You cannot log into the internet without finding a new article about ChatGPT and its engine, OpenAi’s GPT3. Many people are saying that it will change the way we teach. And it will significantly affect writing. Because it is now so easy to create a text about any subject that is well written and usually correct with just a simple prompt of a few words or a sentence, students will use this tool to create assignment answers they cannot even understand.
Instead of looking at AI Text Generators (there are more than just ChatGPT) as tools for cheating, we can look at them as tools for learning. These are early days, but it is never too early to start thinking about how to use these tools for teaching languages, and for teaching writing.
The key is to understand how the AI text generators work. They are usually good at putting sentences together, but sometimes they get things really wrong. More often, they say strange things that don’t make much sense. This is a crucial opportunity for language teachers.
It’s also important to recognize that some people will become better than others at using this new tool. Like writing itself, it will be essential to understand how to write a good prompt. And that will require a lot of practice. Different iterations of prompts will show students what works best, both in word choice and style. Iteration is another way to talk about drafts, or sequential versions, or multiple tries of any new prompts. Prompts will become the new pens of writing. We all know how the fountain pen, the ball-point pen, the word processor, the spell checker, and the grammar checker received a lot of negative criticism from thinkers and teachers at the beginning, saying they would ruin writing forever. We are in that stage right now with text generators.
So for language teachers to get a handle on this, I am proposing a new Bank of GPT3 Activity Types for language learners.
Let’s get the ball rolling. I have not tested these ideas with students yet. These are off the top of my head.
- Vocabulary. CEFR B2: Instructions: Without using the word “insightful” in your prompt, get GPT3 to create a short text that includes this word at least once. Include both your Prompt and your Text in your answer. (note: change the target word for different levels.)
- Writing style: Instructions: Using at least 4 Iterations (versions) of prompts, create a text about perfume. Make each version simpler. Continue making versions until you can understand every word.
- Writing style: Create 2 prompts about the same subject (bicycles on the sidewalk). One prompt will be a legal argument against bicycles, the other a love letter or poem to using bicycles in urban areas. Compare the adjectives used in each.
- Class: Use GPT3 to create a short text about a simple subject (braiding hair). Each person in your group should take a different aspect of your topic for their prompt (ie history, hair types, style periods, famous people). Work together to fit all of your text together into one. Make sure they are stylistically similar and flow from one to another.
- Groups: Create a text about the word Black. Highlight the synonyms of the word in your Text. Compare with your small group.
- Write a 3-word prompt to create a 50-word (or fewer) text about cooperation. Put the resulting text into Cambridge’s WriteAndImprove (a style checker). Prizes go to both the highest and the lowest CEFR level text.
More to come soon. As well as a page here of a small catalog of these kind of activities. If you have any ideas, make a comment here. Or contact me (Kevin Ryan) at firstname.lastname@example.org or tokyokevin at gmail.