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!!

My 10220th Day on Earth is Coming

It’s been an AWESOME and EVENTFUL year for me. Right around this time of the year, I’ll usually have an annual self-reflection. I’m looking back on my amazing year so far and planning for a better one ahead. My birthday is coming. 27 going on 28. And I feel that I have accomplished so much this year. It’s now the time to sit back, relax, enjoy the routine, define my goals, plan for the next baby steps and prepare for a-whole-month celebration in September!! ^_^

I’ve been keeping a daily log of my activities and expenses since 2010. So if I ever need to look back on what I did this time last year or figure out what my weekend activities were, I’ll just retrieve the information in my wonderful excel file (I talked about it here).

While referring to the file, let’s reminisce the moments month by month….

Sep 2013

Started my 27th with a short getaway to Bintan with my younger brother and sister. Had a belated birthday dinner and BBQ with close friends.


Oct 2013

Prepared for CELTA (here’s how I decided to take CELTA) and kicked start my blogging journey again (the 1st post here).

Nov 2013

One of the best moments in my life (summary of my CELTA experience here). After this whole experience, there’s one thing that I needed so badly. That is the extra COURAGE to make a choice, move forward and never look back. I was still in a limbo at this point of time and even until today (9 months later), I’m still testing the waters. Don’t have the courage to let go of my current status quo yet. What should I do?

group photo @mission bay

Dec 2013

After a month away, I returned home to endless orthodontist appointments, wisdom teeth surgery & extraction to prepare for my braces journey. I talked about it extensively here. Beauty is still in the eyes of the beholder.

Jan 2014

The new year means new hair color, new accessories on my teeth, new journey to get new part-time gig. I was asked to deliver a toast at my close friend’s wedding and was asked to become a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding this coming September.


Feb 2014

Attended 2 weddings in a week, was slowly getting used to my new ritual of brushing my teeth after every meal and started taking pictures of my teeth every Tuesday just to monitor the progress. I was doing my usual hiking and cycling activities every other weekend in this month.

Mar 2014

Started the 1-month training for part-time and made a huge financial commitment together as a family. Two major financial commitments this year will certainly tie me down until around Dec 2015 and Sept 2016. I wish it could be shorter than that, especially for my braces. Another 1 year to go? Hopefully? I know it’s for the best. Perseverance is the key. Meanwhile, continue to take care of my health and physical fitness while saving up the $ for short getaways and adventure trips.

Apr 2014

Prepared for my ultimate adventure trip to Lombok at the end of April: hiking Mount Rinjani and diving at Gili Islands (full summary of this travel log can be found here). I was climbing the staircase at my workplace everyday for 1 month (equivalent to 10 floors of an HDB flat) in addition to my hiking routes at Macritchie Reservoir during the weekends. It was a last-minute kind of preparation. Luckily, I survived the grueling climb to the mountain top.

May 2014

End of adventure trip, eventually conquered Mount Rinjani and went scuba diving for the first time in my life. Awesome experiences in a short 8D7N trip. After that, my part-time officially started and I only have free me-time for 2 weeknights. Weekends are usually for other activities (how NOT to become a boring person). Monday, Wednesday and Thursday were for my part-time. It’s totally fun and a good way for me to learn new things while doing what I like: languages, analyzing and dissecting the language. Teaching a language really reminds me of how much I love learning foreign languages. It’s challenging my over-active brain.

Jun 2014

My full-time and part-time are on-going. Learning and having fun at the same time. Attended a friend’s beautiful wedding in Bandung (a short getaway with my girlfriends), back to volleyball and cycling after a 2-month hiatus.

Jul 2014

The 6th month of my braces journey (21 July), parents visit for my sister’s convocation and another visit from a distant friend. Reached new milestones and had so much fun. I started following the Beginner’s workout calendar in Blogilates and eating more regular healthy home-cooked meals (especially breakfast & dinner).  For the past 3 months, I was so busy living my life that I hardly had the time to sit down and write a blog post. Is that good or bad? Whenever my mind goes for an overdrive, I can’t resist the urge to write anyway (like what I’m doing now)…so I guess it’s fine to have writer’s block once in a while.

July was also an eventful month for my home country, Indonesia. Presidential election month and we’ve voted for the first non-related-to-Soeharto-and-his-gang President-elect, Mr Jokowi. My fb wall feed was filled with the election news and hot debates on politics. Five years ago, I didn’t care. This year, I’ve exercised my right to vote and hoping for a better Indonesia in the next five years. I’m doing my small part for the country now, serving as a part-time Bahasa Indonesia teacher to all the foreigners who want to learn. Getting the hang of it and having fun in the classroom. I’ll slowly move on to teaching English in a classroom one day (still thinking of a way to improve my skill and put it to practice).

Aug 2014

Off to Penang for another short getaway (probably the last one for this year. But I might have a short family getaway at the end of this year! Brother is coming to TOWN!! Yaaaay^__^) and also here I am, offloading my mind from this ridiculous amount of ideas and thoughts to this blog post. I’ve got this sudden burst of ideas this morning and just decided to write them all as my self-reflection post. How lovely it feels looking back on what I’ve done this year. Just needed an assurance from myself that I’ve done my best in life so far.


Ironically, on my 10220th day on earth, I’ve got no plan yet. It’s probably going to be just another weekday. Fortunately, I’ve got plans for the rest of the year up my sleeve and they’re currently brewing excitedly inside my restless mind.

In summary, LIFE IS TOO SHORT to be spent on worries and regrets and forever going with the flow with no specific purpose in life. I believe in finding my purpose, making plans, executing them and THEN I’ll go with the flow after I’ve done my part. We should always strive to be a better person and choose what’s best for ourselves and our loved ones. For me, I want to live healthily and happily doing whatever I want in life with integrity.

Birthday wishes (H-20):

1) Stay healthy and fit (applicable to myself, my family members and my close friends).

2) Be happier with where I am in life: career, finance and personal development. Never stop learning and trying new stuff.

3) When I’m happy and ready to open my heart, I wish that I could be blessed with a best-friend and lover who will accept me for who I am and is willing to let me into his life. Sharing dreams, goals and a bright future together. As of now, I’m happy being single.  Do refer to my previous thoughts on love and marriage.

After a long-winded flashback, let’s go back to living the real life!

Ciao!! ^___^