Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Using the Holy Bible as an Authentic Language Learning Text

Foreign Language Learning

There are a slew of commercial textbooks, guidebooks and all manner of language learning study aids when studying English as a foreign or second language. The same is true for most other main stream, major languages like French, German, Italian, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese among scores of others. This is all well and good. But with approximately 6912* languages spoken and used worldwide, it’s still a daunting task to come up with “authentic” language texts. This can be especially true in any of the “lesser” tongues of the world which may be spoken in tightly-knit, compact regions or among a specialized peoples or other ethnic aspect.

The Holy Bible

The Holy Bible, in its entirety or in part is available in more than 376 languages world wide in 236 countries and lands. Being so widely available, it can be easily accessed by the vast majority of English or foreign language learners throughout the globe.

Multiple Translations Available

In major languages such as English, Spanish, German and Arabic, which have undergone extensive evolution and linguistic changes during the last century or two, multiple translations of the Holy Bible are available. Consider English as one distinct example. There is the King James Version of the Holy Bible first published in 1611, during Shakespeare’s era, but which is still popular and well-used even today. This is despite the fact that it employs the use of Elizabethan or Shakespearean English throughout. Let’s examine an example from the King James Version at Revelation 1: 8 which reads,

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

Many additional bible versions exist in the English language: the Duoay - Rheims version, American Standard edition, the Revised Standard edition, and nearly 100 others.

Modern-day English Language Bible Versions

Then we can contrast this with several additional bible translations using Englishes from the early 1800s up to our present day. Translations such as the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, frequently used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, is an example of a bible version which uses modern-day English language vocabulary and expressions to accurately convey the writings which convey information and human historical events dating back nearly 6000 years. Compare this same scripture again, Revelation 1:8 as quoted from the New World Translation,

“I am the Al´pha and the O•me´ga,” says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.”

Authentic Language Lexis and Expressions

Whether the Holy Bible version used is ancient or more modern, still authentic English language vocabulary and expressions are used making it a prime English language learning text. The Holy Bible’s format includes a broad variety of grammatical contexts, including, direct quotations, direct and indirect questions, simple, compound and complex sentences, phrasal verbs, both regular and irregular verbs and a vast array of vocabulary. There’s action, adventure, suspense, drama, romance, intrigue and ever horror. Virtually every venue of human emotion and experience are represented in the pages of the Holy Bible, a truly unique book no matter which language you may read or study it in.

From Genesis to Revelation

So despite a plethora of English or other foreign language learning texts, the Holy Bible is an outstanding resource for learning practical aspect of many languages in an authentic language context. It's sixty-six books, from Genesis to Revelation can not only provide extensive use of language in context but even provide practical guidance from Jehovah God for living in our present day.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 135 countries worldwide. Get your FREE, pdf format report on CD or via e-mail, "If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

1 comment:

Seffliva said...

I am agreed with you there that the Holy Bible is an outstanding resource for learning practical aspect of many languages. I can compare my first language to the second language to learn. Since like what you've said, it was translated for more than 300 language. Anyway, thanks for the post!
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