Introducing Yoshida “Ochie” Chandra DeMeulenaere, Co-Founder & School Director of Cinta Bahasa

Introducing Yoshida “Ochie” Chandra DeMeulenaere, Co-Founder & School Director of Cinta Bahasa

Yoshida “Ochie” Chandra: Cinta Bahasa

Yoshida “Ochie” Chandra was born in Padang, West Sumatra, in 1982. As a child she enjoyed reading, gardening, making scrapbooks, writing poetry and making up stories and drawing pictures of the characters with her twin sister. After graduating with a degree in English Literature at Padang’s Andalas University in 2004, she started working as a freelance interpreter in Sumatra for the US Embassy during that year’s General Election. Ochie then moved to Jakarta and worked as a copywriter in several advertising agencies. From 2008 to 2010 she taught English, Desktop Publishing and Advertising at Bina Nusantara University. In 2010, Ochie moved to Ubud and began working for the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival before founding the Cinta Bahasa Indonesian Language School with her husband in 2010. The school now averages about 20 regular students each month.

Why did you choose to study English?

It was simply because I liked it. I liked hearing it, speaking it, writing it and reading it. I started studying English when I was 6 years old by watching Sesame Street. I never thought it was important back then, it was just fun. Later on in high school, I started using and speaking English regularly. I learned the language naturally by watching English language TV programs and movies with English subtitles and listening to English language music I liked. Then I went for formal training.

Why did you base your language school in Bali?

I decided to move to Bali after volunteering for UWRF because I felt stimulated by all of the artistic things going on. It was a lifestyle choice. We decided to base Cinta Bahasa in Bali because there weren’t any other private Indonesian language schools here like there are in Yogya. Bali is also where the majority of foreigners live in Indonesia. Another big reason is that people living in the cities who want to learn Indonesian are very busy with their work and commuting. We prefer to teach students in Bali’s more relaxed setting so that they are able to better focus on their language learning, which is very important if they intend to become comfortably fluent speakers.

Are most of your students foreign?

Yes, all of them are. We have received requests to provide Bahasa Indonesia instruction for Indonesians who didn’t do so well in the subject at school, or who came from areas where Bahasa Indonesia was rarely spoken, but there are many other options for them to learn Indonesian such as with a public school teacher. The skills needed to teach Bahasa Indonesia to Indonesians are very different than the skills needed to teach Bahasa Indonesia to foreigners.

Who is your “typical” student?

We have three main types of students: first, residents of Bali who are here with their families or who have retired and intend to stay permanently; second, executives, managers and employees who need to be able to conduct business, day-to-day affairs and manage their staff using Indonesian; third, people who are here temporarily to conduct research, check their product export orders to their country and those who are volunteering or interning with companies and NGOs in Bali.

What do you mean by “learner-centered” language training?

Many schools are focused on their course outline, the students being only a secondary consideration. The student arrives and they are put through the course like they are on a moving sidewalk, whether they understand what they are learning or not. Far too often the result is that the student completes the course without being able to actually use the language easily on a daily basis.

What is unique about Cinta Bahasa?

We provide a comfortable and stimulating learning environment. We have conversational, public speaking and singing groups. We have barbecues and events like Kafe Bahasa at Bar Luna. We encourage our students to get to know one another and motivate them to speak Bahasa Indonesia wherever and whenever possible. We believe in building a mixed community in Ubud, which is essential if relations between all of the nationalities and cultures are to remain harmonious.

How does the cost of your language courses compare with other English language schools on Bali?

We are cheaper than other schools at our level of expertise, but we are more expensive than those who are not. But learning the language of the country you are living in is worth the investment.

Are any of your staff native speakers of English?

My husband and School Advisor, Stephen, is from Canada. All six of our professional career teachers speak English, but being fluent in English is not required because our methodology from the very start is to teach primarily using Bahasa Indonesia. Many of our French, Russian, German, Swiss, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Thai students don’t speak English and fluency in that language is not so important or popular.

What is the most difficult aspect of teaching foreigners Indonesian?

The challenge is to create a new space in the brain for the new language to fill. Everyone who learns a second language has to take this step, which is uncomfortable at first. Speaking a different language also means to think and see the world in a different way. Not everyone wants to leave their comfort zone and learn a new language, but they will be well rewarded if they do!

Do you have any future plans?

My husband and I want to expand Cinta Bahasa to other places and develop some new language programs. Personally, I want to publish my poetry books with my sister.

How may readers contact Cinta Bahasa?

Our school is across the road from Indus Restaurant in Campuhan, our skype address is cinta.bahasa, our email is, our phone number is 0812 3916 5005 and our website is

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Copyright © 2012 Bill Dalton
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