English: unfoldingWord® Translation Academy

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Introduction to translationAcademy

Introduction to unfoldingWord® Translation Academy

This page answers the question: What is unfoldingWord® Translation Academy?

Welcome to unfoldingWord® Translation Academy

unfoldingWord® Translation Academy is a collection of information and instruction on the topic of Bible translation. The primary users that we have in mind are church-based mother-tongue translators. It is written in simple language wherever possible and is intended to enable anyone, anywhere to equip themselves so that they will be able to make high-quality translations of biblical content into their own language.

unfoldingWord® Translation Academy is designed to be highly flexible. It is modular in structure, making possible many pathways through the material, depending on the needs and interests of the user. Although it does recommend certain steps and procedures, it seeks to be paradigm-neutral, so that it can be used in a variety of settings and processes. It can be used in systematic, in-advance approaches, or it can be used for just-in-time learning (or both, as needed).

unfoldingWord® Translation Academy is organized into the following sections:

  • Introduction — introduces this resource, the Gateway Languages strategy, and translation
  • Process Manual — answers the question “what next?”
  • Translation Manual — explains the basics of translation theory and offers practical Bible translation helps
  • Checking Manual — explains the basics of checking theory and best practices for checking translations

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Why We Translate the Bible

This page answers the question: Why should we translate the Bible?

In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

The purpose of unfoldingWord® Translation Academy is to train you to become a Bible translator. Translating God’s Word into your language to help your people grow as disciples of Jesus is an important task. You must be committed to this task, take your responsibility seriously, and pray that the Lord will help you.

God has spoken to us in the Bible. He inspired the writers of the Bible to write his Word using the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek languages. There were about 40 different authors writing from around 1400 B.C. to A.D. 100. These documents were written in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. By recording his Word in those languages, God ensured that the people at those times and in those places could understand it.

Today, people in your country do not understand Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. But translating God’s Word into their language will enable them to understand it!

Someone’s “mother tongue” or “heart language” means the language they first spoke as a child and the one which they use at home. This is the language in which they are most comfortable and which they use to express their deepest thoughts. We want everyone to be able to read God’s Word in their heart language, even if you speak a language that has not been written down yet!

Every language is important and valuable. Small languages are just as important as the national languages spoken in your country, and they can express meaning just as well. No one should be ashamed to speak their dialect. Sometimes, those in minority groups feel ashamed of their language and try not to use it around the people who are in the majority in their nation. But there is nothing inherently more important, more prestigious, or more educated about a national language than there is about local languages. Each language has nuances and shades of meaning that are unique. We should use the language we are most comfortable with and with which we best communicate with others.

The unfoldingWord Project

This page answers the question: What is the unfoldingWord Project?

In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

The vision of unfoldingWord is the church in every people group and the Bible in every language.

Jesus commanded his disciples to make disciples of EVERY people group:

Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on the earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey all the things that I have commanded you. See, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ULT)

We have the promise that people from EVERY language will be in heaven:

“After these things I looked, and there was a huge multitude that no one could count—from every nation, tribe, people, and language—standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9 ULT)

Understanding the Word of God in one’s heart language is important:

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 ULT)

How Do We Do This?

How do we accomplish the goal of the church in every people group and the Bible in every language?

What Do We Do?


We create and make available for translation free and unrestricted biblical content. See https://www.unfoldingword.org/content for a complete list of resources and translations. Here are a few samples:

  • unfoldingWord® Open Bible Stories — unrestricted visual Bible stories comprising 50 key stories of the Bible, from Creation to Revelation, for evangelism and discipleship, in print, audio, and video (see https://www.openbiblestories.org/).
  • unfoldingWord® Literal Text — a ‘form-centric’ translation of the Bible for translators. It increases the translator’s understanding of the lexical and grammatical composition of the underlying text by adhering closely to the word order and structure of the originals (see https://www.unfoldingword.org/ult).
  • unfoldingWord® Simplified Text — a ‘functional’ translation of the Bible for translators. It increases the translator’s understanding of the text by simplifying grammar, adding implied information, and translating theological terms as descriptive phrases (see https://www.unfoldingword.org/ust).
  • unfoldingWord® Translation Notes — linguistic, cultural, and exegetical helps for translators. They exist for Open Bible Stories and the Bible (see https://www.unfoldingword.org/utn).
  • unfoldingWord® Translation Questions — questions for each chunk of text that translators and checkers can ask to help ensure that their translation is understood correctly. Available for Open Bible Stories and the Bible (see https://www.unfoldingword.org/utq).
  • unfoldingWord® Translation Words — a list of important biblical terms with a short explanation, cross references, and translation aids. Useful for Open Bible Stories and the Bible (see https://www.unfoldingword.org/utw).


We create translation, checking, and distribution tools that are free and open-licensed. See https://www.unfoldingword.org/tools for a complete list of tools. Here are a few samples:

  • Door43 — an online translation platform where people can collaborate on translation and checking, also the content and translation management system (see https://door43.org/).
  • translationStudio — a mobile app and a desktop app where translators can do offline translating (see https://ufw.io/ts/).
  • unfoldingWord app — a mobile app where Open Bible Stories and Bible translations can be distributed (see https://ufw.io/uw/).
  • translationCore — a program that enables comprehensive checking of Bible translations (see https://translationcore.com).


We create resources to train mother tongue translation teams. unfoldingWord® Translation Academy (this resource) is our primary training tool. We also have audio recording and training resources. See https://www.unfoldingword.org/training for a complete list of training materials.

Next we recommend you learn about:

Statement of Faith

This page answers the question: What do we believe?

In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

The official version of this document is found at https://ufw.io/faith.

The following statement of faith is in agreement with these historical creeds: Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, and Athanasian Creed; and also the Lausanne Covenant.

We believe that Christian belief can and should be divided into essential beliefs and peripheral beliefs (Romans 14).

Essential beliefs

Essential beliefs are the beliefs that define a follower of Jesus Christ and can never be compromised or ignored.

  • We believe the Bible to be the only inspired, inerrant, sufficient, authoritative Word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

  • We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; John 10:30).

  • We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 1:1-4; Philippians 2:5-11; 2 Peter 1:1).

  • We believe in the humanity of Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, and in His ascension to the right hand of the Father (Matthew 1:18,25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Hebrews 4:15; Acts 1:9-11; Acts 2:22-24).

  • We believe that every person is inherently sinful and so is deserving of eternal hell (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6-7).

  • We believe that salvation from sin is a gift of God, provided through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, attained by grace through faith, not by works (John 3:16; John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:3-7).

  • We believe that true faith is always accompanied by repentance and regeneration by the Holy Spirit (James 2:14-26; John 16:5-16; Romans 8:9).

  • We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the follower of Jesus Christ is enabled to live a godly life (John 14:15-26; Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 5:16-18).

  • We believe in the spiritual unity of all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, from all nations and languages and people groups (Philippians 2:1-4; Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:12,27).

  • We believe in the personal and physical return of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:30; Acts 1:10-11).

  • We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; the unsaved will be resurrected to eternal damnation in hell and the saved will be resurrected to eternal blessing in heaven with God (Hebrews 9:27-28; Matthew 16:27; John 14:1-3; Matthew 25:31-46).

Peripheral beliefs

Peripheral beliefs are all other beliefs in Scripture about which sincere followers of Christ may disagree (e.g. Baptism, Lord’s Supper, the Rapture, etc.). We choose to agree to disagree agreeably on these topics and press on together toward a common goal of making disciples of every people group (Matthew 28:18-20).

Translation Guidelines

This page answers the question: By what principles do we translate?

In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

The official version of this document is found at https://ufw.io/guidelines/.

The following statement on the principles and procedures used in translation is subscribed to by unfoldingWord and its contributors. All translation activities are carried out according to these common guidelines.

  1. Accurate — Translate accurately, without detracting from, changing, or adding to the meaning of the original text. Translated content should faithfully communicate as precisely as possible the meaning of the original text as it would have been understood by the original audience. (see Create Accurate Translations)
  2. Clear — Use whatever language structures are necessary to achieve the highest level of comprehension. This includes rearranging the form of a text and using as many or as few terms as necessary to communicate the original meaning as clearly as possible. (see Create Clear Translations)
  3. Natural — Use language forms that are effective and that reflect the way your language is used in corresponding contexts. (see Create Natural Translations)
  4. Faithful — Avoid any political, denominational, ideological, social, cultural, or theological bias in your translation. Use key terms that are faithful to the vocabulary of the original biblical languages. Use equivalent common language terms for the biblical words that describe the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. These may be clarified, as needed, in footnotes or other supplemental resources. (see Create Faithful Translations)
  5. Authoritative — Use the original language biblical texts as the highest authority for translation of biblical content. Reliable biblical content in other languages may be used for clarification and as intermediary source texts. (see Create Authoritative Translations)
  6. Historical — Communicate historical events and facts accurately, providing additional information as needed in order to accurately communicate the intended message to people who do not share the same context and culture as the original recipients of the original content. (see Create Historical Translations)
  7. Equal — Communicate the same intent as the source text, including expressions of feeling and attitudes. As much as possible, maintain the different kinds of literature in the original text, including narrative, poetry, exhortation, and prophecy, representing them with corresponding forms that communicate in a similar way in your language. (see Create Equal Translations)

Identifying and Managing Translation Quality

The quality of a translation generally refers to the fidelity of the translation to the meaning of the original, and the degree to which the translation is understandable and effective for the speakers of the receptor language. The strategy we suggest involves checking the forms and communicative quality of the translation with the language community, and checking the fidelity of the translation with the Church in that people group.

The specific steps involved may vary significantly, depending on the language and context of the translation project. Generally, we consider a good translation to be one that has been reviewed by the speakers of the language community and also by the leadership of the church in the language group so that it is:

  1. Accurate, Clear, Natural, and Equal — Faithful to the intended meaning of the original, as determined by the Church in that people group and in alignment with the Church global and historical, and consequently:
  2. Affirmed by the Church — Endorsed and used by the Church. (see Create Church-Approved Translations)

We also recommend that the translation work be:

  1. Collaborative — Where possible, work together with other believers who speak your language to translate, check, and distribute the translated content, ensuring that it is of the highest quality and available to as many people as possible. (see Create Collaborative Translations)
  2. Ongoing — Translation work is never completely finished. Encourage those who are skilled with the language to suggest better ways to say things when they notice that improvements can be made. Any errors in the translation should also be corrected as soon as they are discovered. Also encourage the periodic review of translations to ascertain when revision or a new translation is needed. We recommend that each language community form a translation committee to oversee this ongoing work. Using the unfoldingWord® online tools, these changes to the translation can be made quickly and easily. (see Create Ongoing Translations)

Open License

This page answers the question: What freedoms do users have with unfoldingWord® content?

In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

A License for Freedom

To achieve our vision of the church in every people group and the Bible in every language, a license is needed that gives the global church “unrestricted” access. We believe this movement will become unstoppable when the Church has unrestricted access. The Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License provides all the needed rights for translation and distribution of biblical content and ensures that the content remains unrestricted. Except where otherwise noted, all our content is licensed CC BY-SA.

The official license for Door43 is found at https://door43.org/en/legal/license.

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

This is a human-readable summary of (and not a substitute for) the license.

You are free to:

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material

for any purpose, even commercially.

The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

Under the following conditions:

  • Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
  • ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.


You do not have to comply with the license for elements of the material in the public domain or where your use is permitted by an applicable exception or limitation.

No warranties are given. The license may not give you all of the permissions necessary for your intended use. For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy, or moral rights may limit how you use the material.


unfoldingWord® is a registered trademark of unfoldingWord. Use of the unfoldingWord name or logo requires the written permission of unfoldingWord. Under the terms of the CC BY-SA license, you may copy and redistribute this unmodified work as long as you keep the unfoldingWord® trademark intact. If you modify a copy or translate this work, thereby creating a derivative work, you must remove the unfoldingWord® trademark.

This principle applies to trademarks from other organizations as well. The CC BY-SA license grants permission to make derivatives, but it does not grant permission to use trademarks of other organizations.

Attribution Statements

On the derivative work, you must indicate what changes you have made and attribute the work as follows: “The original work by unfoldingWord is available from unfoldingword.org/uta.” You must also make your derivative work available under the same license (CC BY-SA).

Suggested attribution statement for Door43 works: “Original work created by the Door43 World Missions Community, available at https://door43.org/, and released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/). This work has been changed from the original, and the original authors have not endorsed this work.”

Other works on Door43 may have different suggestions for attribution, please check the LICENSE files that are distributed with the content.

Attribution of Door43 Contributors

When importing a resource into Door43, the original work must be attributed as specified by the open license under which it is available. For example, the artwork used in unfoldingWord® Open Bible Stories is clearly attributed on https://www.openbiblestories.org.

Contributors to projects on Door43 agree that the attribution that occurs automatically in the revision history of every page is sufficient attribution for their work. That is, every contributor on Door43 may be listed as “the Door43 World Missions Community” or something to that effect. The contributions of each contributor are preserved in the revision history for that work.

Source Texts

Source texts may only be used if they have one of the following licenses:

See Copyrights, Licensing, and Source Texts for more information.

Gateway Languages Strategy

This page answers the question: How can every language be reached?

In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

The official version of this document is found at https://ufw.io/gl/.


The objective of the Gateway Languages strategy is to equip 100% of the people groups that comprise the global Church with biblical content that is released from copyright restrictions and made available in a language they understand well (a language of wider communication, also known as a “gateway language”) together with unrestricted translation training and tools that enable them to translate it into a language they understand fully (their own language). A Gateway Language is a language of wider communication through which second-language speakers of that language can gain access to content and translate it into their own language.

The Gateway Languages at the world level comprise the smallest number of languages through which content can be delivered to every Other Language via translation by bilingual speakers. For example, French is a Gateway Language for minority languages in francophone Africa since content available in French can be translated by bilingual speakers from French into their own languages.

At the country level, the gateway languages of a given country are the fewest languages of wider communication required for bilingual speakers in every minority language native to the country (not located there due to immigration) to gain access to content. For example, English is the Gateway Language for North Korea, because all people groups native to North Korea can be reached by translation of content into their language from English.


This model has two basic effects: First, it empowers all languages to “pull” content to their language once the content and helps have been “pushed” into a Gateway Language, thereby making that content accessible to every language of the world. Second, it limits the amount of translation that needs to be done as the translation helps only have to be translated into the Gateway Language. All Other Languages can translate only the biblical content, since no language will be dependent upon them for understanding the translation helps.

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Finding Answers

This page answers the question: Where can I find answers to my questions?

In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

How to Get Answers

There are several resources available for finding answers to questions:

  • unfoldingWord® Translation Academy — This training manual is available at https://ufw.io/ta and has much information including:
  • Introduction — introduces this resource, the Gateway Languages strategy, and translation
  • Process Manual — answers the question “what next?”
  • Translation Manual — explains the basics of translation theory and provides practical translation helps
  • Checking Manual — explains the basics of checking theory and best practices
  • Door43 Forum — A place to ask questions and get answers to technical, strategic, translation, and checking issues, https://forum.door43.org/
  • Helpdesk — email help@door43.org with your questions

Next we recommend you learn about: