10 Best Tips On How To Speak Malay Quickly

December 22, 2020


Have you been learning Malay since months ago and wondered why there's not much progress? Well, this is the right place if you want to know how to accelerate your Malay language learning. Let's look at 10 useful tips to speak Malay quickly - all essential tips and notes on Malay pronunciation, speech, and articulation will be included for you just for free!


Top 10 Most Important Tips to Speak Malay Quickly

Wait a minute - why is only the spoken part of the Malay language mentioned? How about its written form, grammar, and vocabulary? That is because, in this blog post, we'll focus on the tips and guides to making you a fluent speaker as well as a better learner of the Malay language!

Before we dive into some of the most valuable Malay language tips, let's understand one basic concept - does pronunciation matter more in learning a language? The answer is; absolutely! Naturally, everyone learns languages so they can use them to speak with the native speakers of the languages. It's still true some people only learn languages for the sake of understanding and writing in the language, without even bothering to speak the acquired language.

In today's case, if you're learning Malay and wish to use it with the Malay locals, you'll see that by speaking the language, the development of your mastery and command of the language will accelerate twice as fast as before!

 


How To Speak Malay Like A Local?


1) Listen & Digest!

The first step before speaking Malay fluently is to learn Malay by your ears. Learn and understand how the native speakers of Bahasa Malaysia say common words like terima kasih (thank you), selamat tinggal (goodbye)and selamat pagi (good morning). Listen carefully to the pronunciation of these phrases and see how they are used. There are a few places you can go to in listening to how the Malay language is used by its native speakers; try resorting to their local TV channels or stop by the night markets in Malaysia for a full-on experience.

Apart from listening, try to identify the words, slang, and facial expressions often used when speaking Bahasa Melayu. Learn as much as you can about Malaysia and its national language, including its vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and pronunciation.



2) Imitate The Locals & Speak The Language!

After listening to the Malaysians (speaking Bahasa), the best tip is to repeat after them! Try imitating the local speakers as best as you can - after watching and listening to how Bahasa is used in action, try to parrot the locals by producing the same sounds and facial expressions. Try this tip every day, repetitively, maybe 10-20 times daily (for 1 or 2 words). Always remember that a little goes a long way. In this case, by the end of the week, you can look back and say "Hey, I've known more than 10 new words in Malay this week and I said it like a native speaker, hooray!!"

You might want to take a few steps back and include this fundamental tip in your Malay language learning! Try applying this method for 3 months straight and see how much improvement you'll make in speaking Malay - you might surprise yourself with your almost-native Malay pronunciation!



3) Differentiate Between Informal and Formal Malay

Another essential tip - you must know that Bahasa Malaysia has both its formal and informal spoken ways. In Malaysia, the colloquial Malay is called "bahasa pasar" while the formal, standard one is called "bahasa baku". You can see a lot of bahasa baku if you watch their local Malay news and official ceremonies such as the royal coronation and royal commission of military officers.

But then, whenever you watch Malay films, dramas or listen to Malay songs, most of them utilize the informal version of Bahasa Melayu, which is bahasa pasar. So, if you happen to come across Malaysian YouTubers speaking Malay, or heard your Malaysian colleagues speaking Malay, bear in mind that they're using bahasa pasar. Try looking for videos or podcasts on the Internet about the differences between the two. I suggest going to Youtube and look for 'Ucapan Bahasa Melayu' (Speech in Malay) if you want to listen to the standard version of Malay. For the informal/colloquial use of Malay, you can hit Netflix and watch Upin Ipin, and don't forget to turn on the subtitles!

By the end of this practice, you'll be able to distinguish the main difference between the two - the pronunciation and phonetics of formal and informal Malay language. If you listen carefully, you'll learn that the bahasa baku uses a lot of 'a' sound (as in the word spa) while bahasa pasar uses the 'e' sound more often (as in the vocal sound in the).



4) Remember Common Malay Phrases By Heart

Trust me, this tip will be instantly glued to you once you practice other tips weekly (or on a daily basis for faster results!). By seeing, listening, writing, spelling, typing, and saying some common Malay words, phrases, and expressions regularly, your brain will understand that you want to learn a new language.

By practising all these 10 tips, a signal will be sent to your brain and it will internalize the knowledge (of Bahasa Melayu) in return. By then, the Malaysian language would no longer sound alien to you! So, the only quickest way for you to learn Malay as well as say selamat pagi and other common phrases like a local is to adapt all these 10 tips. In time, you'll naturally digest all the basic phrases, words, and questions in the Malay language.



5) Learn Malay Slangs

If you've been struggling to blend in the Malaysian society, maybe this could be the one thing you have been missing out on! Like any other country and culture, Malaysia has its own set of unique slang and expressions. So, you might want to reconsider this important element if you haven't learned it yet. Apart from the usual terima kasih (thank you), nama saya (my name is), selamat tinggal (goodbye), and apa khabar (how are you), you should discover how the locals describe a thing, place, or person. With this trick up your sleeve, the locals may start approaching you even frequent than before! Of course, one of the tricks to flatter someone is by giving them compliments, so you can start by doing that.

BUT one thing you must remember; never overpraise or overcompliment a person, especially if you're newly acquainted (the locals may find you to be a little creepy then). Here are some examples of the do's and don'ts when describing things or people (best to avoid all the don'ts because the locals do not talk like that!):

 
  Compliment Do’s (✓) Don’ts (X)
Person You look beautiful today Awak nampak berseri hari ini Anda kelihatan cantik hari ini
Place Wow, your house is so clean Wah, bersihnya rumah awak Wah, rumah anda sangat bersih
Thing That shirt looks good on you Baju tu sesuai dengan awak Baju itu kelihatan baik untuk anda



6) Look Up For New Words & Try Them Out!

This method is basic, simple, and has proven to be effective. You can choose 1 or 2 Malay words you found or heard, either from books, audio, and online app, or an online course. Instead of just memorizing these words, you can start doing something different - try to write it on a paper, type it out on a screen, use it in a conversation and say it out loud. You can also look for the words in the Malay dictionaries or the Internet and see how it is employed in the spoken context. Look for 1-2 words a day and make this a daily practice for 3 months straight. It's a promisingly effective exercise to enrich your vocabulary and pronunciation.



7) Never Stop Practising

Another fundamental guide to language learning - always practise, practise and practise! The most productive and quickest way to speak Malay fluently is by using the language with people! Go around, find someone (or anyone) who speaks Malay and talk to them. You can start making new friends with the locals and get talking - use all the Malay phrases and vocabulary that you have and see how your new friends react. You can also ask them to help you correct the pronunciation in case if you get them wrong.

By practising non-stop, you'll improve much more quickly than your normal way of learning!



8) Sing-Along to Malay Songs!

If you find reading boring, then feel free to search for Malay singers and tune into their songs! If you enjoy entertainment more than books, then this method will definitely make your learning journey even more fascinating. Although it's a different technique, the drill is the same - listen to Malay songs, read the lyrics and write them down. If you love singing and want to practice your pronunciation, you can sing some of your favorite Malay songs in front of your local friends!



9) Try To Surround Yourself With Native Malay Speakers

Reaching tip number 9, you must understand now how being in direct contact with the local Malay speakers can positively impact your Malay speaking as well! If you're not able to meet, talk, and interact with the locals in person, you can easily get acquainted online. It's already sufficient if you have one - someone from Malaysia (especially native Malays) to chat and converse with you. In return, you can offer to teach other different languages to the locals so that both may benefit from the established friendship.



10) Indulge In Malay Pop Culture

One fact you MUST know before learning languages: EVERY LANGUAGE HAS ITS OWN CULTURE. Let's think about it; how can a society or country exist without languages? Well, they literally can't!

So, one of the quickest ways to improve and master Malay is by indulging in their local culture. By knowing their entertainment and music industry, you'll learn a lot of new vocabulary in no time. If you're travelling or currently in Kuala Lumpur, then you can straightaway go to Kuala Lumpur, the hub of Malaysia's entertainment industry. You can also discover the Pasar Seni, the main central market in the country, and try saying terima kasih around (while buying stuff, of course, don't say it randomly!).


You can easily start by watching children's films like Upin Ipin, Boboiboy, and Didi And Friends to pick up easy words, common phrases, and basic expressions. Although it may sound a bit childish, it's definitely the best and quickest way to learn Malay vocabulary and Malay grammar. Once you've got a hold of basic words, start listening to their songs for a broader range of vocabulary or watching local films.



More Ways To Learn Malay Language

All the #10 tips will definitely help to boost your Malay pronunciation. But if you're trying to find other ways to learn Malay, Ling App is the perfect place to go. It's a free, online language app that can teach you essential Malay grammar, words, vocabulary, pronunciation, and spelling through interactive games and quizzes. With such a fun way of learning, you’ll certainly get the hang of Bahasa Melayu in no time!

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Siti Sarah Binti Yahaya

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