Unlike a lot Asian languages, Bahasa Indonesia is a much easier language for English speakers to learn due to its comparably simple grammar and vocabulary, as well as its use of the Latin alphabet.
However, there is also a popular belief that learning a third language later in life is more difficult which I was determined to prove wrong.
Challenges of learning Bahasa Indonesia
To overcome this challenge, I needed to first understand what I was up against from a scientific and mental standpoint, as well as find a quick and easy way to learn Indonesian grammar.
In this article, I’ll go over (step by step) my research findings, laying out the difficulties and factors that make learning Bahasa Indonesia difficult (for an old dinosaur like me) followed by a simple solution for you.
Research about learning Bahasa Indonesia
So, when do we lose our ability to learn a new language like a native speaker?
A variety of lines of study, both behavioral and neurological, imply there is a small window for language acquisition.
Joshua Hartshorne, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston College, conducted a study as a postdoc at MIT ━a grammar quiz, analyzing 669,498 native and non-native English speakers, trying to prove that children can learn a foreign language up to the age of 17 or 18
The study revealed that beyond the age of 17, a person’s capacity to learn grammar begins to deteriorate, so it’s best to start learning a language before the age of 10 or 12, if you want to acquire the same level of proficiency as a native speaker. Why? This, according to the researchers, is because they had less study time before their abilities decreased at the age of 17.
But here’s the kicker: language learning did not stop at the age of 17. According to a new study, people’s language learning abilities improved modestly until about the age of 30. Both native speakers and those who learnt a second language agreed on this. Despite this, the majority of language acquisition occurs before the age of twenty, according to the new research.
- Locals range from 20,000–35,000 words
- An average 8 year-old already knows 10,000 words
- An average 4 year-old knows roughly 5,000 words
- The most common vocabulary size for foreigners is 4,500 words
- Expats can learn Bahasa in the range of 10,000 words by living in Indonesia.
- Foreigners learn an average of 2.5 new words a day while living abroad
According to studies, women say roughly 20,000 words each day, or 13,000 more than the typical guy, thanks to the Foxp2 protein.
Researchers are currently attempting to figure out more about the FOXP2 gene, which appears to regulate or supply instructions for the production of a protein known as forkhead box P2, thought to be essential for healthy speech and language development.
What are the benefits to learning Bahasa Indonesia
After sharing the above hypothesis with a friend from the United Kingdom, a expat in Bali who learnt Bahasa when he was 21 dismissed the notion. He believes learning Bahasa Indonesia is more about immersion. He did, however, imply (without insult) that being younger couldn’t hurt.
At the end of the day, knowing the local language is essential, and my own experience confirms this. When you interact with someone in their native language, you are communicating with them on a different level than when you communicate with them in English.
Obviously, expats who can speak in the local language (Bahasa) seem to be more happy, have less hassles, and have more meaningful relationships with friends.
Though you will always be seen as a foreigner in Indonesia, it’s important to recognize that if your language abilities are good, you will be treated with more respect, which will benefit you in a number of situations and open doors for you.
Negative situations can typically be avoided if you grasp the local language and if you’re serious about being a successful long-term expat, learning the local language should be one of your top priorities.
Tips for Learning Bahasa Indonesia
- Study or practice the language everyday.
- Over time, practice will become second nature. Allow enough time for what you’ve learned to become a part of your repertory. A language is a skill and a habit that must be learned, not a set of facts.
- Carry a small kamus (dictionary) and try to interact with natives wherever you go if you live or visit Indonesia.
- Learn grammar rules early on, such as using the correct word order, or subjects and verbs that agree with one another at different rates.
- You can listen to audio lessons while driving, cleaning, exercising, and even before and while sleeping.
- Make up scenarios in your brain while listening to these audio courses. Once you’ve learned the meaning, listen to the dialogue in your head and try to visualize yourself in these roles.
- These dialogues should be memorized to the point that you can predict what will be said next in any situation.
- Learning Bahasa Indonesia on YouTube is always fun, there are lots of good lessons.
- Engage in the culture by writing a blog, reading or translating a local newspaper, watching Indonesian films, and learning about the area you are in.
- If you’re not sure about something, skip it and come back to it later. It’s crucial to remember that learning a new language requires time since your mind is trying to absorb new thoughts and ideas.
- At the end of the day, review what you have learnt.
- Don’t try to learn too much at once, especially at first; language learning Bahasa Indonesian takes time and is a skill that must be developed over time.
- Do not dismiss the importance of revisiting previous lessons.
- Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. With commitment, desire, and practice, sentences and words will fall into place.
- Do not feel obligated to speak the language right away; learning Bahasa Indonesian by listening first and then speaking is quite okay.
Learning Bahasa Indonesia is a journey
Being open-minded and aware to new ways of thinking is an important part of a journey. In the same manner, you must expand your vocabulary to learn how to read, talk, write, and listen,
People who lack a sufficient vocabulary are unable to communicate and express themselves effectively, both verbally and in writing.
The more you master vocabulary, the more freely you can speak, write, read, and listen. There is very little that can be conveyed without grammar, and nothing can be conveyed without vocabulary. Even if your grammar is good, it is useless if you do not have a large vocabulary.
Vocabulary is one of the most important aspects of learning Bahasa Indonesian because it is impossible to communicate without a wide range of words.
Be genuinely interested in learning Bahasa Indonesian, apply yourself to learning it, and commit to seeing your learning journey through to completion—you’ll be linking words in no time.
Thank you for reading, be sure to check out some other articles here