Teaching Bahasa Indonesia to Adult Foreign Learners

Hi Folks,

This post is about the new ‘project’ that I started back in May 2014. It’s been more than a year and I’m pleasantly surprised that I’m still very much into it. The first half of this post is in English and the second half is in Indonesian.

Remember that I mentioned about CELTA and what I want to do after the 1-month solo trip back in 2013? Since 2009, I’ve been looking for another type of extra income gig that I’ll enjoy on top of my full-time job and to also maintain my financial health despite living in the most expensive city in the world (according to 2014 EIU Survey). After dipping my toes into some industries for several years, I finally found that teaching languages is the (current) answer to my restlessness. Beside teaching English to some Primary kids privately, I’ve started teaching Bahasa Indonesia to Adult Learners, both in classroom and 1-to-1 settings. Who would’ve thought that I’d teach my mother-tongue to the locals, Europeans and other nationalities in Singapore? It certainly didn’t cross my mind until early last year.

In January 2014, I chanced upon an opening for both part-time Indonesian and English language teacher at a language school. I immediately applied for both positions, as I was then qualified to teach them. One is my native language, and another one was my strongest 2nd language (not good enough to teach Mandarin yet, maybe one day *wishful thinking*). In the end, because I’m Indonesian and my results for language subjects were good, I joined the school as a part-time Indonesian language teacher. It was tough at first, since I didn’t have any experience in teaching my mother-tongue. After more than 1 year, I can finally write a summary of the challenges I’ve encountered so far. I’ll write this section in Bahasa Indonesia (for the English version, please use Google translate;P)


Catatan: Saya jarang sekali menulis dalam Bahasa Indonesia, bahkan cenderung tidak pernah. Kalau soal menulis, saya lebih suka mengekspresikan pikiran saya dalam Bahasa Inggris. Tapi mungkin kali ini, saya akan coba menjelaskan dalam Bahasa Indonesia, segala macam tantangan yang saya hadapi selama setahun belakangan ini. Saya periksa pemakaian kata disini –> http://kbbi.web.id/ dan suka membaca penjelasan dari web ini –> http://www.bahasakita.com/

Tantangan yang saya hadapi:

1) Mengajar Bahasa Indonesia formal (baku/resmi) atau informal (bahasa gaul).

Dalam percakapan sehari-hari, orang Indonesia sendiri jarang sekali memakai bahasa formal. Lebih sering memakai bahasa gaul/informal/slang dan kadang-kadang mencampurkan elemen bahasa Inggris ke dalam kalimat. Jadi pada saat saya mengajar, saya selalu kesusahan. Di satu sisi, saya harus mengikuti silabus yang sangat kuno dan penuh dengan bahasa formal yang jarang dipakai sehari-hari. Di sisi lain, saya ingin murid-murid saya latihan bicara Bahasa Indonesia yang sering dipakai. Bahasa sehari-hari akan lebih berguna pada saat mereka berkunjung ke Indonesia untuk bekerja atau liburan. Mereka bisa langsung menerapkan apa yang sudah dipelajari.

Jadi sekarang, saya tetap berusaha memperkenalkan versi formalnya di awal, sebelum kemudian mengajarkan versi sehari-harinya di akhir sesi.

2) Silabus yang perlu diperbaharui. Tapi belum ada waktu untuk merombaknya.

Silabus selalu menjadi bahan diskusi dan pertentangan. Tapi sejauh ini, kami, para guru, hanya bisa mengikuti apa yang sudah tersedia sambil menambahkan sendiri bahan yang sekiranya berguna untuk murid. Kami juga kadang harus mengubah materi menjadi lebih menarik untuk dipelajari dan menyesuaikan materi dengan kebutuhan murid. Baru-baru ini, saya meminta dukungan manajemen untuk mengubah silabus dan mereka sudah setuju. Tapi sekarang masalahnya, saya belum punya waktu untuk eksekusi. Setiap hari saya mengajar sampai malam, sulit sekali mencari waktu untuk mengubah silabus. Saya akan minta bantuan guru lain. Mereka juga sama sibuknya dengan saya. Bagaimana ini? *mumet*

3. Susunan kata dan pengaruh bahasa asing.

Saya selalu mengajarkan konsep “ayam goreng” kepada murid saya, Bahasa Indonesia dan Bahasa Inggris itu terbalik. “Fried chicken” akan menjadi “ayam goreng” dalam bahasa Indonesia, bukan “goreng ayam”. Konsep ini dan masih banyak lagi konsep tata bahasa yang lain akan selalu saya ulangi di kelas. Murid-murid biasanya sering salah menyusun kata, terbalik-balik dan terlalu banyak memakai terjemahan langsung ke Bahasa Inggris. Biasanya saya akan menjadi “badut” di kelas dan berusaha untuk tidak memakai terjemahan. Mereka harus berusaha berpikir dalam Bahasa Indonesia. Terkadang saya hanya meminta mereka menerjemahkan kata untuk memeriksa pemahaman kosakata yang sulit. Selebihnya, saya lebih suka memakai bahasa isyarat. Diusahakan 70-80% Bahasa Indonesia dan bahasa isyarat yang dipakai di kelas, sisanya Bahasa Inggris untuk menjelaskan tata bahasa yang susah.

Pada akhirnya, saya berharap proyek yang satu ini dapat saya kembangkan lagi di kemudian hari. Mungkin suatu hari nanti, saya bisa buka sekolah bahasa sendiri? Amin. Sekarang, (slang/colloquial) gue mau enjoy dulu aja deh, mau ngajar Bahasa Inggris atau Bahasa Indonesia, privat atau kelas, sama aja. Yang penting senang ^_^


That’s all folks. I just used the formal version of Indonesian in this post.

Maybe I should practice more and write more posts in Indonesian? Using slang/colloquial version?

Oh well, Happy August everyone!

Time really flies…



*in early holiday mood. 33 more days to turning 2-9 on 2-9. 42 more days to a long vacation. Woohooo!! ^_^

Throwback November

Hey there, it’s been a while since I last wrote a post here. Just feeling nostalgic now, particularly this November, hence the title “Throwback November”. Right about this time last year, I still remember vividly, how excited I was, preparing for my departure to do the CELTA at Auckland, New Zealand. It was an exciting, meaningful, freeing month for me. See the full post on how I decided to take the course, here and my experience, here. Fast forward 1 year later, up to TODAY, here are what happened afterwards:

1) Decided to pursue a part-time gig that’s more of my cup of tea, instead of property and other stuff I’ve got going on since 2009. So $$ factor is not the most important consideration anymore. I could trade my time and knowledge with a decent amount of $ (not tonnes of money, just decent) as long as I enjoy doing it.

2) As early as December last year, beside being busy going for my orthodontist appointment and started my braces journey (click here and here for stories and some ugly braces pictures;p), I applied for part-time classroom language teaching jobs.

3) Ended up with a 1-month in-house teacher training with one of the well-established language schools here. I submitted my application in hope that I could get a part-time English and/or Indonesian teaching job. That was in March.

4) One full month training and one class observation later, I got the job. Yay! Knew about it right after my ultimate adventure trip this year, click here for details of the adventure. After the trip, I was focusing more on building up my teaching experience. I just want to teach languages. And the cool thing is, I can attend other language lessons for free, as long as it doesn’t clash with my own teaching schedule.

5) And guess what, (un)fortunately, they’re more in need of an Indonesian teacher than a part-time English teacher.  I’m a native speaker of Indonesian and wasn’t ready to let go of my full time job yet. So twist and turn, somehow, I ended up teaching Bahasa Indonesia in a classroom. They asked me if I would be keen to switch to full time as an English and Indonesian language teacher after some time. That’s an option in the future. I’m seriously considering this. For now, the current arrangement is the best that I can get from both worlds (my full time to pay the bill, part-time as a hobby, for fun and keeping my brain active; beside that I found that playing volleyball regularly also makes me a happier person. Nothing beats a good afternoon sweat and release of endorphin after a great game)

So after 4 classes of module 1 for beginners, 1 private student and currently teaching a class of module 2 beginners, I found myself enjoying it so much. My brain is constantly challenged. I got to know some grammar points of my own native language that I didn’t even know how to explain to my students at first. I guess, because I grew up speaking it, just like the English native speakers I met during CELTA, the sentences come out so naturally that we don’t even think in terms of structure and grammar points. We just use the language. Apparently, it’s always the same problem for natives who teach their own language to other speakers, GRAMMAR problem. Students need those structures when learning a new language at the beginning and then they can practice speaking in a more natural way when the basic knowledge is acquired.

I start to appreciate Bahasa Indonesia even more now. I think it’s time for the language to shine and for us, native speakers, to speak better Bahasa Indonesia and be proud of it. I appreciate how flexible the language is and how the formal and conversational Bahasa Indonesia can be very different. It’s challenging to teach it…but it’s FUN at the same time. I never know that there are quite a number of Westerners (the Bules) and locals here who are interested in learning Bahasa Indonesia. It’s fascinating!!

Now, I’m finding my way to brush up my Mandarin and English to native level (all skills: writing, speaking, reading, listening) so that one day, I could teach them too, be amazed by how much my students have improved over time and hopefully, have my own language center/school one day!!

Okay, enough daydreaming…one project at a time. Slow down, wake up and let’s float back from Wonderland, shall we?

With love,


–  no urge to share my life lately, mentally occupied by lesson plans, physically occupied by weekly volleyball game and some outings here and there. At least 1 blog post a month will do:) Keep it rolling girl! 


The whole shelf of Indonesian language textbooks that I found in Kinokuniya. When looking for inspiration, I’ll go there and browse the books. I’ve been recommending these books to management and hopefully they’re in the library soon!

PS: Kayaknya aku harus post pake Bahasa Indonesia deh dalam waktu dekat ini. Bakal ngerasa aneh gak ya, nulis dalam Bahasa Indonesia? Mending formal atau pake bahasa gaul ya? heemmm…ejaannya aja dah gak bener nih!!

5 Things I’ve Learned from My First Solo Adventure

Hey everybody,

I’m back from my first solo adventure!!! ^___^ *pat myself on the back, hip hip hooray. I’m a SURVIVOR*

I’ve been away for 1 month and have finally completed the CELTA course. The first 2 days back at work, my colleagues have been very sweet and I’ve heard lots of ‘you’re back’ from all of them. They probably missed me so much eh? Wishful thinking…;p. Normally, after a long break, you’ll be swamped by lots of work and emails, but *luckily* it’s not the case here. I’m still getting over my jet lag and had to sleep for 9-10 hours yesterday night. Feeling refreshed now, I’m gonna complete this post.

As mentioned in my previous post here, I’m finally on track to fulfill my personal ambition to take this course, Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (Speakers of Other Languages).  It feels like I just left for Auckland yesterday and now I’m back in Singapore again. November has been an intense month filled with assignments and new things to learn every single day. Overall, it’s been a great and fruitful journey that I’ll remember for a very long time.

So here we go. The 5 things I’ve learned about myself, teaching English as a career and Auckland:

1. Everything about the course has been an eye-opener.

This course is filled with fun and useful lessons. I learned how to do lesson planning, how to increase my English language awareness (grammar and stuff) and how to teach real-life students through the 6-hour Teaching Practice (TP) session. In four weeks, I taught 2 different level of English learners, Pre-Intermediate & Upper Intermediate students. The students are from many different nationalities: Japan, Korea, Hongkong, Chile, Venezuela, Russia, Brazil, Slovakia and etc. They were enthusiastic and lovely students. Apart from all those, we also had 5 assignments: Assignment 1 – focus on learners, Assignment 2a and 2b – analysis of grammar and vocab, phonology, Assignment 3 – lesson planning and teaching my authentic material (chose Sara Bareilles’ song: Brave. Love this song!!), Assignment 4 –  reflections on my teaching style and area of improvement.

Because this course was so intensive with loads of things to do, I couldn’t bring myself to travel around every weekend or after class. Everyday was like this (including weekends): wake up and shower-go to school-necessary lessons-break time(=do whatever I need to do at school to prepare for my lessons and research for assignment)-quick lunch (which involves, sandwiches and instant noodle)-teaching practice-feedback session-climb back to my hostel (steep street)dinner at Japanese restaurant next door-back in my room to do lesson plan or assignment-next day repeat..Haha:)

Well, it was all worth it though. From the start, I knew what I’d signed up for so I was prepared to give my best effort. Main focus was just to study. And I’m very proud of myself for keeping this promise to myself. Yaaaaay…..:)

Breaking news: right at the end of the course, I learned that I got a PASS B. FYI, 4% will get Pass A, 20% will get a PASS B, the rest will be just a PASS. And there were only 10 of us in this course. Not bad eh? Well done Sien!! ^_^

CELTA cert (front)

2. The new friends I made while I was there.

By default, I’m an introvert who needs time to warm up with new people and environment. So my first week in Auckland, apparently, I gave out this first impression to everyone that I’m a shy, timid and soft-spoken girl. It was a hectic first week in which I tried to reduce the amount of workload to manageable chunks of things to do. Burnt my first weekend and it was the right thing to do. By the end of second week, I felt so much more comfortable with this new city and living environment that my classmates thought I’d changed to a whole new person. They started comparing the ‘new Linsien’ with the ‘old Linsien’. I was very amused by this. Hahaha…guys, the new me is the real me. Sometimes serious, sometimes fun-loving, I can throw some witty jokes at times, I love to organize gathering with my close friends and spend quality time with my beloved and I also live by my own rules of conduct and strive to respect everyone. Free spirited soul, I am.

Thank you so much for your kind words and for being my wonderful classmates, guys. I’ll surely miss all of you and all the very best for our future:)

from CELTA classmates 20131129_121134

3. Auckland city and beyond.

The first thing that I noticed from this new city was how the streets are very hilly. I needed to climb quite a steep slope just to get to my hostel and by the end of the course, I could maintain my weight.  All thanks to the walking path that I took everyday. This morning, my colleague even said that I was getting a little bit slimmer, though I’m not sure to which portion of my body she’s referring to:p. Anyway, I also like the weather in Auckland. November was supposed to be a transition period from spring to summer season. But then, it felt like spring to me. It was rainy and windy. I’d need to wear my jacket and brace myself for the strong morning breeze every time I stepped out of the hostel. The sunrise was at 6am and only set when it’s around 8pm, currently they are 5 hours ahead of Singapore.

Below are the pictures of my room, the Japanese restaurant just next door, bookstore with Christmas decoration at Queen street and the Auckland city Sky Tower.

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Whitcoulls xmas deco Skytower Auckland

4. A day off at Waiheke island and Auckland suburbs.

Finally, after last Wednesday, there was no more teaching practice or assignment for me. I’ve started to relax and found some time to watch the Hunger Games – Catching Fire with my classmates on Wednesday night, met a friend on Thursday night, went for a drink at Viaduct Harbour and chilled out at Mission Bay on Friday afternoon. On Saturday, I finally went for my long-awaited short trip to Waiheke island for my little zipline adventure in the morning. In the afternoon, I had lunch and dinner trips in Papakura and Manukau with my dear classmate, her daughter and cousin.  It was a very well-deserved day off before I caught my flight on Sunday morning.

Here are the pictures I took while I’m on the ferry to Waiheke island, on my zipline adventure (vineyard view as my background) and at Stampede while drooling on my delicious Angus steak on stone grill lunch ^_^


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Angus steak

5. The big question: what’s next?

Almost everyone who knows that I’m taking this course asked me this question: “What’s next?”. Well, let me share with you what’s next.

Based on this 1-month experience and stories from my fellow classmates and helpful tutors, I came to the hard-truth conclusion that I should forgo the option to become an English teacher with the public school (attached to MOE) and perhaps look for part-time teaching opportunity in the private school or language center. So I’ll probably add on classroom teaching to my current once-a-week private tuition gig. That’s the plan for now and hopefully I’ll enjoy the ride as much as I’ve enjoyed my one-month CELTA course in Auckland.

So now, as I’m ticking one more box off my bucket list, I’m screaming at the top of my lungs:


Folks, moral of the story:

“If there’s anything that you’ve always wanted to do since a very long time ago, just ignore the yadda yadda talks in your head and take the first step. After that, with the right amount of effort, just do it and believe that everything will fall into the right place.”

That’s all from me for now. Til’ the next post then.



How did I decide to take one-month break from work to take CELTA?

Hello Folks,

Another sharing session. I’m pouring out my chain of thought, doubt and hope into this blog post because I want to make more sense out of my complicated mind and get a clearer wide-angle view of my own decision-making process *pun intended*. I’m writing this just five days before I leave for CELTA course at Auckland, New Zealand. Super nervous and excited right now!!!

Let’s do this in FAQ format, OK?

Q: Yeah yeah, I know you’re excited.  But wait, I don’t understand. What is this CELTA thing? Why in Auckland?

A: Oh haha, it’s a long story. I don’t want to dwell on my old posts. You can read them in my old blog here and here and here. In summary, I have considered taking Certificate of English Language Teaching to Speaker of Other Languages since Feb 2010. I know, I know…it’s freaking 2013 now, what took you so long???

Actually, I’ve secured a spot in this course since Nov 2012 and have purposely selected either Nov or Dec 2013 schedule. I wanted to save enough annual leave and $ first after Taiwan and Australia trips in May. In the end, I chose Nov 2013 course and will be taking a mix of annual and unpaid leaves. It’s a short break from work.

Why Auckland, NZ? Well, this course is offered in a lot of countries. I was deciding between OZ or NZ and then just because SGD and NZD was almost at 1-to-1 when I applied, I finally chose the cheaper currency. I figured that it will be more useful if I take this teaching course abroad, as I will be forced to use proper English with zero mixture of Hokkien/Malay/Mandarin.

Q: Oh I got you now, but you haven’t answered my question. Why wait for 3 years? What took you so long just to decide on a 4-week course?

A: I’ve been procrastinating for as long as I can with these excuses: “Ugh oh, I haven’t paid off my student loan yet. I can’t waste money to take this course. Besides, I haven’t decided on my focus yet. I don’t know what my passion is”, “Oh well, I can’t. I don’t have enough annual leave. I don’t think I want to sacrifice by taking unpaid leaves. Better use the money to travel twice a year and save for emergency fund”, “Oh it will be difficult to apply for this course, I’m a non-native English speaker, can I become a good English teacher? Just stay with your Engineering job. It’s comfortable right? Just take home your pay, save it for the future, travel occasionally and life’s good. Why take the trouble of learning how to teach? and yadda yadda yadda…..BUNCH OF EXCUSES!!! 

THANKFULLY, I’ve overcome the excuses above and here I am, feeling so excited and scared at the same time. Though it’s only a 4-week course, I hope I can get a glimpse of English teaching world and help me on my future decision making: to decide on my long term career focus and build a slash career (will elaborate more in my next post).

Q: Wow, I see. It’s not that easy making this decision. So after the course, do you want to be an English Teacher? Full Time? Part Time? Where? What will happen to your Engineering job? You’ve been working there for five years, isn’t this your time to move on? But why would you leave when you’re so comfortable there (with nice colleagues and familiar job)?

A: Seriously, I don’t know! That’s why I’m off to NZ and study to discover more. It has been my hidden ambition for almost four years now: making use of my flair in languages to do meaningful work. I have considered translation/interpreter work before but didn’t dare to take the necessary steps. I’m more confident in teaching English than any other languages (my Mandarin is not up to par to teach anyone yet). Any suggestion/advice folks? I’m an Indonesian citizen currently holding a permanent resident in Singapore. I was told many years ago that I have a slight American accent. I really hope that I still have it in me after so many years living in Singapore and working in mixed language environment. I’ll prove it to myself in the upcoming month and do my very best!

Friends, wish me luck!! 🙂



Dream Priority Making changes Talent Oh well... Three Simple Rules in Life Leaving your comfort zone Loving your decision Wherever you go, go with all your heart