«The Indonesian Way» is the most comprehensive eLearning platform for the Indonesian language. But is it also the best? Here we compare «The Indonesian Way» with Rosetta Stone and Babbel – two popular online eLearning platforms that also offer courses to learn the Indonesian language.
«The Indonesian Way» is different from Rosetta Stone and Babbel
Rosetta Stone and Babbel offer dozens of languages following one pattern. We only do one language: Indonesian, and we do it thoroughly.
Learning a new language takes time. Less serious sellers of introductory Bahasa Indonesia language courses such as Babbel make ridiculous claims that they will get you “speaking a language in three weeks” (quoted on 14/8/18 – now they changed it to “start speaking…” ). Don’t trust them. They also give the impression as if their courses were free, but you will end up paying much more than what you pay for «The Indonesian Way».
With Rosetta Stone and Babbel you learn bahasa Indonesia by using a combination of words, pictures, and audio. With Rosetta Stone this is all that they offer. You get a lot of pictures with Indonesian voice and text, but there is absolutely no English text, no grammar explanations, no cultural notes. Rosetta Stone completely ignores that the first language as a reference system is very important for the second language learner. Rosetta Stone’s pictures are also not very convincing. You don’t see many Indonesian faces and in many pictures one can immediately see that they were shot in the US and not in Indonesia.
Babbel is a little better than Rosetta Stone as it does offer some grammatical explanations in English. But neither Rosetta Stone nor Babbel will teach you real life conversational skills. You aren’t required to produce your own words or phrases in bahasa Indonesia. Instead, you usually pick an answer from a predetermined list, which is not very useful if you want to acquire practical conversational skills. If you learn using «The Indonesian Way» you will see that most lessons teach you real life conversational skills.
Spaced repetition is an important selling point for both Rosetta Stone and Babbel. «The Indonesian Way» has used spaced repetition for years and our database contains spaced repetition flashcards for approximately 2000 words. Each flashcard contains a vocabulary item, its translation, and a recording of the sound of the word.
The main shortcoming of all Indonesian language learning platforms except for «The Indonesian Way» and the other courses at Indonesian-Online.com is that they only teach elementary, and at the best intermediate bahasa Indonesia. Indonesian-Online.com is the only eLearning platform which offers courses that cater to all levels of Indonesian: elementary, intermediate and advanced bahasa Indonesia.
Rosetta Stone only offers an Indonesian course for the elementary level. The company does not give any indication on the scope of the program, but I have heard that the entire course can be completed in just 24 hours. Considering that a three month subscription costs $60, the value for money ratio is rather low.
Babbel doesn’t offer much more than lower intermediate bahasa Indonesia, and costs $20 per 3 month, exactly twice the price of Indonesian Online. Yet, both Babbel and Rosetta Stone are useful tool for learning vocabulary and phrases, and both can and should be used in tandem with a proper textbook for the Indonesian language such as «The Indonesian Way» available at https://indonesian-online.com.