Stretch your tongue further than a Komodo dragon in Indonesia, an archipelago of over 17,000 islands and 706 living languages. Most locals speak their native tongue and the official national language, Bahasa Indonesian. Mingle with bilinguals and you'll also be conversing in two different languages in no time. Whether you're relaxing on a beach or hiking a volcano, you'll erupt your vocabulary and form exciting, new connections that will set your language learning on fire in Indonesia!
With over 300 native ethnic groups that have their own dialects spread across Indonesia, you'll experience cultural diversity from coast to coast. Whether you'd rather drink kopi luwak (coffee) overlooking the terraced rice fields of Ubud or get lost in the buzzing city of Jakarta, language programs in Indonesia will send your brain sailing and exciting adventures afloat.
Don't let the bumper to bumper traffic in Jakarta slow you down. With 12 million people speaking Bahasa Indonesian, language learning in Indonesia's capital city will be a breeze. From the newly developed high-rise buildings to the crumbling slums, this sprawling concrete jungle is far from postcard perfect. However, despite Jakarta's rougher edges, you'll find its citizens from all walks of life to be good-natured and optimistic There’s a surprise around every corner in Jakarta as you can wander the richly scented streets of Chinatown or amid artists hanging out in the bohemian cafes.
Tucked away amid the rainforest and terraced rice paddies in the highlands of Bali, Ubud (pronounced oobood, the same way “oo” sounds in 'good) is known as a center for traditional crafts and dance. It's a peaceful town to learn the rhythms of a new language and explore the Hindu temples and shrines. Bahasa is widely spoken, but if you're looking for a challenge, Balinese is a tricky language that has unusual sounds. Lured in by Eat, Pray, Love fever, expats and English-speaking locals alike are growing in population in Ubud.
What to call Yogyakarta is a fun language lesson on its own. The city is renowned for its historical and cultural heritage on the island of Java. Yogyakarta is overflowing with thousand-year-old temples and market stalls of all colors and contents. Exploring the surrounding rice fields, natural beaches, and Merapi Mountain will keep you both relaxed and on-the-move. The city is also home to several universities and boasts an artistic atmosphere. Whether you're studying or unleashing creativity with a paint brush, you'll enjoy this city’s charming nature.
Language Programs in Indonesia
Make casual conversation with the locals in an intimate setting or study in a well-constructed university program, the choice is yours when searching for language programs in Indonesia. Bahasa Indonesian is the most widely spoken language to learn in Indonesia, though some language programs in Indonesia also teach the basics of other regional dialects, like Sundanese, Balinese, and Javanese. The surreal island setting and caring mentality of Indonesians will make whichever language program you choose an experience you won’t regret.
There'll be no trouble staying motivated when learning the language in one-on-one lessons, which are usually conducted by university-accredited instructors. Since Indonesians are incredibly friendly and have an optimistic outlook on life, you’ll feel like you’re learning from a good friend, rather than a strict professor. The special attention and fun, conversational atmosphere of private language lessons will have you speaking Indonesian faster than the lava flowing from Mount Sinabung. These type of language courses in Indonesia commonly run for 20 hours a week, and can also include organized activities that allow students to practice their language skills in the real world.
Dive deeper into language learning by joining a language program in Indonesia in a university setting. The academic setting will plunge you into an atmosphere that keeps you motivated alongside your fellow language learners, which makes it perfect for forming study groups and making new friends. If learning in a large class setting isn’t your style, universities often offer small class sizes and private tutoring options as well. The average length of classes are a few months, but it greatly depends on how well you can balance hitting up the beach with your class attendance and level of proficiency.
Language schools in Indonesia also offer a snug social setting in a small class size. You'll still be able to mingle with fellow students to sort out any vowel confusion and receive personal attention from teachers, without the fancy application processes and with reduced program fees.
Costs & Affordability
Depending on where you are from, the most expensive part of language study in Indonesia could be your flight. Indonesia is generally an affordable country in terms of daily cost of living. If you take public buses, eat like the locals do, and avoid buying imported products, you’ll likely spend much less than you would at home. A dozen eggs or small late at a cafe will put you back around $1.50. If your taste buds are craving the comforts of Western food, there’s plenty of options to choose from at a higher cost.
Language programs in Indonesia vary in cost greatly, depending on the length of your stay and how many hours you’ll be taking courses each week. Most language program costs include lesson materials and a certificate upon completion, however. Be sure to check out each program to see the division of costs among accommodation, food, and class fees before you apply.
If you’re dreaming of language study in Indonesia but require assistance to cover the costs, consider starting your own fundraiser on FundMyTravel, which will give you the chance to share your travel dreams and put friends and family to good use!
Accommodation & Visas
Accommodation is as varied and distinct as all of the dialects that can be found in Indonesia. If there are no housing options provided with your language courses, it’s up to you to decide what floats your jukung.
Comfortable accommodation in larger cities, such as Jakarta, will cost more than that of the smaller cities, but the value of the rent might be better. It’s best to research neighbourhoods that are safe and well-known for hosting expats, and to budget more for rent to live comfortably. As you will most likely only be in Indonesia for a couple of months, be sure to check sublease options as you will not qualify for long-term leasing contracts.
Homestays are the way to go if you really want to practice the language non-stop. Apartments and dormitories shared with other local students are also a great way to keep on top of your language studies. Boarding houses are another option for students. You’ll be required to pay a monthly fee (called a rumah kost) that varies on the size of the room, the location, and included features. Air conditioning and hot water may be seen as extra perks.
Indonesia is generally an easy-going country when it comes to applying for a visa. But it depends on how long you’re planning to study languages in Indonesia. If you’re studying languages for longer than one month, you’ll need to apply for a sixty day social-cultural visa. For up-to-date visa information, head to GoAbroad's Embassy Directory and refer to the information for specific countries.
Benefits & Challenges
Few Indonesians use formal language in their daily conversations. Some Indonesians will combine aspects of their own local languages with formal Indonesian. The cultural diversity will certainly keep learning the language interesting for students throughout the country (after the initial question marks and puzzled looks).
Indonesian uses a simple language system and students won't have to wrap their tongues around tenses. It's an easy language to learn, but don't underestimate the time it'll take to become fluent. Expect to know basic pronunciations in just a few study sessions, but still be labeled as a lingual outsider when you start to roam the countryside and strike up conversations with locals. Most Indonesians do understand Bahasa and are friendly when it comes to understanding foreigners trying their best. If anything, your smile and ability to laugh at anything that gets lost in translation will go a long way. Most Indonesians love to do the same!
After you choose a language program in Indonesia, and locals ask what you think about the country, you can honestly respond, egara Indonesia indah sekali (Indonesia is a beautiful country). Whether you enjoy hopping through islands or dialects, you'll experience a cultural diversity unlike anywhere else in the world. Through language study in Indonesia, you’ll gain a unique perspective of a new country and form memories no words in any of the 706 local languages can describe.