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Rosetta Stone Bahasa Indonesia

1 June 2011

For more posts about learning Bahasa Indonesia, see all posts tagged “bahasa.”

I lived in Malaysia for eight months and did not learn to speak Bahasa Malaysia. Malay — it is the root language of both the Malaysian and Indonesian national languages. I’m not good at learning the grammar of other languages. Maybe it is because I am very, very good at American English grammar (correcting the grammar of professional writers was my job for many years) — maybe I am too stuck in my own language. I learned a few dozen nouns and a few basic verbs in Bahasa, but nothing more.

So as I prepare to move to Indonesia for a 10-month stay, I am working hard to learn at least a little Indonesian grammar.

I bought the Rosetta Stone package through Amazon. It is easy to use and even kind of fun. At least, it is not boring. I am trying to spend at least one hour a day with the program. Some days it’s a little more. I find that I skip a day about once a week. I am also taking notes in a (paper) notebook because for me, writing with a pen helps me remember words and sentence structure.

I don’t know enough yet to read anything, but after one month of almost daily work, I do know the numbers and colors; I have no trouble saying seorang anak perempuan; and I’ve got a handle on some things that had perplexed me before — the use of yang, for example; berada vs. adalah; the way itu works with the subject of the sentence.

It’s the first time I ever used Rosetta Stone, and I am impressed. It works better than I had hoped. Hearing and repeating sentences and phrases while looking at photos makes a big difference — for me, it’s far superior to listening to audio alone. I do think the daily use is really important, though. If I were using it less often, I’m sure I would not be retaining as much.

Rosetta Stone definitely is not “tourist language.” If you’re just going for a short visit to Indonesia, I recommend Learning Indonesian — the free audio-only lessons there would be very good for getting a few key words and phrases.

I also bought a dictionary: Tuttle Concise Indonesian Dictionary. It is a HUGE help to use this together with Rosetta Stone!

In my university’s library I found the 1996 edition of Indonesian: A Comprehensive Grammar, by James Neil Sneddon. This book is fabulous! Now, I don’t know how it would seem to a person without a writing background, but as a longtime editor, journalist and teacher, I am loving it. It is remarkably well-written, and the examples are wonderful — you can tell that many of them were taken from newspapers and other vernacular sources. There is a new edition now, and I am considering buying it so I can take it with me (although at $80, it’s quite expensive!).

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