Learn Malay!

Learn Malay, one of the most widely spoken languages of the world! Along with Indonesian (or Bahasa Indonesia), a standardized variant of the same language which is mutually intelligible with it, Malay (also known as Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Melayu) is spoken by over 200 million people in Malaysia, Indonesia and in communities around the world such as the United States. Malay is an official language in Malaysia and Brunei. It is written with the Latin script, but there is also a variant of the Arabic script that is sometimes used.

Where Malay differs from Indonesian is in the vocabulary. Malay borrows more from English (as a former British colony) where Indonesian borrows from Dutch (as a former Dutch colony). There is not a clear boundary where one language ends and the other begins, rather there is a broad range that includes other dialects of Malay that are not as intelligible, even to native speakers.

By all accounts Malay is a relatively easy language to learn and may even be one of the easiest natural languages of the world to learn. There are not many published courses to learn Malay, but there are enough to get started and the internet provides some great resources too!

This is a great new resource that specializes in learning a variety of Asian languages, including Malay. The initial few dozen lessons are available free in your internet browser. The lessons are introduced somewhat like Rosetta Stone, along with some great extras like downloadable transcriptions and grammar, mp3 audio and a flashcard feature. There is a monthly subscription fee which is very affordable, and a downloadable desktop version if you want it. A very interesting course with great value.

A Malaysian government-funded site. There is an all-around course, tutoring, and some language learning community services. They have some free options but the subscription-based services appear to be very comprehensive.

Book/Audio Combo
Teach Yourself Malay
One of the first resources I turn to when researching a less-commonly learned language like Malay is the Teach Yourself series. Although they do have an older course available, I see that they have announced a revised and updated version that is scheduled for release (the link is on the right). I would recommend this new version when it is available, but for now look for another source to get started!


You can get the Lite version of BYKI for free - Free BYKI™ Lite download by Transparent Language, but if you upgrade to BYKI Deluxe, you get a whole lot more, especially with the newly updated version! More than 1000 words and phrases spoken by native speakers, with pictures, games and other activities, mp3/iPod feature, and the ability to create your own lists and even add your own audio and pictures!

Additional Resources to Learn Malay

Free Lessons to Learn Malay
This free site has 64 lessons on learning Malay. There is a lot of grammar, phrases, dialogues, and vocabulary, but no audio. The notes on langauge use are quite helpful.

This site is very basic, with vocabulary and phrases presented by topic. Good for a quick overview of starting vocabulary.

This site has some lessons and quirky stories that offer the kinds of vocabulary and phrases you won't find in your average phrasebook. Also, there are some links to other resources to help you learn Malay.

I was surprised to discover lots of videos on Youtube of people teaching Malay as well as music videos, news or people using Malay. Try searching for 'Malay' or 'Bahasa Malay'.

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