Sane At Home Mom

Hunkering Down: Learning the Indonesian Language Week 2


Let’s Start With A True Story

This week’s work commenced last Saturday when, while visiting a nearby mall, I told my husband “jangan bantu saya, mau berlatih bahasa indonesia saya” (do not help me, I want to practice my Indonesian).

I went in to a store selling women’s accessories and, as expected, was approached by the attendant. She was explaining something about an ongoing promotion, which I understood by just focusing on key words (and the promotional signs). I asked something in my broken Indonesian, she realized I didn’t speak the language and, as I have observed many times in the past, answered by speaking so very fast that all I understood was the language’s signature rolling “R” 😳

Good Lord, help me. Whenever this happens, I want to revert to English so that it’s them having the headache, not me! (That’s my frustrated reaction).

But I soldiered on.

I asked her to please speak slowly, that I was still learning the language – all this in perfect Indonesian because by now this phrase is burned into my brain. Her reaction was one I interpreted to be akin to mockery, complete with that side-smile and downcast eyes. She then removed herself from the scene/situation ☹️

Now, I am not saying they all react discouragingly like this (although I do remember another store attendant who also attended to me with an air of annoyance). I don’t know what that lady’s problem was or what she was thinking at the time. Although I managed to walk out that store with 2 sets of lovely earrings (and 2 bracelets for my eldest), I spent a good part of the weekend feeling disheartened.

Jeez, it sure feels like “arse” to feel incompetent like that.


Here’s how the rest of week 2 went:


Lesson 49. Done!


Lesson 50 & 51. Done!

The cleaning lady praises my efforts for learning the language. She calls me “pandai” (smart/clever). She goes as far as to compare me with other expat wives who go back to their home countries with nada an Indonesian word under their belts.

Finally some encouragement!

I feel like I’m Wonder Woman 😀

Image result for wonder woman she can do it


Lesson 52 & 53. Done!


Something unpleasant happened the evening before. So today I just want to soak my brain in positivity and possibility.

And knit.


It took me all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to go back and tackle lesson 54 again.

Image result for minion tired

Week 2 Conclusion:

On speaking with the locals ~ Most of the time, my frustration is that they don’t speak slowly when they reply. They only try to choose other words to explain the same thing but this just confuses me even more. They appreciate the effort I make, but it’s as though they get self-conscious when they respond that they just want to get it over with by speaking very fast and leaving it at that. And if the person being spoken to happens to know a bit of English, he will respond in English so that I am no better off than when I started.

But, I am fortunate to have a cleaning lady who knows enough English for us to be able to communicate. She’ll be taking on a more active role in this process moving forward 😁

On studying:

It still feels like punishment.


… to week 3, and beyond!

31 thoughts on “Hunkering Down: Learning the Indonesian Language Week 2”

  1. Yes, like I’ve said before, learning a new language is very difficult. It seems that sometimes people in other countries are not used to accommodating foreigners, or just don’t have the patience to do so. And, think about it, have you ever gotten frustrated at someone who spoke English in such a heavy accent that you could not understand them? Anyway, keep plugging away, and hopefully those ladies in the retail shops will come around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! Although, I think I have the pronunciation down pat, at least well enough to have received positive feedback about it from locals themselves. What I’ve learned from this experience is that it’s best to have a speaking partner, someone who is prepared & willing to help. Maybe that sales lady was having a bad day and just didn’t have it in her to be patient at that moment. In a way, I was accosting her. I get that. But it still sucks 😟 A language learning partner will also ensure your confidence remains intact.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Just keep on practicing. It is such a good attitude that you try to speak in stores and wish them to speak slower. Do not be frustrated if they in turn do not do so and start speaking English. At some point you will reach your goal with your motivation. Keep on!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paardje you are doing awesome! I’m a retired language teacher (Spanish and English as a Second Language) and you are doing it right! The main thing is not to be intimidated and just get out there and speak to people! Sounds like your cleaning lady is going to be a great help to you in this endeavor. Language is so much fun once you get into it! Keep ip the good work! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Go, Paardje! You can do this 🙂 Unfortunately, bigots and snobs reside in every country and some countries seem to have a… rather larger amount of them than some. Don’t let that stop you, though.
    And hey, you’ve got a built-in help with the language in your lovely cleaning lady.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha … indeed there are 🙂 This is something most language learning outfits fail to mention though, and because of my experience, I feel that they should. Clarifying expectations would lessen the blow, at the very least, the learner will come to the same conclusion, that she’s better off with someone who’s been appropriately warned 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement, K ❤


    1. Hi Opat 🙂 Thank you for reaching out to me (lagi) 🙂 Are you coming back to Batam sometime soon? I need you to teach me Indonesian. LOL! XD I was in Jakarta last March. I plan to go back there sometime soon, if you have time maybe I can buy you a cup of coffee ❤ Anyway, thanks so much for giving me a link to your pretty new blog 🙂


      1. Hi Paardje, yes please do let me know when you’re in Jakarta, saya mau bertemu 🙂
        We can have a coffee and perhaps Indonesian lesson LOL. Thanks for dropping by to my new blog 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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