The future of language education: Teachers’ perceptions about the surge of AI writing tools

Zimotti, G., Frances, C., & Whitaker, L. (2024). The future of language education: Teachers’ perceptions about the surge of AI writing tools. Technology in Language Teaching & Learning, 6(2), 1–24.

This article reports on the results of a survey of language educators to explore their perceptions of the use and the potential effect of large language models such as ChatGPT in language teaching and learning. The researchers set out to address two questions:

RQ1: What current attitudes and perceptions do L2 instructors have regarding ChatGPT?

RQ2: What are innovative approaches for employing ChatGPT within language classrooms, their perceived ability to notice students’ use, and their current policies regarding this technology (p.3)?

In general, the survey revealed that language educators are open to the use of ChatGPT, recognise that their students will use it and that 36% of respondents have already used ChatGPT in their classrooms. Potential uses identified by respondents include creating lesson content, providing feedback, generating ideas and explaining complex grammar topics. Respondents also expressed concerns about the potential misuse of ChatGPT by students and how educators can identify and respond to misuse.

The findings align with the theory of normalization as described by Bax, in that educators who have used ChatGPT are enthusiastic about its potential, while those who have had less experience remain somewhat skeptical and apprehensive about its uses.

The authors argue that the inevitability of  the use of tools such as ChatGPT by language learners means that language educators need to critically examine such tools, focusing on the potential to enhance learning rather than on the technology itself, consider how these tools can be used for effective  student assessment and support students to think critically about these tools while enabling their responsible use to support the development of digital literacy skills. The article concludes with a quotation from a survey respondent, “We can’t change the fact that ChatGPT is going to change language teaching… all we can do is adjust our sails.” (p.20).

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