MyIndo.com Article Republished in Warta WILTA
by Farah 'Fairy' Mahdzan
Posted on 16 April 2007 | Readers Comments
From my course of running MyIndo.com, I befriended a very friendly group of Australians from Perth and boy, are they enthusiastic about learning Bahasa Indonesia and its culture. And it is to no wonder, they are actually teachers teaching the language at primary and secondary school levels!
One of these teachers, Penny Coutas, wrote me back in December to request permission to republish one of MyIndo.com's most visited articles: the infamous "Don't Call Them Indon" piece that generated endless heated debates from readers from both sides of the argument (Malaysia vs Indonesia).
I happily obliged.
The "Indon" article recently appeared in the Term 1 2007 issue of the Westralian Indonesian Language Teachers' Association newsletter, or Warta WILTA. (Phew, what a mouthful!) :o)
You will find my article in pages 24 & 25 of the publication:
"Don't Call Them Indon" (pages 24-25)
Front cover of Term 1 issue of Warta WILTA 2007. Pictured is a Google map of the various locations of WILTA members in Western Australia.
If you'd like to read the Warta WILTA newsletter in its entirety, please download a copy here (5.2MB PDF file). Terima kasih Penny for allowing me to make it available to all MyIndo.com readers.
Can Indonesian be taught in Malaysia?
This was an interesting question posed by Warta WILTA to its audience at the end of the "Indon" article.
Going to Indonesia to learn Indonesian is now largely perceived as unsafe by Australians due to the torrent of tragedies that have hit Indonesia in recent years, both natural (think tsunami in Aceh and Jogjakarta) and man-made (car bombings in Bali and Jakarta). Due to this, more parents and teachers grow increasingly uncomfortable about letting their kids and students visit Indonesia for field trips and homestay programs. Travel advisories from authorities discouraging Australians from visiting the neighboring archipelago just seem to further strengthen this fear.
Thus this raises the possibility that Indonesian language students from Australia could go visit relatively safer Malaysia for this educational purpose. I believe this idea is largely based on the perception that Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia are similar enough that you could pull off learning the former language in the latter country.
While the idea might seem amusing, it is not entirely dismissable. Regardless of geographical location, one is quite capable of mastering a foreign language given a very fluent-speaking teacher, ideally native for maximal impact. The major components one would miss out on are mainly the authentic surroundings and cultural environment that come from being in the actual country of where the language originates.
Hence if this idea was to be pursued, the Australian-Indonesian teachers could work with the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to develop such a program and liase with the two Indonesian primary and secondary schools that currently exist in the Malaysian capital city.
However logically speaking, if you were to think like a purist, the Australian teachers should consider learning Bahasa Malaysia and the Malay culture instead if their students were to actually be in Malaysia. The possible hindrance to this is having to setup a completely new language program, specifically a Malay one.
My closing thoughts are these: some may think Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia are the same but it would be ignorant to continue thinking so. Although the root of these two languages stem mainly from Malay, I personally feel that they bear enough differences to warrant separate language and cultural courses. I believe that as an Indonesian language student, you would not experience the true feeling of being in Indonesia while in Malaysia. You would benefit more from learning Bahasa Malaysia and indulging in the culture and nuance that Malaysia has to offer. And I as a Malaysian would certainly want you to do so. :-)