The Affordances and Contradictions of AI-Generated Text for Second Language Writers

Warschauer, M., et al. (2023). The Affordances and Contradictions of AI-Generated Text for Second Language Writers SSRN.

This timely report looks at how to approach the affordances of AI-writing tools like ChatGPT in second language classrooms, while maintaining the importance of learners first developing writing skills without these tools. The authors encourage ongoing critical discussion about AI-generated text to ensure that educators learn how to manage it in their educational context, rather than simply banning it. They make the point that learners will most likely be expected to be able to use AI-generated text in employment situations and will be at a disadvantage if they have no experience with the tools or think of them as “cheating tools” or shortcuts.

The authors propose a five-part framework to help learners find their way with ChatGPT. It includes these components: understand, access, prompt, corroborate and incorporate. They provide a list of prompt types and examples of each one. They describe and explain the reasons for each of the other components of the framework. The report also presents a sample list of the functions of ChatGPT to explain some of its uses.

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Mobile-based chatting for meaning negotiation in foreign language learning

María Dolores Castrillo, Elena Martín-Monje & Elena Bárcena Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Spain. 10th International Conference Mobile Learning 2014.

This report on a six-week study with 85 volunteers explores the use of WhatsApp, an instant messaging application for smart phones in a second language writing class. The application allows mobile-based chatting and collaboration in the negotiation of meaning in the student volunteers’ exchanges. WhatsApp is a tool the students already used on their phones and allowed the researchers to explore its potential for collaborative language learning for “distance learners on the move”.

The report describes the initial lack of activity on the application and the dramatic change in the quantity of messages within a short time. The researchers provide information on average numbers of messages and patterns of use by day and time. As far as the aim to look at WhatsApp’s usefulness in negotiating meaning, there are numerous extracts that show how students provided feedback to each other and collaborated to clarify and correct each other’s writing. They did this both in relation to the tasks they were working on and to ask each other about syntax, all the while building group solidarity. The study showed that the students, who all spoke the same first language, used the target language almost exclusively in their written exchanges. Some of the other observations include use of paralinguistic features that are available on the application.

The report details the changes in the teacher’s role from being the main corrector of written errors to one of guide to the various topics to be discussed and types of discourse. She did more eliciting of awareness of language than correction of student mistakes.

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