ChatGPT is a fairly recent innovation, having been released in November 2022. Nonetheless, it has already created quite a lot of buzz in the world of education.
Many educators are worried about its potential misuse for cheating and plagiarism, but others insist that its advantages are more significant. Both have valid arguments.
Many schools and universities are understandably concerned by its ability to produce perfectly worded essays and other kinds of texts and have started banning the use of ChatGPT on school systems. They fear that students may resort to using this AI-aided software to complete their homework and assignments. However, others are of the view that banning ChatGPT is not a viable solution. Students can access it on their phones and home network anyway. They believe teachers should instead use ChatGPT to make learning more effective and fun.
Implications of ChatGPT for the ESL Industry
How will ChatGPT affect the ESL industry? While no one can say for certain, I feel confident that the consequences won’t be quite as devastating as some suggest. Namely, there’s little chance of robots replacing human teachers just yet.
Instead, perhaps we can view it as an opportunity. Maybe teachers can incorporate ChatGPT into their lesson planning or marketing. Perhaps they can use it in the classroom to make livelier lessons.
The use of ChatGPT can bring about a lot of exciting innovations in the way English is taught to ESL students. However, it doesn’t replace the role of the teacher. In other words, ChatGPT is not going to be a threat to the ESL industry. On the contrary, it can be an asset to the industry if used judiciously.
Here are a few ways in which ChatGPT will affect the ESL industry.
1. Marketing activities for freelance ESL teachers
ChatGPT can help freelance ESL teachers market their teaching business more effectively.
It can help them create targeted social media content and write blogs and newsletters. Another unique advantage offered by ChatGPT is that it can enable you to specifically target students by translating your content into the language of your ideal student demographic, thus ensuring a better reach for your marketing material.
Heck, it can even devise a marketing strategy for you. Here’s one that it came up with when I set it a simple prompt:
ChatGPT can transform the marketing landscape of the ESL industry. You don’t have to worry about ChatGPT replacing you and taking away your students. You should instead focus on using it to communicate with your target student base even more effectively.
2. Teaching Material
ChatGPT can be immensely helpful when it comes to generating new content ideas for your lesson plans.
You can generate topics for essays and discussions, lesson themes, questions, and quizzes using ChatGPT. It can be handy in terms of developing material for testing the English comprehension, reading, and writing skills of ESL students. For example, the ChatGPT can quickly create a list of relevant and interesting questions from a passage or even write a passage on the subject of your choice. It can also help you summarise articles as per the proficiency level of your students.
Here’s another idea: If you want to practice reading, get ChatGPT to write an article for you! Rather than search online, you can have one made bespoke. Then, you can just put together a few questions about this passage to test your students’ knowledge.
ChatGPT can be very helpful in teaching grammar to ESL students. For example, if you instruct it to write 10 past perfect sentences using the word home, it will create those sentences for you. It can thus be very useful in preparing practice exercises for students. Here’s an example:
Thus, we can conclude that ChatGPT will positively affect the way teaching materials for ESL students are structured. Teachers can use it to save a lot of time that could be better utilised for direct interaction with students.
3. Practice tests and tasks for exams like IELTS
ChatGPT can be used by ESL teachers to create practice tests and tasks for examinations like IELTS.
Getting good results in examinations like IELTS and TOEFL is crucial for international students to secure admission at universities in countries where English is a native language. These exams follow standardised formats, and it can be cumbersome and time-consuming for teachers to prepare practice test papers mechanically. ChatPGT can be a great asset in helping those teachers structure practice tests while they concentrate on teaching the core English language concepts.
ChatGPT can also be used by students to practice assignments for IELTS and seek help whenever they are stuck. It can also offer them an explanation as to why a particular answer is correct. This can be very useful for students in self-preparation.
ChatGPT thus has great potential to affect the ESL industry in terms of helping international students prepare for English language exams like the IELTS and TOEFL.
Learn more about becoming an IELTS teacher.
4. Communication practice
ChatGPT can be immensely useful to ESL students for practising spoken and written English.
Using ChatPGT, you can converse with a chatbot that speaks pretty much perfect native English. You can also practice your written communication by communicating with the chatbot.
ChatPGT can also provide feedback to ESL students on their conversational skills in English, thus helping them improve.
ChatPGT can be a game changer for the ESL industry in terms of the immense scope it offers to students to practice spoken English. It is one of the areas where students struggle. It’s not always possible to find a partner to practice English with. ChatPGT provides ESL students the benefit of practising their spoken English from the comfort of their location anytime.
How does this help teachers, exactly? Well, teachers can of course encourage their students to do this. They can set it as a homework task, for example. They might want to tell their students to speak with ChatGPT for 5 minutes on a given topic as a means of testing their vocabulary and grammar skills.
5. Time-saving tool
The biggest advantage of ChatPGT for the ESL industry is perhaps the immense scope it offers to teachers in terms of saving time by taking care of many secondary tasks.
The various ways that it would help ESL teachers save time have been covered in detail in the previous points. The time freed can be instead used by teachers to focus on the quality of their teaching and fostering direct interaction with students.
Somewhere in the whole mad rush of preparing practice tests, creating teaching material, grading answer sheets, and so on, the real task of teaching takes a backseat. But direct instruction is very important for ESL students. They should be able to approach the teacher directly to clarify their doubts. Also, core language concepts are best imparted through direct teaching. Thus, the use of ChatGPT can affect the ESL industry positively by taking over many routine tasks, thus improving the quality of teaching.
Cons of ChatGPT
However, for all its benefits, ChatGPT has a few disadvantages as well when it comes to the ESL industry. Let’s take a quick look at these.
- Overreliance on technology – While ChatGPT can be a great tool to enhance the learning outcomes of ESL students, teachers should beware of overreliance on artificial intelligence. It should be used judiciously and in moderation. Overuse can negatively affect teaching quality and deprive students of face-to-face interactions.
- It isn’t mistake-proof – ChatGPT isn’t mistake-proof. It makes a lot of mistakes, so it’s important to use it carefully. It can sometimes misunderstand prompts and make mistakes when it’s fed text with too many errors. Hence, teachers should use it as an additional tool and rely on their own judgment while using ChatGPT.
- Fear of students using it for cheating – There is always the concern that students can use ChatGPT to write their assignments without effort instead of using it for learning. Teachers need to find a way around this to ensure students don’t use artificial intelligence as a means to escape learning. (Right now, there aren’t many ways of doing this, but some are emerging. For example, there is GLTR, which tries to predict whether a text was composed by a human or AI.)