Learning the Indonesian language can be a relatively easy affair. Compared with English, the structure of Indonesian is far simpler. However, deciding where to get started can be a problem, so here are a few hints:

Don’t try to learn too much all at once.  Just a few words and sentences each day, so it will be easier to remember.

Start by practicing the Everyday Words & Greetings because this one page is the  key to starting just about every basic conversation.  Then you decide what you would like to learn next, after glancing through the rest of the book.

Perhaps you could copy the Indonesian Punctuation main differences from English onto a sheet of paper and place it somewhere you will see it often (refrigerator? back of the toilet door?) Then maybe you could practice asking questions to find surf spots.

Test yourself by reading Indonesian into a voice recorder, then checking your pronunciation. Ask a friend to test you on each page of this book, or better still, learn with a friend. Two people learning together will be much easier and faster. 

Next use The Power of Visualization to imagine yourself in Indonesia. Close your eyes and see yourself in situations that you will experience in the future. Prepare for those situations now. The speed at which you learn Indonesian is directly proportional to your need to do so.

For example, visualize yourself arriving at the airport perhaps, or a hotel, marketplace, idyllic palm-fringed beach or wherever you hope to visit when you go to Indonesia.

Imagine you strike up a conversation with a friendly local. Write in English a short, simple dialogue of the questions you may ask, and the answers you may receive. Next, translate that dialogue into Indonesian by looking up new words in this book or your English-Indonesian dictionary “kamus”. You may be surprised how much simpler and precise it will read in Indonesian.

Once you arrive in Indonesia, carry a pocket notebook and write down any new words you would like to learn. Look them up in your kamus that evening, and practice saying them.  The next day, attempt to use the new words you learnt last night.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because they are an inevitable part of any learning process. The Indonesian people will happily help you learn their language with a good sense of humour. They will be your  teachers.

Terms of respect towards adults are very important, as in most Asian cultures. Rather than saying “you”, it is more respectful to use the person’s name or family status - so often you will address adults as “Mother” or “Father”, almost speaking to them in the “third person”. eg. “Where is father going?” rather than “Where are  you going?”.

One of the key words you will use everyday is Selamat (pronounced S’Lah-maht) which by itself can mean many things, such as “Cheers”, “Good health”, “Good luck”, “Congratulations” or “Safe”.

Combined with other words “Selamat” becomes “Good Morning”, “Good afternoon”, “Good night”, “Good bye”, “Good journey”, “Bon Apetit”,  and other general blessings. 

Selamat is similar in meaning to “Salam” and “Shalom” in other languages, in that it infers a blessing upon whatever activity you are undertaking. For example, “Good Bye” is “Selamat Jalan” which loosely translated means “May your road be blessed”.

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Top Travel Tips


Staying healthy in Indonesia isn’t always easy. Here are a few general tips, but before you go check the recommended Vaccinations at the Travellers Medical & Vaccination Centre (TMVC) website www.traveldoctor.com.au 

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