10 Ways Language Students Should Use AI
Supercharge your students' learning outside the classroom.
How long do you spend with your language students each week?
Two hours or less is common for a lot of language schools. If your students study English in their regular school for another two hours, that makes four hours a week in total. It’ll take your students forever to become fluent in a language.
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That's why study time outside the classroom is so important - and now, we have a tool that can supercharge our students' solo learning time. How can we train and encourage students to get the best out of their solo study time?
We can show them how to use AI.
How ChatGPT can supercharge learning
If you've read my newsletter on getting AI to write your lesson plans, you'll know what ChatGPT is.
If you haven't, ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that is incredibly good at mimicking real language and writing. It's so good, in fact, that there are many things we can ask it to help our students with.
Students can use it:
To create a study plan
To improve grammar
To improve their vocabulary
To practice pronunciation
To practice speaking, dialogue and monologues
To practice reading comprehension
To get basic writing feedback
To get conversation and role-play practice
To get writing feedback
To practice for examinations and tests
To start using ChatGPT, go to the Open AI website and sign up for an account. If you have a Google account, you can sign in with it.
In the usage cases below, you’ll see ‘Example Prompts’. These are meant to be typed (or copied and pasted) into ChatGPT to get a response.
For all of the example prompts, you may need to substitute more appropriate items for your students. For example, changing the level, the exam they're working towards, and so on.
1. To create a study plan
If your students have specific needs, or areas they wish to improve, you can generate a study plan for them. Likewise, if they’re unsure what they should improve, or how to make the best use of their time, they can ask for a study plan suggestion.
Please provide a study plan for an English language learner at B2 level on the CEFR to practice their vocabulary and grammar for 30 minutes daily.
Please provide a study plan for an English language learner at B2 level on the CEFR. I want to improve my academic writing. Please create a study plan for me, I have 30 minutes daily.
2. To improve grammar
Sometimes students want to check for errors or get good examples of realistic usage. Here are some prompts for your students to do this.
Please correct any grammar errors in his text: [add your text].
Please write a short dialogue using as many modal verbs as possible. [Change modal verbs to target grammar][Change dialogue to short story or anecdote]
Please rewrite this text in the past continuous tense.
Please give 5 examples of the future perfect tense.
3. To improve vocabulary
Please give ten example sentences that use the word: rambunctious. [Change rambunctious to target word]
Please define the word rambunctious. [Change rambunctious to target word]
Can you make a list of idioms using parts of the body? [Or examples of any target lexis]
Please give me some commonly used expressions for greeting people. [or other target scenarios]
4. To practice pronunciation
Although ChatGPT won’t read words and sentences aloud, it’s possible for it to provide examples of challenging sounds for students to practice by themselves.
Please create a tongue twister with the /l/ and /r/ sounds.
Please write a list of common words that speakers of Japanese may have trouble with at B2 level.
5. To practice speaking, dialogue, and monologues
Students can ask ChatGPT for topics that they can practice speaking out loud, or for them to speak about for a set period of time.
Please list some unusual topics of conversation that would be appropriate for learners of language at B2 on the CEFR.
Please create a dialogue in a sitcom style, like ‘Friends’, but at B1 level on the CEFR. The topic should be ‘planning a vacation’.
Please give me a list of presentation topics that I could practice speaking for, for 2 minutes.
6. To practice reading comprehension
This prompt is quite flexible, so feel free to customise your level, interests, number of paragraphs of reading and the number of questions.
Please create a reading comprehension exercise for me. I’m a CEFR B1 level learner of English, and I am interested in movies and travel. Please create 2-3 paragraphs to read on this topic, with 5-10 comprehension questions.
7. To get basic writing feedback
It can often be time-consuming for students to wait for a teacher’s feedback on writing, as writing can take a long time to mark. To jump the queue, students can copy and paste their writing into ChatGPT and ask for feedback.
Please give me feedback on my writing. Please list any grammatical errors, and suggest any improvements. Please do the same for vocabulary. [Paste your writing].
Please give me feedback on my writing. It’s a formal email to a manager, so please check the register and appropriacy of vocabulary and grammar. Please give me a list of suggestions. [Paste your writing].
8. To get conversation and role-play practice
If you don't have anyone to practice conversation with, ChatGPT can help. You can instruct it to ask you questions and act as a conversation partner - even to correct your mistakes and offer suggestions!
I'm an English learner at B1 level on the CEFR. Please pretend to be an English teacher, and let's talk about [topic]. Please ask me questions, and I'll answer.
I'm an English learner at B1 level on the CEFR. Please pretend to be a bank teller, working in a bank. Let's have a conversation. You start.
I'm an English learner at B1 level on the CEFR. Please pretend to be a travel agent, working in a travel agency. Let's have a conversation. You start.
9. To practice for examinations and tests
It can also be used to prep for specific exams.
Please create a 6-month study plan for me to improve my IELTS result. I'm currently IELTS 5, and I have 1 hour a day to study.
Can you please give me some example writing prompts to prepare for IELTS?
Can you please give me feedback on this piece of writing [copy and paste your writing].
Please give me a list of common mistakes that Chinese speakers make when taking the IELTS exam, and explain how to avoid them.
Please create a practice test for IELTS reading level 7.
Please create a quiz of 10 questions from this text [enter text].
Customising ChatGPT’s Answers
A key component of working with ChatGPT is customising the answers it gives. You can ask ChatGPT to give you feedback or raise or lower the level of the answers it gives you:
To ask for feedback
Prompt: Please give me feedback on my answers. Show me any grammatical errors, and suggest alternative vocabulary I could have used.
To make its language easier or more complex
Prompt: Please increase the vocabulary and grammar structures you use to the level of B2 on the CEFR. (You can change B2 to the level you want, or substitute an IELTS or TOEFL level instead).
Let's look at the ways your students can use ChatGPT.
Disadvantages and risks of ChatGPT
ChatGPT is accurate for most things, but can occasionally be factually inaccurate. It also doesn’t have any knowledge after the end of 2021.
Another risk is that students start to over-rely on ChatGPT to write homework – the key is to change how we assess homework. That will have to be a topic for another day, though.
Top tips for using ChatGPT
Remember that everything in all of these prompts can be customised to your students’ personal situation, level and interest.
Remember that you can use it to help plan lessons and reduce your workload.
Don’t rely on it working all the time – sometimes, the server is so busy that you can’t get access.
Good luck, and let me know if you have any favourite prompts for ChatGPT!
If you found this newsletter helpful, you’ll probably like my books:
Lesson Planning for Language Teachers - Plan better, faster, and stress-free (4.5⭐, 141 ratings).
Essential Classroom Management - Develop calm students and a classroom full of learning (4.5⭐, 28 ratings).
Reflective Teaching Practice Journal - Improve your teaching in five minutes daily (4.5⭐, 12 ratings).
Very useful, many thanks
Many of us had not been paying too much serious attention to ChatGPT. Your detailed post has our volunteer teaching staff trying it out and discussing ways that it can save us time in preparing lessons. Thank you!