Language in Indonesia

Languages and dialects

Indonesia is the 4th most populous country in the world and a vast amount of languages are practiced. The main language however, is Bahasa Indonesia.

The official languages

Indonesia is home to 240 million people with variety of ethnic groups. Each of these groups has its own distinct language and culture. In 1930s, as part of the independence movement, the Indonesian language was standardised and Indonesian language which is also called "Bahasa Indonesia" was adopted.

It is practised by more than 23 million people and is classified as an Austronesian Language. Even though most of the formal education and other forms of communication are done in Bahasa Indonesia, English is still widely spoken by the local people of the country.

Actively spoken languages

There are over  725 languages spoken in Indonesia . Here are some regional languages actively spoken in Indonesia:

  • Rejang (South Sumatra)
  • Dairi (North Sumatra)
  • Toraja (South Sulawesi)
  • Lampung (South Sumatra)
  • Makassarese (South Sulawesi)
  • Toba Batak (North Sumatra)
  • Sasak (Lombok)
  • Banjarese (South Kalimantan)
  • Acehnese (North Sumatra)
  • Balinese (Bali and Lombok)
  • Buginese (South Sulawesi)
  • Minangkabau (Central Sumatra)
  • Javanese (Java)

The Indonesians today consider themselves proud bilinguals. In infancy, they learn the native language of their island region and when they enter school, they learn Bahasa Indonesia. Generally most of the Indonesians you will meet will be fluent in their native language as well as the national language.

Besides education and media, Bahasa Indonesia also dominates as the language of modern business. In the MNC's Bahasa Indonesia is used along with English, Chinese, Japanese and other foreign languages side by side. This language provides a wonderful opportunity for English speakers wishing to acquire another language.

It's important for expats to learn the native language to reduce the language barrier and make their stay more comfortable. When it comes to learning, age is not a hurdle. In fact, learning a language as an adult has the benefits of fast understanding and organised study time in general. The motivation factor in adults is very high to learn Indonesian.

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