Learning the Indonesian language can be easy yet complex. Picking up enough Bahasa Indonesia (bahasa = language) for daily casual conversation is achievable to almost anyone. However, to master the formal version of the language, as well as its many dialects, requires much more study and practice.
Still, Bahasa Indonesia is one of the most accessible languages to learn. So why not try to pick up a few words for your next trip to this beautiful country? Being able to speak the local language, even a little bit, will go a long way towards making your stay more enjoyable. You can give directions to taxis, get better deals in shops and receive big smiles when a bule (foreigner) speaks a few words in Indonesian. Making an effort to speak the local language is also respectful. Furthermore, it helps with accessing levels of interaction otherwise out of reach.
While there are many courses both online, in your home country (with the Indonesian Embassy or Indonesian Diaspora), as well as in Indonesia, those require financial and time commitments.
Fortunately, if you would like to casually learn or test the waters before diving in, there are a few free online resources you can use.
Learningindonesian.com is an online course operated by an American (Shaun) and his Indonesian wife (Cici). They have quality material to learn conversational Indonesian.
Materials include audio books, PDF study guides as well as an iOS App.
The first 32 lessons are totally free and go a long way to establishing a solid base.
A full course is $149 for lifetime access and there is a 30-day money back guarantee.
Babbel provides free online introductory courses for many languages. This course excels at providing portable learning material. Hence you can learn on your mobile, computer or tablet at your own pace.
An interesting unique feature is the ability to improve your pronunciation thanks to their speech recognition system.
While the first lessons are free, the full course is between US$ 6.95 per month to US$ 12.95 per month, depending on payment terms.
Bahasakita.com is an Bahasa Indonesia resource including vocabulary lessons, grammar lessons, Indonesian culture articles and even slang! It is another excellent addition to your free Indonesian language resources portfolio.
This is an online resource from the Centre for South East Asian studies at the Northern Illinois University. The Centre offers language learning resources for several SEA languages including Bahasa Indonesia.
While the site is a bit old and not exactly up-to-date (the President of Indonesia is not Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono anymore!), it does provide many vocabulary resources as well as an English-Indonesian dictionary.
This is a beginner’s course for the Indonesian language which is used at many universities around the world. The in-depth material is free of charge on their website. It includes PDF text books and audio files for pronunciation. This online course is provided by Dr. George Quinn from the Australian National University and Dr. Uli Kozok at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Tom Farmer is an Australian language learning hobbyist who maintains the Belajar Bahasa blog on Quora. It features thoughts, tips and short lessons on learning Bahasa Indonesia.
This is a huge list of online resources for learning Indonesian. It is unclear when this list was created as such some links may be outdated. Still, a great and fairly comprehensive resource.
Speaky is a free worldwide community to learn and practice languages. Simply sign up, pick what language(s) you know and what language(s) you would like to learn. Then Speaky will match you compatible users.
For instance, Vanessa speaks English and French and would like to practice Indonesian. She will match with a person such as Dewi who speaks Indonesian and would like to practice English, or with Joko who speaks Indonesian and wants to practice French.
Another way to get some practice with Bahasa Indonesia is to join Expat Indo Forum. While not focused on learning languages, our community welcomes both foreigners and Indonesian alike. As such is a great resource to find a conversation partner or to ask questions!
That’s it folks! If you would like to tell us about something we have missed or simply if you have any question, do not hesitate to contact us.
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