Bahasa Melayu

Dynamic Language Centre in Penang

Dynamic Language Centre

We have had a real struggle with our language learning, especially when it comes to helping our children become comfortable in Bahasa Melayu. We tried several strategies, formal and informal education without much success. We’ve finally found a workable solution at Dynamic Language Centre in Krystal Point, here in Penang.

Our struggle to learn Bahasa Melayu

Informal education

One of the first things we did soon after moving to Penang is to start getting out into the community and finding some other kids for our children to play with.  Our neighborhood playground was a good place to start.  What we found is that most kids at our playground play in almost a language vacuum.  They’ll chase each other, or have rudimentary phrases like, “You go” or “My turn”.  Beyond that there isn’t much language to learn at the playground.

As we made friends in the neighborhood, with families with kids, we’d invite them over to play, or get invited over.  Again, it seemed as though either they play in English, or the language was at a very basic level.

My working theory is that language use at play-time is usually at a lowest common denominator level.  Our kids need to have some words, phrases and other tools going into play-time to help them learn new words when they play.

Formal education

We have tried putting our middle child in tadika, preschool and kindergarten.  Our first warning sign when calling around to the various tadika that were recommended to us, was their hesitation to take our foreign children as students.  Their main focus is preparing pre-school children to be ready to enter the Malaysian school system, either the public school system or private institutions like the Chinese schools.  They felt that the expectations of foreigners, Americans especially, would not be met.  In retrospect, they were right.

My daughter stuck it out for two months and loved the social interactions with children her own age.  She got to dance and paint which aren’t really part of the homeschool routine.  But as we evaluated what she was learning, it was pretty low especially when it came to language.

The school we chose to put her in has an hour of Bahasa Melayu a day, and an hour of Mandarin a day.  But a lot of that was copying in workbooks, and coloring pages.  There is a lot of rote learning, not a lot of interactive learning.

Dynamic Language Centre

We learned about Dynamic Language Centre early on.  Our friend Kenny (who guest authored this post about his experience riding a motorbike) was an English teacher there over the past summer.  We know that they do a great job teaching English, but we didn’t know that they teach Bahasa Melayu as well.

The fact is that they have over a decade of experience helping foreigners adjust to living in Penang, not just learning language but culture as well.

There is a 6-lesson (2hr per lesson) course that covers:

  • Malaysian history and culture
  • Traditional games and  Malaysian food
  • Basic language introduction
  • Basic greets
  • Ordering food
  • Road signs
  • Directions
  • Numbers
  • Local Fruit

This short course is designed for new arrivals, tourists and MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) holders.  They’ve taught people from all over the world; including people from USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea.

children participating in Interactive classroom language learning for Bahasa Melayu at Dynamic Language Center, located at Krystal Point in Penang, Malaysia

Interactive classroom language learning for Bahasa Melayu at Dynamic Language Center

Children’s language learning class

For our children, they are participating in a pilot program for children.  Right now, they are learning vocabulary interactively.  There is a lot of listening, no writing or speaking at this early stage.  And they are learning it from a native speaker of Bahasa Melayu.  She’s a wonderful teacher with a lot of patience for the little girls.

Check out the website for Dynamic Language Centre,  or call +60 4 642 2829

Let them know you found out about them on

Have you had any experience at Dynamic Language Centre?  Post your review in the comments below.



3 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - February 1, 2013 at 5:55 AM

Categories: Bahasa Melayu, Culture and Language   Tags:

Fruit Stand: Nona

I found this curious looking fruit the last time I was at the wet market.  The shopkeeper called it a custard apple.  I took it home and tried it and I really loved it.  My family found it to be too sweet.  You know it’s pretty sweet when a five-year-old thinks it’s too sweet.

The locals call this fruit a nona.  I have since found out that it is the sweet cousin of the sirsak that we found in Indonesia.  Sirsak is called soursop in English, and I’ve heard that in parts of the world, nona, is called sweetsop.   Read more…

2 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - August 1, 2012 at 6:29 AM

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Language Lesson: Numbers in Bahasa Melayu

This week our language lesson is going to be a practical one.  Bahasa Melayu is one of the languages in Penang that you will encounter when you are living in Penang.  I believe that language learning can’t just be memorizing vocabulary.  It has to be something you will use.  Everyone uses numbers in Bahasa Melayu to shop, not just the Malay.

The scenario is going to the market.  You see something you want to buy.  You pick it up and you need to ask the seller how much it costs. Read more…

3 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - July 27, 2012 at 3:26 AM

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Language Lesson: What to call people

You can get around in Penang, Malaysia fairly well if you’re a monolingual English speaker.  Almost everyone has some degree of English ability.  But that isn’t true of the rest of the country, and it isn’t going to help you get to know people here.  You should consider getting to know one of the other languages that are spoken here.  A good choice would be Bahasa Melayu. An early way to get into the community and into the lives of people who live here is to know what to call them. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - July 19, 2012 at 6:20 AM

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A Few Key Local Words You’ll Need

Bahasa Melayu

Here is a short list of words you’ll see on signs in Penang, Malaysia.  Hopefully this will kick start some language learning for you.



Bandar–downtown area, city.  Equivalent to Indonesian “kota”


Gerai–eating stall or small restaurant

Jabatan–Office, e.g. Jabatan Pos means Post Office


Kedai–shop/store.  Equivalent to Indonesian “toko/warung”

KOMTAR–the hexagonal shapped skyscrapper in downtown Georgetown–key landmark.

Selekoh–tight turn, bend or curve in a road

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - June 18, 2012 at 4:59 AM

Categories: Bahasa Melayu, Language   Tags: