One of the things that is so attractive about Bali is that it is so user-friendly in many different ways. Many people live long and fulfilling lives here without ever developing a grasp of Bahasa Indonesia, the country’s national language.

The fortunate thing for you is that if you have the desire to learn to understand and speak Bahasa Indonesia, it is one of the easiest languages out there to learn. The language is much simpler than English as Bahasa Indonesia has no tenses and the grammar is very simple and there is much less focus on the semantics.

Even if you had a dreadful time trying to learn a second language in school, learning Bahasa Indonesia can actually be a very enjoyable experience. Just about all locals will be more than happy to give you impromptu lessons during normal conversations to help you advance your learning. They will all be extra grateful that you have taken the time and effort to try and learn their language and it will help you in your everyday life. You will realize that the use of Bahasa Indonesia will immediately make the prices of everything drop from the price of a kilo of mangoes at the local market all the way to the rental of your villa. There are many different ways to learn and the best one for you will be the one that matches your particular learning style.


1. Classroom Environment

For those that need the help of a group to enforce the different ideas and words involved in learning a language the best way is through a course in a classroom. There are many different places that offer this both on college campuses and through independent organizations. This is a good way to learn and be able to practice with other people that are learning on the same level as you, but this is almost one of the most expensive options as well. Below there are a list of options for courses in a classroom.

Indonesia Australia Language Foundation

Jl Raya Sesetan 190
Denpasar, Bali 80223
Phone: +62 361 225-243
Fax: +62 361 263-509

Udayana University Bali

Jl. P.B. Sudirman Denpasar
Phone: +62 361 246551, +62 361 7804784
Fax: +62 361 246551


2. Private Lessons

A private Lesson could be either one-on-one with your teacher or with a small group (usually 2-5) of students. This can be a much cheaper option as the salary goes directly to the teacher and not to the school as well and if you have a few people in the class then you can easily split the costs. This also gives a much more direct and focused lesson for the things that you need work on and are having trouble understanding. Below are some good options for Private Bahasa Indonesia teachers.

Tianri Viduari
Phone : +62 817.9773230 / +62 361.9985066


3. Learning on your own

For the more independent and the free thinkers this can be the best way and also the absolute cheapest, as all you will really need to invest in is a Kamus (dictionary) which are available in all sizes and price ranges. There are even some great and complete iPhone apps with Indonesian dictionaries so that you will have the entire language at your fingertips.

From there the learning process is all up to you. One of the easiest ways is to build up a collection of local friends and send out a mass text message (SMS) simply saying “apa kabar?” which means “how are you?”. Your friends will reply back in Bahasa Indonesia and even if you don’t understand, just start looking the words up in your dictionary. Once you have looked up each word and understand their response then it is time to start formulating your own reply. Use the dictionary again, only this time in reverse, looking up the word you want to use and then typing it in. This works great because you are seeing the spelling of the words visually which helps store them to memory and typing them out in your reply helps to really root them in there. Indonesians tend to SMS in very simplified manner often leaving out vowels which can make it hard to look up in a dictionary. If you come across this then simply reply with “jangan singkat” which means “don’t abbreviate” and your friends will understand.

Trying your best to converse with the locals in everyday situations is a great method as well. Don’t be embarrassed if you are still brand new and have a very limited knowledge, Indonesians are very polite and will not laugh at you, and instead they will be grateful for your efforts. Eating at a warung and making friends there for a quick chat or just while hanging out with local friends is a great opportunity to practice.

Having an Indonesian partner is a great way to learn as you will spend lots of time together and your partner will quickly be able to pick up on what words you know and what words you don’t so that they can adapt the conversation to your understanding.


  1. Cinta Bahasa is an Indonesian Language School in Ubud. We have 6 teachers and provide language training for the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Voluntary Service Overseas, Green School, John Hardy Silver, and other large organizations, companies and others who are serious about learning to communicate in Indonesian.

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