Aku mau belajar Bahasa Indonesia… DI JAKARTA!

Bahasa Indonesia saya buruk sekali

"Bahasa Indonesia saya buruk sekali"

When I first arrived in Jakarta, I gave myself a year. Then, I’d be “lancar” “pintar” Bahasa Indonesia, and it’s easy to think you’re kicking arse when your tukan ojek gets excited because you know how to say “apa kabar”.

But a year has passed, two weeks ago now, and still I am dismal. My formal Indonesian is near nonexistent. I’m totally guessing when I pull out the “meng” and “mem” “kan”, etc

You’d think it would be easy to learn a language if you lived in the country it’s spoken, right?
I could always study it at university back home, “ya, aku mau belajar bahasa Indonesia di Australi,” Cinta Laura-style.

I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, I’m told, because some people still don’t speak after years here. And I work with all English speakers. Maybe, as I was advised to, I should have found myself an Indonesian boyfriend who didn’t speak English to really ramp up the practice. It’s funny how English, a very difficult language, is just expected to be known, and no credit to non-native speakers if they do know it. Meanwhile my dismal linguistic adventures in Indonesian are celebrated like they’re some brilliant achievement.

I’m never going to learn if people don’t stop being so nice. So, I’ve voluntarily given myself a taste of my own medicine. After a year of correcting Indonesian speakers’ English for work, I’ve ramped up the bahasa practice and started a blog— in Indonesian. (Says the person who continues to be crap at blogging commitment in English. Let’s see how long this actually lasts.).

Some may disagree that what features on the blog is actually the Indonesian language. It is pretty, pretty bad. But this surrender of the ego is in desperation. I can’t ever see myself progressing beyond “minta this,” and “saya mau” without some serious abuse directed toward my dismal language skills.

To Om’bak readers I ask this simple question: What’s the best way to study a language when you’ve plateaued at just above an elementary, survival-skills level? Suggestions, advice, sought below. Tolong.


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32 Responses to “Aku mau belajar Bahasa Indonesia… DI JAKARTA!”

  1. Cepy Says:

    Sore Ms Bellbit my name is Cepy and I can help you with very good bahasa indonesia. I think it is better with man to help your speaking of our language because can guide you down the right way in learning with hard and sure hand. I would like to hear from you on cepycan@yahoo.co.au and I look forward to our meeting soon.


  2. Titus Says:

    Hi Bellesbits,

    3 Key factors of learning a foreign language are by reading, listening and practicing. That’s all. Newspaper is the right choice to accelerate your skill. Select news that attract you to read, and do it everyday. Of course, you always need a dictionary besides you. Please don’t ever feel boring to open the dictionary whenever you find words that you don’t understand.

    Apart from this, you can also listening to songs (but please be selective because Indonesian songs nowadays are not considering correct language structure, grammar, etc.). Learning bahasa Indonesia in some language course will also help you, but it still depends on you to implement the 3 key factors above. Good luck.

  3. George Says:

    I learned most of my Spanish by watching DVDs over and over and over, and saying the lines after the actors – maybe that would work for you? It helped me with getting a more natural fluent speaking voice.

    Also, maybe a few months in Jayapura, if you could stand it. They speak mostly bahasa Indonesia there, more in the standard form than almost anywhere else, or so I’m told.

  4. Laurene Says:

    go to Kalimantan, stay there 4 weeks hanging out with oil&gas field workers, it works wonders. Oh, and there you can find yourself dozens of boyfriends who can’t speak english.
    and as far as I remember, your bahasa is quite decent. I’m going to check this out on your blog. x

  5. hedi Says:

    I think the song remains the same. We always face similar ways to learn foreign language; reading, listening and speaking. Regarding your case, you should forget prefix likes “meng” or “mem”. Just do with basic verb.

    (Indonesian) people will understand your situation.

    But, I think you will have few more problems. You live in Jakarta which most people talk with Jakarta dialect and style. It’s different with Indonesian language even has the same basic. You should take care of it. Maybe you’d better to learn our language nicely from newspaper or news on television.

    good luck 😀

  6. delilah Says:

    Hi Belle,
    I’ve been studying Spanish for a while and I am currently living in an English speaking country. I usually practice with non-native speakers who have the same level for me. My native speaker friends usually just switch to English whenever they talk to me, and it’s not helping me at all 😛 hahaha.. maybe they don’t have enough patient hehehe…. 😀

    Watching films usually works best I think (at least for me).Taking a class helps too, cos then they will give you a bunch of stuff to do, but you really need to have enough motivation to come to the class in regular basis.

    But then again, learning bahasa indonesia is not that simple cos we also have different dialects. And in a big city like Jakarta nowadays the younger generation is using English more and more in daily basis. So I guess, it takes time to really sink in , especially when it comes to write in a proper way. Maybe hanging out with people who know little English will help much.

    Good Luck!!! Kamu bisa! hehehehe 😉


  7. bellesbits Says:

    Hi guys, thanks for all the tips! I am going to buy myself Indonesian movies now!
    Any suggestions?!!

  8. nyscha Says:

    Indonesian movies to watch:
    – Pintu Terlarang
    – Dara
    – Arisan
    – Quickie Express
    – Janji Joni
    – Kala
    – Radit & Jani
    – Daun di atas bantal
    – Ca Bau Kan

  9. Cepy Says:

    Can watch movie together no problem. Just ask and I can help alot. Cepy

  10. pandy Says:

    Sesame Street did it for me when I started to learn English, it worked wonders, really. I took a French class once and the teacher told us to watch kids movies such as The Little Mermaid or The Hunchback of Notre Dame but change the language to French. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot since kids movies will not throw complicated terms, and they’re generally use good language practices.
    Now, to implement it in learning Bahasa…ng..let’s see…you could probably watch good family movies such as “Petualangan Sherina” or maybe kids programs on TV (they usually air on weekend mornings).

    Good luck! ^_^

  11. Jen Says:

    Comic books! There’s a great series on the life of the Buddha, it’s medium difficulty. Um, I can’t remember the name, but I bought mine in Gramedia.

    And (I was just saying this to Ashlee) you want to stay away from cartoons and dubbed programs because you need to see what people’s lips are doing when they speak.

  12. lovelli Says:

    Honestly, Belle, on the mention of learning Indonesian, my mind just went blank.

    What would be a fun thing to do, though, is to go to music stores and try to find the folk tales and fairy tales that are told in Indonesian. There was one Sanggar Cerita series that I used to listen to. I wonder if they are still sold in music stores, though.

  13. Cepy Says:

    It i very ad you not contact me for lesson, Bellebit. I know about how bule girl very special, to be admired and srug off because so sexy and special. It i why bule lady come here sometimes. Ms can say – suitor not correct for such fine lady! in old English fashion I think. People say Bule men go with Indonesian lady and comment. Sometimes I think Bule woman not going with Indonesian man. Why? Because too good for Indonesian man? Or maybe of racist? How many white woman see you with Indonesian man? Good question to ask I think! Maybe people say white man bad with Indonesian woman, but Bule women too racist to have marriage with Indonesian man I think.

  14. Bellesbits Says:

    Cepy, are you joking?!!!
    What is your real name?

    Sorry for not getting in touch with you but I already have a teacher! And I thought you were offering to be my teacher, not my suitor? Or did you have ulterior motives, eh?!

    And if you’re not joking, you’re very wrong. I know many great Indonesian men, and sorry, that’s crap- I know heaps of bule women married to Indonesian men!

    So maybe I think you need to do more research before you accuse me of being racist! Come on, seriously!

  15. Cepy Says:

    I can not wait to learn bahasa indonesia, with you

  16. Erin M R McMahon Says:

    Iya deh, hati-hati dengan filem-filem Indonesia – soalnya kebanyaknya dari Jakarta jadi pake bahasa gaul… Cuma ada “Laskar Pelangi” aku nonton yg ada bahasa Indonesia yg cukup baik dan bener. Yg terbaik belajar bahasa Indonesia itu tersebut tadi: nonton dvd kanak-anak yg ada teks bahasa Indonesia (aku suka “The Emperor’s New Groove”). Bisa baca sendiri dan pake kamus kalo diperlui. Sama dengan baca komik, itu lebih bagus daripada surat kabar. Bahasanya gampang deh.

    Kalo berlatih pake bahasa Indonesia dengan temen-temen itu pun bagus. Ngga cukup kalo cuma dengan gurunya. Yg terbaik itu temen-temen yg orang asing dah lancar bahasa Indonesianya ato orang Indonesia yg lagi belajar bahasa Inggris. Jadi mereka bisa pake bahasa Indonesia yg gak tlalu lanjut buat Kamu. Jangan malu-malu nanya apa artinya ato ngomong lebih pelan aja. Yg penting harus berlatih sering. Kalo ngomong sedikit gak bisa maju kok. Dan jangan gabung sama Cepy. Dasar bule hunter…

    Bahasa Indonesia Kamu udah bagus banget. Kalo bicara sama mahasiswa-mahasiswi di Australi yg cuma belajar bahasa Indonesia setahun Kamu memang lebih lanjut. Mungkin tingkat Third Year. Kamu pinter amat dan kalo ada motivasi juga belajar lagi pasti Kamu bisa jadi fasih berbahasa Indonesia nanti.

    And ease up on Cinta. She’s just a kid…

    Moga berhasil yaaaa 😀

  17. bellesbits Says:


    Kamu bohong!

    You said your indonesian was crap! What is that bahasa lancar I see above? Hmm? Hmm!!!

  18. Lani Says:

    Ola, Belle!
    Well. Maybe you can hear more Indonesian songs. I learn English by hearing English songs at first then i ended up being a very basic English teacher (am happy wif this. Lol)
    And believe it or not,bout ‘mem’ dan ‘meng’,i thought you know better than me bout when to use it. Haha. Semangat ya! Sering-sering aja ngomong Bahasa Indonesia,denger lagu, + nonton film Indonesia. Yihaa!
    Smile, Lani.

  19. Lani Says:

    Ow,bout movies. Not quite sure. Most of movies ada slank-nya. But its kinda cool to watch anyway. Pintu terlarang keren. Dan menjijikan. Mesti siap mental nontonnya. Selamat nonton!
    Heheh. Best, Lani.

  20. bodrox Says:

    hi, friend. nice to know you learn indonesian language. Indonesian easy if you born in indonesian 😛

    sorry, my english don’t too bad, i still learning english :). apa kabar? saya baik-baik saja.

  21. roro Says:

    hi, friend. nice to know you learn indonesian language. Indonesian easy if you born in indonesian 😛
    <<<<<Ya, english is easy if you were born as a white man and in a country with english language as a main language
    Bodrox , why you such a dork? No offense.

    but i think people in non- english speaking country have more chances in learning languages, at least you will be able to speak 2 languages and or more

    PS:You’re english is adorable

  22. Marmalade Says:

    Pffft. Silly language.

  23. Lia Says:

    Hello Belle, are you interested in becoming a part time tutor? If you’re, please let me know how to contact you? Thanks and have a nice day!

  24. ratna cook Says:

    hi guys, the reason i open this webside, we have the same interest.
    my daughter is looking for a place to learn bhs indonesia in jakarta.
    we already know the places to learn english but bhs indo.
    my daughter already had the basic indo. so please let me know, we’re going to be in jkt on 31nov.
    she’s mix indo and american, she wants to learn indo.

  25. Uli Kozok Says:

    Belajar bahasa Indonesia di: http://indonesian-online.com

    You can enroll in our Indonesian online course catering for those who have basic survival skills and want to learn how to speak “intelligent”, formal Indonesian. After having taken our course you should be able to distinguish clearly between formal and informal Indonesian, you will be able to read magazines and newspapers such as Kompas and Tempo, and you will possess the skills needed to write letters and reports using formal Indonesian.

  26. Satish Fernandez John Says:

    Hey guys.. i am new to Jakarta… i am dying to learn Basha Indonesia… please suggest me one tutor or institute to learn this language….

  27. Kamran Says:

    Satish, indonesian is not a very difficult language and I don’t suggest you need to join an institute to do that. The method, of learning a language, that I personally prefer is by learning the basic rules first. So, if you are apt in English and can find an easy English depiction of grammatical rules for the Indonesian language just grab it and start familiarizing yourselt with the basic structure of indonesian language. As you probably know, all languages have structures peculiar to themselves. So, while we say in English MY NAME IS KAMRAN, where Sub + is/am/are + predication is the form, in Indonesian it is NAMA SAYA KAMRAN, ie., name my kamran, WHITHOUT THE COPULA!!! So, my pont is, familiarize yourself with the structure and then grab a good dictionary to fill in the blanks of the forms. I hope it helps. If you have any further questions feel free to mail me at kamran125@hotmail.com.

  28. Kamran Says:

    Although, I might like to add further, if you need to write formal communications, like official reprts and letters in the Indonesian language, you do need to learn the language formally. This won’t be necessary for the survival language, though.

  29. iphone_fans (@iphoneloveit) Says:

    Indonesian is a language unique, opportunity to market your product in Indonesia is very wide open, if you are very proficient in describing your product, on the web, ads etc with Indonesian. Why does Indonesia become an opportunity for marketing your product? because the country is Indonesia’s second largest populated country after China’s state


  30. made wijaya Says:

    今年の2011年5月からジャカルタスラタン ( Jakarta Selatan )でインドネシア語の先生をしています。
    ( 全部で800枚です )

    ジャカルタスラタン ( Jakarta Selatan ):20万ルピア。

    ( Jakarta Pusat , Jakarta Barat )
    ジャカルタティムル、ジャカルタウタラ :30万ルピア。
    ( Jakarta Timur , Jakarta Utara )




    ごく一般的な教材では、 ここまで詳しく説明されていません。

    ~と言います(2通り)、 ~だと思った(2通り)、
    もう二度と~しない(2通り)、 ~NYA(7通り)、


    全部で 20種類あります。
    例)A ambil → mengambil
    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 244個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 317個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 106個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 182個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 25個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 245個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 139個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 77個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 12個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 16個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 38個 あります。

    12.この動詞はMelakukan pe~anの動詞です。
    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 82個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 33個 あります。

    14.この動詞は Memberi~の動詞です。
    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 11個 あります。

    この動詞の中で良く使われる動詞は 132個 あります。

    このPINTAR BERBAHASA INDONESIA 1,2,3,4の教科書を全て勉強すると、
    動詞は全部で 1659個 にまでなります。



    回数 主な学習内容
    1. 挨拶、名詞の否定文、指示代名詞
    2. 場所の指示代名詞、所有・存在を表す動詞
    3. 形容詞、数詞、時を表す言葉、会話練習、会話練習
    4. 助詞“~から~まで”、“~へ(方向)”、未来・
    5. 方法・手段を表す助詞“~で”、“sama”の用法
    6. 動詞①②③
    7. 練習、日常で使われるインドネシア語の受身表現
    8. インドネシア語の受身表現(否定文)
    9. 未来・願望の助動詞(~が欲しい、~したい)、会話練習
    10. “mau”を使った表現(~する、~してもらう、など)、
    11. 頻度を表す言葉、頻度を表す言葉
    12. 会話練習、質・量を表す言葉
    13. 未然、完了、継続、現在完了を表す助動詞、練習
    14. 過去完了の文型(もう~した)、練習
    15. 継続の文型(まだ~している)、練習、
    16. 練習、依頼・要求・勧誘の助動詞 (Tolong, Silahkan)
    17. 依頼・要求の助動詞(~して下さい)②
    18. 禁止の助動詞Jangan(~しないで下さい)①②
    19. “setiap”を使った文型、~ごとに/~するたびに
    20. “sebelum”を使った文型、~する前に/その前に


    回数 主な学習内容
    21 “sebelum”を使った文型、~する前に/その前に②
    22 “~をした後/~の後”の文型、
    23 会話練習、許可を求める助動詞①、許可の助動詞②
    24 “~する方がいい”の文型、“~しない方がいい”の文型
    25 読みの練習、“~のために/~するために”の文型、会話練習
    26 会話練習、経験を表す助動詞(~したことがある)
    27 練習、理由を述べる時の文型(~ですから)
    28 理由を述べる時の文型(~だから~。など)
    29 “~しながら”、“biar~”の用法、“jadi”と “tidak jadi”の用法
    30 “jadi”と “tidak jadi”の用法 
    31 義務を表す助動詞、可能を表す助動詞
    32 仮定の表現(例え~でも、~したのに、~だったら、
    33 仮定の表現、類似(~のように見える)、伝聞を表す文型
    34 伝聞、意思(~するつもりだ)、限定(~だけ)の表現
    35 その他、便利な表現、会話練習
    36 接尾辞 ~nyaの用法、会話練習
    37 練習、yang の用法、会話練習
    38 関係代名詞的yangを使った文型、“dulu”“baru”を使った表現
    39 比較・最上級の文型
    40 最上級を表す“ter ~”、カジュアルな表現“君&僕”など



    回数 主な学習内容
    41 会話練習、類似を表す表現、“tanpa~(~しないで、
    42 “kalau ~ saja ~”の文型、会話練習
    43 “(否定文)+ましてや、~は”、“~どころか~は、
    44 方法を尋ねる“どうやって~”、
    45 読みの練習、必要を表す助動詞、練習
    46 “mungkin / tidak mungkin”を使った表現
    47 付加疑問文(だって、~でしょ?など)、
    48 “~かどうか、~”の文型、仮定、会話練習
    49 様態などの文型、カジュアル表現“nggak”について、
    50 命令の表現、使役的表現(~させる、など)
    51 seharusnyaの使い方など、その他の便利な表現、
    52 “久しぶり”を表す文例、“kurang”の用法①②
    53 “gampang/susah”の表現、読み、会話練習
    54 ber~動詞について①②、会話練習
    55 me~kan動詞①
    56 me~kan動詞②③
    57 me~kan動詞④、読み、会話練習
    58 me~kan動詞⑤⑥⑦、会話練習
    59 接尾辞~kan を使ったその他の表現
    60 “~したくなる”、相手の努力を促す表現、


    回数 主な学習内容
    61 me~i動詞①②、読みの練習
    62 me~i動詞③④、読みの練習、会話練習
    63 “~して下さい。”のカジュアルな表現
    64 接頭辞 ter- について、会話練習
    65 memper~動詞、読みの練習、会話練習
    66 ke~anの用法①(動詞の名詞化)、会話練習
    67 pe~anの用法①(動詞の名詞化)
    68 pe~anの用法②(動詞の名詞化)、会話練習
    69 名詞 ~anについて①②、読みの練習、会話練習
    70 イディオムsebagai, secara, semenjak, sejak
    71 イディオム sekalian, sekaligus, sekilas, sekitar
    72 イディオム sepanjang, setahu saya, siapa tahu など
    73 イディオム agak, cukupなど
    74 イディオム berarti, tahu-tahu, ternyata, yang penting など
    75 イディオム malah, malahan, percuma, sia-sia, berkat など
    76 イディオム pantasan, salah satu, setengah, sayang など
    77 イディオム yang tidak-tidak, sembarangan など
    78 イディオム numpang, seenaknya, memangnya など
    79 イディオム Ya udah, Enak saja など、読みの練習
    80 料理のメニューについて、読みの練習、会話練習

    * 80 ~ 100 外来語(名詞)と外来語(動詞)のレッスンです。*

  31. spanish i Says:

    spanish i…

    […]Aku mau belajar Bahasa Indonesia… DI JAKARTA! « Om’bak[…]…

  32. anshar Says:

    if you want learn bahasa indonesia you can contact me with number 021-83240406 or 081282403529 my name is anshar, i am a teacher at vocational high school.

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