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I’m sure many of you have heard about Ai and ChatGPT, but have you ever thought about using them to help you study, practice, and learn English? Listen to this episode for a complete introduction to ChatGPT, and its uses (and limitations) for English learners!

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What is AI and How Does it Work?

ChatGPT and Artificial intelligence have dominated the technology news over the last few months. After its release to the public in December, millions of people have tried ChatGPT – including me! It can write poetry in the style of Shakespeare, create interesting captions for Instagram posts, and help rewrite or summarise difficult texts.

As a language learner, I immediately realised that ChatGPT and future AI technology is going to be an amazing tool and resource. Although still early, the technology behind ChatGPT will be able to help people learn languages, prepare for exams, and improve their writing.

This episode will first explain what AI is and how ChatGPT works, before giving your tips and advice on how to use such technology in your English studying routine!

An Introduction to AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and act like humans. The main objective of AI is to create machines that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as learning, problem-solving, decision-making, and perception.

AI can be categorized into two main types: narrow or weak AI and general or strong AI. Narrow AI refers to systems designed to perform specific tasks, such as recognizing images, speech, or text, while general AI refers to AI systems that can perform any intellectual task that a human can.

There are many practical applications of AI in various fields, including healthcare, finance, transportation, and education.

One of the most common and everyday uses of AI is in Virtual Assistants. Most people now have a Virtual Assistant in their pockets (like Apple’s Siri) or in their homes (my parents have an Alexa). These are AI-powered applications that can perform various tasks, such as scheduling appointments, sending messages, and playing music.

Many car companies are working on developing autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars) that work using AI. These will be able to navigate and operate on their own without human intervention and are expected to revolutionize transportation in the coming years.

And AI is commonly used in the design and development of robots that can perform tasks that are typically done by humans. Robots are used in various applications, such as manufacturing, healthcare, and space exploration.


What is ChatGPT?

Now I’ve explained artificial intelligence… maybe I should explain ChatGPT. “ChatGPT” is a computer program that has been trained to understand and respond to messages written by humans, similar to how people talk to each other. It uses a special kind of math called “deep learning” to learn from a lot of text that it has read, and it uses that learning to generate its own messages in response to new messages it receives.

The GPT in ChatGPT stands for ‘Generative Pre-trained Transformer’, which is a type of computer program that has been specifically designed to generate written language that sounds like it was written by a human. It uses something called ‘neural networks’ to learn from a lot of text that it has read, and this allows it to generate new text that sounds natural and similar to how humans might write.

ChatGPT works by analysing text data to identify patterns and relationships between words and phrases. It builds a model of the language which is then trained on large amounts of text data in order to learn and use more patterns and relationships.

Once the model has been trained, it can be used to generate responses to prompts in a way that is similar to how humans would respond. When replying to a question, ChatGPT uses the context of the question to create sentences that it believes will best answer the question or respond to the prompt.

One of the key features of ChatGPT is its ability to write in a way that is coherent and grammatically correct. However, it is important to note that ChatGPT may sometimes generate responses that are inappropriate or off-topic due to its lack of understanding of context.

How can Chat GPT be used to Study English?

I’m sure you’ve seen articles online about ChatGPT. And many of you have probably tried using it – maybe you asked it to write something amusing like a song or a joke. But ChatGPT can be an incredibly powerful tool for improving language skills, including reading comprehension, writing skills, and vocabulary. It can be used by intermediate and advanced English learners to practice and improve your language skills in a fun and interactive way.

For example, it can be used to improve reading comprehension by generating questions based on a given passage or text. You can enter a text into the AI and ask it to make questions based on the text. This is an amazing tool to practice your reading comprehension skills and it can ensure you have understood the content.

You can also use ChatGPT to generate writing prompts. You can input a topic into the model and ask it to generate writing prompts based on the topic. This is great for practicing writing skills and developing the ability to write coherently and fluently. Moreover, once you write something you can enter your text back into ChatGPT and ask it to check for any mistakes!

One thing I used ChatGPT for recently is generating word associations and lists. I wrote a bonus episode on gibberish and similar words – I thought of 5 words myself then entered these into the AI and asked it to continue my list! This could be great for building your vocabulary – and you can combine this with the AI’s ability to translate and define words.

When you don’t have an English teacher… don’t worry… use ChatGPT! Enter your sentences into the ChatGPT and ask it to generate example sentences or correct any errors in the sentence. This can help you to identify and correct common grammar mistakes and improve your writing skills.

And, you can use ChatGPT for conversational practice by engaging in simulated conversations with the model. Write a question or a prompt, then practice your conversation skills by responding to the responses.

ChatGPT can also be used to help English learners prepare for language tests such as TOEFL, IELTS, and Cambridge English exams. It can make questions based on test content, allowing you to practice their test-taking skills and improve their scores. It be used to simulate tests and generate instant feedback on test performance, helping learners to identify areas that need improvement.

Examples of what ChatGPT can do!

I asked ChatGPT to make reading comprehension questions for a piece of text!
Here is an example of writing prompts you can generate!
Who needs an English teacher? ChatGPT can check and correct your grammar!
IELTS reading exam?
And an IELTS writing exam”

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Tips for Using ChatGPT effectively

While ChatGPT is a powerful tool for language learning, it is important to use it effectively to optimize language learning outcomes. H ere are some tips and strategies for using ChatGPT to improve your language skills.

First, you need to select prompts that are appropriate for your level of English. If you are an intermediate learner, choose prompts that are not too difficult, as this will help you to build confidence and improve your skills gradually. On the other hand, if you are a more advanced learner, choose prompts that challenge you and push you to use more complex language.

When ChatGPT generates a response, take the time to read it carefully and try to understand the meaning. If you don’t understand a word or phrase, look it up in a dictionary or ask a teacher or tutor for help (or ask ChatGPT to define or explain). Additionally, try to identify any grammar or vocabulary errors in the response and use this as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes.

Pay attention to errors in your own language use. Use the AI’s responses to identify and correct any errors in grammar, syntax, or vocabulary. Try to understand why you made the error and how to avoid making it in the future.

You also need to remember to use ChatGPT as a learning tool, not a crutch. Don’t rely solely on the model to generate responses or correct errors. Use it as a tool to practice and improve your language skills, and focus on building your own ability to use the language effectively.

And finally, practice regularly. To optimize your language learning outcomes with ChatGPT, it is important to practice regularly. Set aside time each day or each week to practice writing or speaking with the model. This will help you to build your skills gradually and see improvement over time.

Using ChatGPT to improve your language skills requires selecting appropriate prompts, interpreting responses, identifying and correcting errors, using the model as a learning tool, and practicing regularly. By following these tips and strategies, you can use ChatGPT to practice and build your confidence in using English.

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Limitations and potential pitfalls

However, while using AI can be a valuable tool in language learning, it is important to be aware of its potential pitfalls and limitations.

Although ChatGPT is trained on a large amount of text, it lacks the ability to understand context fully. This can sometimes result in the technology writing inappropriate responses or providing responses that are not relevant. As a result, it is essential to interpret responses with care and to use the ChatGPT’s responses carefully.

ChatGPT may not be able to identify specific areas where you need improvement or provide targeted feedback to help you improve. It is important to use ChatGPT as one tool in a broader approach to language learning, which may include working with teachers, tutors, or language partners.

Using ChatGPT to practice speaking or writing can help to build your skills, but it does not provide the same kind of spontaneous practice as interacting with another person. And it does not have expert knowledge on all types of English (certain dialects or technical languages) so it may not be able to generate responses that are specific to certain contexts or disciplines.

And ChatGPT’s performance is highly dependent on the quality of the data used to train it. This means that if the data contains biases or errors, these biases and errors can be reflected in the model’s responses.

While using AI such as ChatGPT can be a useful tool in language learning, it is important to be aware of its potential limitations and pitfalls. By understanding these limitations and using ChatGPT in conjunction with other language learning methods, it can be a powerful tool for improving language skills and building confidence in using English.

Final Thought

AI like ChatGPT is going to revolutionize the world – and all of you should try it out as part of your English learning experience.

Now, some of you may be thinking that AI will never replace real teachers or humans… and you may be right. But as the technology gets better and it is trained on more data, I think the potential is huge. I’m even working with a friend to develop an AI English teacher to use on my Discord server!

How are you going to use AI as part of your English studies?

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By Tom Wilkinson

Host and founder of Thinking in English, Tom is committed to providing quality and interesting content to all English learners. Previously a research student at a top Japanese university and with a background in English teaching, political research, and Asian languages, Tom is now working fulltime on bettering Thinking in English!

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