Tag Archives: chatGPT

845. Using ChatGPT as a Language Teaching Tool 🤖 with JOE DALE, EdTech Guru, ChatGPT Enthusiast

TECH TALK! A conversation with Joe Dale (modern foreign language teaching consultant, EdTech guru) about the use of ChatGPT in English teaching and learning. Lots of recommendations, tips and tricks for saving time and combining ChatGPT with other software including Google Chrome extensions.

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Links, etc

Online Communities that Joe mentioned

Google Chrome Extentions

  • Magical – a tool which helps you to write text without having to write it out each time. Useful if you tend to write the same thing a lot, over and over. 
  • Canned Replies – similar to Magical 
  • Voice Control for ChatGPT – Speech to text, text to speech. This basically adds a microphone input option for ChatGPT and also converts ChatGPT’s responses into spoken word.
  • Use Immersive Reader on Websites – this can read out a text for you in spoken word
  • YouTube Summary with ChatGPT & Claude – summarises YouTube videos (but I question its ability to do this well enough – it doesn’t always realise which things are part of an introduction, which things are side points, and which things are the main points)
  • EdPuzzle – quickly turn YouTube videos into comprehension exercises (convenient for teachers)

Other useful software

  • ClozeIt – a Google Docs extension which creates gap-fills from texts
  • Wheel of Names – wheelofnames.com – a spinning wheel which randomly chooses items from a list
  • Microsoft Lens (part of Microsoft Tools) – allows you to scan text from a photo, and then export the text to other software
  • Reading Coach (in Immersive Reader in Microsoft Tools in Microsoft Office 365) – reads (out loud) to text you have scanned, listens to you speaking and then gives you feedback on your pronunciation/speaking and you can compare your speaking with the model speech
  • AudioPen.ai – allows you to record quick voice notes, which it then transcribes and neatly summarises for you

My previous episodes about ChatGPT

823. ChatGPT & Learning English PART 3

In this final part of the series I’m going to evaluate ChatGPT’s ability to work as a dictionary with definitions, example sentences, synonyms, phonetic transcriptions, etc. I test its ability to convert texts into British English or other varieties, see if it can help with sentence stress and word stress, and check its ability to create grammar and vocabulary quizzes and other useful exercises.

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Episode Transcript

Hello listeners,

This is the 3rd and final part of this little series of episodes I’ve done about using ChatGPT to learn English.

I’m experimenting with lots of different prompts to see if it can do things like:

  • Create study plans for you
  • Simulate natural conversations
  • Correct your errors
  • Provide role play practice for specific situations like job interviews
  • Help you with Cambridge exam tasks and practice

In this part I’m going to try to answer these questions:

  • Can you use ChatGPT like a dictionary?
  • Can it give us correct definitions, information about parts of speech, pronunciation, example sentences, synonyms, antonyms, collocations?
  • Can it provide information about the etymology of words and phrase?
  • Can it transcribe things into phonemic script? 
  • Does it accurately transcribe things into British English pronunciation?
  • Can it convert between different dialects of English, e.g. will it convert American English into British English, or into specific dialects of British English?
  • Is it able to help us to practise reading texts or presentation scripts with the right sentence stress, word stress, pausing and intonation?
  • Can it help us practise grammar by creating quizzes or tests? Are those tests reliable?
  • Can it help you to remember vocabulary with tests?
  • Can it help you remember words and spelling with mnemonic memory devices?
  • Can it create text adventure games?
  • Can it adapt its English to different levels?
  • What are my overall thoughts and conclusions about ChatGPT?

You can get a PDF of the script for this episode which includes all the prompts I am using to get ChatGPT to do specific things.

Check the episode description and you will find a link to my website page where you can get the PDF scripts for parts 1,2 and 3 of this series.

If you are watching on YouTube I recommend using full screen mode so you can read the on-screen text more easily.

OK, so without further ado, let’s play around with ChatGPT a bit more and see how it can help you learn English.

Ask it to define words
What does “rambling” mean?

It gave pretty good definitions I have to say.

Arguably it’s not as good as a proper dictionary. 

Just type the words into a dictionary and you’ll get way more info, including parts of speech, pronunciation, example sentences, related phrasal verbs etc.

But having said that you can ask ChatGPT for more specific details about words, including:

  • Can you give me some example sentences with the verb “ramble” in different tenses?
  • What are common collocations with the word ramble?
  • What are some synonyms of the word “ramble”? (I had to specify for ways of talking)
  • Can you transcribe the word “ramble” in phonemic script?

Etymology

What is the origin of the expression “break a leg?”

Create mnemonics to help you remember vocabulary

Can you create some mnemonics to help me remember these words and phrases?

ramble, waffle, meander, go off on a tangent, get sidetracked

It did it, and I must say this is pretty impressive. 

You still need to use your imagination a bit, but these mnemonics are certainly a good starting point. 

Ask it to transcribe things into phonemic script

But only in standard American?

Is it good at transcribing things in British English?

Can you transcribe this sentence into phonemic script?
I’d like a hot dog with lots of tomato sauce.

Different versions of the language

Can you convert this story into (insert dialect here)?

This is a paragraph I came up with which contains loads of words that are different between US and UK English. 

Let’s see if it can convert this UK version into US English. 

First I’ll read it out. See if you can identify the words which will probably be different between US and UK English.

I just popped out of my flat to get some post from the postman when I realised I had locked myself out. 
I was stuck outside with only a pair of slippers on and it was the middle of autumn. To make matters worse I really needed the toilet. 
My car was there but of course I’d left the car keys in the house as well, although I couldn’t see where they were because my curtains were closed. 
Then I noticed that some bloody yob had put a big scratch across the bonnet of my car. That made me really angry I can tell you. “You’ll be hearing from my solicitor” I said to myself. 
Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse the TV aerial on the roof of my house fell off and crashed into the windscreen of my car, smashing it to pieces. 
I thought “I’ll need to make a trip to the chemist for some medicine to help me recover from this!” I walked along the main road and on the way I stopped to get some chips from the fish & chip shop at the main crossroads near my house. 
When I had finished, I put the paper bag in the rubbish bin and walked under the flyover to the chemist’s. 
I got my medicine and headed home. 
Of course, I was still locked out so in the end I had to jump over the fence into my back garden and climbed into a window which I had left open. 
Luckily I lived on the ground floor so I didn’t actually need to climb up the wall or anything, but unfortunately I broke a mug which was on the window sill. I used my hoover to clean up the broken pieces. 
Suddenly I heard a siren and someone knocked at the door. 
“Oh no, it’s the old bill!” I thought. “They think I’m burgling my own house!” 
I went to answer the door, but I didn’t realise that I’d ripped my trousers climbing in the window. I opened the door and stood there with my trousers hanging open. They could see my pants and everything! How embarrassing!

Make a funny dialogue between two friends in a pub in London speaking British English. Include a joke at the end of the dialogue.

Generate the same response but the two friends are from Belfast, in Northern Ireland.

Sentence stress, pausing and intonation

Ask it to help you read out a text with the right pausing, stress and intonation.

Can you help me to read out this paragraph, showing where the pauses, stress and intonation should be?

Chat GPT or chat-based generative pre-trained transformer models, is a type of artificial intelligence that allows users to interact with a virtual assistant using natural language. This technology is based on the principles of GPT-3, the third generation of the popular generative pre-trained transformer model.

One of the key features of chat GPT is its ability to generate responses in real-time, based on the user’s input.

That is from an article about ChatGPT which I found on medium.com 👇

All you need to know about ChatGPT & Why its a threat to Google | by Deladem Kumordzie | Medium

It’s good at showing where the pauses should be, 

but it’s bad at showing word stress or sentence stress.

☝️bad bad bad bad bad! ☝️

Grammar or vocab quizzes or tests

Let’s ask it to create a grammar review test for upper-intermediate level. 

Create a 10-question grammar test to help me practise English at an upper-intermediate level.

10 questions isn’t really enough to cover all areas of grammar but you would expect it to cover at least 10 different grammar points. Did it?

What happens if I ask it to make a 20-question grammar test for B2 level? Does it use a wide variety of forms? Does it require the test taker do demonstrate control over the language or is it just multiple choice?

The results are not as rigorous, complete, reliable or detailed as similar tests in published materials such as the diagnostic test at the back of English Grammar in Use by Murphy. 

It’s also not focused on language that you have been studying in your course.

It always uses multiple choice.

Basically – it doesn’t produce a very reliable test.

Vocabulary review tests, to help you remember words and phrases

Create a vocabulary test to help me remember and use these words and phrases.

ramble, waffle, meander, go off on a tangent, crack on, Get away with, get by, get on with, get off on, get through to, get around to

The test it created was multiple choice and only contained definitions. 

Definitions are good but not the best way to help you remember vocabulary. You need example sentences and it’s best if you have to use the words in a meaningful and contextualised way. At least give us example sentences with the words and phrases removed and ask us to put the correct words in the correct place, perhaps in the correct form.

But it’s better than nothing, and I think this could be useful if you have a list of words or phrases that you’re trying to remember. 

Text adventure games to practise grammar

I’ve always wanted to create one of these but have never got round to it. One of the reasons is because it’s quite a time consuming task and requires a lot of patience to make sure I’m using plenty of good grammar questions and combining that with an interesting story with engaging choices. Maybe ChatGPT can cut out a lot of the work. 

Create a 5 minute text adventure game to help me practise English grammar 

Nice idea but it did a bad job. It ended up creating a game with virtually no grammar questions and then it played the game itself.

I’m sure there are other language practice exercises or activities which ChatGPT could do. 

If you can think of some other things, put them in the comment section.

Ask it to adapt its English level to yours 

You can write things like “please adapt your English to B1 level” or something similar. 

Actually I just tested this with this prompt:

Give me some advice on how to set up a podcast studio. Please use A2 level English

Also, this:

Can you adapt this passage from Hamlet by Shakespeare into elementary level (A2) English?

So you can ask it to use simple English at your level.

You can also prompt it in your first language of course, but you have to request that it responds in English.

Overview / Comments / Conclusions

It’s definitely way better than any chatbots I’ve ever seen before. 

There’s no denying how impressive it is in many ways. I only scratched the surface here. It can do lots of other things including creating legal contracts, writing song lyrics, writing short stories, movie plots, essay plans, essays etc. 

But I think we still need to be a bit sceptical or critical about it at this stage. It’s impressive at first, but working closely with it shows us its limitations.

Don’t assume that it is answering your questions correctly or reliably. It seems to miss things, and contradict itself sometime and also it lacks the overall vision and emotional intelligence that a good teacher can have. 

There are also questions about things like how it could encourage cheating, and also other criticisms (I’ll explore some more in a few minutes). 

They’ve done wonders with the marketing – allowing us all to use it freely, which has caused us all to talk about it and as a result it’s gone viral with everyone talking about it. This is helping them to make money now (by selling it as a service which people can incorporate into their websites etc, and charging people for the PRO version of it) and also it’s allowed them to get a lot more data (as millions of people have been using it) which is allowing them to develop it further. In fact it is improving and changing all the time, becoming more and more accurate and sophisticated. 

For learning English, there are definitely ways it can help, including taking out some of the time-consuming things like creating little memory tests, creating sample texts and dialogues which you can use, having some limited conversation practise. 

One of its main strengths is error correction. It can quickly correct errors in your writing and even explain the reasons, although the explaining is a bit limited.

It can correct your English, but don’t rely on it too much. Try to use this as a tool to help you improve your English, not just something that you rely on at the expense of making progress on your own. Learn from it, but don’t let it do all the work. 

You need to have a pretty good level of English to prompt ChatGPT properly. Sometimes you need to find “clever” ways to get it to do exactly what you want and I think this requires a lot of control over your language.

As I mentioned before you often need to find different ways to ask your question or to give your prompt before you get what you’re looking for. 

Remember you can tell it *exactly* what to do. So keep getting specific. 

It’s still a bit early for us to completely rely on it as a personal language teacher or a conversation partner, but it can be a convenient tool for certain basic tasks that can be time consuming.

Chat GPT has no emotional intelligence. It isn’t great at working out what you really want it to do, which is something I have to do as a teacher all the time. I’m always interpreting my students intentions and what they want to say, and then helping them find the right words or sentences to do that, and then helping them produce that again and again, adapting and reacting all the time and also managing the students feelings and emotional responses. It’s a special kind of dance that you have to do with the student and this is extremely complicated and requires a lot of sensitivity and also plenty of teaching experience to allow you to pinpoint exactly what is needed of you as a teacher.

ChatGPT has a long way to go before it can do that. 

For the time being it is no replacement for the interaction you can have with a real human and this is still one of the best ways to practise and develop proper communication skills in English. It is definitely better to practise interacting in English with a real human, preferably one who is able to help you with your English learning because they have skills and experience in this area.

Also, don’t underestimate the importance of those emotional aspects of communication with people. ChatGPT is no replacement for that, at the moment. 

Maybe one day it will be so good that talking to it will be indistinguishable from talking to a real person, which is quite an unnerving prospect somehow.

But anyway, it’s important to continue practising your English by interacting with real people in social scenarios.

Talking to people can be a bit intimidating if you are shy or introverted, but it is essential to practise doing it because interpersonal skills are vital in communication.

ChatGPT doesn’t speak or listen yet, so no listening or speaking practice is possible, but no doubt that’ll come eventually.

What does ChatGPT say about its limitations as a language learning tool?

What are some possible problems with using ChatGPT for learning English?

Other issues

I wonder if it will be free forever. They’ve made it free now to get our attention but eventually we’ll probably have to pay to use it fully. In fact, already the free version is quite limited. It’s slow and stops performing after about 1 hour of interaction. 

I wonder if later this year ChatGPT will still be as accessible as it is now. I expect they let us all use it for a while in order to get our attention and now they’re monetising the product and limiting free access to it. 

I wonder how ChatGPT will develop. It will certainly get better and better.

Perhaps one day (soon) it will flawlessly do all the things we want it to do. 

There are also some frightening aspects to this when we imagine the impact this might have on the world. 

Despite what I said about it being no replacement for human interaction, it is remarkably advanced and sophisticated and that is only the current version of the software. 

I expect this current iteration of ChatGPT is just the tip of the iceberg and eventually it will be almost impossible to differentiate between the chatbot and a real human. 

And when this is combined with life-like speech generation and real life visuals (deepfakes) as well – a video version talking and responding naturally with a lifelike face and voice, in fact so lifelike that we won’t be able to work out if we’re dealing with a human or not, that will be quite frightening because suddenly then we’re living in the film Bladerunner, ExMachina or A.I. with all the ethical and social ramifications explored by those films. 

By the way, those films seem to explore questions of whether it is ethical for us to create highly intellilgent AI capable of human-like emotions, and whether it is ethical for us to treat them like slaves or as sub-human. They are like us, even better than us in many ways, but they don’t have the same rights as us. 

Other films have explored the threat to humankind of artificial intelligence. This includes things like The Terminator series and The Matrix which show a world in which AI becomes self-aware and decides to fight against humans or to enslave us.

A more immediate and realistic problem with something like ChatGPT is how it can affect the job market and whether it will make lots of people redundant.

What will we do when so much of our work can be done by AI that doesn’t need to eat, sleep, or take breaks? What will happen to us? Will people still be employable? What happens when the human population continues to rise, but the number of jobs we can do in order to earn money, decreases?

I have no idea. 

And will AI eventually make it completely unnecessary to even learn another language? Will we simply have simultaneous automatic translations? Will AI augment our reality completely? Will we somehow be connected in the most intimate and integral way with technology, which will mean we won’t need to learn languages any more?

I’m not sure to be honest. What people usually say in response to that question is that we will always want to learn languages because there can be no replacement for the experience of communicating with people naturally using language and no technology can replace or replicate this experience sufficiently. 

Let’s ask ChatGPT some more questions about itself, relating to things like people’s fears about it and if it will cause more cheating

What are people’s fears about how ChatGPT will change the world for the worse?

How might AI become a threat to humans?

Will ChatGPT help people to cheat?

Yes, probably. I can’t see how this won’t be a problem. I mean, this will almost certainly be a problem. Surely, students will just take the easy route and get ChatGPT to write essays for them, or other assignments. That’s obviously bad, because these students will not actually learn the skills and knowledge they’re supposed to learn during their studies and also it could compromise the effectiveness of education in general.

I don’t know how this problem is going to be solved. I don’t know how OpenAI have responded to this. 

Let’s see what ChatGPT says about people using it to cheat in their homework. 

Will ChatGPT help people to cheat in homework and academic essay tasks?

Will there be more cheating as a result of ChatGPT?

So it encourages people to cheat and it doesn’t know how people will use its services, but let’s be honest – it’s definitely going to result in more cheating. 

It will be very interesting to see how ChatGPT and other software  (because it’s not just OpenAI – there are loads of other competing companies also developing similar systems all over the world) It’ll be very interesting to see how this changes the world and of course we all hope that it changes things for the better and that it ultimately improves the human experience, making our lives better, allowing us to thrive.

That’s it – thanks for listening!

Leave your comments in the comment section.

I’m probably going to do another episode about ChatGPT just because it is fun to mess around with it and really see what it can do, including asking it to plan a podcast episode for me, write an introduction to an episode, have funny conversations, write jokes and short stories and lots of other things. 

🙏

822. ChatGPT & Learning English PART 2

In this series I am evaluating ChatGPT as a language-learning tool. In this part I’m experimenting with role-play conversations, job interview practice, creating texts and dialogues and seeing if it can help you prepare for Cambridge exams like IELTS or CAE.

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Episode Transcript

Hello listeners,

This is part 2 of a 3-part episode in which I am playing around with ChatGPT in order to see how it can help you learn English. 

ChatGPT is a sophisticated AI chatbot. You can ask it questions and give it commands and it responds instantly. This is the most advanced AI chatbot I have ever used and it is quite impressive how it can do so many different tasks. We’re all finding out how we can use it and how it can be useful as a time-saving tool for many things, including learning and teaching English.

Of course ChatGPT is not without its critics. Some of those criticisms include the fact that ChatGPT will probably encourage cheating and will make it harder for institutions like schools to detect cheating. Noam Chomsky the well-known linguist and intellectual has described it as high-tech plagiarism, because it essentially regurgitates other people’s work and doesn’t provide citations or sources for the information it provides, and also people are suggesting that ChatGPT or AI in general could ultimately lead to a lot of people losing their jobs. 

Does that include me, and other English teachers like me? Can ChatGPT replace English teachers, content creators or even the need to practise English with humans at all?

I’m not entirely sure, and we’re all working these things out at the moment, since this is perhaps the first time this kind of technology has been so accessible and now everyone’s using it, learning about it and thinking about it.  

There are very interesting debates about this going on, but in this episode I’m focusing mainly on things you can do with ChatGPT, seeing how it works, and evaluating it’s effectiveness as a language learning tool. 

This is part 2. In part 1 of this I asked it to create a study plan as if I was an upper-intermediate learner of English, which it instantly wrote for me. The advice was presented very clearly and a lot of it was pretty decent advice at first glance, but was it appropriate advice for the learner profile I wrote? Was the information a bit generic? What experience or research was its advice based on? We don’t really know. 

Then I checked its ability to correct English errors and to explain those corrections, which it seemed to do quite well, although it lacked the ability of a human teacher to see the bigger picture and to use emotional intelligence, and then I started testing its ability to have a natural conversation, which it struggled with – mainly because as an AI language model it doesn’t have any feelings or opinions of its own and apparently these things are absolutely vital elements for a good conversation.

But is it possible to persuade ChatGPT to forget that it’s an AI chatbot and to pretend to be someone else, like a celebrity that you’d like to chat to, or your English teacher who can correct your errors while you chat?

This is what we’re looking at in part 2 here.

Also, coming up are these questions:

  • How well does it handle role plays in order to let you prepare to use English in specific situations?
  • Can you simulate job interview situations with it?
  • Can it create useful texts or dialogues for studying with?
  • Can it help you with exam preparation by providing sample written texts in response to FCE or CAE writing tasks?
  • Can it give you good advice for doing Cambridge exams?
  • Can it create reliable, useful exam practice tasks to help you prepare for IELTS?

Well, let’s find out now as we continue to play around with ChatGPT. By the way, there is a PDF script for all the things I am saying in this episode, including all the prompts I am using. You can get it on the page for this episode on my website – link in the description. If you are watching on YouTube you will see the text on the screen and I recommend that you watch this in full screen mode so you can see the text more easily.

OK, so let’s continue and here we go…

Conversation role plays for specific situations

If you need practice of using English in certain specific situations, you can ask it to help you.

I am a hotel receptionist. Can you help me deal with customer complaints?

It just gave me advice, like an article about how to deal with customer complaints. 

You can ask it to create sample dialogues for you, for different situations.

Can you make a dialogue between a hotel receptionist and a customer making a complaint about their room?

It creates a pretty good model dialogue. The language you can see is professional, and polite and a good example of the kind of English you would need in that situation. 

ChatGPT is good at this kind of thing. But, as a teacher in class, I might want to make sure this dialogue contained certain target language which I want to present and practise. 

Again, there isn’t a brain there looking at the bigger picture, guiding you, interpreting your needs and reactions, anticipating and planning as it prepares learning materials and activities for you. 

Conversation can be hard to maintain. 

You need to give it very specific instructions if you want to converse with it. Otherwise it will just generate a dialogue. 

Let’s do a roleplay. You pretend to be a hotel customer with a complaint, and I will be the receptionist. Can you also correct my English errors during the roleplay?

It just created the dialogue, writing lines for both people.

Let’s see what happens if I re-write the prompt more specifically.

Let’s do a roleplay. You pretend to be a hotel customer with a complaint, and I will be the receptionist. I will start by writing “Hello, can I help you”. Then give your response and wait for me to reply before writing the next line.

Can you also correct my English errors during the roleplay?

It’s very difficult to persuade it to do this.

Job interview role plays

Can you interview me for a job as a TEFL teacher at a new language school in Paris?

This worked quite well. It generated questions one after the other. It also responded when I asked for clarification. 

Let’s see it it can help you prepare for an interview for a specific position.

Can we do a job interview role play? I’ll input a job advertisement and can you then interview me for the position?

You can input all the details from a job advertisement. 

Just paste all the text from an online job advert, like “Marketing manager job advert” or “TEFL teacher France job advert” or “Podcast host job advert”

Inputting a large amount of text can confuse ChatGPT and it tends to just summarise the text. But then you can say “Ask me interview questions based on the job description I gave you”.

It should ask you some pretty good questions, relevant to that job, which will allow you to simulate the interview on your own, or at least prepare some answers. You could type your answers into ChatGPT and ask it for feedback.

But beware of just practising English through typing. Don’t forget that in the real world you have to speak spontaneously and you have to use social skills while doing it including things like body language.

Sample dialogues or texts

Ask it to produce sample texts or sample dialogues which you can then study with.

To be fair, this isn’t really necessary as there are so many texts and resources already available for you, including ones which are specifically created to help you learn English, but yes they are in published books and materials that you might not have immediate access to. Also, it’s simple to just go to ChatGPT and ask it to create any text or dialogue you want, following your specific instructions.

Can you write a 300 word text containing useful phrases for talking about using the toilet?

No speaking: Remember, Chat GPT won’t “say” any of these sentences because it is only in text form.

Can you create a 200 word story to present the use of narrative verb tenses in English?

What I want from this is a range of verb tenses. Past simple, past continuous, past perfect, with good clear examples of how those forms are used and how they are different to each other.

Did it do that?

Was it a good story?

Can it help with Cambridge Exam test preparation?

Let’s see if it can do a Cambridge First Certificate writing task. 

Sample answers can help us to practice our writing by providing a model which we can learn from. 

Let’s input a task directly into ChatGPT.

CAE Writing Part 1

You have received this email from your English-speaking friend David.

From: David

Subject: touring holiday

Some college friends of mine are visiting your area soon for a week’s touring holiday. They would like to travel around and learn about your local area and its history.

Can you tell me about some of the places they could visit? What’s the best way to travel around – car, bike or coach?

Thanks,

David

Write your email.

Write 140 – 190 words in an appropriate style. 

Dear David,

It’s great to hear from you!

I’d be happy to give some recommendations for your college friends’ touring holiday in our area.

There are plenty of places to visit and explore around here. If your friends are interested in history, I would suggest they start with a visit to the local museum, which houses exhibits on the area’s past, including its early settlements and industrial heritage.

Another must-visit is the old castle, which is one of the most famous landmarks in the region. Your friends can take a guided tour of the castle to learn about its history and its role in the area’s development.

As for the best way to travel around, I would recommend a car. There are several car rental agencies available in the area, and it’s an efficient and flexible way to travel and explore. However, if they are more comfortable with public transport, there are several coach tours available that take visitors around to the most popular sites.

I hope your friends enjoy their time here and get to experience everything that the area has to offer.

Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Can you give me some advice on how to do a Cambridge FCE writing task, like the one I gave you?

The answer was pretty good but it got some things wrong.

  • It said that I should use a formal tone, but this isn’t always the case. 
  • The email to David shouldn’t be formal. In fact this advice contradicts what it did in the writing task. It used some informal language there. 
  • It didn’t refer to any assessment criteria.
  • I’m not sure ChatGPT is consistent or reliable enough to replace proper English language teaching.

Ask it to create IELTS practice tests

I asked it:

Can you create an IELTS reading section 3 practice test?

It created a test which looked good at first glance, but it was not a proper section 3 reading test. 

The test format was different and did not follow the true, false, not given format of IELTS part 3. 

So this means it is not providing sufficient practice for IELTS reading section 3. 

Each part of IELTS is specifically designed to test different reading skills and each reading test is very carefully created to test those skills. 

Chat GPT didn’t do this to the same standard as you would find in proper IELTS test preparation materials.

Part 2 ending

That is where we are going to stop part 2.

I hope you’re enjoying these episodes and finding them useful.

Don’t forget to leave your comments in the comment section if you have something to say. 

We are going to continue in part 3 of this episode, which will be available soon. In fact it might be available for you now – check the episode description for links.

In part 3 I will be attempting to get answers to these questions:

  • Can you use ChatGPT like a dictionary?
  • Can it give us the same information about words that we can find in a good dictionary?
  • Can it give us correct definitions, information about parts of speech, pronunciation, example sentences, synonyms, antonyms, collocations?
  • Can it provide information about the etymology of words and phrases?
  • Can it transcribe things into phonemic script? 
  • Does it accurately transcribe things into British English pronunciation or is it just standard American?
  • Can it convert between different dialects of English, e.g. will it convert American English into British English, or into specific dialects of British English?
  • Is it able to help us to use the right sentence stress, word stress, pausing and intonation when reading things out loud?
  • Can it help us practise grammar by creating quizzes or tests? Are those tests reliable?
  • Can it help you to remember vocabulary with tests and quizzes?
  • Can it help you remember words and spelling with mnemonic memory devices?
  • Can it create text adventure games?
  • Can it adapt its English to different levels?
  • What are my overall thoughts and conclusions about ChatGPT?

All of that, coming up in part 3!

End of part 2

821. ChatGPT & Learning English PART 1

An episode exploring the various ways that ChatGPT might be able to help you learn English. Can it create study plans? Can it correct your errors and explain the corrections? Can you use it to simulate natural conversations? This is the first of a three-part series in which I test ChatGPT’s usefulness as an AI language learning tool.

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DOWNLOAD THE TRANSCRIPT FOR 821. ChatGPT & Learning English PART 1

Episode Transcript

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to my podcast for learners of English around the world.

I hope you are doing well today and that you are ready for this epic episode, which is called ChatGPT and Learning English

Yes, it’s time for me to talk about ChatGPT, just like everyone else this year! Everyone’s been talking about it. Now it’s my turn. It’s taken me a while to get round to doing this, but here it is.

There are absolutely loads of ways ChatGPT can be used. We are all discovering just how useful this is.

There have also been lots of discussions going on about how it might change the world, for better or worse. 

People have been raising ethical questions about things like whether it is a form of plagiarism, whether it will encourage and enable cheating and other issues. 

I’m going to focus here on learning English, mainly.

ChatGPT is basically an extremely sophisticated AI (Artificial Intelligence) chat bot developed and run by a company called OpenAI. 

It’s free for anyone to use. Just create an account at OpenAI and then go to https://chat.openai.com/chat and you can start. 

You just type in your prompt or question and away you go.

How do people use ChatGPT?

I asked it that question. Let’s see what it said. 


Most people use ChatGPT to ask questions and seek answers on a wide range of topics. 

As an AI language model, ChatGPT can provide information, explanations, and guidance on a variety of subjects, such as science, technology, history, culture, and more. 

People may also use ChatGPT for language learning, writing assistance, and brainstorming ideas. Additionally, ChatGPT can be used for entertainment purposes, such as generating jokes, riddles, or trivia questions. 

Overall, people use ChatGPT as a helpful tool for obtaining information, learning new things, and solving problems.

I’m recording this episode in March 2023 and I’m talking about ChatGPT3, which as the name suggests is the third iteration of this software, released by OpenAI in November 2022. This is the version that has got everyone talking.

What is OpenAI? 

This is the company that has created ChatGPT. 

According to Wikipedia, OpenAI is:

“… an American artificial intelligence research laboratory consisting of the non-profit OpenAI Incorporated and its for-profit subsidiary corporation OpenAI Limited Partnership. OpenAI conducts AI research with the declared intention of promoting and developing a friendly AI.”

  • Non-profit laboratory
  • For-profit subsidiary corporation
  • Research “…with the declared intention of promoting and developing friendly AI”

Declared intention → Interesting wording! 

That seems to suggest that there are also undeclared intentions, doesn’t it? 

Does this mean that they have other intentions that they’re not declaring, like maybe developing “unfriendly AI”, and what would that be like?  

Would it just be rude to you if you asked it a question? 

Like if you ask it, 

Can you recommend some good mystery stories to help me learn English?” 

and it just says… 

“No. What do you think I am, Google? Go and find out for yourself, and don’t ask such me stupid questions, human.”

That would be unfriendly AI. 

And that’s probably the best case future scenario for “unfriendly AI” isn’t it? Just a rude and unhelpful chatbot. 

Of course unfriendly AI could end up being a lot worse than just that. 

It could be… I don’t know… Terminators.

But don’t worry, because thankfully, this is not the case and they are developing “friendly AI”. 

So, everything is ok. I hope.

Am I a bit cynical or suspicious about this?

Forgive me if come across as slightly suspicious, cynical or even paranoid about this kind of thing, but I have to admit that when I read about companies like OpenAI that develop artificial intelligence products like ChatGPT or robotic developers like Boston Dynamics (you know the ones that make those vaguely terrifying robots)

and things like that, when I read about those things, it does make me feel like I’m living in a dystopian science fiction film or something. Just a little bit. 

It all has that kind of “dark sci-fi” atmosphere to it.

But no, this technology is not evil of course, yet, probably. 

I suppose it depends who is in charge of it and all sorts of other things, but having watched so many of those science fiction films, well, I can’t help feeling slightly alarmed or at least uncomfortable to some extent.

But of course those are just films and companies like Open AI are in no way similar to the fictional corporations in those films. Not similar at all. 

Look at their website – https://openai.com/ 

It is decidedly non-scary. It’s all nice with friendly people sitting around smiling and chatting and lots of green plants in the background and it’s all natural and sunny and safe.  

“Safe” is definitely a key word on their website. 

They really want us to know that they are making sure their projects are definitely safe and friendly and beneficial to humanity

No need to worry! We’re making it safe. 😊

https://chat.openai.com/chat

Anyway, this episode is supposed to be about how ChatGPT can help you learn English, and whether or not it will make me (and countless other people) completely redundant and unemployed. 

So, let’s get back to the point: 

ChatGPT and Learning English

Despite my ironic comments about science fiction films, I am fascinated by ChatGPT and the way it can be used as a tool. 

The potential is huge. Its use as a language learning assistant is only the tip of the iceberg really.

The more you play with it the more you realise what it can do, depending on the prompts that you give to it. You also realise its limitations and how it sometimes gets things completely wrong.

For example, the other day I was asking it random questions and I asked it this:

Who is the most famous guest ever to have appeared on Luke’s English Podcast?

So it does often get things completely wrong. 

That is something to bear in mind.

Useful ChatGPT Prompts

Chat GPT is basically a chat bot. It works like you’re having a conversation with it, in text form.

You write prompts into the chat box and then get responses as if it is a person writing back to you.

Usually these prompts are in the form of questions to request information or to ask ChatGPT to do things. 

What time is it?

So basically: 

I can’t tell you the time because I don’t know and anyway I’m above that kind of thing. Just consult some of your 20th century technology and don’t bother me with such petty simple requests.

Prompt: 

Can you give me some tips on how to make my podcast introductions shorter?

For some reason this screenshot was lost!

You can also enter imperative instructions, like this: 

Make a list of evil corporations in science fiction films

So, as I go through this episode I’ll be using various prompts. If you are looking at the notes/transcript on the page for this episode on my website or while watching the YouTube version, you will see all the prompts I’m using written in italics.

Tip: Writing prompts for ChatGPT

It’s quite important that you word your prompts carefully, and if you don’t get the response you’re looking for first time round, you should keep trying with more specific and detailed prompts in order to get the right response. 

I’ll show you some examples of this during the episode.

Specific Ways You Can Use ChatGPT to Learn English

Let’s look at some specific things you can do with ChatGPT to help with your English. I’ll show you specific prompts that you can write into ChatGPT and I will give my comments about each response it gives.

Overview

These are the things we are going to explore and assess during the episode.

  • Ask it to create a study plan for you
  • Ask it to correct your errors
  • Use it for conversation practice
  • Use it for practising English in different situations (e.g. job interview role plays)
  • Ask it to create texts or dialogues to study with
  • Ask it to help you with exam preparation (IELTS, FCE, CAE etc)
  • Ask it for definitions of words, and synonyms, antonyms, and collocations
  • Ask it about the etymology of words and phrases
  • Ask it to help you remember words with mnemonics
  • Ask it to transcribe things into phonemic script 
  • Ask it to convert things into different versions of English (i.e. between UK and US English, or other varieties)
  • Ask it to help you with sentence stress, pausing, intonation etc
  • Ask it to create grammar or vocabulary quizzes or tests
  • Ask it to create text adventure games to help you learn English
  • Ask it to adapt its English level (e.g. for low level reading)

Ask it to create a study plan for you

I am an upper-intermediate learner of English, currently stuck at the intermediate plateau. My main areas of weakness are listening, speaking and pronunciation. I want to speak with a British accent and I want to be completely fluent at a C1 level or higher. Can you create a step-by-step study plan for me?


Yes, I can help you create a study plan to improve your listening, speaking, and pronunciation skills and reach a C1 level of fluency in English.

Here is a step-by-step study plan for you:

Step 1: Improve your listening skills
Listen to English language podcasts, news broadcasts, and audiobooks for at least 30 minutes a day. Try to watch English language TV shows, movies and videos without subtitles to help you develop your listening skills. Focus on understanding the overall meaning of what is being said, rather than getting stuck on individual words.

Step 2: Improve your speaking skills
Start speaking English every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. You can practice with a language partner, tutor or a language exchange program.Focus on fluency rather than accuracy at first, don’t worry too much about making mistakes.Record yourself speaking and listen back to identify areas where you need to improve. Try to use vocabulary and grammar structures that you have learned in context, rather than simply memorizing them.

Step 3: Improve your pronunciation
Watch and listen to videos of native speakers and try to mimic their pronunciation. Practice individual sounds, such as vowel and consonant sounds, using resources like pronunciation apps, websites or audio resources. Work on intonation, rhythm and stress patterns in connected speech, which are important aspects of British accent. Take pronunciation classes or work with a speech therapist, if possible.

Step 4: Build your vocabulary
Learn new words every day and use them in sentences to help you remember them. Try to learn words in context by reading articles, books or watching videos in English. Use flashcards, vocabulary lists and apps to help you memorize new words.

Step 5: Work on grammar and writing
Study English grammar rules and practice them through exercises and quizzes. Write short paragraphs, essays, and emails in English to practice your writing skills. Get feedback on your writing from a tutor, teacher or language partner.

Step 6: Take formal English language exams
Take a C1 level English language exam such as the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to measure your progress and get certified.Remember to stay motivated, practice consistently and have fun with the process of learning.

Good luck!

That’s all good advice. But as a teacher, I know that when I give advice like this to my students, there are always other questions, doubts and obstacles that the students have.

I wonder how ChatGPT would respond to these kinds of comments.

  • But I don’t have time to do all those things
  • I can’t understand that podcast that you shared with me, and it was too long
  • I can’t understand TV series without subtitles
  • I don’t have anyone to practise my speaking with
  • You say “don’t worry about making mistakes” but how can I improve if that doesn’t matter?
  • I try to copy native speakers, but who should I copy? Who has the best accent?
  • I copy native speakers but I still can’t lose my accent
  • Can you recommend a good book or website to help me practise my grammar?
  • If I write things in English, who can correct them for me?

Actually, I tried inputting those comments into ChatGPT and it did come back with some pretty useful and relevant advice. I won’t share it all here because there isn’t time, but you could try it if you like.

Error correction 

It can correct your errors. Just ask it to. 

Write a sentence or enter a paragraph and it’ll correct it.

Let’s try that. Let’s ask it to correct the errors in this comment which someone wrote on my website a few weeks ago. 

Can you correct the errors in this website comment please?

Hey Luke. How’s it going? Hope u enjoy. I’m walk to this website. Very well, its so exactly for me. I’m listening and hear you podcast (british), tbh i really like british accent. It posh vibes! And i like it. Thankyou so much for learn (british) english with your podcast in comedian, story telling, etc 


Sure, here’s the corrected website comment:

“Hey Luke, how’s it going? I hope you’re doing well. I’ve recently discovered this website and it’s been a perfect fit for me. I’ve been listening to your podcast, and as a fan of the British accent, I really enjoy it. The posh vibes are great! Thank you so much for helping me improve my British English through your podcast which features comedy, storytelling, and more.”

Let’s ask it to explain the corrections it has made. 

Can you give explanations for the corrections you made?


Certainly! Here are the explanations for the corrections I made:
“Hope u enjoy” –> “I hope you’re doing well.”

I changed this phrase because “hope u enjoy” is an informal and abbreviated way of asking how someone is doing, which might not be appropriate in all situations. Instead, I replaced it with a more standard greeting that asks how Luke is doing.

“I’m walk to this website” –> “I’ve recently discovered this website”

“I’m walk” is grammatically incorrect. I replaced it with “I’ve recently discovered” to convey the same idea in proper English grammar.

“Very well, its so exactly for me” –> “it’s been a perfect fit for me”

The original phrase is not grammatically correct and does not convey a clear message. I replaced it with “it’s been a perfect fit for me,” which expresses the idea that the website meets the writer’s needs and expectations.

“I’m listening and hear you podcast” –> “I’ve been listening to your podcast”

“I’m listening and hear you podcast” is not grammatically correct, and it’s not clear whether the writer is currently listening or has listened to the podcast in the past. I changed the phrase to “I’ve been listening to your podcast” to express that the writer is a regular listener.

“tbh i really like British accent” –> “As a fan of the British accent, I really enjoy it.”
“tbh i really like British accent” is an informal and abbreviated way of expressing admiration for the British accent. I changed the phrase to “As a fan of the British accent, I really enjoy it” to express the same idea in more formal language.

“It posh vibes!” –> “The posh vibes are great!”
“It posh vibes!” is an incomplete sentence and not grammatically correct. I changed the phrase to “The posh vibes are great!” to convey the same idea in a complete and grammatically correct sentence.

“Thankyou so much for learn (british) english with your podcast in comedian, story telling, etc” –> “Thank you so much for helping me improve my British English through your podcast which features comedy, storytelling, and more.”
The original phrase is not grammatically correct and does not convey a clear message. I changed it to “Thank you so much for helping me improve my British English through your podcast which features comedy, storytelling, and more” to express the idea that the writer is grateful for Luke’s assistance in improving their British English through his podcast.

This is actually very impressive for a chatbot, although it doesn’t provide the same level of detail in its explanations that I would as a teacher and of course a teacher can deal with questions, interpret what the learner wants/means, and adapt more organically while allowing the learner to practise their English communication skills in the process. But still, it’s impressive.

Use ChatGPT for conversation practice

  • Can you practise having a conversation with it? 
  • Is it capable of having a proper, meaningful conversation?
  • Can it provide the kind of conversation practice that you need for language learning? 
  • Can it pretend to be your English teacher or someone else?

Chatbots have always been very limited and quite annoying when it comes to having a normal conversation, because they just can’t do it, frankly. 

Let’s see if ChatGPT has made big improvements in that area. Is it easy to chat to, or does it quickly become weird and unnatural?

I’ve chosen some questions which I think would be totally normal conversation starters (with humans). 

Let’s see if we can start a conversation with it, using these questions.

Conversation starters

Let’s input these and see if we can have a conversation in real time. (no screenshots, just a realtime chat here in a new window https://chat.openai.com/ )

  • How are you?
  • Have you been busy recently?
  • What have you been up to?
  • I’ve been listening to a podcast about The Beatles. Are you a fan of The Beatles by any chance?
  • What’s your favourite Beatles album?
  • Who do you think is going to win the 6 Nations this year?
  • Did you see the Scotland vs France rugby game at the weekend?
  • Any idea what the weather will be like this weekend?
  • My brother’s birthday is coming up but I’ve got no idea what to get for him.

It’s better than previous chatbots but conversation is still limited.

Ask it to pretend to be someone else

Conversation becomes a bit easier and more natural.

Can you pretend to be Ringo Starr so I can have a chat with you?

How are you at the moment Ringo?

Ask it to correct your errors while having the conversation

Can you pretend to be my English teacher, and correct my errors while we chat?

It can continue the conversation and also correct your errors.

This works ok sometimes but, it doesn’t pick up on all your errors and after a few responses it seems to forget to correct you. 

It’s a bit difficult to keep a conversation going with a chatbot that has no emotions or opinions.  You have to carry the conversation quite a lot and, well, it’s not the best conversationalist. It tends to switch into “information mode” where it just gives you Wikipedia-like responses.

E.g. If you try to talk about Premier League football, it will mainly explain what the premier league is, rather than sharing opinions on it. I said “Let’s talk about the premier league”. It asked me what my favourite team was. I said I didn’t really have one but I liked Liverpool. I asked what it’s favourite team was. It gave me the same old response “As an AI language model I don’t have personal preferences or emotions…” and then proceeded to kind of lecture me about Liverpool FC, giving me a kind of summary of the club, like what you might read at the top of Liverpool’s Wikipedia page. 

So, it’s not the best conversationalist. It’s not bad, but it seems that sharing personal opinions or sharing our emotional reactions to things, is pretty vital in human conversation and since it can’t do that, conversations with it fall a bit flat. 

But it is fun to play around with it.

I tried having a conversation with it in French (a language which I am learning, badly) and wanted to see if my experience was different from the point of view of a language learner.

I found that it really helped. It was a good experience in terms of learning French. 

Just trying to express myself in written French was a challenge, and this was good. I need these challenges in order to progress. 

I asked it to correct my mistakes. It did it, and it felt almost like having a conversation with a person. 

I didn’t feel judged or stressed (as I often do when talking to a person) and I learned some correct phrases. I felt free to repeat certain things over and over again in order to practise, without judgement.

Ending script for part 1

This is where we are going to stop. This is the end of part 1. We will continue in parts 2 and 3.

I hope you’re enjoying this so far and finding it useful as a way of considering how ChatGPT might be able to help you learn English, or how it might not. 

This video is actually in 3 parts. I recorded all of this last week and it ended up taking me 3 hours to go through all the ideas I mentioned earlier, all the various ways you can use ChatGPT for learning English. 

Parts 2 and 3 will be available very soon. If I have already published them by the time you watch this, you will find links for them in the show notes.

Also you can get the PDF of the script for this episode and for the other parts – with most of the things I am saying and all the ChatGPT prompts which I’m using. Check the show notes/ episode description.

Coming up in part 2 I will be playing around with ChatGPT more and doing these things:

  • Continuing to evaluate ChatGPT as a way of simulating natural conversations
  • Seeing if it can pretend to be your English teacher and correct your errors and explain them
  • Testing if it can pretend to be someone else, to make conversations more fun or interesting
  • Checking how well it handles role plays in order to let you prepare to use English in specific situations
  • Seeing if you can simulate job interview situations with it
  • Asking it to create useful texts or dialogues for studying with
  • Looking at exam preparation by asking it to provide sample written texts in response to FCE or CAE writing tasks
  • Seeing if it can give yu good advice for doing Cambridge exams
  • Seeing if it can create reliable, useful exam practice tasks to help you prepare for IELTS

All of that coming up in part 2, which will be available soon or maybe now.

Personally I am finding it fascinating to experiment with ChatGPT and seeing what it can do, and wondering how it might change the world for better or worse.

There’s no doubt that AI like this will increasingly become a normal part of lives as we move into the future. What will the effect of that be on society and the planet?

There are some fairly strong feelings about ChatGPT going around. I’m curious to know what you think about it, so leave your comments in the comment section.

I’ll continue to discuss all these things and test ChatGPT further in upcoming episodes.

Thank you for listening or watching. If you enjoy my content, then share it with your friends, like and subscribe, leave a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to this, and consider signing up for my premium episodes to get vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation episodes with stories.

OK, I will speak to you again in part 2 of this, but until then – goodbye bye bye!

End of part 1