9 Reasons to Learn Indonesian

It’s pretty rare that I get to do a 9 Reasons video about a language as I’m learning it. Normally I enlist the help of someone in the know and get just as curious as you do when you watch and learn about a language you didn’t know much about before. However, this one is a little different. Recently, Fiel from Between 3 Worlds came to help in real life to make 9 Reasons to Learn Indonesian – a language I was learning when we filmed. Yay!

Want to know more about Indonesian? Here's 9 reasons to learn Indonesian and you can also download your free Indonesian travel phrases to get started!

Your Free Indonesian Travel Phrases

I also checked up with Fiel to help me put together your free Travel Phrases for Indonesian. If you’re feeling inspired, you can download that by clicking the button below.

Heads up, Fiel had a few extra comments about the days of the week. Monday is often pronounced as ‘senen’, especially by Jakartans; Wednesday is sometimes pronounced ‘rebok’, especially by Javnese; and Friday may sometimes be written as ‘jumaat’ to accentuate the Arabic. The more you know.

My Indonesian Story So Far

Indonesian is a curious language for me. You may have read here on the blog before about my trip to South East Asia a few years ago now. Well, Indonesia was one of the first places on that trip for me…one of the first places after Singapore.

In Singapore, everything is connected.

From there I dropped straight into the middle of Bali. I was staying with a local family 20 miles from the nearest public transport. I thought Bali was a lot smaller than it turned out to be. And I thought I’d done enough research. It’s fair to say I hadn’t.

My trip to Indonesia was tough. It wasn’t so much the country, more so the events that happened.

I mean, it wasn’t all bad. I did get to do some dancing.

Want to know more about Indonesian? Here's 9 reasons to learn Indonesian and you can also download your free Indonesian travel phrases to get started!

But I did have some really tough Couchsurfing experiences that put me off the idea for the whole trip (in fact, I haven’t done it since). Everything went poof on Indonesian Independence Day, which just so happened to be my birthday, and I was left searching for last minute accommodation in Yogyakarta with Isaline, a very kind Swiss girl who was working on a research project in Indonesia.

Birthday/Indonesian Independence Day Belated Joy!

However, the day after my birthday, she gave me a belated birthday visiting the Yogyakarta Bird Market and a pretty cool restaurant.

It was in that restaurant, after about a week in the country, that I learnt my first Indonesian beyond thank you, you’re welcome and fried rice.

Isaline taught me some basic words to help me get by on my own and I soon learnt how interesting the language was. I mean, an Asian language written in the same alphabet as my own?! What is this craziness?!

After that, things picked up on the trip, but it wasn’t until 2015 when I opted for a free Teach Yourself Complete Indonesian kit as part of attending the Polyglot Gathering that the language came back into my life.

And it wasn’t until late 2016 when I finally got to open that box and really get into the language.

You can follow my Indonesian progress with my monthly Clear The List language goal blog posts, including a couple of video check-ins with Fiel, who you’ll meet in today’s video in just a moment.

Everything I’ve Used So Far to Learn Indonesian

Now I’m finally learning the language with some degree of seriousness, I figured it’s a good time to share just what I’m using and a little about how.

Teach Yourself Complete Indonesian

If there’s one thing I learnt from my Korean studies last year, it’s that I do so much better when I have a solid course as the focus of my attention rather than many various resources.

For Indonesian, this is that solid course I need.

How I’m using it

My goal is to study one Unit per week. The bulk of this study tends to happen at the beginning of the week, normally on Monday and Tuesday and sometimes spreading into Wednesday.

I listen to the dialogue and then listen and repeat out loud. Next up I follow through the activities, grammar notes etc related to that dialogue. Finally, I make a note of the new vocab in my “scrappy vocab” notebook (more on that later).

Then I’ll go on to the second dialogue and repeat. There’s an ‘Over to you’ third dialogue which you’re supposed to reply to the audio but I personally, find the audio track really confusing on this part. They say something like, “Listen to the Indonesian person and reply.” Then they’ll say, “Now be the Indonesian person” but play the same track. Hmm.

It’s a bit odd and after the first couple of units of it being quite frustrating I just figured I’d leave this out as it was more trouble than it was worth.


Because…can you tell I love Memrise yet from reading other posts on this blog? Ha!

Such a great tool to learn vocabulary – and more flexible than most people imagine. Their course creator is so so good.

How I’m using it

I knew I wanted to study Indonesian for a while so decided to pick a big course. I opted for this 2000 word course, which is pretty good, even if it does seem some words are pretty random.

Each day, I study at least 5 new words and then work on reviewing past words throughout the day during the week during some of my Pomodoro breaks.

My plan is to soon review my own vocabulary I’ve added to my “scrappy vocab” notebook and pick the most relevant to create my own custom course of the most important words.

Social media

Because social media is the best free tool for language learning.

In particular, I’m using Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. It’s one of the things that happens daily.

How I’m using it

On Facebook, I’ve followed a couple of pages that share funny Indonesian video clips, memes or comics. This helps to fill my Facebook feed with plenty of Indonesian so there’s no excuse for not learning – even when I’m trying to procrastinate!

Over on Snapchat, I share my mistakes and speak almost daily. Woohoo!

Finally, over on Instagram I do the Instagram Language Challenge each day, which gives me a chance to learn something new, share a photo or video of it and document my progress.


Because audio is always key. Especially for a language that seems so casual like Indonesian.

How I’m using it

I worked my way slowly through the Absolute Beginner series, listening to one or two a week more or less. I didn’t go too far and use the additional activities like I did for Japanese, but it’s still a valuable resource.

NHK News, VOA, BBC & SBS Podcasts

Because listening doesn’t always have to be active.

When I was compiling my mega post, The Ultimate Guide to Language Learning Podcasts, I discovered just how many feeds have Indonesian news and immediately added them to my subscriptions. Woop!

How I’m using it

I listen to podcasts most of my working day. So it seems like a pretty nifty opportunity to sneak in a little extra passive language listening. I add the Indonesian news feeds (most of which come out daily) to my ‘Up next list’ and alternate between other podcasts and Indonesian. It works well, especially in terms of increasing my confidence of exposure to the language.

Indonesian Idol

Because there has to be something a little lighter.

When I found this channel on YouTube by accident (after searching ‘Indonesian’ and seeing this first in the drop down menu provided by YouTube) I was pretty pleased. It’s always nice to have some familiarity with at least one resource you’re using.

How I’m using it

Normally when I’m washing up. The videos are normally about 7 minutes long and autoplay to the next one, which is a good length for washing up.

I don’t generally take this further than just passive listening.


Because some audio needs to be a little more active.

How I’m using it

Not as regularly as I should be if I’m honest! I’m currently experimenting with what’s proving to be a very versatile resource. I’ll be sharing more about this on the blog soon.


Because we need to speak!

How I’m using it

Interestingly, it was a while before my first italki lessons for Indonesian, which is in contrast to how I normally do things. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting.

I took a couple of lessons before taking a break over the Christmas holidays and then booked a full 10 lesson package for January and scheduled 3 lessons a week for an intensive speaking boost.


Because music. Is that enough reason? Yup.

Music has always been a vital part of any language I’ve learnt to a reasonable degree of success. Heck, the only reason I learnt Spanish was because I wanted to translate Shakira songs.

I asked early on in my studies on social media for suggestions for music in Indonesian and got some great suggestions back and instantly created a playlist of those artists and the ones that popped up as ‘related artists’.

How I’m using it

I’m listening occasionally to the playlist when I’m working. I also have one song in particular that I listen to regularly (about once every couple of weeks) and make a note each time of the words I understand. It’s pretty cool to see my vocab and understanding gradually grow!

Things I Might Try In The Future

I’ve found a few online courses that I’d like to perhaps try in the future, maybe when I’ve finished the Teach Yourself book. There’s this one from the Peace Corps, this one from DLI, this one from a Hawaiian university, and this one from SOAS and UCL.

I’m also curious to investigate using some syllabus from Indonesian qualifications as inspiration for levels I might like to reach such as this one from Cambridge IGCSE and these past papers from Victoria in Australia.

9 Reasons to Learn Indonesian

If you’re curious about the language, check out 9 Reasons to Learn Indonesian below for a little inspiration!

And take a peek at Fiel’s blog Between 3 Worlds and the rather exciting Polyglot Indonesia project.

You can also check out previous episodes of the 9 Reasons to Learn series here.

Your Free Indonesian Travel Phrases

If you missed it up top, grab your free Indonesian Travel Phrases to give you a head start in the language. Just click the button below to get that now.

Are you learning Indonesian? Why? Share your reasons in the comments below!

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About Lindsay Williams

Why hello there!
I’m Lindsay and I do Languages. I blog, vlog and teach all things language. I blog about languages right here at Lindsay Does Languages, and about travel over at Mundo Trundle. If you’re looking for language learning inspiration then stay a while. You might find just what you’re looking for. :)

  • Judith

    Omg Lindsay…this is the icing on the cake, watching your previous video about Indonesian made me look into it and then led me to music and more research and now i I can’t help but want to learn It! I even tried looking for the Teach Yourself book but it’s not as readily available on Prime 😔 I should not be looking into another language but…indonesian seems so wonderful ^^

    • Hehe! I can relate to that feeling! :p It was tricky to find on Amazon…I’m not sure if they’re in the middle of upgrading the current version. Tuttle also have good books for Indonesian (and Asian languages in general) but I don’t have any from their Indonesian collection so can’t recommend.

  • andreaclaire

    Reason #1 also applies to Swahili 🙂 They get so excited when you can say something other than ‘jambo’.

  • Andrian Harsono

    OMG Lindsay, this is incredible! As an Indonesian, I’ve never heard of anyone who actually wants to learn Indonesian. I really hope you’re enjoying your time learning, because Fiel is correct; you’ll never have to bother with conjugation and tenses. Indonesian is really very easy to learn.

    • Thanks for your lovely comment, Andrian! I’m hoping to visit again next year to get a chance to use it again! Fingers crossed! 🙂