How To Learn Malay From Beginner Level (2024)?

By J Maver

January 10, 2024   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Language is not simply a mode of communication. It is a form of art. An art that has evolved over the years, containing the emotions, traditions, and ideologies of a nation.

No matter what language you speak, or what area you reside in. The language you speak is the purest representation of your heritage and shows how proud you are of it. This is the very essence of language learning.

malay language pdf

Talking about traditions and diversity, Southeast Asian countries have a separate spot of their own. Whether it’s their food, their clothing, or the super diverse Malay itself. This region is the epitome of cultural and literary diversity around the globe.

The History of Malay

According to calculated estimates, it first appeared in the Southeast Asian region around 1000 BC. As time passed, the language began to grow its roots in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.

Today, there are more than 200-250 million speakers distributed in the so-called Malay Peninsula. Out of these numbers, around 19 million individuals are regarded as Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Malay variant general speakers.

Is learning Malay difficult?

As experts like to put it this way, no language is difficult to learn if you understand the basics of grammar. the same thing goes with the language.

Even though, the language is heavily influenced by early colonial and influential languages such as Arabic, Sanskrit, and Tamil. The Bahasa Malay, which is also considered the purest form of Malay, has developed a different and objective set of Malay grammar.

This allows any first-time learner to get a better understanding of the overall words, common phrases, and Bahasa grammar effectively.

Is there any reliable language software to learn Malay?

We are living in the 21st century. this is an era where learning a new language is not something that’s confined to the premises of a classroom. The same thing goes with learning the Malay language.

Language learning software like Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and Duolingo contains special directories, pictorial representations, and practice problems to help anyone around the globe learn any language. Even the Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Malay.

bahasa malay

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The majority of these top-notch software are oriented towards developing a strong grammatical foundation of the Malay language. this allows the user to learn Malay just like the native speakers.

Where to start?

Well first, you need to acknowledge one thing. There is no way you’re going to effectively learn and speak a language without properly understanding the grammatical structure of the language.

That’s why, most of the experts would suggest you begin with working on the grammar of the Bahasa division. After understanding the very basics of grammar, you can focus on the second most important section of any language, pronunciation.

And language learning software like the ones mentioned above will help you learn the Malay language and its dialects in a step-by-step tutorial series. A great way to initiate the whole language learning program.

How To Learn Malay From Beginner?

Before trying to frantically learn the dialects, there are some very basic steps and questions that must be addressed. this will allow you to get a better direction to learn Malay.

The very first and probably the most important question so far. Why do you want/need to learn the Malay language in the first place?

Without a doubt, the Malay language is complete and dense just like Arabic and Chinese. But in terms of overall widespread and popularity, it is not as famous as the later two discussed languages.

The whole Malay (Bahasa Malaysia) speaking population of the world is confined to Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei up to 99%. This confines the future of Malay growth to a very limited region.


The 3 major Malay-speaking regions

As discussed earlier, Malay is not a widespread or global communication language. English, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, etc. are some of the languages that fall under the category of global reasons.

The reason behind this is the number of individuals around the globe who can communicate through these languages. Arabic alone covers at least two major world continents.

But if we discuss Malay, specifically the Bahasa Malay dialect, the number of speakers only ranges between 19-20 million native speakers, further distributed among three regions,

First, Malaysia itself. the number of Malay speakers is the highest among the technologically advanced Malaysia. As a country with a rich and diverse seashore market, it is quite an obvious fact that Malaysia has become a perfect hub for the native-speaker community of the Bahasa dialect.


Second, the beautiful and tropical Brunei. A land of cultural and linguistic diversity at its best.

And last, the sea surrounded the land of Singapore. The crown jewel of the Southeast Asian peninsula. A large number of people around here also prefer to speak Malay.

Current Statistics of the Malay Language and its Future

A couple of centuries back, the language was the native language of almost the whole Southeast Asian region. This was a time before the start of colonialism in the region.

As foreign invaders grew stronger and stronger in the region, the number of Malay-speaking communities grew smaller and smaller with each passing year. most of the natives switched to languages like English and Spanish, leaving the Malaysian dialect to become almost obsolete at one point.


However, with the rise of freedom movements throughout the region, the native speakers began to revive the glorious past of their local language. today, there are around 250 million native speakers of Malay distributed among the region. According to current statistics, the number of Malay speakers is increasing quite impressively.

But today, Malay is generally used as a language for non-native communication among individuals residing in various countries of Southeast Asia. We can consider it as a replacement of the English language for this region rather than ranking it as a native language.

What exactly is Bahasa Malay?


The word ‘Bahasa’ itself means ‘language’. The origins of Bahasa can be traced back to the Sanskrit word for language ‘bhāṣā’.

The modern-day Malaysian or Malay language can be divided into two base variants. The Bahasa Malay and the Bahasa Indonesia. As the Indonesian vocabulary and pronunciation is quite different from the Malay one, it is only confined to the Indonesian region alone.

Let’s talk about the primary Bahasa Malay dialect. The overall Malay dialect is quite different than the Indonesian dialect in some major sections. The overall Malay grammar and words are focused on introducing and explaining concepts in a more friendly tone.

If we take a look at the native Malay-speaking population, the structure of sentences along with the writing and speaking vocabulary of the Malay dialect is much easier to understand as the majority of the content is derived from known international languages including Arabic, English, Sanskrit, etc.

Does Bahasa Indonesia affect the Bahasa Malay Structure?

In simple words, yes. The overall geographical setup of the region plays a vital role in promoting the overall similarities and structural interferences among these two dialects.

Both Malaysia and Indonesia are neighboring countries. Since the very beginning, both countries have shared almost the same heritage, traditions, culture, and language.


However, with the introduction of the modern Malay dialect, the Indonesian dialect becomes confined to Indonesia and its islands alone. At the same time, Bahasa Malaysia or Malay widened its geographical approach to even states like Singapore and Brunei.

Talking about the common phrases, and the phrases, the Malay words and pronunciation are affected by the Indonesian dialect quite a lot. Especially in Malaysia and surrounding regions that are closest to Indonesia.

Where most of the natives can fully understand someone talking in the Indonesian dialect, certain phrase sets can cause some serious miscommunication if not pronounced correctly.

Understanding the writing scripts of the Malay dialect

Just like any other well-structured and well-versed language, the overall Malay vocabulary comes with a certain pattern.

malay made it easy

In the beginning, the Malay script was heavily influenced by the common South Asian scripts of that time. These scripts include styles influenced by the Sanskrit, Hindi, and the Marathi script writing style.

But as the ethnic concentration of the region changed with time, the past scripts and words were replaced by scripts and common phrases of more widespread languages of that time.

One of the most influential languages in the Malaysia-based dialect script was Arabic. Arabic script was adopted as the base script for Bahasa Malaysia.

The major reason behind the change of this level was the rise of the Islamic empire which was stretching its wings even to the most remote areas of the planet.


This conflict of script writing gave Bahasa Malaysia the two writing scripts that are used as a base of Malay words and phrases writing.

The idea to develop multiple writing scripts is also influenced by the Chinese language.

The Jawi Script

The Jawi script is probably one of the oldest scripts of Malay writing. According to historical records, the Jawi script dates back to the 14th-century era. An era when Islam was going through its golden periods in history.

That’s why, the basic practice and style of the Jawi script has a close connection to the Islamic words, phrases, and vocabulary that was used in the Arabic language.

Due to its very close resemblance to Arabic and Islamic practices, the Jawi Script is the optimal script choice for someone with an Islamic background. This will help in understanding the vocabulary, word, and phrase structure quite effectively.

The Jawi Script

Currently, the Jawi script is implemented in the Kingdom of Brunei. A country where both Malay and English are declared as the official language.

Recently, Malaysia decided to implement the Jawi script of Malay as a part of elementary school lessons.

However, due to the multilingual traditions of Malaysia, the government faced a severe backlash on its decision from the Tamil schools in the area.

The Rumi Script

The secret to communicating through Malay fluently lies in understanding the Malay grammar and script effectively.

Even though most of the Malay states of the region prefer the Jawi script, which is also the Islamic script of writing Malay. Progress is being made by the Governments to transfer the writing transcript to the more advanced Rumi script writing.

The overall Rumi script is quite widespread in its usage. The sentence development and structure are also more easy to understand in the Rumi script writing.


This is because the Rumi script is very similar to the English Malay writing script as we know it. Allowing the reader to speak Malay more effectively.

Is Malay hard to learn?

As stated by experts in the field before, no language is hard to learn. As long as you master the grammar and everyday use of words associated with that language.

The same thing goes with Malay. it is true, that Malay has been divided into multiple dialects. This indeed creates quite a confusion when a first-time learner decides to learn this language.

Is Malay hard to learn?

But it’s okay if you can’t decide which dialect to choose. It’s quite natural compared to your first-time effort to learn the Malay language.

Generally, the dialect that is most widely used today is the Bahasa Malaysia dialect. The second dialect, i.e., the Indonesian dialect could only be used on Indonesian soil.

Also, to speak Malay just like a native speaker, you must learn Malay from the very core. In other words, focus on Malay words, observe native speakers, go through basic grammar, and try to memorize as many common phrases as possible.

In this way, your whole Malay learning program is going to be super effective and easy for you.

Make Your Mind

There’s an old saying which translates, ‘the secret to eternal glory lies above (head)’. In other words, language learning will be extremely easy for you, if you have the right attitude.

The very first steps of learning a new language aren’t confined to getting enrolled in a lengthy tough program, trying to memorize as many common phrases as possible, or practicing the local noun pronunciation as much as possible.

if you truly want to learn a new language, such as Malay, the first step is to convince your mind. Decide why are you learning this language in the first place. What kind of progress do you want to make every week? What kind of outcomes are you expecting at the end of this language learning program?

These are some of the questions that must revolve around your head when you are deciding to make this work. You need to fully convince yourself first that you do want to learn this language not only to speak fluently but to teach and write like a master as well.

And here’s a trick that will help you get more and more interested in learning a new language. Take some online lessons, understand some basics, and if you haven’t spoken the language yet, try to talk in front of your friends just for fun. but don’t forget to take reviews from them on your spoken skills.

Which one is the best software to learn Malay?

Well, we all are living in the 21st century. A century where everything is getting digital. This is a century where learning Malay or listening to a native speaker of the language online is one of the greatest assets we have.

best software to learn Malay

This doesn’t only allow us to learn Malay from the comfort of our homes but also allows the young generation to enroll in various free online courses to get a better understanding of Malay words, vocabulary, and phrases.

If we take a look at the market today, the market is flooded with amazing learning software that uses audio and visual aids to teach a specific language. Such as Malay.


Such software isn’t only limited to enrolling students in online courses where there is no fun in learning a new and exciting language. However, the software is specifically designed to support a complete and effective understanding of basic spoken dynamics, sentences, phrases, words, and vocabulary.

Some of the best learning software include Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, and Duolingo.

Other popular resources to learn Malay

To learn Malay, online software isn’t the only option we have today. According to verified reports, a major part of free online learning is done through app-based education.

A mobile app allows a person to work on his/her pronunciation, subject-object structure, vocabulary, and speaking skills through his handheld mobile set no matter where he/she is sitting.


After multiple free learning mobile apps, free online program sets are a great choice to build the overall phrase understanding and learn the Malay language through a proper step-by-step guide.

Most of the Malay words, phrases, vocabulary, pronunciation, and lessons are designed with the help of local experts.

These courses are also packed with audio instructions and practice quizzes to help better understand the sentence structure.

And who can avoid the aid of flashcards to better understand audio files or an upcoming practice?


Whenever we speak about a course that focuses on free-to-access Malay words and vocabulary, one thing is certain. To make you a master of this language, the course will focus on the usage of every extracurricular activity it can arrange to help you understand better.

This will include sound aids from YouTube, quizzes, master manuals, everyday use practice questions, etc.

The roadmap to success

With all that being said, now you fully understand the required lessons that will help you to learn Bahasa Malaysian through audio and visual aids to polish your pronunciation and word reserve like a local.

roadmap to success

But among so many online courses that can teach you how to write and sound like a local, there’s a great chance that you could get overwhelmed by courses that contain so much knowledge.

That’s why, as a person who’s looking to learn the Malay language usage, pronunciation, and spoken skills for the first time. Learning all of this by developing a solid road map is the best option you have got so far.

In light of our very own expert review, the first step must be your effort to select an online course or a set of courses that will help you learn word and sentence structure in your preferred languages.


The course or software can either be free or paid, it is totally up to you. But don’t forget to thoroughly evaluate the audio and spoken learning dynamics of the course. If not satisfied, you can also search for a user-friendly learning app as well.

Next, work on the basic grammar and try to make as many sentences as possible on your own. This will help you to understand and write just like a local speaker.

And last, search for any kind of person or software whose usage will help you to get more fluent in the language. But remember, only use books and notes with good overall feedback, it will enhance your basic understanding to new heights.

Also, understand the fact that learning a new language is not a child’s play. learning new words, building a vast vocabulary, and the inner want to learn more are going to determine how better you understand the words of this new language.


So far, this article has helped us to understand quite a few important lessons. lessons that are going to aid our learning abilities further. Especially when we discuss learning new languages.

The Bahasa Malay, the Malaysian dialect is not something to teach or learn in a single day. the overall sentences, the local phrases, the Malaysian dialect, all of these factors contribute to making this language one of the most complex yet versatile languages known to man.

Can you learn Malay in one day?

No. Most of us might consider the possibility of using high-end software and courses to learn the Malaysian language fast.

These software are going to charge massive amounts of money with a claim that they are going to teach you the local tongue. the same thing applies to a language learning app.

But according to the expert review, you can’t even make fully correct sentences if you don’t know the basics.

Speaking like a local must be your goal

Most of the first-time Malay speakers can’t decide their level of understanding of the language. Even when they believe that their high-money software is the best way possible.

To determine whether you can truly make sentences on your own, there’s only one way to check. Listen a native.

Most of the high-end learning software allows the user to practice his/her understanding by talking or listening to a local talking. The same case applies to learning Malay.


How To Learn the Malay Language?

Even today, this is one of the most frequently asked questions we get. Should I use some app/software to learn? Is there someone who can teach me in a day? Should I write my concepts down? Is it important to speak like a local?

All of these questions are associated with a single question, ‘How to learn Malay Language?’ So keeping in mind your concern regarding this question, we are going to teach you the best possible method you can use to learn Malay.

Find an app/software/course that you think will be perfect for you. try to grasp words, vocabulary, and pronunciation of everyday phrases and sentences as much as possible. Focus on the grammar.

Memorize and write down your concepts from time to time. In the end, try to locate audio and visual aids to get a better understanding of the way local language speakers communicate.

What are some local language phrases and practices that you can write and memorize to polish your skills?

How Hard Is Malay To Learn?

The answer to this question is still the same. There’s no way to practically determine how hard a language is to learn. Of course, a local speaker of the language is going to speak fluently as compared to someone who’s trying to learn a language like Malay through some app or software.

But let’s discuss factors about Malay at the moment. You have a wide set of vocabulary, you’re using an app to learn the language. But remember, the basic rule to learn any language is to focus on the grammatical portion.

No matter how excellent the app/program is, as long as you’re not focusing on grammar and vocabulary building, it is going to be effective.

And here’s a fun fact, once you fully understand the local grammar of Malay, your vocabulary will automatically begin to widen.

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J Maver

Passionate in tech, software and gadgets. I enjoy reviewing and comparing products & services, uncovering new trends and digging up little known products that deserve an audience.

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