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Learn Indonesian | ROSETTA STONE®

Discover the best way to learn Indonesian online. Our dynamic, contextualized lessons teach beginners to speak and read the Indonesian language.

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Learn Indonesian

Indonesian or Bahasa Indonesia [baˈhasa indoˈnesia], is the official language of Indonesian and a standardized register of Malay. Malay is a lingua franca that has united the linguistically diverse archipelago of Indonesia for centuries. With over 264 million people, Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world and home to more than 700 local languages, including Javanese, Sudanese, and Balinese. Because Indonesia is so ethnically diverse, many people speak Bahasa Indonesia alongside their native language or dialect, making it one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It’s estimated there are over 160 million speakers of Indonesian in Southeast Asia alone.

Like the colorful history of the Indonesian archipelago, the Indonesian language is rich in influences, especially from Javanese, Sudanese, Hindi, Sanskrit, Chinese, Arabic, Dutch, Portuguese, and even English. Even though Indonesia was once ruled by the Dutch for nearly 350 years, the Dutch language is only spoken by a few members of older generations and in some dated government texts and law codes. Because of the roots and influences of Indonesian, learning it may make other Austronesian languages, such as Tagalog, Maori or Hawaiian, more accessible.

For more than twenty-five years, Rosetta Stone has been helping language learners thrive in real-world conversations. By framing language learning as a journey and not a destination, our award-winning language learning app and software provides an immersive environment where you can learn to speak the Indonesian language, not just the words. Supported by audio and visual cues that stimulate deeper learning, your Indonesian course will encourage you to speak the language out loud from your very first lesson.

Learning Indonesian for Beginners

Indonesian is an accessible language for beginners, with a 26-letter alphabet and phonetic pronunciation. Because learners can generally decipher the way to pronounce most Indonesian words, vocabulary acquisition is relatively straightforward. Indonesian has also adopted some words from English, especially recently in areas of technology, and these influences have infused Indonesian with a dynamic vocabulary. The Indonesian language also has a sentence structure that feels familiar to English speakers with the Subject + Predicate + Object + Adverb order that is found in both languages.

There are, however, some challenges that beginners should be aware of in the Indonesian language, including some language use and style preferences that seem to be continually evolving. The Indonesian people love using figurative language, and abbreviations are commonplace, which can confuse beginners trying to accomplish Indonesian to English translations.

That’s why Rosetta Stone focuses on presenting Indonesian vocabulary in context, where language learners use the Indonesian words they already know from previous lessons to scale gradually towards understanding. This methodology is called Dynamic Immersion®, and it emphasizes learning that takes place in the context of everyday situations. From shopping at a grocery store to ordering a meal at a restaurant, Rosetta Stone’s goal is to get you comfortable speaking up in Indonesian conversations that don’t follow a script.

Learn Indonesian Pronunciation

Like Latin and Portuguese, the Indonesian language is pronounced the way it is spelled. Most syllables consist of no more than a vowel and one or two consonant(s), which makes Indonesian relatively easy to decipher and pronounce. There are some notable differences in the Indonesian pronunciation of vowels, however. "A" in Indonesian sounds like the "a" in "father" and "E" is spoken like "e" in "desk.” In Indonesian, the "I" is similar to the double e in "see,” while "U" has both long and short sounds.

Besides some differences in vowel sounds, Indonesian pronunciation stays consistent for the use of consonants with the exception of the letter “C.” The “c” in the Indonesian word cinta (love) sounds like a “ch” in English so the word would be pronounced “ch-inta.”

The entire point of learning a language is to be able to speak it out loud and to understand and be understood in conversations with native speakers. Rosetta Stone understands this fundamental concept, and it’s the reason why practicing pronunciation is the cornerstone of your Indonesian lessons. By embedding a patented speech recognition engine called TruAccent® into every Indonesian exercise, Rosetta Stone encourages language learners to speak Indonesian out loud. The speech recognition engine provides real-time feedback that compares your accent to that of thousands of native speakers and lets you fine-tune your pronunciation before you move on the next lesson.

Get Beyond Indonesian to English Translation

Learning a language is about more than just translating the words. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with pronunciation, the next part of your language learning journey should be to embrace some best practices that will help accelerate your understanding of the Indonesian language.

Here are a few ways you can start your language learning journey off on the right foot and increase your confidence speaking Indonesian.

1. Learn Indonesian words in context

Context is critical, and that’s certainly true in language learning. The secret to understanding a language is not to acquire vocabulary through rote memorization, but to learn words and common conversational phrases in the context of the situations in which you’d use them. Here are a few Indonesian words and phrases you might pick up as part of learning basic Indonesian.

  • Silahkan (Please)
  • Terima kasih (Thank you)
  • Maaf (Sorry)
  • Permisi (Excuse me)
  • Apa kabar? (How are you?)

2. Focus on Indonesian pronunciation

As we mentioned previously, honing your pronunciation will be vital to your progression in the Indonesian language. The more practice you have speaking the words out loud, the more accustomed you’ll become to getting feedback and correcting yourself, Making mistakes is a natural part of any language learning journey, and you want as many opportunities as possible to make those gaffes before you head out into real-world conversations.

3. Speak Indonesian daily

Building confidence comes with practice and sounding like a local doesn’t happen by accident. You’ll need to commit to making language learning part of your daily routine, whether it’s a few stolen minutes before bedtime working through your lessons or listening to additional features like Stories during your morning commute. Rosetta Stone knows you have a busy schedule, so we help language learners find the time with Indonesian lessons that sync across devices and provide access anytime and anywhere.

Immerse Yourself in Indonesian

While traveling to Indonesia might not be in your budget at the moment, you can still immerse yourself in the Indonesian language. From community groups to Indonesian media, interacting with the language is an important step to becoming a confident Indonesian speaker.

Join Indonesian social media groups

If you’re not comfortable interacting with native speakers in unscripted conversations, social media groups can provide the next best thing. By joining groups for Indonesian speakers, you can read in Indonesian, view videos, and start to get a sense of the Indonesian culture.

Watch Indonesian movies, TV, and news

You may be surprised to discover there are quite a few acclaimed Indonesian movies you might be able to stream or TV channels you can subscribe to. There are also several Indonesian radio stations you can listen to online to catch news and popular music. While you may not be able to understand everything that is being said, it will help you develop an ear for the cadence of the language.

Connect with an Indonesian community

Indonesian expats are scattered around the world, but you may find yourself lucky enough to live close to a thriving Indonesian community. There are quite a few Indonesian students who attend universities within the United States, especially in the Northeast in schools like Harvard and the University of Boston. Thriving Indonesian communities also exist in Silicon Valley, where many native speakers work for tech startup companies like Google and Facebook.

Advantages to Learning the Indonesian Language


Native speakers always appreciate when someone makes the effort to speak their language, and the Indonesian people are no different. While many speak Malay or Javanese, learning Bahasa Indonesian will give you the advantage of being able to speak to people throughout the Indonesian archipelago.

Here are a few other reasons why you should learn to speak Indonesian.

Learn more about Indonesian culture

The Indonesian language unifies a diverse culture with over 300 ethnic groups. Speaking the language will give you the ability to learn more about the various groups that call this Southeast Asian archipelago home.

Knowing Indonesian can help you learn other languages

Indonesian is a register of Malay, and so it acts as a natural gateway to learning Malay and other associated languages in the same family such as Sudanese, Balinese, Javanese, and Hindi.

Make travel to the Indonesian capital easier

Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and this bustling metropolis is not only the most populous city in Indonesia but in all of SouthEast Asia. Speaking the language is definitely a necessity if you place to travel widely outside of Jakarta to more rural areas.

Knowing Indonesian is an advantage in business

As a bridge between Asia and Australia, Indonesia is a G20 member with the largest economy in SouthEast Asia and the third largest in Asia as a whole. Speaking the language looks good on your resume if you plan to be involved in the growing tech industry in the region or as part of the construction or mining sectors that make up the backbone of Indonesia’s economy.