house for dinner. All that is accomplished with a vocabulary of just 170 words!
As I indicated earlier, our aim is to have the best online language program anywhere; and not just for learning Indonesian, but also other languages including Russian, Japanese, French, and Spanish to start with. To be sure, that's a BIG ambition, but we're convinced we can do it and convinced that we're on the right track. Please come visit our new site:
To accomplish this for several languages is obviously a very big project and we'll need help completing it, so if you're interested in joining our team please send me an email. We're open to all new ideas, so any you may have would be most appreciated.
Ideally, we'd like to allow you to learn Indonesian online without a teacher; accomplish that within a few months, and when you arrive in Indonesia you can comfortably talk with anyone. Yes, it is possible, but practically speaking, a teacher will greatly improve your speed of learning. If you'd like a teacher to help you one-on-one, online, or in person if you're already living in Indonesia, please contact us and we'll set you up.
For a variety of other material, you can visit our sister site at Bintang Bahasa and, if you have any questions or would like some more downloadable material, just drop me an email.
Hope you enjoy learning Indonesian with us. Selamat Belajar!
The best way to begin learning Indonesian is simply
LISTEN, READ and SPEAK.
Try this for absolute Newbies! Newbie 01 (Click to play with pop-out player that stays in view as you scroll down reading the dialogue.)
For absolute newbies:
Apa ini? (What's this?)
Itu buku. (That's a book.)
Buku siapa? [Book who?]
Buku saya. (My book.)
Buku kamu? (Your book?)
Iya, buku saya.
Ini buku kamu juga?
Iya, itu buku saya.
Iya, itu buku saya juga.
Itu majalah. (magazine)
Iya, majalah saya.
Itu majalah saya juga.
(looking at a photo)
Ini siapa? (Who's this?)
Itu anak saya.
(How old is he?)
Tinggal di mana dia?
(Where does he live?)
(With his mom.)
And so on..
Each individual student can progress at whatever speed they're comfortable with.
Another important factor is to trust the method and trust yourself. Just 'let it happen' and you will learn very quickly.
Let's have a look at how 'intuitive learning' is applied. The simplest of dialogues can be very powerful and immediately begin building an understanding of the language and how it works (the grammar).
Apa ini? (What's this?)
Itu buku. (That's a book.)
Buku siapa? [Book who?]
Buku saya. (My book.)
Buku kamu? (Your book?)
Iya, buku saya.
The meaning of the word 'apa' (what) is immediately emphasized by the simple question, "Apa?".
To learn Indonesian quickly and easily you need good material that builds on all previous material in a gradual 'spiralling' of understanding.
Here's a list of words to get you going, and remember, don't waste time and effort trying to memorize words. Glance over the list quickly and let your intuitive learning ability take control.
I, me, my
in, at, on
Intuitive learning techniques are particularly important in languages such as Japanese where the word order is different from English. The possessive form was also introduced and reinforced repeatedly. Learning in this way avoids the common mistakes which happen when 'thinking' in your own language and trying to speak another language.
But also a great way to learn Indonesian, here's an Indonesian comic, "Donal Bebek"!
There are lots of Indonesian videos from movies and TV programs that have reasonably good English subtitles to help you practice listening to 'real' Indonesian. Mostly it's Jakarta dialect or Jakarta slang but that's what's common on TV so if you want to be able to understand people from Jakarta, this will help a lot.
To watch the video and see the text matching the audio, along with the English subtitles AND a version of 'regular' Indonesian to match, then go to our special page: Learn Indonesian from Videos