20 Free Ways to Help You Learn Indonesian

free ways to learn Indonesian

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Yes, people love spending money! Who doesn’t like to splurge money on newest trendy clothes, good food at nice restaurants or travel to exotic places across the ocean (hint: to Indonesia!). We get you! But when it comes to learning a foreign language – in this case, Indonesian? Some people may be hesitant at first to fully be committed and spend some money for their ‘investment.’ Afterall what if it doesn’t work out? What if I am not cut out to master a foreign language? What if this is just a phase and I will be bored learning Indonesian?

We love that you have an interest to learn Indonesian. Some people just want to learn Indonesian for fun, being able to throw some Indonesian phrases here and there, but not aiming to be conversant. In that case, utilizing free resources may be sufficient for your language learning goals. To those of you who are not ready to fully commit yourself learning Indonesian, here are 20 free ways for you to learn the language.

1. Music 

There are many Indonesian pop songs available on iTunes, Spotify, Youtube. Pick your favorite ones. Listen and sing along! You will remember the lyrics easier as you listen repeatedly, and you won’t mind because you enjoy it to the point it is stuck in your head. Get the English translation (Google Translate) so you get the full meaning of lyrics. Some Indonesian artists we recommend: Ungu, Samsons, Peterpan, Letto.

 2. Movies

When you’re sitting comfortably on your sofa with popcorns getting ready for a good movie, the last thing you want to do is not think about studying, right? This is your moment of relaxing after a full day of work or school. However, you can still enjoy the whole movie and learn by just looking for Indonesian movies with English subtitles. The easiest source is to watch Youtube videos. It is much shorter and you can pause anytime to learn the sentences words by words. Here are a couple top Youtubers whose videos have English subtitles.



In addition, you are exposed to Indonesia lifestyle and cultures as well!

Side note: there are some good ones on Netflix too, but we are discussing on the free option, hence: Youtube ftw!

3. Free interactive apps

There are many language learning apps out there. Find what works best for you. The most popular free ones are Duolingo, Memrise, Busuu. To help you decide your learning purpose and which app can help you the best, you can peruse further on the following link.


There is also one app that is specifically for Indonesian, called ‘Indonesia by Nemo’.

4. Find language partner (exchange languages)

Ask around if anyone knows someone who is looking for language partner, you can help them learn your mother-tongue language. In exchange, they will help you learn Indonesian. If you can’t find anyone around you, don’t worry, there are several apps that allow you to connect to people with same purpose (Tandem, HelloTalk, Craiglist). The best thing about this exercise is you get to make new friends!

5. Get out of your comfort zone and hang out with the locals

It can be daunting to meet new people from different background and culture, especially people who do not speak your language fluently. You’ll be surprised how friendly and willingly some Indonesians are to be friends with foreigners. Find Indonesian friends by going to Indonesian community events in your city.

6. If you are in Indonesia, eat in local restaurants and discover the local culinary scene

Avoid fancy restaurants! Local restaurants is where you can get to taste the authentic flavors of Indonesian food. Local restaurants may present you a fun and yet little challenging experience that can give you an extra motivation to learn Indonesian. Local restaurants in Indonesia normally wouldn’t have an English menu, and they may not even have waiters or waitresses who are fluent in English. It certainly will be a rewarding experience when you’re able to develop your tastebud and appreciation on authentic Indonesian food and at the same time practice your Indonesian when reading the menu.

7. Change phone interface to Indonesian

You’re most likely on your phone most of the time. Try changing your phone interface to Indonesian. This could be an effective way to learn useful and yet practical vocabulary words. It can be overwhelming at first, but once you know what the words mean, you will easily remember them because you’re exposed to the same words daily. The key here is to integrate your language learning into your daily activity. 

8. Cooking videos and other tutorial videos

A fun way to learn Indonesian is to integrate it well with your hobby.

For all the cooks out there, watch cooking videos of Indonesian Youtuber on Youtube. You’ll be able to learn cooking (and even baking) ingredients & techniques in Indonesian.

Do you like traveling? Listen to travel tips on Indonesian travel bloggers’ channels. Do you like make up? Try to listen to the make up tutorials by Indonesian make up gurus on Youtube. Easy peasy. You can go as far as your creativity takes you.

9. Order food from app

The convenience of having food delivered to your door is one of the perks living in Indonesia’s big cities. GoFood and GrabFood are the two big companies who offer this service. Most of the menu on the app are written in Indonesian. For your information, there are many cheap local food options too you can find on the app. We are certain the last thing you want is to mess with your food order, so better start learning all the food names and terminologies (fried / boiled / etc) in Indonesian. Treat this as an extra push for you to pull out your little Indonesian dictionary and take some notes before ordering.

10. Free online Indonesian learning videos

Have you heard that Think Bahasa post free learning videos on its Youtube channel? This free resource is too good to pass up. Find the information here.

11. Learn Indonesian on Instagram

Learning a big chunk of vocabulary words in a day can feel overwhelming. The more effective way might be to break them down into small daily portion. Try to learn 2-3 vocabularies every day with your Instagram account. Follow Think Bahasa’s instagram account for daily dose of Indonesian vocabulary words. Not to mention each of the vocabulary words also has audio. That means you will also get to practice your listening skill and pronounciation by repeating after of what you’ve heard. You can learn a few vocabulary words daily in your down time, for example, during your commute to / from work, or while waiting for your food order. Be sure to always review these words regularly as repetition is one learning method. You can learn 2 new words for 5 consecutive weekdays and review on weekends, or you can do daily review of the new vocabularies you learnt the day before. Whatever works best for you. You will be surprised at how much you will learn in a month if you stay consistent!

12. To-do list or journal

Get yourself to write your thoughts in Indonesian. Journaling is perfect for those with intermediate to advanced level knowledge of Indonesian. While writing to-do list is easier as it is shorter, hence writing to do list in Indonesian is a perfect exercise that even beginner level Indonesian language learners can try out. And guess what? it is FREE!

13. Find yourself a pen pal

Finding pen pals are now easier more than ever. Back in the day, people exchanged letters with their pen pals, which is time-consuming and inconvenient. As much as we love the personal touch of sending hand-written letters to your pen pals, there are now many quicker and free options to discover your new pen pals! Here are a few good and free choices that can help you get started.




14. Read Indonesian storybooks

Pay your local library a visit! We recommend this to Indonesian language learners of all levels because storybooks typically have pictures. Pictures are good visual aids to help language learner to remember language concept and new vocabulary words. If you already have Kindle Unlimited, you can read some these good Indonesian storybooks for free:


keong mas storybook
Keong Mas: Indonesian English bilingual book


Annabell and her 5 pet rabbits
Annabell and Her 5 Rabbits: Indonesian Storybook

For some other recommendations, click here.

15. Listen to Indonesian news and read on Indonesian news articles

If you consider yourself as an intermediate level learner, reading news and articles might suits you better. In addition of learning more vocabularies, you also enhance your knowledge of the current news and topics. The followings are the popular site for Indonesian news and articles









16. Flashcards & Post It (fridge, bathroom mirror)

Flashcards can be your best friend when it comes to learning language. It helps you remember better when you actually write your own flashcards. Nevertheless, if you prefer digital flashcards for easier mobility, you can download Quizlet and create your own flashcards.

You can also write the new vocabularies on Post It, stick it on your fridge or your bathroom mirror. Try making sentence with the words every time you see them. This self-study concept definitely requires some extra motivation. Like we’ve mentioned before: try to integrate your language learning as part of your daily life. Remember that at the end of the day, you will be the one who reap the benefit of your efforts!

17. Play online video games

Meet new Indonesian friends who have the same interest as you! Be sure to say hi and chat with other gamers in the midst of your game.Ask your Indonesian gamer friends to teach you some Indonesian texting & chat abbreviations that you wouldn’t otherwise have learned. It’ll be fun! 

The only thing that’s better than playing online video games for hours is to talk about video games for hours. Try to engage in conversation in Indonesian.

18. Find Indonesian boyfriend/girlfriend

It can be frustrating when you cannot communicate smoothly with your boyfriend/girlfriend or your boyfriend’s / girlfriend’s family because of language barrier. For the sake of love, some people are willing to try and make it work. This is probably one of the quickest ways to improve your Indonesian. Since you’re interacting with your partner almost if not daily, he or she is the best person to help you learn. 

19. Shop from local e-commerce

Few of the perks of shopping online are cheaper price, convenience, wide selections etc. Furthermore, if you’re a deal hunter, better brush up your Indonesian because most of the promotion and great deals are written in Indonesian. The top e-commerce to shop in Indonesia are Tokopedia, Shopee, Bukalapak.

20. Indonesian e-newsletters

Still in relation to shopping, sign up to some of your favorite retailers’ e-newsletter. Learn some slangs and lingos along the way. Often times Indonesian e-brochures/e-newsletters will contain some jokes in Indonesian. Try to understand those cultural references while practicing your Indonesian!

Bonus Tip:

This is cliché, but the most important one. There’s no use in learning Bahasa Indonesia if you don’t practice it. The silly embarrassing moment and mistakes you may encounter along the way will help you remember the words better next time. Why? Because the words are associated with memorable event and emotion. As Jim Kwik, a memory expert, always says ‘information combines with emotion creates a long-term memory’.

We here at Think Bahasa are all rooting for you in your language learning journey. Keep us updated and share with us on your progress on social media by using hashtag #learnwiththinkbahasa

Do you have any other free ways to learn Indonesian to share with fellow Indonesian language learners? Please share your ideas in the comments below!

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