Text author: Yulia Pastukhova
Many people have now chosen Bali as their new home, and the question of learning the Indonesian language is far from trivial for them. I will share my experience of learning Bahasa.
At first, we tried to learn the language with a hired teacher whom we found through an advertisement on Facebook. However, after five lessons, we realized the futility of these attempts because the teacher just bombarded us with new words. At the end of each lesson, we had about a hundred words in our notebooks that we had learned, but we still hadn't started speaking Bahasa.
Then I realized that I needed a structured learning system and decided to enroll in a beginner's course at one of the most renowned schools in Bali, Cinta Bahasa. This school has branches in Ubud, Canggu, and Sanur.
I had to wait for about two weeks until a group was formed. The cost of the 40-hour course was approximately 3 million rupiahs. The minimum number of people in a group was three, and in my group, there were five students, including myself. Classes were held every weekday—five days a week—for two hours each, in-person. The course lasted for four weeks.
There is also the option of individual lessons with a teacher (priced at two million rupiahs for 10 hours of instruction). This provides the advantage of choosing between online or in-person formats, as well as the flexibility to schedule sessions at convenient times (but not less than 2-3 times per week).
The main advantage of the school is that you follow textbooks, and the teacher provides a structured approach: explaining grammar in a clear manner while simultaneously introducing vocabulary—around 15-30 new words in each lesson. This allows you to start speaking from the very first lesson, construct sentences, understand tenses, suffixes, endings, etc. The grammar of the Indonesian language is quite simple, making it easy to grasp, and the rest depends on your vocabulary.
All lessons are organized by themes: introducing yourself, talking about your family, going to the market (the textbooks even include phrases on how to negotiate better), going to a restaurant, visiting a hospital, home repairs, and so on.
For everyday communication, completing the beginner level is quite sufficient—it allows you to converse at a basic level unless you are deeply immersed in the life of Indonesians. If you are conducting business in Indonesia or working in a position that requires fluent Indonesian, you will need to continue your education to the next levels. While the teacher in the beginner course mostly speaks in your native language, in the pre-intermediate and intermediate programs, the instruction is conducted almost entirely in Indonesian.
One of the teachers at this school mentions that English-speaking students find it more challenging because the Indonesian language lacks the verb "to be" (am, is, are, etc.), and they advise them to try speaking like young children.
Similarly, he advises speaking more about things you like. Try to construct sentences with all the words you know, practice wherever possible, and create unusual, emotional, funny, and perhaps even strange sentences—phrases filled with emotions are remembered more quickly.
To speak more fluently, don't be lazy about learning new words. During daily lessons, it's not as easy—after two hours in the group, it's advisable to spend at least 30-40 minutes on memorization, but without this, progress will be very slow.
I experienced this myself - during the first two weeks, I memorized words every day, and I remember the materials studied during that time well. For other topics, I can write and understand the text, but speaking and comprehending casual speech is still a challenge. Overall, Bahasa is a very simple language. In my group, there were students aged 60-65, and all of them succeeded - by the end of the course, they could understand spoken language, write, and though not very confidently yet, they started speaking in Indonesian.