Khan Academy for ELT: Part 1

As you know, I am always searching for material to incorporate into my classes. In the past, I have written about TED Talks and News in Levels as great resources for supplemental listening materials, but it is, quite frankly, shocking to me that while Khan Academy is a widely recognized name and well respected educational organization, I have yet to really explore and use its resources to my advantage as an academic English instructor.

After much thought, I think I have largely ignored Khan Academy because I associate it with math, not English. While that may have been the case in the beginning, Khan Academy has definitely grown over the years and now covers a wide array of topics including art history, biology, and macroeconomics. My searches did not turn up anything specific to language arts or ESL; however, with a tagline like “You only have to know one thing: You can learn anything” and a growing library of completely free, high quality materials, I figured it was worth a closer look.

Without registering for any type of account whatsoever, it seems that you can access all available videos as well as readings. Here is what that might look like for you.

If you teach in an academic English program, as I do, you likely already have materials that touch upon college-level topics in areas such as sociology, business, history, engineering, art, and more. Use Khan Academy to find supplemental material. One of the units in the reading textbook I use covers various conservation challenges, and 5 Human Impacts on the Environment—an engaging, fast-paced, 10-minute video—would be a good extension of the topic and provide challenging listening input like that which students will need to learn how to decode in order to succeed in a college classroom.

If you teach at a high school, you may want to refer your students to resources about college admissions. For international students wanting to study in the United States, this is an exceptional resource for learning about an unfamiliar process. For American students, the FAFSA Walkthrough appears to go through every single step in a very complicated progress. What high school student wouldn’t benefit from this type of information? There is even SAT test preparation available.

If you teach math at any level, flipping just got a whole lot easier. Materials are organized based on standards in the United States for each grade level, but it does not appear to have left much out, and videos can certainly be used in whatever order or for whatever level you choose.

I will continue to hold out hope that Khan Academy will develop an ESL section soon, but in the meantime, take a look at the site now as there is so much you could do with what is available already. In my next post, I will fill you in on the various features and benefits of a free account with Khan Academy.

What are your experiences with Khan Academy? Answer this question and share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

About Tara Arntsen

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen recently completed her Master's degree in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California. She currently teaches in the Intensive English Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has taught ESOL in China, Japan, and Cambodia as well as online. Her primary interests are communicative teaching methods and the use of technology in education.
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2 Responses to Khan Academy for ELT: Part 1

  1. Tabby Riley says:

    Tara, thank you for sharing and I am looking forward to seeing what resources may be available to me as an educator in the health sciences area. I had not heard of the Khan Academy and am looking forward to looking into it more.

    • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

      That’s great, Tabby! Were you able to browse the site to find topics related to your subject area? I remember hearing about Khan Academy as a math website, so I was thrilled to discover it included a vast array of topics. Since the materials are produced at a very high standard, it makes for a great resource for finding videos and such.

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