Go Beyond the Textbook - How to Use This is School for Homework!

ChatGPT - Enemy or Ally in the World of Language Learning?

April 9, 2024
Natasha Fernandez Garbero

Is it time to establish a truce with ChatGPT and accept that it is a valuable ally rather than an enemy?

Technology is improving each day faster, and specialists work on simplifying our daily tasks. However, instead of helping us do our job, it can actually do it for us. When ChatGPT first emerged it led to controversial debate. The artificial technology, created by AI research company Open AI is an online chatbot that can answer virtually any query. It gathers information from various websites and provides a quick response. Programmed with conversational vocabulary, ChatGPT can sound remarkably human-like. Many individuals have found it to be a job simplifier and leading many educators to question whether ChatGPT is really such an ally. 

After all, since ChatGPT generates responses quickly and with relatively little input from the user really needed, will it decrease students' abilities to brainstorm, think critically, and be creative with their answers? Many have asked schools to ban it in classrooms. 

However, as it’s unlikely that ChatGPT will face a full ban - at least for now - why not use it as your biggest friend?

As an English teacher, I can assure you that forbidding students from using it is not the solution; it might, in fact, encourage its use. Teachers and parents must step back and think about how to use it in their favor. The main function of the chat is to inform, so why not integrate it into daily use and teach students to ask questions and seek answers? Teach them to use it as a supplementary tool. While ChatGPT can provide literal answers or information from the internet, it can't think for us. That is where we, humans, need to be smarter and employ critical thinking to identify what is useful and accurate. 

ChatGPT can be a great friend not only for teachers and students but for anyone.

As an English translator and teacher, here are some of my strategies for using ChatGPT:

👀 To double-check answers: ChatGPT is faster than many websites, making it a great tool to verify information. If I have doubts about a word or phrase, I ask ChatGPT. It's like a moral support tool, providing comfort that I've checked thoroughly, similar to asking a friend's opinion.

✔️ To correct any misspellings or grammar mistakes: After using software tools to correct my mistakes, I paste the text in the chat and ask it not to change anything but to tell me if it is well-written. If there is a mistake, it will tell me what needs to be changed. Remember, it's a supplementary tool, and we are the smartest individuals here, so the idea is not to immediately change everything as this chatbot says, but review it and consider if it’s right or not.

❓ To ask about information: It can be easier to ask chatbots about certain information rather than trawling through websites. For example, I use it to obtain specific information or find synonyms. This makes research quicker. This way, I can focus on understanding and using the info rather than spending too much time searching. 

As mentioned before, ChatGPT doesn't do my work for me, but it significantly accelerates the process compared to searching through various websites. Remember, ChatGPT is not smarter than any of us; it's a supplementary tool. Review its responses, identify what is right, and if you see something that is not, change it. 

There have been various times for me where ChatGPT has told me something I wrote was wrong, and I was right. That’s why I don't rely on ChatGPT but rather I use it for specific tasks, and always apply a healthy dose of personal knowledge and input before taking any of its answers verbatim.

Perhaps it’s time to establish a truce with ChatGPT and accept that it is a valuable ally rather than an enemy. As humans, we have a broader capacity than machines; we have creativity, critical thinking, and the ability to form opinions. This is what we should be sharing and celebrating with our students.

For now, I don’t believe there's a need for panic. Machines aren’t going to take over the world and replace us. Machines will never have that kind of power to replace us. Al has, in fact, made huge advances in recent years and has the potential to improve our lives in many ways, it still lacks the emotional depth, creativity, and empathy that are unique to us. Therefore, let’s stop thinking technology is planning something against us. We need to improve our skills. Professionals need to keep studying and getting ahead of this technology to use it in their favor. 

That's how we win.

--

Natasha Fernández Garbero, a 20-year-old English translation and interpretation student from Argentina, is currently working as an English teacher for both kids and adults. Her passion extends beyond the classroom. She has contributed to video game translations on Crowdin and participated in the translation of a captivating book. Natasha loves sharing her experiences and passion for language learning with the world.

Interested in authentic, unscripted, and totally-not-AI-generated language learning resources? Then you've come to the right place. Just like this sentence, our resources are written by real life people. Speak to one of them today about a trial and you'll see what we mean. Not a robot in sight.