Associate Professor David Reeve

Associate Professor David Reeve

Associate Professor David Reeve, University of NSW

Transports of delight: popular culture language themes on buses and angkot

When students are in Indonesia, I encourage them to learn a lot from their surrounds, including what they see along the way as they travel: all sorts of ads, street signs, city slogans, shop names, truck decorations and so on. This helps create an active interaction with a rich variety of language input, helping with several language areas, from vocabulary and grammar to major cultural aspects. One aspect that fascinates me is all the names, words and phrases decorating public transport, blended with pop-art decoration, on becak, angkot, buses and trucks – striking aspects of popular culture. In this presentation I would like to talk in particular about the ways in which language and decoration on angkot and bis demonstrate popular values in West Sumatra; set within a wider discussion of using these sorts of realia within the Australian class-room.

Signs of the times: Using Indonesian ads and promotional material to enliven teaching

Advertisements are created by experts to make language striking, effective and memorable, so as teachers we are lucky to be able to use the results freely in our classes. Introducing Indonesian ads into our teaching enriches language acquisition. A good collection of Indonesian signs and advertisements can be used to add liveliness and depth to classes, yet the language involved has not been the subject of much study. I am struck by the frequency with which Indonesian promotional materials and messages use rhyming and rhythmic slogans to get their message across and hammer it home. Such material is quite easy to acquire yet it is a highly effective teaching aid in the class-room. Why don’t we make more use of it?


David Reeve has been visiting Indonesia for over 45 years, as a diplomat, researcher, historian, visiting lecturer, beach comber and project manager. He has lived in Indonesia for some sixteen years, and worked at six Indonesian universities. He was a founding lecturer in the Australian Studies program at Universitas Indonesia in the 1980s. He had a three-year stretch at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta and Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang in the 1990s, as resident director for the ACICIS program which takes Australian students to study in Indonesian universities. He has written on Indonesian politics, Indonesian language, the Indonesian diaspora and Australian-Indonesian relations. David retired from his position at UNSW ten years ago and is currently completing a biography of the Indonesian historian Ong Hok Ham.