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Update on the Indonesian Language Proficiency Test (Bali)

I'm Stephen, Co-Founder & School Advisor to Cinta Bahasa Indonesian Language School in Bali. I'm originally from Canada and I've been living here 15 consecutive years.

Most of you have heard about the recent announcements by the Minister of Manpower regarding the requirement of foreign employees to pass an Indonesian Language Proficiency Test (UKBI) in order to renew or apply for a new work permit.

Having met with the Indonesian Language Department (Badan Bahasa) of the Ministry of Education and Culture, and as an Indonesian Language training provider, we've been following this closely and would like to give you an update on what we know so far.

There has been talk over previous years about this requirement, and in fact Indonesian Language Proficiency Testing has been required for foreigners working in the Banking sector for the past few years. The Ministry of Manpower wants to extend this to all foreign employees.

An article that appeared in the Jakarta Globe last January stated that the Ministry of Manpower was working with the University of Indonesia to develop a Test of Indonesian as a Foreign Language, basically like the Test of English as a Foreign Language that many Indonesian employees are motivated or required to take.

However the information was not accurate as the Ministry of Manpower had not yet coordinated sufficiently with the Ministry of Education & Culture which has a Language Department specifically focused on Indonesian Language (Badan Bahasa), and within that Department a unit specifically focused on Indonesian Language for Foreign Learners (Bahasa Indonesia untuk Penutur Asing). This Department is fully responsible for all matters related to Bahasa Indonesia.

Now that the two ministries are coordinating this process together, we can be more sure that the testing process will be the same as it has been in past years. This means that the test will be conducted solely through the Ministry of Education & Culture, and not through Universities, the Ministry of Manpower or private institutions. The test will be taken at Balai Bahasa offices in the capital or major city of each Province which has facilities prepared already.

The test will be exactly the same as the one given to native speakers, but with a lower score required to pass. There will be a listening comprehension, speaking comprehension, reading comprehension and grammar/writing component. The test is designed test formal and correctly-spoken common language comprehension, not informal language, slang or dialects, and the test will take approximately 2 hours.

Having prepared a test preparation course and sample exams, and taken many students from their first words in bahasa Indonesia through to fluency, we would estimate that it would take up to 80 hours of class time with a properly-trained teacher to be able to pass the test if one is starting from zero or with minimal ability in the language.


* Stephen DeMeulenaere is Co-Founder and School Advisor of Cinta Bahasa Indonesian Language School, Protected content . He can be contacted at Protected content

Jakarta Globe
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Jakarta Post
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