Indonesia is not an English speaking country. Bahasa Indonesia is the official language and there are more than 700 local languages spoken by 300 more ethnic groups throughout the country.
However, it does not mean that English is not taught in school. Indonesian students learn English since they are in primary school. Kindergartens nowadays even also teach English to toddlers as a result of considering that English is very important since there are million domestic and foreign tourists come to Indonesia, especially Bali. [Read also: A to Z Indonesian Words You Should Know for Traveling to Bali]
This brings out a question. Is English widely spoken in Bali? [Read also: What Language Do You Speak in Bali?] This article describes English skill level in Bali. English First (EF) conducted annual survey to find out the English skill level to non-English speaking countries in the world. The result of survey which was conducted in 2018 is surprising.
In 2018, Indonesia ranked 51 position out of 88 non-English speaking countries. It means that English skill level in Indonesia is still low compared to its neighboring countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei Darussalam. Yes, colonial history has connection with this condition. The three countries were British colony.
EF also explained that English skill level in Indonesia varies by province. Bali topped the list by obtaining score 54.46. Aside from Bali, there are 3 more provinces with high level of English skill. In second place is Jakarta Capital Region by 54.26. Yogyakarta Special Region is in the third position by getting score 53.21 and East Java secured the fourth place with score 53.02. Province with the lowest English skill level is South Sulawesi by gaining only 43.51.
Despite the highest level of English skill, not all Balinese speak English. Some people may speak English extremely fluent, but some just speak English for interaction and not very fluent.
Bahasa Indonesia is the lingua franca in the country and of course spoken in Bali. [Read also: How To Be Polite in Bali] English is widely spoken in Kuta, Nusa Dua, Seminyak, and Ubud where many foreign tourists stay. Outside these areas many Balinese do not speak much English at all and many elderly people do not speak Bahasa Indonesia but only Balinese language.
Most fellows you encounter who communicate routinely with guests or natives from English speaking countries speak sufficient English to enable you to communicate with them about basic things. Travel guides and taxi or ojek drivers speak pretty good English.
In remote area such as Bangli, Karangasem, or Buleleng where tradition is still deeply rooted and practiced, at these areas unfortunately, you are probably hard to find Balinese who are capable to communicate in English. [Read also: What Does Warung Mean in Bali]
We would like to conclude this with 2 points. One, that Bali is province in Indonesia with the highest level of English skill beated Jakarta Capital Region, Yogyakarta Special Region, and East Java. Two, although its highest rank, in fact not all Balinese speak fluent English. If you travel to area with most foreign tourists stay, you can easily communicate in English because English is widely spoken.