Realian' Experience: How Peter deal with Indonesians by learning Indonesian language
As a native speaker of English, I didn’t realise how lucky I was until I studied my own language. Further study in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) underlined the wide range of inconsistencies in English and the difficulties faced by second language learners.
My delight in learning Indonesian, which is phonetic, non-tonal and has the same alphabet as English, is hard to describe. Furthermore, the consistency of grammar, which is so logical, makes it an ‘easy’ language to learn.
My ‘journey’ began in 1977 when I spent a year learning Indonesian at the Australian Defence Force School of Languages (LANGS) where we studied nothing but the Indonesian language for 36 hours a week over a 46-week course. I then was lucky to be chosen to do a further year’s study at Padjajaran University in Bandung. This included 16 hours a week of one-to-one tuition with senior professors of the university.
Since that time I have been involved in teaching Indonesian in a wide variety of situations. I have taught at LANGS, Canberra Institute of Technology, The University of Tasmania and have also been involved in ‘Distance Education’, through a computer interface, to high school students in rural New South Wales. I was also employed to train Australian Diplomats in Indonesian language and culture.
I have also worked as a top-level interpreter and translator and was invited to Chair the Indonesian Panel of the Australian National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. I enjoyed working as an interpreter and handling challenging situations like interpreting for meetings between the Heads of the Indonesian Department of Immigration and Australian Government representatives including our Federal Minister for Immigration.
Success in dealing with Indonesia and Indonesians is best assured through an understanding of Indonesian language and culture. Whether at Governmental, Commercial or private levels it is essential to understand how the people you are interacting with think. Your success will be almost guaranteed if you can conduct your business in Indonesian.
My last position before retirement was as the Manager and Language Expert in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We taught a wide range of languages with the first half of the courses being conducted in Australia and the second half being conducted in the country of the target language.
As part of my duties, I went to Japan, China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Indonesia to review where we conducted our ‘in-country’ training. Realia have only asked me to write about my own language learning experience and did not seek endorsement. However, I believe it is pertinent to say that I reviewed five language schools in Indonesia and Realia stood out as the most competent.
They offered the flexibility I needed because different diplomats have different language learning aims. For example, a Political Officer requires a different curriculum to an Economics Officer or a Consular Officer. Realia was prepared to modify all courses to meet the individual student’s needs.
In conclusion, I cannot stress enough that the way to ensure you enjoy your time in Indonesia and achieve the success you desire, is to study Indonesian language and culture.
Peter Blackburn, Australia.
Australian Defence Force
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