1 Oct 2013

Fluent Indonesian in 3 months in Australia

Image by Nicolas Raymond
Since 2010, I have been 'studying' Indonesian and have gotten A's on my reports, assignments and tests. But I still can't speak it fluently. Around August 2012, I started 'learning' Indonesian; speaking it on Skype, learning vocabulary on Memrise1 and other resources outside of the classroom. 

For the last couple of years, I have been reading Benny Lewis' blog 'Fluent in 3 months'2 and learnt some key points about languages such as:

  • 'Fluent in 3 Months' is not a guarantee, but a challenge.
  • You are more likely to succeed in the challenge if you tell a large number of people about it. (I did announce on FaceBook that my new year's resolution is to be fluent in Indonesian)
  • Your target language should be part of your daily schedule. (I am working out how to balance assignments with learning Indonesian)
  • You learn more from speaking that writing. (Indonesian uses a phonetic Latin alphabet, so each word is written how you speak it)
  • Whether you were good at languages at school or not is irrelevant: your commitment is. (I did have the advantage of very enthusiastic teachers who focused on speaking) 
  • You don't need to be in the country to become fluent. (He learnt Egyptian Arabic in Brazil)
  • All languages are hard, with the exception of Esperanto for some people. 
Image by zsoolt

Currently, my Indonesian level is A2 (way-stage or elementary) on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages3

I can have a pretty good basic conversation in Indonesian with a few Indonesian-ised English words for when I don't know a word. I have held conversations only in Indonesian for about 15 - 20 minutes then swapping for English. 

Officially this means I can:
  • Understand sentences and frequently used expressions relating to areas of immediate relevance. This includes: basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography and employment.
  • Communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
  • Describe in simple terms aspects of my background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

By 31st of December 2013, I want to have at least a B2 level of Indonesian in Australia. 

This means I can:
  • Understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in my field of specialisation.
  • Interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers possible without straining for either speaker.
    Image praline3001
  • Produce clear and detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options. 
My personal Indonesian goals include:
  • Knowing at least 2000 Indonesian words.
  • Having an Indonesian or specifically a Javanese accent when I speak Indonesian.
  • Having native Indonesian speakers ask me "how long you lived in Indonesia?" or "what city/island in Indonesia are you from?". 
I chose this level because from B2 is the lowest level that is described as fluency. Benny Lewis has a B2 level in a couple of languages and had very little communication issues while travelling in the country it is spoken in. 

If manageable, I will try to aim for a C1 level of Indonesian which means I can:
  • Understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts and recognise implicit meaning.
  • Express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
  • Use Indonesian flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.
  • Produce clear well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
The reasons why I am want to have at least a B2 level or a C1 (if manageable) by 31st of December 2013 include:
  • The fact that I am annoyed at myself on how low level in Indonesian I have achieved after 3 years.
  • My Indonesian class will become revision rather than a lesson, which results in higher marks.
  • I want to learn another languages next year, probably Hindi. (Indonesian shares many words with Hindi and other Indian languages. I also like the sound of Hindi :). ) 
    Image by Heather Paul
  • Having a specific 'due date' for a language will motivate me to become fluent sooner than wanting to become fluent 'someday'.
I will announce that I did have quite a 'head-start' with already knowing about 300-400 Indonesian words and already having Indonesian language-exchange partners on Skype. During this challenge, I will be immersing myself in Indonesian online as well as learning vocabulary and speaking on Skype. 

Thanks for reading my challenge. :)

1. Memrise, received 1st of October, 2013. http://www.memrise.com
2. Fluent In 3 Months, Benny Lewis. http://www.fluentin3months.com
3. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_European_Framework_of_Reference_for_Languages


  1. Hi Jesse.

    Kamu sudah bisa berbicara dengan orang indonesia, dan mau latihan bahasa Jowo?


    Semoga sukses Jesse!

    1. Terima kasih, saya mau berbicara bahasa Indonesia lebih baik seperti orang Jawa.


Please have your say and write a comment.

Comment rules:
#1 Please write something relevant to the post.
#2 Please don't include a link to another webpage unless receiving permission from me.
#3 All offensive or mean comments will be deleted.