20 – Learn To Speak Bemba Online Using The Bible


The Holy Bible is a revered book of devotion for inspiration and instruction. It can also help you learn to speak Bemba!

The method outlined below is improvised from what is available on the internet at the moment. If you have any suggestions on how this method can be improved on, please feel free to let us know by posting your comments in the box below. (Please see update 7th January, 2016 below)

The idea is simply to use three searchable versions of the Bible.  One is in English, the second in Bemba and the third is an audio version in Bemba. (We could not find a suitable single searchable English version that combines the convenience of the two types shown below – hence the two English versions).

You open three separate windows in your internet browser to have easy access to each of the windows.

Photo by David Ball

There are numerous conversations on different topics in the Bible. The better your knowledge of the Bible, the less you need the search functions.

Search for some words in English(text) to get a list of all the passages in the Bible where your chosen words appear. Choose a passage to open and play the equivalent in the Bemba audio window.

As the audio starts, you begin to follow the verse in Bemba(audio) while looking at the words in the English (text) version. By comparing the activity in the three windows, it is possible to learn some useful Bemba words.



You will need to open these three files on your computer or smart phone at the same time, in different tabs of your internet browser:

  1. A searchable version of the Bible 
  2. A copy of the Bible open in another tab in your internet browser
  3. A talking version (MP3) of the Bemba Bible open in another tab (Currently, only the New Testament is available)


  1. Under the Tools menu, create a folder and name it e.g. Bemba Bible
  2. Using FireFox internet browser, bookmark each of the above websites and place the book marks in the folder you made in (1)
  3. From now on, you can come to this file of bookmarks
  4. From the Bookmarks menu, open files (1) and (2) by clicking on “Open All Bookmarks” (In Different Tabs of same window)
  5. Next, open file (3) in a New Window
  6. Then resize the windows to be able to see them side by side
  7. Search for a specific scripture in the English version of the Bible (in window (1))
  8. Select one of the verses to open in the next window (Window 2) containing the second English version in text format
  9. In the separate(Bemba audio) window (3), select the appropriate chapter and verse
  10. Press Play in the Audio window and follow the speaker while following along in window (2) – English text.

By setting up the above shortcuts, it becomes possible to open these windows faster next time you use the method.

Three browser windows - kitweonline

id=”attachment_4609″ align=”aligncenter” width=”600″ caption=”Screen shot: Three browser windows opened – kitweonline”

If you relax and try to have fun with it, you will begin to see that it is possible to follow part of the conversation. Initially aim to pick out the words that are pronounced the same in English and Bemba, e.g. names of people and places.

With a bit of practice, you can begin to get some idea of the construction of sentences here and there.

We conceed this is no substitute for an App that you can download to your phone and ask it to do a direct translation of what you are saying. But then, while we await the Bemba translating app, this can be a source of learning and fun.

What do you think? Does an App (Application Software) to do this already exist or is this an idea for someone in Kitwe to work on and produce an App that can sell worldwide with different versions of the Bible in all 72 Zambian languages and hundreds of other languages worldwide?

Send in your comments. If you do try this method, let us know how you get on.

P/S If there is enough interest expressed here, we can do a video showing this method in action.


Please see update 7th January, 2016:

Unfortunately, the method referred to above will not work with the quoted resources because the pages have been deleted or moved.

Currently, copies of the Bible in different world languages can be found here: https://www.bible.com/en-GB/versions -The Bemba version appears under “ChiBemba”

You can also get the Bible in different Zambian languages here: http://www.biblesociety-zambia.org/index.php?page=shop.browse&category_id=9&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=96

Other References:

Free KING JAMES VERSION – (Downloadable PDF): http://www.turnbacktogod.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/the-holy-bible.pdf



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