Our brain naturally forgets information that we don’t use to reduce memory clutter. This is because the brain is adapted to make our life easier by forgetting what is not important. The less important words will be stored in the subconscious, and depend on our ability to recall them before they are completely forgotten. So, the only way to remember Bahasa Melayu, or any new language in general, is to USE it more often! 

We will show you twelve tips on how you can learn Bahasa Melayu better! 

1. Notebook or Excel Spreadsheet

This is the most important one as you can use it for the next eleven tips that follow! First, create a table in a notebook designated for learning vocabularies. Next, the table should have a column for the new vocabulary, and a column for the meaning. Alternatively, you can also add a column that translates the word into another language, a column for synonyms, and a column for example sentences. 

Besides that, you also can have a separate notebook, or new section in the same notebook to write down collective nouns (Penjodoh Bilangan, 量词), idioms (simpulan bahasa,成语) or proverbs (peribahasa,谚语). But to avoid information cluttering, always make sure the notes are organized! 

2. Movies and subtitles

Next time you are watching a show, remember to open the Malay subtitles! Then, read the subtitles and try to understand it. In the meantime, write down new words into your notebook as you learn. Besides that, you can watch any Malay cartoons or movies and listen to the language. For example: Upin Ipin, or go to YouTube and watch Didi And Friends.

3. Comics, Magazine and books

Comics and magazine are easier medium for kids and teens to learn Malay words. Example of Malay comic is Lawak Kampus, but bear in mind that the language in comics may not be very suitable for academic use. Besides that. Mastika Magazine has interesting stories, facts and pictures making reading less like a chore but more enjoyable. In short, comics and magazines are a friendly start for a child or new learners to learn Malay!

4. Listen to Malay songs

There are many children Malay songs. So, download and play them as a bedtime song, or play them in the car on the way to school. Also, tune into Malay radio station once in a while. 

5. Highlight and Translate

Another tip is to highlight new words that you don’t understand. Also, utilize google translate to translate the word, and remember to write it down into your notebook. This is because highlighting makes it easy for your mind to focus.

For example:
Dia jarang bersenam
很少 运动
He rarely exercise

6. Use Flashcard

Create flashcards using recycled materials such as business cards or playing cards. Alternatively, you can also buy them! After all, flashcard had proven it’s success at flash memory recall.

7. Play games

Games are important to improve the creative functioning of brain. This is because games creates a dynamic of problem solving and curiosity. In fact, we all love to play games! So next time when you are bored, grab a Scrabber, Crossword, Word search, Malay version of Monopoly or Quizzes! You might as well benefit from the game by learning Bahasa Melayu.

8. Use sticky notes

Sticky notes can be used as flashcards. Write the topic or question on one sticky note, then paste it on top of another sticky note with a summary or answer. Besides that, use sticky notes to create mind maps, as they are easy to rearrange. You can create a mind map on a table, notebook or empty wall before an exam. Also, use sticky notes to mark your book.  

9. Utilize root word (kata dasar)

Knowing one root word (kata dasar) can make it very easy to understand many new words quickly! For instance, you just need to know one root word “jemput”. Jemput means invite (邀请). Then add imbuhan and you get: menjemput (invite, 邀请), dijemput (invited, 被邀请),  and jemputan (invitation, 邀请函).

In short, just by knowing one core word, you can easily and quickly broaden your vocabulary!

For example:

Root word
 + Imbuhan
Ikan (fish, Perikanan (Fishery, 渔业)
Makan (Eat, ) Makanan (Food, 食物)

10. Syllable (suku-kata,音节) memory method:

Some people relate to sound and the meaning better. For longer words, first break the word down into syllable.

For example:
Per-pus-ta-ka-an (library, 图书馆)
U-ni-ver-si-ti (university, 大学) 

11. Picture, storytelling, thematic memory method.

Practice by looking at a picture or theme, then find words or verbs (kata kerja, 动词) that are related to the picture and theme.

For example: 

Picture / Theme Words related to the theme Verbs  (kata kerja, 动词) related to the theme
Dapur (kitchen) ikan, pinggan mangkuk, ketuhar memasak, mencuci, memotong
Taman permainan (playground) buaian, gelongsor, pondok beriadah, berlari, bergelongsor
Pantai (beach) ombak, pelampung, layang-layang berenang, menjemur, bermain

12. Have the right environment and time to study!

Finally, make sure you have a computer or book, quiet space, pen, table, proper lighting, water, and are not hungry or tired! Besides that, allocate a few hours to watch Malay movies, listen to Malay songs, recall, or play games and flashcards.