Occasionally, students in our program ask if they can take regular university classes in addition to our full-time intensive ESL program. In a very few cases, we have arranged informal course audits through which students may sit in on courses as a way to supplement their learning. In addition to the language input, this arrangement can be a good way to introduce international students to American academic culture.
Recently a student approached me about his interests in sitting in on a few lectures. His primary interest was in becoming familiar with the English vocabulary in his field of study. He was already comfortable with the content in his own language, but was nervous about learning all new terminology in English. In the end, actually sitting in on a class was not a good option for this particular student. Fortunately, there are a couple of good online alternatives that I could recommend: YouTube’s EDU site and iTunesU.
YouTube.com/edu hosts thousands of lectures from institutions across the U.S. Not all of them are lectures — and it’s easy to get sucked in to videos of marching bands and football games — but there are lots of options available. Search for “physics lecture” and you’ll get over 4000 videos.
iTunesU.com takes a similar approach, but it is tied in to Apple’s iTunes music store. This means it is very easy to put videos on your iDevice (iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc.) to watch on the go. The bad news is that you need to install the iTunes application to access them.
Both locations offer hours of free content from some of the most prestigious institutions in the country. Of course, many of the videos are just recordings of lectures, which may be somewhat dull. And sadly, that may be very good preparation for American academic culture. But, if high level students are looking for content rich input, these sources will provide a wealth of options.