In this series of blog posts, we will explore five ways in which you can use Chat GPT to revolutionise your classroom. We’ve already looked at how to create more personalised learning experiences in part 1 and how to use Chat GPT as a virtual teaching assistant in part 2, so this time we’ll be examining the AI’s language and communication skills, and how teachers can utilise them in class.

In these blog posts, I will include screenshots of Chat GPT responses as well as usable prompts for teachers. Keep in mind, as Chat GPT is continuously updated, responses to these prompts may vary in content or format. Also, the version of Chat GPT used in these blog posts is the free version, not GPT-4, in order to make these methods more accessible to all teachers.

3. Language Learning and Communication Skills:

Chat GPT offers powerful tools for language learning and developing communication skills. Teachers can create conversational scenarios where students engage in dialogue with Chat GPT. Students can practice speaking and writing in the target language, receiving instant responses and feedback. For example, Chat GPT can provide suggestions for improving grammar, offer alternative word choices, or help with pronunciation. This immersive language learning experience fosters confidence and fluency, enabling students to communicate effectively in real-life situations.

As a large language model (LLM), language and communication skills should be a Chat GPT specialty. Fortunately, it is, and teachers can take advantage of that. These examples will likely be most advantageous for MFL teachers, but English teachers can no doubt also benefit from some of them.

I started by asking Chat GPT to demonstrate the capabilities it described itself as having in the context of language learning and communication skills. It quickly generated a hypothetical scenario in a Spanish class.

The scenario generated above provides us with a plethora of ideas about how Chat GPT can be used in language classes. In fact, many parts of this scenario can be expanded further than displayed above. For instance, Chat GPT can actually be used to generate prompts for students to practice speaking or writing about their travel experiences. I tried this prompt and received very useful results (partly copied below): “Can you create some conversational prompts for students to practice their spoken French at a basic level?”

Whereas the previous example generated the beginning of an entire conversation, I asked Chat GPT to do generate something more in the form of an exercise: “Create a conversational scenario in basic Polish about family, but leave every other line blank so students can fill in the gaps with their own answers.” Its output even included English translations!

These are only two examples, but as long as you have a specific enough prompt, the possibilities are endless. Pupils can converse with Chat GPT, use its prompts for discussions or topics for writing, practice reading its generated texts, and even complete exercises that it has generated.

As you can see, I’ve been switching languages for every input and Chat GPT didn’t skip a beat. It is apparently fluent in at least 55 different languages, including even some rarer languages such as Welsh, Maori, and Latin. I had Chinese students tell me that it can write poetry in Mandarin better than they could!

Language teachers should become comfortable with the way that Chat GPT responds (or instruct it to do so in certain ways), and be ready to explain some of its output to students (alternatively, it can be directly asked to do so itself). In doing so, they can save incredible amounts of time in preparing, instructing, and grading classes. Also, teachers should be aware that “while [Chat GPT] can understand and generate text in these languages, [its] proficiency might vary”, so double checking output is always crucial.

Chat GPT for EAL students

In addition to its benefits in teaching foreign languages, Chat GPT is also a huge boon for pupils who do not speak English as their first language. I took a sample of one of my EAL student’s writing and asked Chat GPT if it could “…give feedback on this student’s work, keeping in mind that it is an EAL student and focusing on English language issues? /line break/ ‘copy-pasted student response’”.

Many of these suggestions are helpful and relevant to the text, but also quite general. To remedy this, I prompted: “Can you provide more specific feedback and revisions for the text, explaining what you would change and why?” The results were much more specific and easy-to-follow, as you can see from the part I copied below.

Real-time language practice with Chat GPT

Having established starting blocks for teachers to use Chat GPT’s language and communication skills in foreign language classes and with EAL students, I wanted to test Chat GPT’s real time language tutoring skills. The conversation didn’t exactly turn out as planned, but that was more due to my poor Chinese skills rather than Chat GPT’s poor tutoring skills.

Using the example below, you can see how a student might practice a foreign language with Chat GPT. This mode could even be used in group or whole-class settings. In addition, depending on the user’s language level, Chat GPT’s feedback can be adjusted via prompting to include more or less of the native language versus the language being learned. The only drawback is Chat GPT’s inability to produce any audio, preventing any two-way speaking or pronunciation practice.

Chat GPT as a language and communication tool

These might be some of the most exciting and useful of Chat GPT’s features for in-classroom use. Not only is the AI extremely conversational, it is also fluent in multiple languages. These capabilities can be utilised in various types of activities, including group work, a class conversation with the AI, or even personalised Chat GPT dialogues for all students. If the technology or behaviour management requirements of those activities seem too high, then at the very least teachers can use the tool to generate prompts, pronunciation exercises, or paragraphs for reading.

As usual, specificity is king, but in these situations, Chat GPT doesn’t need too much prompting, as it is masterful with languages. A few reminders and prods to get the AI’s output to match your or the students’ language level should be enough.

Any questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to send me an email me at Luke.Kemper@haringeyeducationpartnership.co.uk

About the Author:

Luke Kemper

Luke Kemper is Insight and Intelligence Lead at HEP. He recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Education, Globalisation and International Development. Before that, he worked for seven years as a university lecturer and high school teacher in China and Poland.

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