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Can the Bible Help You Learn A Language?

Bible Study, learning language using the Bible
Bible Study 2 (Photo credit: DrGBB)
Seems like some people seem to think this is the better way to learn a foreign language. 

Let me explain, PLEASE!

I found the article below online and it was piquing my interest as I am a Christian and do know the Bible and read it most every day. At first glance this article seems to make sense. 

The advice is sound and seems to be written by someone who has experience with learning a language using the Bible. 

The argument is that the Bible is written in some different languages that makes it easy to compare one language to another by having the same general text in front of you. You find a paragraph in the English Bible and then look up chapter and verse in the text of the target language. If you know the alphabet and the script of the language then it would be very easy to sound out specific words and phrases, even sentences. 

This all seems good and true but what happens when first of all there are more than one translation of the Bible in the language you are learning? Could get quite confusing when words you find in the different translations do not seem to agree in meaning with the words you find in the English Bible.  

Which would be easier for you to memorize?

1.) The entire New York telephone book

2.) A small nursery rhyme

Scientific studies have shown that we learn best by absorbing small morsels of information, applying them in a practical manner, then building on what we know. As we add more chunks of information our minds correlate, collate, and link everything, referring back to previously learned facts to form a comprehensive sphere of knowledge.

What does this mean to you?

Don’t tackle a huge book of foreign language grammar or prose as an early learning project. Begin with smaller projects.

For example, you could start with a few paragraphs of a novel – memorizing the vocabulary – and proceeding to the next few paragraphs.

Why not choose the most widely published book in the world?

Even if you’re not a Christian, the Bible can be an invaluable tool for learning the foreign language of your choice. It is published in more languages than any other book, and there is a plethora of internet resources with complete texts available for FREE download.

Many foreign language Bible sites have FREE audio clips as well.

‘But the Bible is full of ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ and outdated language that nobody uses any longer.’

You’re right! The King James version would NOT be a good learning tool for anyone trying to learn English. However, there are many translations in modern English – and that is also the case with foreign languages.

Use your favorite search engine to do searches like ‘modern Bible translation French’, ‘modern Bible translation German’, or ‘modern Bible translation Spanish’. Do your research and find out what is available for the language you are learning.

Start with some of the smaller chapters and work up to the larger ones.

Make up a vocabulary list and memorize a few words at a time. If you need help with some difficult phrases, find an online foreign language forum and post a question. Most forums are full of helpful native speakers who will do their utmost to help you understand subtle nuances and connotations.

Download the audio clips, save them to your hard drive, and listen to them repeatedly – either on your computer’s sound system or a portable audio player. Repeat the words softly as you listen, paying meticulous attention to pronunciation. Progress slowly to speaking in a normal voice along with the narrator.

A good method is to start with the Psalms and Proverbs. Each chapter is a standalone piece of prose. Begin with the smallest and work through to the larger pieces.

Remember: baby steps first – and repetition – repetition – repetition. That’s the way babies learn. As adults it’s still the best way for us to learn.

Good luck with your foreign language education. It can be as much fun as you want to make it!

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