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MN ABE News

A place to get ABE news from across Minnesota.


New from Khan Academy: Interactive Grammar Lessons - By Marn Frank, Literacy & STAR Coordinator

Khan Academy or KA is a FREE online learning platform used by students from around the world. Most of KA is focused on math skills; however, it also includes science & engineering, computing, economics & finance, test prep, and arts & humanities. 

 Recently, Grammar was added as a topic under Arts & humanities. Note: Because it’s so new, Distance Learning teachers cannot yet recommend it; however, their students’ grammar time will be counted and reported.

KA’s resident grammarians, David and Paige, define grammar as “the study of language, its rules, and its conventions.” They provide an extensive series of Standard English lessons on parts of speech (nouns, verbs, pronouns modifiers, prepositions), punctuation (commas, apostrophes, colons, semi-colons), and syntax (sentences, clauses, conventions).

A Sampling: Nouns and Verbs

I recently browsed the noun and verb lessons. The noun concepts include singular, regular and irregular plural, common, and proper. The verb concepts include agreement, tense, linking, helping, irregular, simple, progressive, perfect, and modal. Each new concept is taught using YouTube instructional videos or tutorials (2-5 minutes in length). As David or Paige speak, key words, pictures, underlining, or circling appear on a blackboard in multiple colors. If a student wants to see or read the complete voiceover, closed captioning and transcripts are available. 

Here is an example of the online blackboard format:

After each tutorial, there are multiple-choice or drag-n-drop practice exercises where the grammar concepts are used in sentences. Helpful hints and immediate feedback are provided; rewarding "energy points" and badges are tallied in a personal dashboard. 

I found the tutorials and exercises to be highly engaging and quite entertaining. For example, do you know the mutant plurals? There are only seven: feet, women, men, teeth, geese, mice, lice. Do you know any foreign (Latin or Greek) plurals? A few include: cacti, criteria, curricula, fungi, theses, and our own consortia of ABE fame.

The Verdict

My thoughts on using KA’s new grammar lessons with ABE students? Although the concepts are basic and applied to meaningful text, the tutorials tend to present a lot of information at a quick pace. In addition, the lessons tend to use higher-level vocabulary words or examples. Thus, they may be most appropriate for Adult Secondary students…and possibly appropriate for High Intermediate ABE and Advanced ESL students.

You can find specific grammar-related resources from Khan Academy posted in the Writing Instruction Resources library on the ATLAS website under the categories of Grammar, Mechanics, and Sentence/Paragraph Writing.

As David and Paige would say: “You can learn anything. Marn out.”