5 best ways ChatGPT can help you learn English

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Have you been hearing a lot about ChatGPT lately?

It might be because it’s becoming a popular tool for searching for information, writing, and even learning.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a computer program. It can understand and make text that looks like it was written by a person. It can answer questions, talk, and help with writing. It gets better at understanding language by learning from information on the internet.

You can think of it as a very advanced search engine. It’s like Siri (the helper on iOS devices) but even better. ChatGPT is one of many programs that use something called machine learning. Machine learning is when a computer program helps a tool to “learn” from information that is available or given to it. This helps it provide answers. For example, YouTube suggests videos for you to watch. It does this based on videos you’ve watched before. Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence.

There are many other programs like ChatGPT. You may have heard of Microsoft’s Bing Chat or Google’s Google Bard (not available in Canada yet).

Right now, ChatGPT is free to use. It is in its research and feedback-collection phase. This means that the people who made the tool are studying how people are using it. They are also gathering what people say about it. Later, they can improve the program based on what they learned from this research.

Best ways to use ChatGPT to learn English:

  1. Use it to correct your grammar

    You can ask ChatGPT to correct your writing. What’s great is that you can ask it to explain its answers further. You can also ask grammar questions as you use the tool.

  2. Increase your vocabulary

    • You can use it like a better version of a dictionary. You can ask it for the meaning of a word, use it in a sentence, and then ask it to describe how to pronounce it correctly. The basic ChatGPT version has no audio. You can add a chrome extension called Voice Control for ChatGPT to add audio/voice, and recording.
    • You can give it specific words and then ask it to make a story where all the words are used.
    • Ask it to create sample dialogues. You can ask it to use common expressions and Canadianisms to see how they are used in a conversation.
  3. Ask ChatGPT to make exercises to help you review or study

    One of the best (and most fun) ways to review is to answer quizzes. ChatGPT can create quizzes and exercises on language topics. For example, you can ask it to “make a quiz on adjectives, focusing on compound adjectives.” A tip: Ask it not to show you the answers right away. It can show you the answer key once you’re done with the quiz.

  4. Have a conversation with it

    ChatGPT can chat with you on a variety of topics. The best thing about it is that it can make you feel like you’re talking to a real person. It can respond in a casual manner. It can give you great information. Just remember that it has no personal views. It has no opinions.

    Remember to be specific about the kind of responses you want and limit the topic. For example, ask it to have shorter answers. Otherwise, ChatGPT will answer in long paragraphs.
    Sample dialogue on ChatGPT

  5. Practice by shifting between your language and English

    It can understand and translate words from your native language into English (and vice versa). You can even use your native language or a combination of English and your own language for questions and prompts. Remember that you can ask it to “regenerate response” or explain the response further if you don’t get the answer you need.

What to watch out for when using ChatGPT?

It is a powerful tool but it has limitations. Here are some things you should remember when using it:

  1. It is not 100% accurate. Don’t rely on it alone for factual information. As it says in its homepage, it has limited information about things after 2021. It also cannot provide real-time information.
  2. Stay private. Don’t provide personal or confidential information.
  3. Be specific. The quality of the answers depend on your questions, commands, or prompts. For best results, be as detailed as possible. You can ask for simpler answers or ask it to answer at your language level. You can try some language learning prompts here: Master a new language with ChatGPT, LearnPrompt.org.
  4. Always double-check information and details. Use a reliable source like online dictionaries or encyclopedia. Better yet, ask your language teacher.

Want to try ChatGPT? Go to OpenAI. You will need to provide your email to create an account.

Have fun exploring and learning!
Sources: The ultimate guide for using ChatGPT for English learning, Hadar Shemesh; and How to use ChatGPT to learn a language, engvid with Emma. Accessed July 25, 2023.

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