Why learn a language?
‘…in practice, language is participating in social relations in an extremely complex world of unequals. You cannot say you have mastered a new language if you have not discovered a brand new world, and your new self in it, through the experience of learning it.’
In learning a new language, students can learn things that they can learn in no other way.
An important part of being a responsible world citizen in the 21st century is to be able to manage sensitive, effective communication and the transfer of knowledge across languages and cultures. Through learning Languages students can understand and value their own culture and the cultures of other people, so that they can view the world from a wider perspective.
In many parts of the world, school systems have chosen to make learning a second language — and in some countries even a third — study requirement. This choice has been made not only because of the value of these languages for communication with other peoples but because students will encounter, appreciate and understand that there are distinctive ways of thinking and being which shape the way people behave.
Second language learning can be an important aid to the development of literacy and generic cognitive and life skills.
It is often forgotten that learning a second language develops literacy skills. There is considerable evidence to suggest that learning another language can enhance literacy in a student’s first language. By comparing features of their first language with those of another language, learners are better able to understand the structure and workings of English. For example, second language learners develop and enhance their skills and strategies for making meaning from words. This transfers to English.
A second language can also provide a new beginning and success at school for learners who have struggled with English. This is good for the motivation and engagement of learners.
Students can apply the generic skills that they learn through the study of Languages to all subject areas. These skills include critical thinking, reasoning, conceptualizing and problem solving. At the core of Languages learning is the development of communication skills, both written and oral. The development of all these skills prepares students for success in all subject areas and later life.
Why Bahasa Indonesia?
Indonesia is important
Indonesia is Australia’s largest and nearest neighbour in the Asian region. It is a maturing democracy, a major trading partner, and a key member of ASEAN. For Australia, Indonesia truly matters. All too often, however, the relationship is described in abstract terms as a series of ‘ties’ – commercial ties, security ties, educational ties. What is lost in these descriptions is the fact that it is the relationships of everyday people – ordinary Australians and ordinary Indonesians – that forms the foundation of all these links.
By learning Indonesian, grappling with a fascinating and foreign culture, and most importantly, making new friendships, our students are exposed to the complexities of the relationship which directly involves them in helping to transform the bilateral relationship from one of neighbours to one of friends
It’s really not that hard!
For a beginner trying to learn a new language, it doesn’t get much more accessible than Indonesian. Bahasa Indonesia has an uncomplicated system of grammar and vocabulary. Most importantly for those interested in learning an Asian language, unlike Chinese or Japanese, Indonesian has no tones and uses the Roman alphabet. Don’t just take our word for it – research suggests Indonesian is one of the world’s most accessible languages. The Foreign Service Institute in the US concluded that it takes around 30-36 weeks of full time study (the equivalent 750-900 class hours) to achieve a fluent standard of speaking and reading in Indonesian. To reach the same level in Japanese or Mandarin required around 88 weeks, or 2200 class hours. Nevertheless, while it is relatively easy to gain a basic level of proficiency, it is important to remember that, like any foreign language, getting to grips with Indonesian requires time, perseverance and hard work.
Learning Indonesian opens up a vast archipelago of some of the friendliest, fun-loving, and most hospitable people you will ever meet. Our language program allows our students to explore Indonesia’s many different regions, people and cultural diversity. Students learn about Java’s mountains and volcanoes, Bali’s rice paddies and beaches, Indonesian cities like Jakarta, Jogyakarta, and various provinces like Sulawesi and Kalimantan, students also learn about many exciting travel destinations found around Indonesia for instance; diving some of the most beautiful spots in the world at Raja Ampat and the Banda islands, or exploring the local wildlife with the komodo dragons in Lombok and the orangutans in Sumatra. Given its proximity, low cost of living, and incredibly hospitable people, a little background in Indonesian opens up a traveller’s paradise.
Challenge students to think outside their comfort zone
Learning Indonesian will give our students a means to access and understand a unique culture that is an eclectic mix of Eastern, Western and Islamic influences. The experience will challenge them to think outside of their comfort zone and engage them with unfamiliar values and practices. It will also allow them to learn more about themselves and their own culture by forcing them to reflect on their own cultural pre-conceptions – for example, on time, on religion, and on politics – and how they differ to those in Indonesia.
In an increasingly connected world, it will become more and more necessary to engage with those of different cultural and religious backgrounds. Learning Indonesian is one of the best ways to equip our students with the cross-cultural literacy to thrive in this Asian Century.
Being ‘Indonesia-savvy’ can open doors to a wide range of employment opportunities
The Indonesian economy is big and it’s growing rapidly. Not long ago, Indonesia’s economy overtook Australia’s in terms of gross domestic product; by the end of this decade, it’s expected that the Indonesian economy will become the world’s 10th biggest. While the majority of eyes are turning to China, Indonesia is slowly becoming a regional economic powerhouse. This means jobs – lots of them. Those students who speak Indonesian – especially when combined with other academic studies such as in law, business, engineering, health, and the humanities – will have a competitive advantage in accessing these opportunities. There is little argument that being ‘Indonesia-savvy’ can open doors to a wide range of employment opportunities in government, education, business, hospitality, translating and interpreting, law, engineering and journalism.