Do you know what the national anthems of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia share in common? They all contain the Malay language in their lyrics. The Malay language has always been recognized as the lingua franca of the Southeast Asian region due to its strong cultural and regional ties over the years. Hence, it is no surprise that more people are gaining interest to enrol in Malay language lessons and courses in Malaysia these days, especially when it is the official language of the nation.

While we are aware that repetition is a key factor in successful language learning, language learners are likely to feel demotivated to attend formal Malay lessons every day. Learning Malay can be intentional, creative and equally effective even during your free time!

Here are some ways that you can practice your Malay between lessons.

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Diversify your vocabulary in Malay through various materials

One tip to keep you motivated after your Malay lesson is to use a bilingual Malay and English dictionary when you come across a new or unfamiliar Malay word. When buying the dictionary, it is important to make sure that it is recognized by the Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka (DBP) which is Malaysia’s official government body that coordinates the correct use of the Malay language as well as Malay language literature related matters in Malaysia. This helps you identify the root words in Malay and also see how you can use the exact word in a sentence.

If you are a bookworm, practising your Malay through reading would come naturally to you! Even if you are not, you can start small by reading Malay short stories or graphic novels with easy themes. For instance, simple stories that centre around family members, your favourite sport or animal just to get the ball rolling. Once you are more comfortable and confident, you can then choose to advance to read Malay newspapers such as Berita Harian, Utusan Malaysia and so on.

Learning vocabulary in Malay
Reading Malay books after lessons Source: Photo by Min An from Pexels

Another fun way to diversify your vocabulary is to use flashcards to learn new words. Flashcards are good ways for you to remember the words easily by associating the image with the new vocabulary. You can also use this method to explore how different vocabularies can fit into different grammatical rules when you are writing and speaking, which serves as a great guide for you to learn Malay more comprehensively for each language learning component.
                     

Engage with interesting Malay culture

Though Malaysia is widely known as a multicultural nation, the Malay language is strongly associated with the Malay community and culture. Whether it is music, architecture, cuisine, arts, there is so much to explore and discover!

One way to practice your Malay between lessons is to actively look for elements of the Malay culture and engage in them. For instance, if you love history and traditional games, you can get involved in the wonderful world of traditional Malay games such as guli, congkak and gasing. If you are into fashion, you can also check out the traditional clothing worn by the locals such as batik, baju kurung and baju kebaya. You certainly cannot leave out the Malay cuisine such as the local favourite spicy breakfast such as nasi lemak and laksa!

When you are immersed in the Malay culture, you are most likely to pick up new words and proceed to have natural conversations as it helps you pay attention to more details. You also should not miss out on the Malay festive celebrations in Malaysia such as Hari Raya, where the concept of “open house” is practised. You will receive green packets (with money) and also be served with a variety of delicious Malay snacks and dishes such as rendang and ketupat. If you are learning Malay from a Malay teacher, you can even visit his or her house and discuss the Malay culture together.

Learn Malay food
Ketupat is served during Hari Raya celebration
Source: Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Understanding Malay like a local

One of the greatest compliments that a language learner can receive is how he or she speaks like a local! This is certainly possible if you are willing to immerse yourself in a Malay- speaking environment. You can set a challenge to speak the language daily and consistently by allocating a few hours per day or per week to build the momentum and excitement to practice.  By setting a specific goal, you will have a clear direction on how to start practising.  For example, if you love talking to the camera, you can do a weekly or monthly vlog of speaking 24 hours of speaking in Malay.

Want to practice your reading skills in Malay? Attempt to read and order your food in Malay when you are out exploring the Malay cuisine! Like it or not, most of the menus in Mamak stores are written completely in Malay so it is a great opportunity for you to read and speak in Malay. As it is an informal setting, you do not have to worry about sounding perfect at all times, but it is a matter of getting your meaning across in a simple manner. You will improve with time.

Start by listening and observing how the locals usually order. If you are not unsure how to string a full sentence while ordering, just state what you want in small statements with this formula: one type of dish, one type of drink, thank you. You can try this Malay sentence below the next time you visit your favourite Mamak store.

“Satu nasi lemak, satu milo ais. Terima kasih.”

Speaking Malay in Malaysia
Speak Malay at Mamak stores
Source: Nicholas Chester-Adams on Unsplash

If you are a student who is preparing for your examinations, a great way to understand Malay is to make good use of Malay reference books. You can get a variety of Malay academic reference books from local physical and online book stores such as Popular Malaysia, MPH and so on. Aim for progress and not perfection when you are doing the exercises in the books. The key is to familiarize yourself with different types of questions with different comprehension levels. For instance, you can attempt objective questions to know which is the most accurate noun or adjective for a particular situation and if you want to improve your writing, you can try out and go through the given paragraphs format and points towards the end of the book.

Making the best out of your Malay language lessons even after classes

What happens during your lessons is as important as what happens between your lessons. Mastering Malay with Superprof Malaysia promises you a smooth language learning and practice experience. Firstly, the teaching and learning process at Superprof is all about flexibility. This applies to both physical and online classes. Especially at times like this, having easy and affordable access to online language learning lessons will ensure you a fruitful and effective session.

Furthermore, you will be able to personalize your Malay lessons according to your location, schedule, the scope of learning, the teacher’s teaching experience as well as the overall budget and cost of your Malay lessons through a user-friendly learning platform. Online lessons also mean that you can easily revise and review your Malay lessons according to previous recordings and digital files which you can download at all times. This means you can constantly practice before and after your lessons with your Malay teacher.

Learning Malay with Superprof also means that you can also list down questions that you want to ask for the next lesson. If you are unsure of the right pronunciation of certain words or confused about certain grammatical rules and the usage of vocabulary in the right context, you can also record yourself (in both audio or video forms) to receive feedback from your Malay tutor.

After your lessons with your Malay tutor at Superprof, you can also watch a Malay movie or a TV show with subtitles so that you can also practice both your listening and speaking while watching. If you find that watching a Malay movie is too overwhelming in the beginning, you can start by watching animation series or movies that revolve around simpler characters by learning basic words and sentences first. Studies have shown that animation can help learners to retain information better when they are exposed to new key concepts of their studied subject. Some of the popular Malaysian animations that you can try watching are Boi Boi Boy and Upin and Ipin.

Malay language fluency can certainly be achieved with the help of a Malay teacher. But remember,  true language learning does not stop when you finish your lessons. Language is like a muscle that requires you to use it consistently. If you don’t use it, you will lose it! Be sure to practice your Malay between lessons and you will surely reap the fruit of your labour in due time!

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