Language Learning


Indonesian an Easy Language?

People will tell you that Bahasa Indonesia is an easy language to learn, and it might be, if it wasn’t always overlapping and intertwined with many other languages that are commonly used in Indonesia.

One of the challenges of living in Indonesia is that, with over 700 living languages, there is a continual struggle to maintain clear communications. As the language of one village overlaps that of another, there’s inevitably going to be a mixing of languages, as well as many spelling variations. There are also 300 ethnic groups, which have many different accents. And, with Islam being the predominate religion, there is always the Arabic language that you will continually come into contact with. Indonesians have accepted this variety as a way of life. For the foreigner that has come to work, and must first learn the national language, it’s a real struggle.

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Can You Say “Bingung Sekali“?

(very confused)

The Joys of Language Learning

Language school can be interesting, exciting, as well as wearisome.

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Language learning is doable for a person at any age. The central ingredient required–desire!

Don’t Begin with Colors, Numbers, Months, Days, etc.

As foreigners living in Jambi, we frequently meet new people, and with Indonesians being very friendly and inquisitive about new people they meet, they never fail to ask many of the below questions we’ve listed.

For the foreigner coming to live and work in Indonesia, the basic set of language skills you will need is not the vocabulary of colors, days of the week, months, or lists similar to that (that can come later). Being able to answer the below list of questions will speed your language acquisition along much faster. If you can answer the below questions fluently, Indonesians will think you already have their language mastered and they’ll be very impressed.

Selamat Belajar!

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Language Quirks

Here’s a question:

If you hang clothes on a hanger,

If you iron clothes with an iron, then

Why don’t you broom a floor with a broom?*

That question was recently asked of us by a person trying to learn English. We make no confession of being, nor apologize for not being English teachers, but from our experience in studying foreign languages, we’ve learned that sometimes languages don’t make sense. Sometimes there’s no explanation for why the thing are the way they are. You just have to accept it and go on with life and don’t get bogged down with the unexplainable.

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Greetings

Last night we met with some Indonesians, several of them attempted to use the few English words they knew when they greeted us. When they shook our hands upon our arrival they said, “Good Night“!

“Good Night” and “Goodbye”
has the same meaning.

At first we were startled, but after a few seconds we understood what they meant. Logically, since the phrases “Good Morning” and “Good Afternoon” is used when you shake somebody’s hand while greeting, “Good Night” should follow suit…. but it doesn’t!

It’s totally illogical, but “Good Night” is only used for when we want to say “Goodbye.” It is used in the evening after 6:00 pm when people are going to leave one another. Never is it used upon the initial meeting of two individuals.

Every language has oddities like this. Many phrases or words in common everyday language cannot be explained why they are used the way they are. To try to make sense of these “oddities” is futile. We just have to accept it as it is and leave it at that!

Risks of Learning a New Language

Barber shop sign, with the word “PEACE” spelled phonetically.

Language learning is always risky, and often filled with embarrassing mistakes.

The photo at the right is a barber’s sign. The barber made a very nice sign, which had a peace symbol, as well as the word “PEACE” spelled out phonetically. Since the Indonesian language is very phonetic, he thought he could spell the word “PEACE” phonetically.

  • In the Indonesian language, the letter “i” is pronounced with a long “e” sound.

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Indonesians Love Abbreviations

Many will tell you that the Indonesian language is not a difficult -one to learn, and that may be true, if this particular language was not intertwined with many of the other 700+ languages of Indonesia.

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