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Tip 4.9 Creating Translation Assignments

One way to increase your students' understanding of Greek or Hebrew is through translation assignments. Graded Greek and Hebrew workbooks provide translation assignments that progress from easier to harder passages. Often included in these graded Greek and Hebrew readers are parsing and usage questions.

In this Classroom Tip we will demonstrate how to develop your own graded reader for your students. We will demonstrate how to choose an appropriate passage, how to include morphological information, and how to include definitions for uncommon words.

Identify the Translation Passage

For our example we will create translation assignments for the Greek New Testament. We will choose passages that are composed mainly of words that occur 50 or more times in the New Testament, so that the students do not stumble over a lot of words that they do not know.

The first step is to find the passages that are composed mainly of words that occur 50 or more times in the Greek New Testament. Classroom Tip 1.7 Highlight Words Used 50 or More Times shows how to create the word list we need. Follow those instructions to create the word list using the BNM Greek morphology version.

Once you have created the word list, search the word list using the Command Line. Set your search version as the BNM. Place your cursor on the Command Line, then right-click to open the context menu. Select Insert Word List File Name, and then select the word list file that you created and run the search.

Display the Stats Tab to see what passage has the highest percentage of hits. In the Stats Tab use the following settings:

  • Set the "what to plot" dropdown box as "% hits in chap/words in the chapter"
  • Set the display order to "Descending"
  • Under the Options button set the Detail Level to "Chapter"

Notice that John 17 has the highest percentage of hits in the chapter. This would be a good first passage to use, since most of the vocabulary it contains is vocabulary that the students should already know. For other assignments you may want to choose passages from books written by other authors. The first chapter of a Pauline writing is Romans 10. Mark 9 is a little further down the list, and then appears Matthew 20, followed further down the list by Luke 24. You may not want to include the entire chapter if the chapter is too long.

You can also use the same word list file to search on Greek morphology texts other than the New Testament. For example, you can search the BLM Greek Septuagint morphology version using the word list. Jeremiah 49 has the highest percentage of common New Testament vocabulary. Using the APM Apostolic Fathers Greek morphology version, 2 Clement 9 has the highest percentage. Passages in Philo have a lower percentage of common New Testament words, but the Apocalypse of Sedrach 3 (APS 3:1-8) in the OPM Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Greek morphology is a good passage to include. Because the word list was created using the BNM, a message box will appear when you use the word list to search another version. Click Yes to disregard the message and continue the search.

Create the Translation Reports

Now that you have a list of passages that have a high percentage of common New Testament vocabulary, you can use the Report Generator to create translation reports. To open the Report Generator, select Tools | Importing/exporting information | Report Generator from the main BibleWorks menu.

We will create a separate report for each passage. Our first report will be for John 17:1-6. In the Verse Range section of the BibleWorks Report Generator window, set the version as BNM, and the verse range as Joh 17:1-6.

Under the Lexicons section uncheck all lexicons except for the UBS Greek Dictionary. We will choose this lexicon because it provides briefer lexicon entries than the other lexicons. Under the Versions section include only the BNT version, and include only the BNT as the version to analyze.

Because we assume (or even require) that the students know the words that occur 50 times and higher in the Greek New Testament, under the Lexicon Filtering section we will put 50 in the box to "Exclude (Grk) Lex words if freq >=". This means that no lexicon entry will be included in the report if the word appears 50 times or more in the Greek New Testament.

Under the Report Options section we will uncheck every box except "Include Lexicon Entries" and "Include Morphological Analysis".

After you have set these options in the Report Generator, press the Build Report button to create the report. The report lists the verse reference and verse of Greek text, followed by the morphological analysis of each word in the order in which it appears in the verse. At the end of the document are the lexicon entries for each word of the passage that appears less than 50 times in the Greek New Testament.

Create a report for each of the passages that you want to use as translation assignments. You can edit the reports using the BibleWorks Editor. You can also save the reports as RTF (Rich Text Format) or HTML and open them in a word processing program for further editing.

Translation Report Options

There are a number of ways to tailor these assignments to provide additional information or additional questions for your students. Below are some ideas for you to consider:

Quizzes on Morphology

You can require the students to not only translate the passage, but also to provide the lemma and identify the morphology of selected words. After you create the report, remove the lemma and morphological information of the words that you want the students to identify. Only keep the inflected word as it appears in the text. You might want to use underlining, brackets, bold, or colored text to help the students see what words they need to identify.

Text without Morphological Analysis

Perhaps you want the students to translate the passage, but you do not want to quiz the students on morphology or even to provide the morphological information. In this case, uncheck the box to "Include Morphological Analysis" before you generate the report.

Text without Lexical Analysis

Perhaps you want the students to use their own lexicon to look up the words in the translation exercises. If so, you can uncheck the "Include Lexicon Entries" checkbox in the Report Options section before you create the report.

Adding Grammatical Usage Questions

You might want to add explanatory remarks or provide grammatical usage questions for your students to answer for each verse. Write such remarks or grammatical usage questions in Verse Notes in the Notes Tab. When you create the report, check the box to "Include Verse Notes" in the Report Options section. Your Verse Notes will appear immediately below the verse content and before the morphological analysis.


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