How to Think in Indonesian like a native speaker?

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Are you currently learning Indonesian and would like to speed up your learning progress? Especially if your language learning goal is to be fluent in Indonesian instead of just knowing the basics, you have to start training yourself to think in Indonesian!

Being able to think in your target language is a one step further than just being able to memorize words or vocabularies. When you are still at the stage where everything is based on memorization, you may encounter yourself pausing, thinking of the translation of the word from your native language. The process certainly doesn’t feel natural and more often than not you may encounter yourself in situation where you forgot what you want to say because your brain is too busy looking for the word. And now you start to wonder: how can I train myself to think in Indonesian like a native speaker?

Continue to read on. Here are some tips for you to think in Indonesian like a native speaker:

Memorize vocabulary by associating it to a concept

Say that your native language is English, and you are learning Indonesian. When learning new words, associate the meaning of the word directly to its concept / image, instead of the word in your native language. As you are learning the word ‘jeruk,’ associate and think of an orange, a roundish shape of fruit with a tough shiny orange skin, not the word ‘orange’ in English. For the word ‘senang,’ think of a facial expression of someone smiling happily and looking contented, instead of the word ‘happy’ in English. Same goes when you are learning a verb, associate the word ‘makan’ with the action of you getting your food close to your mouth, whilst your mouth being ready to open to receive the food as well as the action gulping the food down your stomach, instead of associating it with the word ‘to eat.’

Point is: avoid translating words in your head. Stop looking for the equivalent of the Indonesian word in your native language (English). By doing translation in our brain, we will prevent our brain to learn how to think in our target language. Think yourself like a blank canvas. If Indonesian is the first language you’ve ever learned, how would you go about understanding the concept or ‘jeruk,’ ‘senang,’ and ‘makan’ ? Clearly not by translating from one language to another.

Think in a context

You cannot really learn or say any phrase without putting it into an appropriate context. This is a similar approach that was being mentioned previously. Thinking in a context approach works well for learning phrases or expressions.When you are saying “saya mau makan” think of your feeling and motive of wanting to eat; or “selamat bersenang-senang” to you wanting to wish someone to enjoy their time; or “Semoga berhasil” to you wanting to wish someone the best in their effort to accomplish something they set their mind to. Same goes when you come across a new expression spoken by another person, try to understand it based on context, and imagine a different context or scenario where you can use the same phrase or expression. Visualize the things you are saying.

Practice your Indonesian consistently

Haven’t you heard a saying “practice makes perfect” ? This can’t be any truer for language learners. Practice practice practice to the point it feels natural to you to express yourself in Indonesian.  Do not wait to practice until you feel you have ‘sufficient’ knowledge because there is no such thing. There is no better than now to start practicing.

Utilize what you know, no matter how limited or wide is your range of vocabulary, start to express yourself to in Indonesian. Talk it out or write it out. Either way, it will train you to think in Indonesian. Do not try to avoid certain topics just because you think it’s ‘hard’ to talk about it in your target language. When you first stated learning, talking about food may come ‘easier’ to you as compared to talking about current events. Do not limit yourself as this is the time for you to uplevel. Challenge yourself to talk about topics you wouldn’t mind talking about in your native language, such as the weather, film, your feeling, your opinion, your day, your plan – but this time, in Indonesian.

Don’t worry so much about the grammar at this point, just get your words out. Focus on fluency first. Embrace your learning curve. Be openminded when someone corrects your sentences, as it is part of your learning process. The more you practice, the faster you will get better at expressing yourself in Indonesian. Granted you will be able to learn grammar better by doing as compared to learning it from your textbook. Experience creates a powerful way for your brain to remember concepts at an unconscious level.

In summary, it is possible for Indonesian language learners to think in Indonesian like a native speaker. To get you thinking in Indonesian requires your conscious effort to train yourself. That includes:

  1. Avoiding translating every Indonesian word you hear to your native language,
  2. Using association and visualization approach to learn instead, and
  3. To practice expressing yourself in Indonesian starting now.

Now that you know the tips to think Indonesian, are you ready to implement them? Start easy. You can start with writing your journal in Indonesian, starting today. Find out how Think Bahasa can help you.

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