Saturday, November 21, 2015

Do You Use Khan Academy for ELL Students?

Khan Academy has been an inspiration for me in so many ways. Their videos gave me a jumping off point when I began using the flipped classroom approach. (Read more about that in this old blog post – Have you flipped your classroom?) Watching their videos encouraged me to make some of my own, which you can now find on my YouTube Channel. But more recently, these videos have given me a chance to immerse my children in French and Arabic.

If you aren’t aware, I am currently a homeschooling mom. (You can learn more about our homeschooling adventure at my RV blog – RVing with the Rakis.) I left the classroom after 9 years in the classroom to stay home and homeschool my children when we left Morocco. I did this mainly so that my sons could continue to learn French and Arabic as they had been in Morocco. So we do reading, writing, grammar and math in French and Arabic every single week. What they have been lacking is immersion. They aren’t in a classroom with a bunch of other kids listening to the teacher speak in their target language all day. So recently we started looking around for videos to use as immersion. One place we especially struggle is Math vocabulary. My kids know how to do all of the work because we have covered the skills in English. However, reading the directions and word problems is much more challenging because Math can have such specific vocabulary. So off to the internet I went to find French and Arabic Math videos. Lo and behold I learned that Khan Academy has their videos translated into many, many different languages including French, Arabic, Spanish and Russian. You can use this link to find links all of the languages offered by Khan Academy

Using Khan Academy to Help Your ELL Students to better understand Math

Now I know that my situation is unique, but these links could easily be used to help our English Language Learning students with their Math and Science. Here are a few ways:

1.) ELL Center or ELL Homework - Give these videos to your students so that they can learn the material in their home language, while learning the vocabulary with you in class. This way they get the best of both worlds and can improve much faster.

2.) Share with your students’ parents. Khan Academy videos show the “American” way of doing Math, no matter what language they are in. So for example my sons learned a different way of subtracting and dividing when they were in Morocco. (I explain these differences in this old blog post – How do you divide?) So they were surprised when they started watching videos in Arabic showing strategies that they are used to seeing in their English materials. This could provide a great way for you to connect with the parents of your ELL students, as it could show them how you are teaching in a format that they can easily understand.

3.) Give your non-ELL students an “immersion” experience. Native English speakers can be rather rough on their ELL counterparts because they don’t understand how difficult it is to learn a new language. Help students understand by playing one of those videos in Russian or Arabic or Spanish to the whole class. Take time to talk about the things students did and didn’t understand and how they felt while watching the video.

For more blog posts about teaching ESL or ELL students, check out a series I used to run called Tips for Teaching ELL Students.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources