Learning Indonesian

Dear All,

I'm an Italian Master Degree student in Sociology.
I love Indonesia and I would like to learn the language in a proper way in order to move there.
I have been searching for courses and schools of language in Indonesia on the web, but because there is no official certificate such as the Ielts for english, is really difficult to select the right one. I would like to take a long course of minimum 3 months and I wonder if you somebody could help by giving me some suggestions.

Thanks in advance to all of you.

Best regards,

Don't take a course.  Go there and talk to regular people.  I want to move there also in about 2 years or less.  I took a trip there and met people.  I actually learned a few things.  I am going back this Summer and do the same thing.  And again several months. All this planned ahead.  Also Amazon has a few good books on Bahasa, that us the Indonesian language.  Don't take a course, do it yourself you'll have way more fun.

Dear Dgitarius,

thanks for your quick replay. For sure you are right when you say that I'll have more fun by if I learn it myself but my goal is actually to be able to write a report or present a project. Of course it will take more than just few months but I need to build a strong base.

Perhaps someone would offer skype or other online lessons, there's always someone out there.

Other than that, take a look at this link.

Hi Amedeo,

That's very interesting to know that you want to learn Indonesian but I think as Digitarius says you should just move there and learn either from people around you or find a course when you are there, and there are so many courses available either from reputable colleges as well as small language schools. Once you are in Indonesia you can visit the schools and see which one you like, which area you plan to live and see the standard and environment of the various schools and their costing.

It also depends on which city or province you prefer to live. There is Jakarta which is likely to be expensive for accommodation and stressful, or there are cities like Jogja and Bandung and Surabaya which are far less stressful. Also perhaps you'd like to live in Bali, island of the Gods. So knowing which part of Indonesia you want to live in will make a difference.

One of the more famous but probably expensive schools can be found at the following link. But I would guess that you'd prefer something less formal perhaps. So it depends on many factors: location, budget, standard that you want to achieve etc:

Another suggestion is to check out the possibility of obtaining a scholarship from your home country to study overseas. I studied Mandarin at a University in London for a year, a full time intensive course, and then won a scholarship to study in a top University in Taiwan for a year, a place where many business people and diplomats study. Everything was paid for except my plane ticket. It might be worth checking out scholarships as I also know many people who travel overseas to study languages on a scholarship provided by their own governments or associations between the two countries concerned. Mine was a BACS Scholarship (British Association for Chinese Studies). Perhaps there is an association between Italy and Indonesia that might provide something similar.

You can already be learning quite a lot about the language even from Youtube, where you can learn just about everything these days.

But more important is what you plan to do there, only study? Or work? That would be interesting to know.


Thank you Fred and Hansson,

my plan is to move there in few months once I'm graduated to learn the language and take the course that i was talking about.

As Hansson said, Jakarta is too stressful, I'm more interested in Yogyakarta, Bali, Surabaya and Bandung.

Because I'm working in public policies & programs evaluation and I hope to do something related there (but not as soon as I land), I would like to find a course/school that can give me more than just what I could learn by staying there. A proper course/school (close to an academic one I could say, but not necessarily).

I also found something related to the Test of Indonesian as a Foreign Language known as TOIFL or officially as UKBI (Uji Kemajiran Berbahasa Indonesia) but is not clear whether is mandatory.

The links that you have posted are exactly some of those school that I found but I can't decide which one is the right one.
So far I've found the following schools available in the cities in brackets ;

IALF (Surabaya, Bali, Jakarta)


WISMA BAHASA (Yogyakarta)


My budget is around 250 euro / 300 US$ per course (I'm assuming one level/course per month).

Any suggestion is welcome,


Personally I believe that you should choose your location first, and then see which schools are available in those cities.

As far as working is concerned, Indonesia is not one of the easiest places to find a job as a foreigner. So unless you plan to set up a business, it may be worth checking out the requirements for working there. Some of the expats I have known there had high level jobs with substantial salaries and full expatriate packages, but they were mostly transferred to Indonesia from overseas.

So if your ultimate aim is to live and work there, it is definitely worth investigating the rules.

Hi Amedeo,

I can personally recommend Cinta Bahasa:

In addition to personally knowing the founders, (Steve and his wife Ochie), for many, many years, and thus able to attest to their professionalism and integrity, I know for a fact that it is their school which is most often selected by governmental agencies, both in Indonesia and abroad.  I could be more specific about that if you want to send me a private message.

Good luck…and when evaluating posts, it always helps to “know the poster” a bit: 

My Interview with

Some of my Writings on Bali:

thank you guys,

I've been checking out the requirements for working there and opportunities where my skills could be employed. NGOs, Governmental Agencies and Universities are by far the more suitable for me.

Ubudian, thank you for your recommendation and for sharing your experience in Bali.


You're most welcome Amadeo.

"Ubudian, thank you for your recommendation and for sharing your experience in Bali."

My pleasure Amedeo.   ;)

Some of my friends studied Bahasa Indonesia in University of Indonesia in Depok, perhaps you could check it out here

Happy learning! :)

Thank you Epicuriousannie for your suggestion :)
:D  :D  :D


You're welcome :)

As far as I know that UJI KEMAHIRAN BAHASA INDONESIA in government is just for Indonesian lecturers/ teachers, I remember my lecturer ever said it.
If you want to get certificate is just like usual certificate that is given by the course, not government.
TOIFL was erased by the government. No need bahasa Indonesia certificate to work here.

Hi Amadeo!

There is a program in Faculty of Humanities Universitas Indonesia called Bahasa Indonesia Penutur Asing (BIPA). BIPA's teachers are all UI alumna and certified for teaching Bahasa Indonesia for foreigners. You can search "BIPA UI" on google for further info   :)

Dear Serabi,

Thanks for your useful suggestion.
Taking the course in a university would increase my chance of meeting somebody who is a researcher in my same field and hopefully and up in a collaboration with the university!!!! Great!!!! Thanks again  :D

Is signing up to a course, similar to those outlined above, the most efficient and quickest way for a foreigner with no Bahasa knowledge to learn the language? I briefly looked at that website from @ubudian and will read more into it this evening but it sounds like a good way to go about learning Bahasa. Did you use this company personally @ubudian?

I guess it would be harder for somebody not living in Indo to get the full benefits and it would also be easy to forget everything if you can't practice it on a daily basis. I'm sure there are some on here with proficiency in Bahasa, How long did it take you or how long would it take to become proficient with speaking the language?

Has anyone used to learn a language?

It's approx $85 USD for a years subscription which would allow for more flexibility as opposed to the links mentioned if your not sure when you might make the jump to move to Indonesia? Learning listening, reading, writing and speaking. There is a big price difference between the two.

"Did you use this company personally @ubudian?"

No, I went the route of using "The Sleeping Dictionary."  ;)  My wife is Balinese.

BTW...that's the title of a great movie if you haven't seen it. 

That said, I know a number of expats and some US Military folks who learned Indonesian through Cinta Bahasa.

I would teaching u bahasa if u need it

Building up a circle of friends in Indonesia is really easy (assuming you have a personality that doesn't inspire people to vomit), and you'll easily pick up the language from them.
I would strongly suggest not meeting strangers from the internet as you have no clue who they are or if they hold foul intent.

I highly recommend BIPA too, there's one closer to city centre … -atma-jaya

Sono anche un insegnante di lingua, e posso parlare italiano un po' ;)
Dimmi forse tu vuoi pratica di conversazione.

I've been teaching languages for 5 years, also English for college students at a local university. I can also send some useful pdf vocabulary resources :D

Buona fortuna, Amedeo!

Trisakti has a language section.

That area is small but they enjoy a well deserved reputation for language training, including an Indonesian course for foreigners.
I know a chap who does a little something there so I'll contact him and try to get more details.

Dear all,

Thank you for your suggestions.

After gathering some information on the BIPA courses, I and up defining my best scenario and I would like to know your opinion about it.

Ideally, I would like to join the language course while working  - maybe part-time in order to be able to follow the lessons daily or 3 time+ a week -  for example with NGOs, Governmental Agencies or university.
As I said, BIPA may increase my chance of meeting other researcher in my same field and finding a job/collaboration with the university.
Therefore, my best scenario would be learning Indonesian while teaching say, policy & program evaluation, statistic, or methodology of social science in the university or collaborating in some research.

That said, also working with NGOs and Governmental Agencies and taking a course of language outside of the universities such as the one provided by Cinta Bahasa, would be the same for me, but I want to know what you think about working with the university.

Any advice and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


Any work of any sort will require a work permit to avoid heavy fines, prison time and deportation.

Thanks Fred,

getting a work permit is fundamental and requires time. That's why right now I'm trying to understand if there are chances and opportunities in the universities.

What information or advice does your embassy here in Jakarta give you? They can be a useful place to start and can give ideas and help about positions and vacancies which you might be suited to.

Your best bet there is to google unis that have appropriate courses, get a little skype credit and start calling; that or email them.

Working here does not require Indonesian language skills as part of the immigration or work permit rules, but you will need to learn if you intend to spend any time here.

The biggest issue you'll face is one of nationalism - No foreign worker can be hired to do a job that an Indonesian is available to do.
That's down to just how specialised you are and if similar qualifications and skills are available in the local workforce.

Hi Fred,
You may check through this website
It is University of Indonesia website

May be I can help you by speaking to you? But I would suggest you always on hand your google translate, look up

I can help you understand the flow of it but I need to know whether you already have basic vocabulary because you had mentioned that you wish to write a report which is actually academic writing.

Here, In Malaysia I teach English and Bahasa Melayu.  I am a qualified translator and I have done works for our national museums.

I also suggest you use go keyboard like me when using your smartphone to speak Indonesianor others.

If you need my help contact me

The Malay spoken in this region differs from region to region but basically everybody in Malay world can understand not just Indonesia but ASEAN countries too.

I think you are saying the standard as spoken in the schools and offices in Jakarta.

What sort of report are you talking about that you wish to write on ? Please be more specific to me,  I am very keen to help you.

I also do some other languages, TQ

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