After her first class at Dallas International University (DIU) last summer, Tonya Slaubaugh was recommended by her professor for a groundbreaking job at SIL International. Now, she is helping create Bible study tools that people can listen to.

No Reading Necessary

The process of oral translation has revolutionized Bible translation by making it possible for those who cannot read or write to participate.

Still, almost all in-depth Bible study tools, like commentaries and Bible dictionaries, are available exclusively in written form. This creates a barrier for non-literate translators who want to understand the Bible deeply.

Tonya and her team at SIL are addressing that gap by converting study tools from written English to spoken English. These audio resources will then be translated into languages around the world. Tonya wants to make sure that all Bible translators have access to a deeper understanding of the Bible—no reading necessary.

Learning through Story

Tonya’s job is more than reading study tools aloud. She is translating, not between languages, but between learning styles.

Her team recently translated a resource that explains the glory of God. The written version gives an abstract, dictionary-type definition. That’s what people expect when they’re used to reading and writing.

In the oral version, Tonya and her team don’t give a definition at all. Instead, they tell a series of carefully chosen Bible stories that illustrate God’s glory. She is confident that this storytelling approach will connect more deeply with oral learners than a read-aloud definition ever could.

It Started at DIU

Everything Tonya knows about orality, she learned at DIU.

In AL5308 Oral Translation, she learned through experience how to translate without relying on written texts. Her class translated three passages of Scripture from Hebrew or Greek into spoken English, gaining more independence each time.

“By the end,” Tonya says, “I was confident that I could lead an oral translation session.” Now, she uses that skill every day!

Tonya has several DIU classes left before she graduates with her MA in Bible Translation (with Dallas Theological Seminary). Then, she plans to spend 3 years training on-the-job to be a Bible consultant.

Tonya hopes she’ll get to work on an Oral Bible Translation project. Mostly, though, she is excited to work with a small group of translators toward knowing God better through his Word.

Ready to follow Tonya into the world of Bible translation? DIU offers several Bible translation programs to prepare you for a variety of roles around the world today. Explore them all today and inquire to connect with an Admissions counselor.