Skip to main content Skip to navigation


Print this page

Learning in Indonesian

Indonesian language learning

Indonesian is a standardised language that is the official language of government, education, business and the media. It has been and continues to be shaped (for example, in terms of lexicon, grammatical structures and idiomatic usage) by other languages, most significantly Javanese, Dutch, Arabic and English. Colloquial forms of Indonesian, such as bahasa sehari-hari and bahasa gaul, are used for informal daily interactions.

Indonesian is written using the Roman alphabet, and there is a clear correlation and a degree of consistency between its sound and its written form. This feature generally makes it easy for speakers of English as a first language to predict how to say, read or write Indonesian words. It has a number of sounds that require learning, such as the trilled r, the ch sound of the letter c, the combined vowel sounds ai and au, the distinction between ng and ngg, and the glottal stop k when it is a final syllable.

Indonesian grammar is characterised by a system of affixation where prefixes and suffixes attached to base words form new words belonging to different word classes or with changed grammatical function. The most common among these that are relevant to this curriculum are the noun and verb forms using the prefixes ber-, me-, pe- and ke-, and the suffixes -kan, -i and -an.

There is a significant distinction between oral and written, as well as formal and informal, Indonesian. Written language, for example, follows grammatical rules of affixation, whereas spoken language often drops affixes, and vowels are often reduced to single sounds; for example, the formal hijau often appears informally as ijo. Spoken language is also frequently meshed with local languages and slang forms.

A major feature of Indonesian is its extensive pronoun system, which can be quite simple in its initial stages (for example, saya, Anda, kamu) but becomes increasingly complex, with multiple forms according to situations and contexts of use. In addition, the use of object-focus construction is marked, and it is frequently used in both spoken and written contexts to create distance between the agent and the action.

The diversity of Indonesian language students

Understanding the diverse language backgrounds and competencies of students, as language learners, is the starting point for developing their language learning. The changing pattern of migration to Australia is extending the range of languages students bring with them to school. 

The language competency of students varies significantly depending upon the sequence of learning being undertaken and the level the student has reached.

Intercultural understanding

In the Languages curriculum area the focus is on both language and culture, as students learn to communicate meaningfully across linguistic and cultural systems, and different contexts. This process involves reflection and analysis, as students move between Indonesian and their own existing language(s). It is a reciprocal and dynamic process which develops language use and intercultural awareness and understanding.

For students learning Indonesian for the first time in a school language program, a key feature of learning the language is understanding the cultural dimension that shapes and is shaped by the language. The curriculum is designed with an intercultural language learning orientation to enable students to participate in intercultural experiences, develop new ways of perceiving and being in the world, and understand themselves in the process.

Texts and resources

Students use a wide range of texts such as textbooks, teacher-generated materials and online resources. Their learning is enriched by exposure to a range of texts that use the Indonesian language, such as websites, films, stories, songs, television programs, advertisements and magazines. The texts and resources will become increasingly sophisticated and varied as students progress through their schooling.

Use of Indonesian and English

Students are encouraged to use the language being studied as much as possible for classroom routines, social interactions, structured learning tasks, and language experimentation and practice.

Students will have opportunities to engage with members of the community who speak Indonesian, which in some cases will be facilitated via digital technologies.

English is used for discussion, explanation and reflection, enabling students to develop a language for sharing ideas about language and culture.

Scroll to the top of the page