How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Very few people speak English. Local tutors, including live online programs of a high quality, are easily available and inexpensive. - Nov 2018


Knowledge of Indonesian is critical to being able to get around town. Very few speak more than a few words of English, even in major companies, banks, malls, etc. A big surprise, actually. - Oct 2015


All of it. I'm only partly joking.... I came with a little more that bare basics and had a very steep learning curve and great difficulty navigating everyday life, including simple requests for my housekeeper. Some of the domestic help associated with the Consulate or SIS has some English, but you will pay a premium for the language capacity and may get diminishing returns on the quality of work. That said, I learned Indonesian in a hurry and find that with my still-basic-but-functional Indonesian, I can get around. My vocabulary is roughly 5,000-8,000 words, and I still have trouble with comprehension, but it's much easier here if you know the local language. Most Surabayans DO NOT speak English other than the basic pleasantries. The farther afield you get in Indonesia, the less likely you are to encounter success with anything but Indonesian. - Apr 2015


Get as much Bahasa Indonesian as possible, as English may not be spoken. - Oct 2012


You definitely need to learn Bahasa Indonesian. The local dialect is javanese, but all Indonesians speak Bahasa Indonesian. - May 2012


Bahasa Indonesia is the official language and everybody can speak it, although on the street the locals also speak a local dialect of Javanese. English is present, especially in the business community, and at least in the larger cities you can always find people that speak at least some English. - Oct 2010


You can get by without it, but like most places a little knowledge goes a long way. Indonesian is not terribly difficult as far as languages go. - Aug 2009


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