English though not the most spoken language in the world, is the most widely spoken language. Especially as a second language. So English as a Second Language (ESL) learning has become increasingly important. With the constant evolution of new technologies, language learning has also undergone significant changes.
One incredibly fast evolutionary jump that you may be aware of (its all over the news) that has shown potential to help with language learning and English learning is ChatGpt, The language AI from OpenAi that is grabbing headlines all over the place.
We take a look at how it can help you in an ESL classroom below.
What is ChatGpt
ChatGPT is a large language model developed by OpenAI, trained on a massive amount of text data that uses neural networks to generate natural language responses to user input. It uses NLP techniques such as word embeddings and attention mechanisms to understand and generate human-like responses to a wide range of topics and questions.
and if that is too wordy for you, then its like siri from your iphone, Google assistant on Android or alexa, but about a million times better, and not yet voice activated or at least the ones we have used aren’t.
It can answer questions, code, make tables, organise information make worksheets ( yes!) and does so in real time with written prompts.
and it is scaring the hell out of teachers all over the world, we look at how it can be used as a force for good. A force for good in ESL Classrooms in this article, and our other articles will explore other situations it will benefit, not hinder education across the board.
You can try chatGPT out for your self here
How can Chat Gpt Help in a language classroom.
In the ESL classroom, ChatGpt if used properly, can provide students with opportunities for authentic language practice by simulating real-world interactions.
ChatGPT can be useful in an ESL classroom as it provides a platform for students to practice their language skills in a realistic and interactive way. The model can generate responses that are appropriate for the students’ level of proficiency, helping them improve their vocabulary, grammar, and fluency.
Additionally, ChatGpt can offer personalized learning experiences, adapting to each student’s learning style and pace. By using ChatGpt, students can practice their language skills in a safe and low-stakes environment, without fear of judgment or embarrassment which when working with peers, classmates and teachers – although of course useful – can also be difficult.
We will explore the benefits of using ChatGpt in the ESL classroom and provide some suggestions for activities that teachers can ChatGpt to add to their lessons we have a larger article linked that has ideas for activities in Language classrooms using ChaptGpt as well.
We will also discuss potential challenges or limitations to using ChatGpt and provide recommendations for addressing them.
We have an article that gives some example prompts for ChatGPT Prompts in an English Classroom covering writing reading, storytelling, creative writing and more here on the site.
Benefits of using Chat Gpt in an English Classroom.
Using ChatGpt in the ESL classroom, or any classroom for that matter, can offer many benefits to language learners. It can help students to improve their language skills by providing them with ample opportunities to practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing in English.
Since ChatGpt generates responses that mimic real-world interactions, students can practice their language skills in a more authentic and natural way. Even having a conversation , currently by writing it, but in the future who knows, with the AI and getting answers. It is even possible to preface this with asking the AI to respond in a way that a Second language learners would understand.
ChatGpt can provide students with personalized learning experiences. The AI technology can adapt to the students’ learning styles, pace, and interests, providing tailored feedback and activities that can help to reinforce their learning and as it is not just a one answer output and actually remembers the inputs further up in the chat it can add to and clarify if the students don’t understand.
ChatGpt can provide students with an opportunity to interact with a native or fluent speaker of English, even if it is an AI, which can be particularly beneficial for those who don’t have access to English-speaking environments or want to practice on their own with out a teacher or a tutor.
Activities for Using ChatGpt in an ESL Classroom
There are many ways that teachers can use ChatGpt in their ESL classrooms and we have a larger article on the site that cover over 15 ideas for activities to help their students improve their language skills. but seeing as you are here we have some for the main English Skills writing, reading, speaking, and listening below.
- Conversation practice: ChatGpt can be used to engage in a conversation with the students. The teacher can model how to initiate and respond to various prompts, and then the students can take turns interacting with the AI. This activity can help students practice their writing reading an of course comprehension skills in a low-stakes and interactive environment.
- Writing practice: The teacher can have the students write prompts to ChatGpt, perhaps as a whole class exercise and then discuss the responses as a class. This activity can help students develop their writing skills and learn new vocabulary and sentence structures.
- Vocabulary practice: ChatGpt can be used to learn new words and phrases. The teacher can provide a list of vocabulary words to the students, and then have them type in the words to see how ChatGpt responds. This activity can help students practice their spelling and reinforce their understanding of new vocabulary.
- Pronunciation practice: ChatGpt can be used to practice pronunciation by having students dictate phrases and then listening to the AI-generated pronunciation. This activity can help students develop their listening skills and practice their pronunciation in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.
- Role-playing: ChatGpt can be used to simulate real-world scenarios, such as ordering food at a restaurant or asking for directions. The teacher can provide the students with a prompt, and then have them practice the conversation with ChatGpt. This activity can help students practice their language skills in a contextually relevant way. It may need a prompt or two to stop it writing both sides but it does work, and it will stop any foolishness by students as well ( if they decide to be over the top)
- Reading Practice: We have some examples below of how this can be used and it really is a great idea if you need to focus on a particular reading level or grammar point. you can ask Chatgpt to write a story ( keep them short) for a level or english grammar topic and it will do just that. You can also ask it to write the same story but simpler or more complex which then gives you access to different levels but still the same story which allows you to differentiate your resources for the levels in your classroom.
Examples of ChatGPT short stories
We asked ChatGPT to write a short story for an Intermediate speaker of English about a superhero who gets his powers by eating baked beans. We then did the same for a beginner speaker of English and then a little simpler but using only the present tense. You can see the results below.
Intermediate ChatGPT Short Story
Beginner English ChatGPT short Story
ChatGPT short story just in present tense.
So while out example is just a 5 min exercise, you can then go into the outputted text and change what you need, if its too difficult you can ask it to rewrite, if you need to practice present tense you can ask that, if you need it to use adjectives you can ask it to include more ( for students to spot) or change the proper nouns, or make the story past tense ( or any other tense) ( we did the adjective option below and while not perfect it certainly gives an idea to work from.
While not everything that comes out of the ChatGPT AI is gold, plenty is, and it will save you time to put into more time with the students, which i think we can all agree is why we got into teaching in the first place.
Considerations for Using ChatGpt in an ESL Classroom
While ChatGpt can be a useful tool for ESL learning, there are some important factors that teachers should be aware of when using it in their classrooms and we have a larger article on this on the site.
One of the drawbacks of ChatGpt is that it may not always provide accurate or appropriate responses,. Therefore, it’s important for teachers to closely monitor the conversations and provide feedback when necessary also when using it for facts you will need to check them, it is very convincing even when it gets things wrong!
Students may become too reliant on ChatGpt and may not develop their own language skills as a result. Teachers should use ChatGpt as a supplement to traditional language learning methods, rather than a replacement for them but this also applies to every resource in a classroom from games to ipads. ChatGpt hasn’t replaced us as teachers just yet!!!
There may be concerns about privacy and data protection when using ChatGpt with students. Teachers should ensure that they have obtained appropriate consent from students and that they are using the technology in a secure and responsible manner.
Which leads us to the most popular and publicized reasons ChatGpt needs to come with a warning. Education is to learn, and while chatGPT can certainly help with that it can also ‘do’.
Which means students, whether you use it in the classroom or not, students will inevitably find it on their own and use it. It can answer the questions you set, it can write hundreds of words, and of course some will be submitting this as their own answers.
Personally while it shows a great use of IT and IT Skills, it is not perhaps what we want as English Teachers. However, despite the hysterical bleating on the media its not exactly the first time we have been faced with copying…. surely!
I have had, pre Chat Gpt days, whole chucks copy and pasted from Wikipedia in a grade ones work on their favourite animal ( it was a cheetah amusingly!!!) all i did was ask them to stand up and read it out. That didn’t go well and it never happened again.
Chat gpt is going to be similarly easy to spot in ESL classrooms, you will likely know your students, and their abilities, and if suddenly perfect grammar, prose or creative writing starts to appear your alarm bells will start ringing.
Yet another reason why we are not destined for the scrap heap just yet.
Further ChatGpt in Education links
- How to use ChatGPT in an English Classroom
- 100 ChatGPT prompts for English Teachers
- 19 ways to use ChatGPT in a Classroom
- Ethics and ChatGPT in Education
- Chat GPT as a Learning Companion
- The future of AI in Education
ChatGpt can be a valuable tool for ESL teachers looking to provide their students with engaging and personalized language learning experiences. By using ChatGpt in the classroom, teachers can help students improve their language skills in a fun and interactive way, while also exposing them to natural-sounding English conversations.
However, it’s important for teachers to be aware of the potential drawbacks, limitations and risks of ChatGpt, such as its potential inaccuracies and the risk of students becoming too reliant on the technology. Therefore, it’s crucial for teachers to use ChatGpt as a supplement to traditional language learning methods, rather than a replacement for them.