Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Salman Khan Speaks at GEL (Good Experience Live) Conference

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(jumpy music)


Salman: It's exciting to be here.

Well as Mark said, I am the founder and the faculty of the Khan Academy.


Very bureaucratic organization.


And as he said, I started off, just a little background on me,

I kind of have a techie background, a math background.

And then I sold out, and I became an analyst at a hedge fund.

But while I was an analyst at a hedge fund,

I always had this little bit of an itch to teach.

And no one believes me, but my motivation for working at a hedge fund,

I didn't even know, someone told me it's the

best job to learn about everything.

You get to see what happens to crop prices when an oil tanker

in this part of the world disappears, and then that happens,

and gold prices ...

That's a great job, and then someone else said and it pays pretty well.

I said, "Oh."

But I was at a, I sold out, I was working as an analyst at a hedge fund,

and I started tutoring my cousins in New Orleans.

And we would do this kind of remote tutoring type of thing,

and we'll talk more about the form factor,

because that's what I really want to make this talk about.

And I wanted to scale up, so I just started making YouTube videos.

And fast forward about four or five years.

and as Mark said, it's now fourteen hundred videos.

I started just doing Algebra.

And after about seventy videos, I said, "Gee, that's Algebra."

And this was kind of a part time thing for me.

And then I said, "Maybe I can do Pre-Algebra too."

And then another seventy videos later, I said, "That's Pre-Algebra.

"I'll do Trigonometry. And maybe Calculus.

"And maybe I'll do Arithmetic. And I'll do Physics."

And before we know it, fast forward, there's fourteen hundred videos,

like Mark had mentioned.

And the YouTube people told me that it's now the most used open course

video library on, definitely on YouTube.

More views than MIT, and Stanford, and Berkeley.

And as far as I know the Internet.

And this is all from-

(laughter and applause)

And this is all from one dude who is a guy working at hedge fund

in his part time with no budget whatsoever,

really just starting to tutor his cousins.

And now it's sixty thousand video views, and fourteen million views,

two hundred thousand unique students a month.

And you can kind of view it as it's the largest school in the world.

But before I go into the actual why, and I want to make this kind of a

conversation about why I think it's working, because I think it

has ... it can be moved to other domains in all of our lives, I think.

And I think it will tell us something about how we learn and all of that.

I want to show you a quick video, just so you understand

the form factor, and then we can talk a little bit about

why, maybe we collectively think it might be working.

So if you start up the video.

Four x squared, squared, plus two times the product of both terms

two times four x squared, times y squared, plus y squared, this term

In October of eighteen o five, in October of eighteen o five,

the French Navy gets destroyed by the British in the Battle of Trafalgar.

This is Trafalgar.

It's actually written here.


And they get destroyed by Napoleon's good old friend Admiral Horatio Nelson.

Horatio Nelson.

So this guys was definitely a thorn in Napoleon's side.

Horatio ...

D eight positive T cell.

It has a C D eight proteins on it.

And this would be called a C D four positive.

C D four positive T cells.

P of x y i plus q of x y j.

Right this is just a vector field, over ...

Problem thirty four.

A landscaper estimates that landscaping a new park will take

one person forty-eight hours.

If four people work on the job, and they each work six hour days,

they each work six hour days ...


And I'm curious, and don't, feel free, I'm very open to the negative feedback.

What are the things, if you were to just compare that to your experience

when you might have been exposed to some of those same concepts

either when you learned it at high school or in college,

or even if you've learned it watch some of the other online video libraries out there,

what are the things that stood out to you, that were a little different?


Audience member: You can fast forward.

Salman: Yeah, no that's actually a huge.

And I think that's online video in general.

The comment was that you can fast forward.

I was going to talk about this later, but there's this whole notion that

anything online is kind of just nice to have.

It's not as good as a live interaction.

And I think that assumption is something,

this bias that we always have in life,

that something for free, that has zero incremental delivery cost

has got to be worse than something that's really

expensive and hard to do.

And if you think about it, there is value of being in a room together.

It's something like jail.

It's a shared experience.

We can get inspired together.

But if we're, if it's a broadcast lecture,

and it's kind of mundane, and no one's really ...

there's not a lot of interaction.

it's an interesting question to say, "Gee, is video in any way

"less good than an actual live interaction?"

And because you can pause.

You can repeat it.

You don't have to take notes.

It is actually something as far as I can tell, better in every way.

You watch it on your own terms, whenever you want to watch it.

If you don't understand a concept, you can watch a previous video.

You can look on Wikipedia and see what that word meant.

So, yeah that is one of the ... and I would say that's

general of all online video, not just the Khan Academy.

Any other things that just kind of popped out at, when you saw those videos?


Audience Member: You don't have to worry about pleasing the teacher.

In other words, you weren't distracted by the social interaction.

You're just listening for your own benefit.

Salman: Right. Right.

So the comment was that you're not worried about pleasing the teacher.

You're just doing it for your own benefit.

And that's actually ... when I started, like my teaching career,

and it's full time now, I quit my job in September,

I was tutoring my cousins and I was doing it remotely.

They were in New Orleans.

I was in Boston.

Now I'm in Northern California.

And they were doing really well.

But then I started doing these YouTube videos.

And I assumed it was not going to be as good as the live interaction.

I assumed, "Oh this is just nice to have for them.

"Maybe other people will watch it."

I kind of said, "Oh, it's a little bit of a legacy.

"Maybe my great grandchildren might be able to watch,

"learn Calculus from these videos."

I just thought it would be a nice thing to put out there.

But the first point of feedback I got from my cousins,

was it was a little bit of a back-handed compliment,

is that you're better on YouTube than you are in person.


And after a little bit of getting, not being defensive about that,

I think they were saying exactly this,

when we had the live interaction and the one-on-one session,

that's stressful for the student.

That's stressful ... "Oh do you get this?"

And they might kind of get it.

It might be like an eighty percent understanding of it.

But they don't want to waste my time,

and I'm their cousin, and I'm volunteering.

They don't want me to judge them in any negative way.

So, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it."

But that's bad information for me, I'll move on to the next concept.

They're stressed out the whole time.

They want this whole interaction to be over.

But with this, you're not afraid to ask the question.

The question literally really is.

You to to that, as Mark said there's fourteen hundred videos, you're like,

"You know what, I'm a little shaky on negative numbers,

"even though I'm in Calculus."

There's no way in a traditional classroom, that you'll have the guts

to raise your hand and say, "Wait, a negative times ... why is that a positive?"


You can't do that.


But YouTube you can kind of pause a video and say,

"Let me go watch a little video, just to make sure I understand that properly."

Any other things popped out?

Right here.

Yeah, so the comment was, colors, I repeat a lot

and I cater to different learning styles.

And I'll throw out another one that I things that's related is

that you don't see me.

You don't see the teacher.

And I'll tell you, huh?

But you can hear me, exactly.


And I'll tell you why I did it.

I don't want to make it sound like I'm this grand desiger

and I had all of this interesting ideas in mind.

I did it initially because I did not have a video camera.


And I thought, well, when I did it with my cousins in New Orleans

they didn't see me either.

But it seemed to be working with them.

All they heard was my voice on the speaker phone,

and we had like a shared notepad.

We were using Yahoo Doodle at the time.

And if I wrote something, they would see it.

If they wrote something, I would see it.

And we made the ... I just liked ...

I don't know if there's a movement against or for whiteboards,

but I hate whiteboards.

I think black is just like, there's this emptiness.

It's just like the universe.

Then you can start kind of putting in little bits of ...

And it seems like such a subtle thing, but for me,

like that one video where you see the white background,

it's kind of like a struggle for me.

I need that clean, literally a clean slate.

But I did it because it worked with my cousins,

and I didn't have a video camera.

But as soon as I put it out there like that, the feedback I immediately

got from people on YouTube is, it feels intimate.

Even though they know that it's a recording and I'm not really there,

they said it actually feels like you're sitting next to me tutoring me.

It doesn't feel like ... think about the other experience where

I'm all the way over here, at a chalkboard, "and the next step,"

and I'm projecting over to you and you're distant.

You're not in any way connected to the the teacher.

When you have kind of this voice in your head, it feels intimate.

Actually some people have said it feels even more.

It feels like, not only are we sitting next to each other,

it feels like you're actually in my brain.


That I'm ... and even more, I've actually gotten several people

say that, "When I take the exam, as soon as it ... when I think in other

"domains I have a normal voice-


"but as soon as I see a calculus problem, it's like, Well and the next.'"

And you hear-




So it's a ... any other notions?

Yeah, yeah.

Audience member: The audio is consistent, unlike in a classroom,

where the teacher turns around and you can't hear.

Salman: Oh yeah, no that's another thing, that is actually one of

motivations for doing it, is I've looked, before I started

I looked at a lot of this stuff.

I'm not the first person putting up videos.

I looked at the MIT stuff, which I think is great.

And I was like, "Gee."

The video camera was at that same seat.

I went to MIT, and it's like the same seat I used to sit in,

and like fall asleep in.

And sometimes ... I think it's tremendous what they did.

I don't know if anyone realizes the history of this open course thing.

In like two thousand or two thousand one, it was all happening.

Every other university was thinking of a for-profit model distance learning.

MIT said no, everything's for free.

So I think it's like this hugely awesome thing they did,

but it's hard to see what's going on in the classroom.

And the other feedback I get is that, the lecture is actually distracting.

We naturally want to engage with the human eyes and the hands,

and that's what you want to look at.

You don't want to look at the math.

And when the professor's there, that's what you look at.

And you get disengaged and all.

Any other?

Any other?


Audience member: Go at your own speed.

Salman: Go at your own speed.


You can go exactly ... some people have actually they've written

little apps that actually will speed up or slow down

the actual without changing the pitch.

Audience member: Well I mean (unintelligible).

Oh yeah, exactly.

Audience Member: You can go slow of you can go quickly.

Salman: And that's the thing that shocked me,

I thought this is for my cousins, they can fill in their blanks.

But over and over again, I got letters from gifted students

and parents, saying that this is allowed my students ... and people with

learning disabilities that say that ... and people with attention deficit disorder

saying that ... and so it's all of these things that just kind of fell into place.

And I'll tell you kind of the other thing I think makes it

very different is, it's just conversational.

Some of it is because the form factor is it feels like I'm next to you.

I get to kind of chat about it more with you as opposed to

being pedantic and sitting at a board, "and the next step."

I can be very natural.

A lot of people say how do you prepare for these videos.

Can I have a transcript?

Can I have ... and what I say is there is none.

When I turn on the video, it is literally a chain of thought process.

It isn't scripted in any way, and I started doing that

actually out of laziness.

You know, it's for my cousins what do I care.

I actually have a few of the videos I actually answer telemarketer calls



the video.

But the takeaway, all of these things I have done out of laziness,

I now can say oh, this is brilliant and all,

but the takeaway that people love to see, and you never get to

see it anywhere else.

I mean, just like reflect back on your entire education career.

Everything you saw was the finished product.

The professor when they teach that concept to you,

then had done that problem twenty times before.

They reviewed the solution manual,

and they just give you the finished product.

They're just like, "Oh, you're an idiot, if you just don't immediately

"do step A, B, C, and D."

But when you watch these videos, and I guarantee you, like

ninety five percent of the videos, when I'm doing it on screen

I have never seen the problem before.

And every now and then, every now and then I make mistakes.

I forget a negative sign, or I go down a path that was not the right path.

But ... this is probably the single issue I get the most emails about.

People say it's makes me comfortable with mathematics.

It allows me to see the art.

It allows me to see someone who looks like the know what they're doing,

but they too stumble every now and then.

They sometimes go down the wrong path, and you can kind of see

out loud the thought process of going through this.

The one thing ... Mark's saying, tell us about what you really think

makes Khan Academy a standout, and why it seems to have

struck a chord with people.

And I think it's kind of an artifact of how my own brain works.

I'm this ... I don't know whether I was exposed to something,

or this is just how I learned to learn, but I'm almost, I cannot

process anything unless it's distilled down into really, really, really

simple nuggets, and it's almost ... it's almost obvious by the time ...

and it was almost difficult when I was in school.

If you just told me, gave me a formula and said,

"Just apply that formula, steps A, B, and C,"

I like, my brain just starts, it can't do it.

So I would fall behind in class because I wanted to play

with the equations and make connections and understand

why it was interesting and what's it really saying about the universe.

But later on obviously that became a huge asset because

in Eleventh grade when you get exposed to a concept, you're like,

"Oh, well I spent, I invested all that time in Eighth grade,

"and this concept that they're saying is a new concept, that's just

that Eighth grade concept, and they're just re-branding it a little bit,

"now it just looks like this Eleventh grade concept."

And while my peers are getting, who are smarter than me,

are getting stuck memorizing things, and not knowing what they're doing,

and then forgetting things the week after.

I'm like this is frustrating.

So, the single biggest goal in the Khan Academy is to try to deliver

things the way I wish it was delivered to me.

You get the intuition from the beginning.

I will not make a video unless I have a intuition on the concept.

The best example is on entropy.

I'm not like, you know ... when I went through my education

I wasn't this thermodynamics jock, so I didn't really ...

I could do the problems, and I could get the question right,

but I said I'm going to make a video on entropy.

I said I know the steps but none of these textbooks are really doing the job,

doing the trick, and really letting me know what entropy really is.

And I have just the suspicion that it's not, they're not saying ...

so I literally, I took two weeks off, and I just pondered it,

and I called every professor, every buddy, everyone who I could talk to,

and I'd say let's go have a glass of wine about entropy.


And after about two weeks, it clicked in my brain,

I was like, "Now, I'm ready to make a video on entropy."

So if there's one takeaway from the Khan Academy, is that

it's just focused on, narrowly focused on intuition.

And just to show you, and to really reinforce the point

that I think, and it wasn't obvious from the get go

that this is not just a nice to have.

This isn't just something that might make an A minus student, into an A student

or an A plus student.

I want to read some of the letters.

And I get on the order of now, I get like a couple hundred

letters a day from students, and teachers, and home schoolers

around the world now.

The content's actually being distributed in offline services into Ethopia

and places where they can't even find teachers.

But these comments, some of them are nice and funny and simple,

but some of them really speak to there's a deep hunger for this type of thing,

and it's just not being addressed.

This is a comment on a calculus video.

"First time I smiled doing a derivative."


This person did a derivative, and then they smiled.


They smiled.

I remember EP calculus, no one was smiling.


And then the next, the next comment, this is in reply to that response,

Same thing here.

"I actually got a natural high and a good mood

"for the entire day, since I remember seeing all of this matrix

"text in class, and here I'm all like I know Kung Fo."

(loud laughter and applause)

And the underlying theme here, the underlying theme here,

I used to think when I went though my career, that only like math geeks,

like me and Mark, we're the only type of people

that like to like understand things.

And everyone else just wants to ... but the takeaway here is that everyone,

I don't care if whether you're the math geek or whether you are

the kid who's about to drop out,

or you're the kid who thought they hated mathematics.

When you actually learn something, really learn something,

not just learn the steps and jump through the hoops.

When you really learn something, it's arguably the highest high

any human being can have.

And you see it time ... this is another one.

This is an except.

"My eldest kid is dancing around in my room here because she is so excited

"that she finally found someone that teaches like this."

She did a math problem, and then she danced.


Now, this you know, I was working as a analyst at a hedge fund,

and the site traffic started to take off

and I said, "Gee," you know I was telling my wife "This is so exciting,

"and I want to do this, and people are writing me letters, but there's no,

"it wasn't making ..."but you know I said, "I have some savings, I could quit."

I was really on the edge about this, I said "I really want to do this,

"but I can't figure out ... "

And then I got this letter.

And this letter, and I'll read an excerpt of it.

It to me, I mean, I was like if I only got this letter this would be worth it,

but this is, there could be a million people like this,

and this person's the only person, I mean it's ...

"Mr. Khan, no teacher has ever done me any good. This may sound harsh,

"but I mean it quite literally. I was forced on medication to keep

"from talking and chastised for not speaking when called on.

"About five years ago my family collected enough money to move from

"where I was born, so I could have chance at having an education

"and living a real life.

"But without a real mastery of elementary math I was slow to progress

"I am now in college, and learning more than I ever have in my life.

"But an inadequate math background has been holding me back,

"I found the Khan Academy in June of 2009."

So it was like a year ago.

"Right after I completed Math 141, a college Algebra course,

"I spent the entire summer on your YouTube page,

"and I just wanted to thank you for everything you're doing.

"This is a God-send.

"Last week I tested for a math placement exam, and I'm now in

Honors Math 200."

Now this is the next sentence is the one that really got me.

This is on a placement exam.

This is not on like the regular exam you have in class where

you know what you're studying for, this is like all of mathematics.

This is on the placement exam, the entrance placement exam.

"No question was answered incorrectly on the placement exam."

This was a kid who had basic deficiencies in mathematics,

and they watched YouTube videos for a summer,

and they did not get one question wrong.

"I can say without any doubt, you've changed my life,

and the lives of everyone in my family."

I mean you read that, and you're like screw the hedge fund world.


Good (unintelligible).

Thank all of you all.


The Description of Salman Khan Speaks at GEL (Good Experience Live) Conference