Indonesian is an Austronesian language and the official language of Indonesia, the largest archipelago in the world with 13,466 islands. Bahasa Indonesian (which translates to “the language of Indonesia”) is a standardized register of Malay and one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. There are approximately 700 different dialects and indigenous languages spoken and a few hundred diverse ethnic groups found throughout Indonesia, but Bahasa Indonesian is the Lingua Franca that unifies the country. About 43 million people speak Indonesian as their first language and another 157 million people speak it as a second language.
A true paradise for scuba divers and mountain climbers, Indonesia is a magnificent country with stunning beaches, volcanic islands, hundreds of national parks, exotic wildlife, and so many incredibly diverse and distinct cultures to discover.
Free Resources to Learn Indonesian
Free Learning/Studying Apps
Duolingo – iTunes – Google Play – Duolingo has become a leader in the language learning world and for good reason. It’s fast, fun, well designed, suitable for all ages, and turns learning a foreign language into a challenging and pretty addictive game.
Tinycards – iTunes – Google Play – Tinycards is a free flashcards app, from the creators of Duolingo, which uses spaced repetition and nicely designed “decks” to help you learn anything, including foreign languages. Tinycards uses gamification, like Duolingo, which makes it fun and easy to use.
Memrise – iTunes – Google Play – Memrise is a really fast, fun and free language learning app/website that is sure to get you hooked. There is a visual flashcard component which also incorporates audio from a community of native speakers. Memrise uses spaced repetition and is really effective at drilling vocabulary and phrases into your memory.
Learn Bahasa Indonesian – Phrases & Words for Travel – iTunes – Google Play – A handy little app to have on hand when traveling to Indonesian speaking countries, which helps you to easily access basic phrases and vocabulary.
Learn Indonesian Phrasebook – iTunes – Google Play – This useful app will help you learn Indonesian words and sentences with recordings made by native speakers. The free version has 400+ practical phrases.
Learn Indonesian by 50 Languages – iTunes – Google Play – This app is great for beginners (A1-A2) to increase practical vocabulary which is useful for managing everyday situations (at a store, restaurant, bank, doctor, etc). With the free version, you will have access to 30 complete lessons.
Beginner Indonesian – Google Play – This app is based on the “learn a word a day” concept and uses a simple and direct approach to teaching Indonesian to beginners.
Start From Zero Indonesian – Google Play – This app will boost your vocabulary skills by helping you learn thousands of the most commonly used Indonesian words and phrases. It also offers quiz and flashcard functionality to test your progress.
In 24 Hours Learn to Speak Indonesian – iTunes – Google Play – Whether you are preparing for an upcoming trip to Indonesia or you are a student learning the language, this app will help you learn the basics and set you off in the right direction.
HelloTalk – iTunes – Google Play – This app is a global language learning social network that connects you with native speakers of other languages so that you can practice your speaking and listening skills via text and audio messages and free audio and video calls. The free version allows you to choose one native language and one target language.
Internet Polyglot – iTunes – Google Play – This free app uses lessons, games, and pictures to teach foreign languages to beginners. Although Internet Polyglot is far from a standalone language learning tool, it is a useful supplement to help you to learn and retain vocabulary.
Free Indonesian Dictionary/Translation Apps
Indonesian English Dictionary & Translator – iTunes – Google Play – This free app works offline and provides detailed definitions, example sentences and pronunciation for Indonesian & English words, as well as flashcards for learning.
Google Translate – iTunes – Google Play – Google Translate offers online text translation between 103 languages by typing, offline translation for 59 languages, camera translation for 38 languages, image translation for 37 languages, conversation translation in 32 languages, and translation of handwritten characters in 93 languages. The app also has a phrasebook which allows you to save translated words and phrases for future reference in all languages.
iTranslate – iTunes – Google Play – iTranslate is a leading free translator and dictionary app that provides translations for text in over 100 languages. Other functionality includes transliteration, sharing, favorites, history, and audio in both male and female voices. Voice to voice translations and the use of offline mode is not available with the free version.
Learn Indonesian with IndonesianPod101 – This is a fun and helpful set of videos to add to your regular Indonesian language learning regimen.
Beginner Indonesian Video Lessons – This is a good collection of beginner video lessons taught by a native Indonesian speaker.
Travel Linguist Indonesian 101 Video Lessons – This series of 20 short videos covers basic introductory vocabulary.
Suwaji Wn Indonesian Video Lessons – This YouTube channel features short videos that teach Indonesian to beginners.
LangMedia – LangMedia provides language learning resources, including videos, audio, study guides, etc. LangMedia is run by the Five College Center for the Study of World Languages and their mission is to share examples of linguistic and cultural diversity with language learners. In the “Language by Country” section of the LangMedia website they provide videos which focus on practical aspects of everyday life (For Ex: Basic Communication, Shopping, Transportation, Culture and Social Life). The conversations often include colloquial language and all videos are accompanied by translations and transcripts. The “CultureTalk” section of the LangMedia website features video interviews with people of different ages and backgrounds. The interviews are primarily conducted by students and translations and transcripts are provided.
Learn Indonesian with IndonesianPod101 – iTunes – This is a fun and informative podcast to add to your regular Indonesian language learning regimen. Every lesson is free for a period of time; each new audio and video lesson (3-5 lessons are published per week) is free to access for 3 weeks before being locked into their library, which can be accessed only with paid membership.
Learning Indonesian – The fun and easy self-paced course in Bahasa Indonesia – iTunes – The Learning Indonesian podcast features 48 Indonesian language lessons for beginners, with both native Indonesian and English speaking instructors.
Indonesian SurvivalPhrases – iTunes – These fun and innovative audio lessons teach basic Indonesian and are accompanied by PDF guides.
Colloquial Indonesian: The Complete Course for Beginners – This collection of 76 audio files, each a few minutes in length, provides concise and clear Indonesian language instruction for beginners. These free audio lessons were made to accompany the Colloquial Indonesian: The Complete Course for Beginners textbook, which is a book aimed at teaching Indonesian to beginners in a practical way to prepare them to effectively communicate with confidence in everyday situations.
Peace Corps Bahasa Indonesian Language Course – The Bahasa Indonesian Course is intended for beginner to intermediate level learners. The lessons, which provide a lot of practical information surrounding culture, vocabulary, grammar and communication skills, were developed by the United States Peace Corps to train their volunteers prior to sending them around the world on their missions.
- Peace Corps Bahasa Indonesian Language Course 1 – Includes 1 e-textbook in PDF format with 139 pages.
- Peace Corps Bahasa Indonesian Language Course 2 – Includes 1 e-textbook in PDF format with 86 pages.
- Peace Corps Bahasa Indonesian Language Course 3 – Includes 1 e-textbook in PDF format with 86 pages.
Defense Language Institute (DLI) Indonesian Language Basic Course – This Indonesian language course is part of the language learning program developed by U.S. Department of Defense as a means of training employees for foreign assignments. As a result, some of the material focuses on military-related content, however, on the whole, there is a lot of value for all.
- DLI Indonesian Basic Course Volume 1 – Volume one covers lessons 1-8 and includes 1 e-textbook in PDF format with 99 pages.
- DLI Indonesian Basic Course Volume 2 – Volume two covers lessons 9-16 and includes 1 e-textbook in PDF format with 120 pages.
- DLI Indonesian Basic Course Volume 3 – Volume three covers lessons 17-24 and includes 1 e-textbook in PDF format with 106 pages.
Ielanguages.com – This website offers free basic language learning text and audio instruction.
Ilanguages – This site is designed to teach Indonesian with free vocabulary, phrases, grammar, and flashcards while focusing on highly used words and phrases necessary for everyday living.
CoolJugator – CoolJugator is a verb conjugator website that makes conjugation easy and straightforward.
Indonesian Stories by BookBox – Cartoons have always been a wonderful asset to language learning, particularity for children. These animated children’s stories are great because the viewer can read along with the narration, which is shown on-screen as “Same Language Subtitles (SLS).” Each word is highlighted in time with the audio, which helps with comprehension and retention.
Omniglot – This site specializes in providing information about languages and their alphabets and writing systems.
Digital Dialects – This website makes learning vocabulary fun with interactive games.
Hello World – Hello World has created hundreds of free language learning games and activities that cater to the way children learn best. The goal is to teach languages using cognitive immersion and to keep the process fun in order to increase learning potential. Approximately 1,300 vocabulary words are introduced over 70 different categories.
Goethe Verlag – This website offers 100 Indonesian lessons for beginners, each with words, phrases and corresponding audio files.
Learn101 – This website features free beginner lessons to guide you through learning Indonesian, step by step, starting with the alphabet, moving on to grammar, vocabulary, and phrases, and finally offering simple quizzes to test your progress. These lessons are a basic introduction to the language and have images, text, and audio.
Learning Bahasa Indonesian – Sponsored by the Indonesia Australia Language Foundation (IALF), this site is tailored to expats and offers a concise list of basic phrases in Bahasa Indonesian with audio. The vocabulary list includes high-frequency words and common phrases for the following categories: First Encounters, Hello, Goodbye and Well Wishes, Asking and Telling Time, Dates and Days, Asking and Giving Directions, Shopping, Numbers, Colors, Emergencies, Illnesses and Medical Symptoms & Conditions.
Ayo Membaca – The Indonesian language lessons on the Ayo Membaca website were created as a result of a collaborative project with funding from the US Department of Education and with contributions from scholars at many top schools like the University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, National University of Singapore, Yale University, Cornell University, and UCLA among others. The interactive lessons utilize authentic reading material like menus or newspaper articles to teach Indonesian language skills within a cultural context.
Linguanaut: Indonesian Vocabulary – This free website offers a very basic introduction to Indonesian vocabulary, phrases, and grammar. Although it does not provide audio to accompany the vocabulary, it can be a handy resource list.
Hello Indonesia – This free website provides a great overview of Indonesian with vocabulary lists, pronunciation pointers, and even a free mini-course.
BahasaKita – This website has been a comprehensive and reliable online Indonesian language resource for over a decade. This free source of lessons, articles, and cultural information combines the knowledge of Indonesian experts and linguists from around the world who actively contribute to this quality content.
SEAsite – These free interactive Indonesian learning resources were created by Northern Illinois University and the project was funded by The U.S. Department of Education and The U.S. Department of Defense. The website has a number of sections worth checking out: Lessons for Learning Indonesian in 7 Days, Vocabulary Lessons, Reading and Comprehension Lessons, Grammar Lessons, Arts and Culture Information, and Video Resources with News, Documentaries and more.
Wikibooks Indonesian Lessons – Wikibooks offers an introduction to Indonesian with a series of free introductory lessons.
Beginning Indonesian – This free site was created by The University of Victoria in Canada as a resource for students beginning their Indonesian studies. Here you can practice and review basic vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structures, and take part in interactive exercises and quizzes.
Indonesian Vocabulary Test – This site offers basic Indonesian vocabulary lists and multiple-choice tests based on those lists, created by volunteers as a free language learning resource.
LangHub – This site has several sets of Indonesian language lessons with text, audio and video files. LangHub offers beginner, intermediate, advanced, travel, expat and business Indonesian lessons for free.
Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Indonesian Tutorial – This Language Survival Kit Module for Bahasa Indonesian contains basic vocabulary with audio. Both the audio files and the PDF text can be downloaded.
LingvoSoft Indonesian Phrasebook – This site offers a basic phrasebook format with text and audio to help you learn essential Indonesian vocabulary.
Loecsen – Loecson offers a free mini-course consisting of fun lessons that provide a basic introduction to Indonesian with the help of text, audio, simple illustrations, and quizzes to test your progress. You will learn high-frequency vocabulary words and commonly used phrases relating to 17 themes which are relevant to everyday life.
Indonesian Grammar Lessons with Exercises – This helpful resource is provided by the Australian National University.
Lang-8 – This free network is a nice tool to support your language learning. Native speakers are available to make corrections to your text and provide feedback. In return, you provide help to others.
HiNative – iTunes – Google Play – HiNative is an app brought to you by the creators of Lang-8 that allows you to ask questions to native speakers from around the world using your smartphone. HiNative was created to be used alongside Lang-8, and is different from Lang-8 in that it focuses on a Q&A type of learning while Lang-8 is a journal writing experience.
RhinoSpike – RhinoSpike is an interesting website that connects language learners from all over the world allowing them to exchange audio files to help improve pronunciation skills. It allows you to submit text that you would like to hear read aloud by a native speaker, and in turn you receive the audio file. In exchange, and to speed up the process, you can in turn provide audio files in your native language for other learners.
MyLanguageExchange.com – This online language learning community connects you with other learners so that you can practice speaking in your second language with a native speaker and vice-versa.
Italki – A community of over 2 million language learners that facilitates free language practice with native speakers. You simply exchange time teaching your native language for time learning a foreign language, making it mutually beneficial and free.
Deutsche Welle – German broadcasting company DW provides news in Indonesian.
Google News – Read the world news in Indonesian with Google News.
VOA News – Voice of America is an American broadcasting company that creates radio and television news in Indonesian.
SBS Radio Indonesian Program – iTunes – SBS is an Australian broadcasting company that targets non-native English speakers and creates programming in many languages. This podcast allows you to listen to interviews, features and community stories from the SBS Radio Indonesian program, including Australian and world news.
Kompas – Read the online version of Kompas, a long-running Indonesian national newspaper.
Tempo – Read the online version of this weekly Indonesian news magazine in either Indonesian or English.
Australia Plus – Australia Plus is an International news service brought to you by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) which offers Australian news in Chinese, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesian, English and Tok Pisin.
Indosiar – This is a privately owned Indonesian national TV station.
Rajawali Citra TV Indonesia (RCTI) – This was the first privately owned television network in Indonesia.
SCTV – This is the second largest private television network in Indonesia.
Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI) – This is a state-owned company and the oldest television network in Indonesia.
PT Cipta Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia – This is an Indonesian television network that puts an emphasis on educational programming.
Antara News Wire – This is Indonesia’s national news agency which provides domestic news and distributes foreign news within Indonesia.
Forvo – This crowd-sourced site is a great tool to help with pronunciation as it allows you to listen to words and phrases spoken by native speakers.
Bad.La – This “language portal” boasts 44 dictionaries for 28 languages, as well as a wealth of other language learning resources, such as helpful articles, games and quizzes, verb conjugations and phrase books.
Lexilogos – This is a unique concept: just type an Indonesian word into the search field and then choose from one of several dictionaries.
Tatoeba – Tatoeba is a large, crowdsourced database of sentences and translations. This free resource allows you to search for a word and get results showing that word in sentences with translations.
Talkify – This free, multilingual website is a very interesting and valuable resource that allows you to listen to text in foreign languages. Simply insert a URL into the search field on Talkify and it will automatically detect the language and read the text of that website aloud in a natural sounding voice.
Kamus – The world’s largest and most popular English-Indonesian dictionary on the web.
Bahasa Indonesia in 7 Days – A guide to Indonesian by Michael Bordt and Liswati Seram.
The Straight Dope on Bahasa Indonesian – This 20-page language text is a concise guide to common and colloquial Bahasa Indonesian, written by James Alley and Harlan Thompson.
A Student’s Guide to Indonesian Grammar – An Indonesian textbook by Dwi Noverini Djenar.
Learning to Read Colloquial Indonesian – This course book was written by Dr. Tim Hassall of Australian National University. It is geared towards intermediate level Indonesian students who have a solid knowledge of formal/standard Indonesian but want to learn colloquial Indonesian.
What Are Your Favorite Free Indonesian Language Learning Resources?
We have done a lot of research to bring you the best, free resources that the internet has to offer and we want to make sure our list is always comprehensive. Please share your favorites in the comments below!