At Think Bahasa we hear this question all the time: “how long will it take to master Indonesian?” Everyone expects “instant” Indonesian. At Think Bahasa, we have many students mastering conversational Indonesian in 4 months time. However, it is important to note that there are many variables need to be considered in answering this question, such as “How many hours of professional instruction per week is the student receiving?,” “How many hours are devoted to studying between lessons?,” and of course, “What innate ability does the student have to learn languages?” Some students are better than others in learning a new language no matter what language it happens to be. Some others are very focused and dedicated. At Think Bahasa, the later is usually the case. We often see that strong desire to learn is what contributed the success of our students who can conversationally speak Indonesian in 4 months time. They are committed to practice in their own time outside class / lesson with a tutor. They are ready to make mistakes in order to learn. They are ready to step out of their comfort zones.
When it comes to mastering Indonesian “quickly,” it is not a matter whether at what age you’re learning Indonesian, it is a matter of willingness. Children just do things naturally, they don’t overthink things, they don’t fear feeling embarrassed. They do whatever they feel like it’s natural thing to do. So it’s sometimes good to look at children at how effortless they make their learning experience to be. We adults need to adopt that attitude as well. Don’t overthink it when it comes to learning a new language.
The adult Indonesian language learner student like yourself usually presents a special and sensitive profile. Many of you already have children of your own and usually enter class with much hesitation. You are successful in your life, but who now find you need to learn Indonesian and the Indonesian culture; not being able to speak Indonesian fluently as fast as you’d like yourself to be only adds to your frustration. So in order to avoid that, we always implore all the Indonesian language learners to be, to scrape off their expectation of themselves right from the start. What you, as an Indonesian language learner, need to focus on at this stage is the amount of dedication, time and energy you’re willing to put into the work.
Working on your mindset is equally important. If you wholeheartedly believe that you MUST live in Indonesia in order to be able to speak Indonesian, then you’re already setting yourself to failure right from the beginning because inherently you don’t even believe in yourself that you can in fact, achieve your goal.
For a dash of motivation, listen to Stewart, an Indonesian language learner from New Zealand, who started to learn Indonesian NOT in Indonesia. If you listen to how he speaks Indonesian, you would consider him to be conversationally fluent, don’t you? So now listen to yourself.
Learning Indonesian is an undertaking task that requires determination, just like learning any other skill, like golf for example. If you want to be better at it, you need to be eager to venture outside of their comfort zone to think in Indonesian and to practice Indonesian whenever possible.
Now that your spirit and motivation to learn Indonesian is high, you can read on ways you can immerse yourself in Indonesian at the comfort of your own home (and home country).
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