Here we provide information and lists of select materials and resources in different formats and platforms that could be useful to support and sustain your Bahasa Indonesia study.
The recommended resources are not meant to be comprehensive but rather to make you aware of various available options, or get you started on finding study materials that suit your interests and learning preferences.
Keep in mind that some of the listed materials are not free or for subscribers only (indicated with the $ sign), and links on this webpage will take you to outside sites.
Teaching & Learning eTextbooks and Audio Files
Free textbooks, workbooks, story books, audio files, and tests for all levels of proficiency
- Bahasa Indonesia Penutur Asing (BIPA): Indonesian database of study materials. To download materials: click on “Belajar BIPA”, select a material to download, fill out your name and email (“posel”) on the online form, then click “simpan”
- Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC): 274 Indonesian reading and listening lessons covering various topics. A quiz is available at the end of each lesson.
- Live Lingua: 44 ebooks and 190 audio files for Bahasa Indonesia learners
- Ayo Membaca: Interactive reading lessons
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Grammar Reference Book
Did you know?
The Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Washington DC offers free online language courses every spring and some summers and falls. You can find their language programs’ schedules here
While textbooks are traditionally considered the go-to materials to learn languages, we encourage you to explore other forms of materials or resources in Bahasa Indonesia (podcasts, apps, movies and others) that are easily accessible using your devices.
Because of the availability and accessibility of different online platforms, integrating Bahasa Indonesia language-learning into your daily life has become easier than ever! You can have an Indonesian movie night with your friends using Netflix, listen to Indonesian podcasts or songs available on Spotify while jogging, order novels in Bahasa Indonesia from Amazon, or learn about current events in Indonesia by following VOA Indonesia on Instagram.
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You can access Indonesian movies using popular streaming platforms, such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu. Click on the link of each title to either watch the trailer or read its description.
Netflix ($) has many Indonesian movies and TV shows that you can watch with Bahasa Indonesia audio and/or subtitles. Below are some examples, a more updated list can be found here
- This Earth of Mankind
- The Night Comes for Us
- Ali & Ratu Ratu Queens
- Kartini Princess of Java
- Habibie & Ainun
On Amazon Prime Video ($), you can rent or purchase Indonesian movies for $4 or $5. Some examples of Indonesian movies available on Prime Video are:
YouTube is a great platform to watch Indonesian short films and classic Indonesian movies for free. Many of the short movies are in local dialects or the Javanese language, but most have Indonesian subtitles. Below are several examples:
Classic Indonesian movies available on YouTube include those starring Warkop (the most famous Indonesian comedy troupe of all time) and Suzzanna (the “horror queen of Indonesian cinema”):
Books, newspapers, and magazines
A great way to access Indonesian books, magazines, and newspapers in digital format is using Gramedia Digital app ($)*, available on Apple App Store and Google Play. While the majority of their reading materials are not free, most of them are between $1 and $5.
For beginner learners, you can start with Indonesian children’s weekly magazines, such as Bobo and Mombi, or hundreds of selections of children’s books, including Pangeran Cilik (The Little Prince). Once you become more advanced, you can begin to try to read newspaper, books, and magazines depending on your interests. The app provides access to various local and national magazines and newspaper. If you like reading newspapers, Kompas is the most popular and well-written newspaper in Indonesia. Tempo, National Geographic Indonesia, and Forbes Indonesia are some popular magazines in the country as well.
You can also access some Indonesian language school textbooks (from primary school to high school) for free by typing “Bahasa Indonesia Kelas … (1 to 12).” These textbooks are great materials to improve your reading skills gradually based on the school’s standard in Indonesia. If you are just beginning to learn Bahasa Indonesia, you should check the textbook from the first or second grade first.*
For newspapers and magazines, you can also explore their website contents for free or pay for digital subscription.
The sites below are also great resources to learn about current events in Bahasa Indonesia for free.
If you prefer to read printed materials, UW-Madison library has many Indonesian books available. Check the PL 5076 to PL 5089 self in the Memorial Library. Few examples of famous Indonesian books available there are:
- Bumi Manuasia by Ananta Pramoedya Toer (Memorial Library: Stacks Regular Size Shelving PL5089 T8 B85)
- Laskar Pelangi by Andrea Hirata (Memorial Library: Stacks Regular Size Shelving PL5089 H66 L37 2008)
- Lelaki Harimau by Eka Kurniawan (Memorial Library: Stacks Regular Size Shelving PL5089 K78 L4 2004)
- Sitti Nurbaya by M. Rusli (Memorial Library: Stacks Regular Size Shelving PL5089 R8 S5 1982)
- Negeri 5 Menara by Ahmad Fuadi (Memorial Library: Stacks Regular Size Shelving PL5089 F94 N3 2009)
Additionally, you can order some Indonesian edition books from Amazon:
- Rantau 1 Muara by Ahmad Fuadi ($)
- 5cm by Donny Dhirgantoro ($)
- The Alchemist by Paulo Cuelho (Indonesian Edition) ($)
- The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie (Indonesian Edition) ($)
- Range by David Epstein (Indonesian Edition) ($)
*You might get failed purchase or download notifications from Gramedia Digital when you try to download free materials from the app. If you encounter such issue, go to your library page, then click on the “Cloud” option, and you should be able to download the free materials from there.
Podcasts & Songs
Indonesian songs and podcasts are widely available on music streaming platforms, especially Spotify ($). Below are some examples of Indonesian podcasts and song playlists that you can access on Spotify:
Podcasts are great for learning how Indonesians, especially in the capital city area or Jakarta, talk with each other because many of them are in the form of conversation or discussion between people, and they are updated regularly. These podcasts below are some popular titles among young Indonesians nowadays. For more, check out Indonesia Podcast Chart.
- Thirty days of Lunch : Productivity, career, business, and self-development lessons from famous Indonesians
- Makna Talks : Interviews with well-known Indonesians; Mix of English and Bahasa Indonesia
- Malam Kliwon : Fun-horror stories
- Teman Tidur : Stories before bed, mostly monologues related to relationships
If you are interested in current events and would like to get your daily updates in Bahasa Indonesia, these are great options for you:
- VOA This Morning Podcast – Voice of America | Bahasa Indonesia : US & world news in Bahasa Indonesia
- Dunia Pagi ini BBC Indonesia : Indonesian and world news in Bahasa Indonesia
- SBS Bahasa Indonesia : Australian & world news in Bahasa Indonesia
While podcasts are wonderful media to improve listening skill, it can be difficult to understand even for advanced Bahasa Indonesia learners. For those in the beginner and intermediate levels, you might want to start listening to children stories’ podcasts to get you started. Two examples of children podcasts in Bahasa Indonesia are:
- Dongeng Pilihan Orang Tua : Children Stories
- Dongeng Anak Masa Kini : Indonesian folks and fairytales
- Indonesian Hits 2000 – 2021 : Popular Indonesian songs from 2000 up to the present
- Lagu Kenangan Tempo 70-80an : Indonesian songs from the 70s and 80s
- Lagu Daerah Indonesia (Indonesian traditional songs)
- Top 50 – Indonesia : Most popular streamed songs in Indonesia (can include non-Indonesian songs as well)
Besides short films and classic movies, you can watch live TV shows, documentaries, and recorded language lessons on Youtube.
Live TV (Advanced)
- Nickelodeon Bahasa (cartoon channel)
- Kompas TV (news-oriented network)
- NET TV (family-oriented programming)
Documentary & News (Intermediate & Advanced)
Language Lessons (Beginner)
Social media could also be a platform to support your language learning. You should follow accounts and pages from Indonesia so that you receive some feeds in Bahasa Indonesia. The accounts of credible sources, such as VOA Indonesia (@voaindonesia), BBC Indonesia (@bbcindonesia), National Geographic Indonesia (@natgeoindonesia), are great to follow to receive news updates in Bahasa Indonesia on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
Depending on your interests, accounts of non-profit organizations that have operations in Indonesia, as an example, WWF Indonesia (@wwf_id), are also worth checking or following.
In addition, accounts like @languagestudiesindonesia on Instagram upload short Indonesian language learning videos on regular basis.
Lastly, Indonesian Embassy in Washington DC (@IndonesiainDC) has social media accounts where you can get updates related to Indonesian language, culture, news, and events from the Indonesian Embassy.
Language Learning Apps & Tools
You may find these apps below helpful to improve your Indonesian language skills.
Travel, Arts & Culture
If you want to learn more about places, arts and culture in Indonesia or maybe simply need an extra dose of motivation to study Bahasa Indonesia, check out Wonderful Indonesia’s website , Youtube channel, or Instagram page (@Indonesia.travel). Also, Google Arts & Culture has a beautifully curated page, Wonders of Indonesia, dedicated for people interested in learning about Indonesia.
If you are interested in learning to navigate Javanese customs and traditions in Indonesia, check out the Culture App. It provides different possible scenarios that you may encounter while visiting Indonesia, complete with cultural explanations to those situations. Examples of scenarios, including shaking hands, somebody commenting on your body weight, and responding to invitations. To access the free content, you need to create an account by simply providing your email address.
These resources are all in English, but the option for Bahasa Indonesia is available for the Wonderful Indonesia’s website.
*This page is merely intended to showcase some resources and options available for Indonesian language learners. We neither receive any contract money from applications/sites/apps featured on this page nor are responsible for troubleshooting any issues that you might encounter while using the suggested resources.
If you think we should feature additional resources to this site, please send an email to email@example.com for consideration to be included.
Samto was one of our Language Partners for the IFLI program in summer 2021. He is a native Indonesian speaker who grew up in Sulawesi Island, then lived in Sumatra Island for 6 years. He developed a strong interest in intercultural exchange in high school while participating in the U.S. State Department’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program that sent him to Eureka, CA, for a year. Currently, Samto is pursuing a graduate study in geography at UW-Madison because he is passionate about countries, cities, and maps.