May 22, 2024

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A new essential partner for learning and teaching English?

A new essential partner for learning and teaching English?

The emergence of generative AI has had an explosive impact on the education sector. So, what role can it play in the teaching and assessment of languages, particularly English?

The emergence of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) has recently had a bombshell impact. Compared to the advent and democratization of the Internet at the beginning of the 21st century, this new technology seems to have unlimited potential, with the ability to create almost limitless amounts of any type of content (from text to video to image and audio). Diversity of fields. Education is not left out of the obvious, its application extends from teaching to learning and assessment.

But like any revolution, the advent of genAI raises many questions. including a formal one of its introduction into the academic community. So what role can it play in language teaching? As a preface to the answer, it is important to emphasize that this technology is still young, so the imperfect technology must be rigorously monitored by humans before it becomes available to teaching professionals. Only by harnessing this revolutionary tool can we preserve the social and emotional strands that are intrinsic and essential to language learning.

Very strong ability to learn and evaluate English

Capable of processing enormous amounts of data at high speeds, artificial intelligence has enormous potential to create new and personalized educational content. By allowing the development of lessons and exercises tailored to the needs of the teacher and learner, this technology offers a considerable expansion in the realm of possibilities. Among its many benefits and strengths, teachers benefit from the ability to perform repetitive, monotonous and time-consuming tasks with unmatched speed and consistency. In the field of linguistic assessment, AI makes it possible to provide accurate and reliable results in record time, but also to detect any fraud attempt with great accuracy. Freed from these space and time constraints, the teacher can focus his efforts on higher value tasks, which naturally benefit the learner. Using AI-based tools that can be developed, the latter can self-assess and progress at their own pace. For example, the Cambridge-developed Write & Improve program allows him to write text and receive extensive automatic feedback. The same principle applies to speaking with Speak & Improv, even if he can practice, he frees himself from the fear of speaking English in public.

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Generative Artificial Intelligence: A False Friend in Language Teaching?

Despite its obvious potential, generative AI has yet to be unanimously adopted in the academic world. Considering that it represents a danger to learning knowledge, some universities have been led to ban or restrict its use. The fault lies in the risk of errors associated with the evolving and still imperfect nature of this technology, which inevitably produces incorrect content when operating on the basis of incorrect data. Furthermore, the use of conversational tools such as ChatGPT by learners raises many questions, especially in terms of assessing language levels. Beyond its fraudulent nature, text written by a chatbot makes it possible to assess a student’s progress. Additionally, this tool of creating content from existing writing poses real ethical and intellectual property issues. Finally, the last pitfall facing AI being developed today: the fear that teachers feel their profession is being sidelined. In the last century, machines have already replaced humans in many tasks and activities, and the question arises legitimately.

People: The Key Ingredient of Successful Teaching

While generative AI may cause concern among teachers, we must keep in mind that it is still far from being able to replace humans. Let us remember that man possesses unique intellectual, emotional and cognitive capacities that machines have never been equipped with. Not only can the teacher deliver the lesson by conveying emotions and motivation, but also by creating social bonds. That is why it needs to be at the heart of the learning process.

Nevertheless, this new technology is set to find itself more and more consistently in classrooms and language courses, just as it did in math classes in its day. If learning the different tables in elementary school has to be done without it, this little machine has proven especially useful for teaching discipline in more advanced classes. In the same way, genAI should be a tool monitored and monitored by the teaching staff. For example, when a learner uses ChatGPT, the teacher can guide his use, on the one hand, by inviting him to demonstrate relevance in writing his request. In the case of a language assessment, teacher intervention is essential to monitor, interpret, and accurately communicate reliable and usable results that are automatically generated after tests. In short, like any innovation, generative AI can be a powerful factor in progress as long as it is used wisely and overseen by an expert. It is a pity that his extraordinary ability was not put to the service of teaching English. In the face of all these challenges, it seems imperative for us to support the ethical and responsible use of this new technology with strength and determination. Only by establishing a strict and durable protocol can the role of teachers and language practitioners, as well as the integrity of intellectual property, be fully ensured.

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