Use it or lose your time: Chat GPT and why should all language teachers take advantage of it?

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an AI language model designed by OpenAI based on the GPT (Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) architecture. It is designed to be used for a wide range of tasks, such as text completion, question answering, translation, summarization, and more. It has been trained on a massive dataset of text from the internet, which allows this robot to understand and generate natural language in a variety of contexts and domains.

How to use it?

At the moment it is for free of charge and all you need to do is to go to https://chat.openai.com/chat and open an account. When the tool was released in November 2022, I had trouble logging in as there were too many users trying to access the service at the same time. So I had to wait until the first wave of popularity wore off and joined it later in February 2023. And the story of limitless and swift help began.

What do I ask ChatGPT to do?

For those who are not new in the profession there will be no surprises on the list of tasks, they are well-known and time proved. What does surprise is the speed at which ChatGPT generates them. First of all, you can ask ChatGPT to create tasks to practice a particular skill, say vocabulary. But you can as well be very specific and ask it to make exercises, write texts, check essays and so on. Here are some ideas for you. Let’s start with some when teaching vocabulary:

1. Give me the most useful idioms / words for a given topic. Can you prepare a list of words for an intermediate class, topic negotiations, adult learners?
2. Write a story for a certain level using the following words. Next enquiry: remove the words from the story, leave gaps.
3. Create sentences with these words. Remove the words from the sentences, make it a gap-filling exercise.
4. Give definitions to these words. Make a matching exercise.
5. Do you know how to Play “Taboo”? Create taboo words for the list of the following words.
When teaching functional language:
6. Give me 10 most useful phrases on the following topic e.g. arranging a meeting, giving instructions, presenting, apologizing, negotiating a better price, dealing with conflicts etc.
When teaching writing:
7. Give me some essay topics for advanced level learners of English interested in X.
When teaching grammar:
8. Write a text with verbs in Past Simple tense at an intermediate level. It can be a biography of X. Can you write comprehension questions to the text? Can you make a gap activity for this text?
9. Can you correct this written response? Can you explain the mistakes?
10. I don’t understand the second conditional. Can you explain it? Can you create a close activity to practice it?

Your requests can be endless just ask ChatGPT to modify – make texts shorter, longer, easier, funnier. Always indicate the level of your learners, level of formality of the language, instruct about the purposes – in other words funnel it until a generated text meets your needs! 

Here is an example of my request to create a closed activity to practice 2nd conditional in English. First I asked to explain this grammar, and then asked for an exercise.

What to keep in mind?

1. Defects. Although ChatGPT is a very advanced language model which is able to generate complex language, its knowledge is still limited. Sometimes you can notice misusage of words and grammar structures, incorrect syntax, and inability to understand context, not to mention stylistic devises such as pun or irony.

2. The language model obviously uses patters and at some point you start noticing the repetition of similar structures and ideas. This happens because the machine bases its responses on the models that were input into it while training. So, if you need something unique, you will probably have to come up with great ideas yourself as creating is still an exceptionally human prerogative.

3. It is only a tool. Remember that ChatGPT should be used as a supplement to traditional teaching methods, not a replacement for them.

And at the end,  as it has become trendy to say, mind that some parts of this text were written by ChatGPT and the illustration has been created with the help of Midjourney.

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