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About the Indonesian Language

Indonesian, known in-country as Bahasa Indonesia, is the official language of Indonesia and is spoken by more than 200 million speakers throughout the archipelago. Indonesia is a country rich in cultural diversity with hundreds of different ethnic groups, some 300 of which speak recognizably different regional languages. Bahasa Indonesia is an Austronesian language derived from Malay, which has been spoken throughout insular Southeast Asia for many centuries. When Indonesia declared its independence in 1945, Bahasa Indonesia became the official national language. Learning Indonesian will enable students to communicate not only with Indonesians but, due to many linguistic similarities, with ethnic Malays throughout Southeast Asia, including those in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, parts of the Philippines, southern Thailand, and Timor-Leste. The Indonesian language is also a popular second language among Australians. Recently, the Australian Government announced the creation of a nearly $60 million dollar grant to fund the development of Asian language instruction, including Indonesian. This, taken together with the growing population of Indonesian expatriates living in Australia, means that students of Indonesian will find many opportunities to use their language skills.

Why Study Indonesian at Ohio University

Given the diversity of Indonesia's culture, its long history and fascinating political landscape, students of Bahasa Indonesia typically come from a wide range of disciplines, including anthropology, political science, philosophy, international studies, arts, education, and development studies. Ohio University's intellectual engagement with Indonesia goes back many decades. Faculty in various disciplines and academic departments have taught and published on Indonesia at Ohio University for more than four decades. Lastly, Indonesian is a relatively simple language to learn. It has no gender and case differentiation; it also has simple plurals and an easy to understand system of word formation. It uses the Roman alphabet and it does not have tones or specific stress patterns.

How we teach

The Indonesian courses focus on all aspects of the language: speaking, listening, reading and writing. In addition, the model of language instruction used at Ohio University emphasizes the importance of culture. In other words, students not only learn Indonesian but develop an understanding of the cultural context out of which it emerged. Learning something about the culture and history of the Indonesian people is essential to appreciating the language.

Course offerings

  • Elementary Indonesian
  • Intermediate Indonesian
  • Advanced Indonesian

Links to learn more about Indonesian and Indonesia