Indonesian language teachers honoured at gala Canberra dinner



Indonesian Language Teaching Assistants in Canberra presented with Certificates of Appreciation, 20 October 2017

Primary and secondary school teachers of Indonesian were honoured at a gala dinner hosted by the Balai Bahasa Indonesia (BBI-ACT) at the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra on Friday, 20 October 2017. Teachers and School Principals from at least 15 ACT government and non-government schools attended the dinner which an opportunity to exchange classroom experiences teaching Indonesian to students in Canberra. Certificates of Appreciation were handed out to 10 Indonesian Language Teaching Assistants who give up time outside their own academic studies in Canberra tertiary institutions to teach in Canberra schools under a MOU between the ACT Education Directorate and the Indonesian Embassy. Guests were treated to a three-course Indonesian meal, Balinese gamelan music performed by local enthusiasts and traditional Indonesian dances. They heard a keynote address by Bapak Halim Nataprawira from the Queensland Department of Education who delivered an insightful presentation on the use of formal versus informal Bahasa Indonesia.

BBI (ACT) Chair, Heath McMichael, told guests it was important for young people to develop an understanding of Asian cultures and languages in an increasingly Asia-centric world. Asia-literacy was a vital commodity for those contemplating carriers in commerce, overseas education and travel in Asia. To promote an awareness of Indonesian culture and language, BBI (ACT) organised activities for members and the general public, for example Indonesian film nights, book club events and study tours of Indonesia for teachers of Indonesian.

Heath said that BBI (ACT) was keen to see more school students learning Indonesian in the ACT. BBI (ACT) would continue to work with teachers, schools, the education authorities and the Indonesian Embassy to stimulate interest in taking up the Indonesian language.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABBI (ACT) was honoured to be recognised on Indonesian Independence Day by the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra for promoting the learning of Indonesian in the Canberra and for contributing to friendly relations between Australia and Indonesia.  BBI (ACT) looks forward to further cooperation with the Embassy and interested community members who are seeking to deepen ties between our two countries.

170817 BBI (ACT) Certificate of Appreciation

BBI (ACT) Celebrates Indonesian Language Teaching in Canberra Schools

The achievements of primary and secondary school teachers of the Indonesian language were once again celebrated at a dinner hosted by Balai Bahasa Indonesia (ACT) at the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra on 4 November 2016. At least 10 ACT Schools were represented at the dinner which provided teachers and school principals the opportunity to exchange classroom experiences teaching Indonesian to students in Canberra. Specially invited guests included five Indonesian Language Teacher Assistants who give up time outside their own academic studies in Canberra tertiary institutions to teach in classrooms under their supervising teachers.

BBI (ACT) Chair, Heath McMichael, told guests the task of encouraging young people to take up and persevere with Indonesian language and culture studies is a challenging one, especially in the light of ingrained community indifference about Australia’s nearest Asian neighbour. Heath said that BBI (ACT) was willing to assist teachers, principals, and ACT education authorities promote the learning of Indonesian in order to maintain much-needed ballast in the people-to-people relationship between the two countries. BBI (ACT) is looking at practical and inventive ways to stimulate interest in Indonesian language learning, for instance in workshopping Indonesian curriculum materials with teachers and educators from schools in Canberra and Indonesia, organising teacher field trips to schools in eastern Indonesia and, hosting a YouTube Indonesian language competition.


BBI (ACT) Chair, Heath McMichael with Indonesian Language Teacher Assistants (ILTAs), 4 November 2016


The most ridiculous and incredible year of my life

Sydney University arts-commerce student Iona Main spent ten months on exchange studying in Indonesia. It turned out to be, she says, “the ride of my life”. She reported her “once-in-a-lifetime experience” in The Australian, 7 May, 2014. p.28. Read her report below.


Grab an exchange of pace

Iona Main

Indonesia has it all for those seeking to study abroad

AMID the cries of “turn back the boats” and “spying scandal” shouted out at any mention of Indonesia last year, I found myself one of a small cohort of Australian students studying there on exchange.

I was persuaded by my university lecturer to turn my back on the temptations of college life in the US, and the glamorous campuses of Britain and Europe. I ignored friends’ shrieks of “You’re going where on exchange?” and prepared to knuckle down for what I hoped would at least be a worthwhile learning experience.

Ten months later I emerged from Indonesia having spent twice as long there as planned, and with more stories than could fill any shabby travel blog. I enjoyed the most ridiculous and incredible year of my life and wondered why on earth I ever thought twice.

Indonesia is our nearest neighbour, a country tipped to enter the world’s top 10 economies in the next 15 years, with a population 10 times our own and an economy still in its early steps on to the global stage.

I don’t pretend my exchange to Indonesia was all smooth sailing, but it is a place where the right attitude will get you everywhere. Dreams I didn’t know I had were achieved as I had my photo plastered on the side of a bus, and pretended to be Ke$ha in a sound bite for a Yogyakarta radio station. I was lucky enough to have an article published in the Jakarta Post, the country’s main English-language newspaper. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences became day-to-day, but the novelty is still yet to wear off. The challenges of navigating Indonesian bureaucracy and enough “hello miss” to last a lifetime pale in comparison to the wealth of weird and wonderful experiences I have gained.

I didn’t realise that everyone I met, even briefly, would remember my name and always stop for a chat, often oblivious to me racking my brains for who they were or where I’d met them in the head-spinning humidity and Kretek cigarette smoky air. I discovered space could always be made for one more on a packed table at the campus canteen — especially for an exotic Aussie. Over spicy 70c lotek salads we complained about exams and made plans for the weekend.

My Australian housemates and I were delighted to be made “celebrity guest judges” at a neighbourhood games day and to be invited to weddings and religious ceremonies (where I wore a hijab for the first and possibly last time). I became a valued contributor to tutorial discussions — not for the standard of my poorly worded comments in Indonesian but because my lecturers and classmates were always so keen to hear the thoughts of the foreigner in the class.

I was impressed by the standard of knowledge among Indonesian students, including that many of them possessed a better understanding of Australian foreign policy than a lot of Australians, myself included. And they thought they were the ones learning something.

Any Australian student with a modest bank balance can have an exchange in Indonesia filled with tropical holidays, nights out and delicious meals without a second thought for the budget, a far cry from baked beans on toast and $15 beers elsewhere in the world.

While the traditional exchange destinations remain as appealing as ever, Indonesia is rocketing forwards at an incredible and exciting pace. Our northern neighbour offers opportunities and experiences unique to both the country and the visitor, and at the very least makes for some pretty incredible Instagrams. An exchange in Indonesia may strike you as a crazy idea, but anyone brave enough to have taken the plunge can tell you that you’ll be in for the ride of your life.


In Australia, talking about foreign language study is much more popular than talking the languages themselves: Bernard Lane

The current state of Chinese language studies in Australian schools illustrates the challenge the country faces in promoting Asian language study among English speakers. Currently just 3 per cent of Year 12 students take Mandarin and 94 per cent of these are of Chinese background.

This sobering statistic is cited by Bernard Lane in an opinion piece on Asian language study in Australia in The Australian (June 6, 2012, Higher Education p.28). He points to the “dismal failure” of the four-year National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP) that has disbursed $62 million and winds up this year.

In a new effort to address the lack of demand for foreign language studies, Schools Education Minister Peter Garrett has ”asked a gourp of business leaders and Asia literacy experts to find new ways to stimulate the interest of pupils and parents.” But, argues Lane, it is difficult for proponents of foreign language studies to identify immediate tangible benefits that flow from command of a foreign language. He advocates “a good mix of languages patiently and cleverly built up from the earliest years of school.”

Read the full text of Bernard Lane’s opinion piece at: (login required to a personal account with The Australian)