Speak and Thou Shalt Hear

“I never learn anything from conversations with my Indonesian colleagues or other Indonesians. They speak far too fast and I just can't understand a word they're saying - not a word. That's why I've given up even trying to speak Bahasa Indonesia in my day-to-day life."

Yes, we hear you . . . just as we've heard thousands of other LSI students before you.

But, at the risk of sounding "cold-hearted," we must tell you that we're not particularly sympathetic to the problem.  In our view, it's just one more excuse students use to throw in the towel and give up on their Indonesian language studies.


What if we told you that your listening skills in Bahasa Indonesia are directly related to how much you speak Bahasa Indonesia?   


Would it shock you to know that you'll hear more Bahasa Indonesia if you speak more Bahasa Indonesia?


This may seem illogical, but it's true!  Speak more and you'll hear more. To illustrate the point, consider this :


When you first started your Indonesian language studies, you were introduced to the most common Indonesian phrases: selamat pagi, terima kasih, apa kabar? etc. Do you have any trouble hearing these phrases when an Indonesian uses them? Of course you don't. Why not?


Because you speak these phrases many times, each and every day.  As a consequence, you've become extremely familiar with the phrases and you yourself speak them very quickly.  Therefore, you can always hear them when Indonesians use them . . . regardless of their accent, regardless of how clearly or accurately they say the words, and regardless of how quickly they speak.


On the other hand, you may find it more challenging to hear a rupiah amount when it's blurted out quickly by the cashier at the supermarket.  Is this because you don't understand Indonesian numbers? No, you probably know your numbers very well.

The problem is that you're not speaking numbers every day. As a consequence, you haven't become as familiar with numbers as you have with common phrases, and you've never learned to speak numbers quickly.  Therefore, it's not easy for you to hear numbers when they're spoken quickly by others.


The lesson for today is a simple one :

You don't need to tell Indonesians to slow down their speaking. You need to speed up your listening. To do that, just speak more!


The more you speak, the more familiar you'll become with the phrases you're using. The more familiar you become with the phrases you're using, the quicker you'll speak them. And the quicker you speak them, the easier it will become to hear them when they're spoken quickly by others.


Your ability to hear the language will grow with familiarity. And familiarity will grow with repeated usage. Put simply: SPEAK MORE AND YOU'LL HEAR MORE.


Selamat belajar, happy studying.

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