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Khan Academy has garnered a lot of attention in the last year or so as he has created and shared hundreds of instructional videos for learners to explore.  Despite some critiques of this style of education, its hard to deny the approachability of the Khan videos when one wants to explore a topic from Algebra to Organic Chemistry!

Last year Khan Academy introduced video translations using functionality developed as part of the Universal Subtitles project.  This means anyone can now provide a language translation for any Khan Academy video.  Many of the more common languages have been added as subtitles on popular videos.  My friend and colleague Adrian Cox proposed that we try to encourage University of Cape Town students, staff and the broader South African community to participate in adding South African language subtitles to some of the Khan Videos which might be useful to South African learners;  I thought it was a delightful idea!

Adrian intends to use the translated videos as part of his work with the Funda Initiative.  A little background on the initiative:

Funda is an organisation of student volunteer tutors that aims to improve the quality of teaching available to high school students in disadvantaged townships. On Saturday mornings, high school students are brought to UCT to be tutored and mentored. The sessions are just 2 hours and transport is provided. Thanks to the help of the excellent tutors, the students get individual attention and this really helps them to excel.  

Source Funda Project website

As the Funda project has the children physically on UCT campus, the videos may be displayed in UCT labs to assist the students in their home language.  The videos are all downloadable open educational resources, which may be in turn legally distributed to schools with facilities for showing video.

Below I have prepared a short walkthrough of how to add subtitles to Khan Academy Video.


How to add language subtitles on Khan Academy Videos

Locate a video on the Khan Academy website that you would like to translate, there is approximately 3000 to choose from!  Once you have the video page open you will have to activate the subititles tool bar by clicking on the ‘Video Subtitles’ button below the video.


Now you will see that on each video in the bottom left there is an option to select the subtitles track for the video you are watching.


Subtitles are available for a variety of languages depending on the video.  The subtitles are crowd-sourced so anyone may add a new language translation for each video.  This video has a variety of translations already, from Spanish to Indonesian, but there are no South African languages.  I can add a new translation by clicking on “Add a New Translation”3968-Slide2

The list of languages that one can create translations for is fairly comprehensive and includes a number of South African languages.  I am choosing Afrikaans for this example so that I can use Google Translate to translate the video (I have chosen Afrikaans as I don’t speak any of the South African languages and Afrikaans is the only one available for auto translation using Google Translate)


This is the translation tool which displays each line of the transcript and a box below to translate the text line-by-line. One can translate each line of English into the language they have selected.


When you finished the translation you need to save the transcript.  To do this you will have to log in, either by creating an account of signing in with your Twitter, OpenID, Google or Facebook account.


When you navigate back to the video the new subtitles track will appear as an option for anyone in the world to use.   My Afrikaans translation is now available for anyone to view once selected from the list of subtitles.


And it looks something like this!


Since I used Google Translate to translate the subtitles and I am not an Afrikaans speaker, I am sure there are some errors.  Anyone can now edit and improve the subtitles based on what I have entered.


I encourage you to edit and improve my translation for this video!

Call to Action:

Adrian and I would like to encourage the UCT community and South Africans everywhere to help create language translations for some of the Khan Academy videos.  We are currently working on a list of the videos which Adrian feels would be the most helpful for the Funda project and will post them on theProject Wiki.  You can feel free to edit the wiki and update it to communicate which videos you have tranlated!

Translating instructional videos into South African languages is also a great way to participate in Open Education Week!  Leave me a comment if you have any questions.

Adding language subtitles on Khan Academy Videos

CC BY 4.0 Adding language subtitles on Khan Academy Videos by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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