AI Language Learning
In recent years, the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into language learning has gained significant momentum. AI language learning platforms promise efficient and personalised ways to acquire new languages.
Importantly, the use of AI language learning promises a flexible approach, after all the AI is always ready waiting for you and isn’t subject to the same daily life that a teacher would be.
However, while AI has promised to revolutionise education in many aspects, it also comes with several negative points that warrant careful consideration.
In this article, we will explore the use of AI language learning and what you should be considering.
What is AI Language Learning?
More tools are becoming available to us as students learning a second language built on AI. From chat bots promising to chat with us in our target language rather than a traditional teacher, friend or language partner through to Chat GPT being able to check out grammar and make suggestions all the way through to whole programs promising us an easy path to language learning through the use of AI. langotalk.org or https://www.kaizenlanguages.com/ are good examples of this.
Language Learning AI Tools My Review
Are language learning AI tools useful?
Whilst it is certainly a useful tool, I would like to describe AI language learning tools as exactly that, a tool. My personal opinion as a student and as a content creator in the language learning community is that it cannot replace a traditional approach to language learning; at least not yet.
1. Loss of Human Interaction
One of the most significant drawbacks of using AI language learning tools is the loss of human interaction. Traditional language education emphasises real conversations and interactions with native speakers or fellow learners. AI language learning apps, although effective in teaching grammar and vocabulary, often fail to provide the authentic experience of conversing with real people. This can lead to learners feeling isolated and lacking essential conversational skills.
2. Impersonal Teaching
I believe a great teacher can make a huge difference in the way a student learns. A great teacher not only informs, but ignites a desire and passion to learn more.
Secondly they are able to adapt their methods to the student, focusing their approach to what they believe to be the most effective method for the student to learn.
AI language learning tools simply can’t provide that same connection that a good teacher can. AI language learning tools in their current state aren’t able to give that same flexible and student-focused approach.
3. Lack of Cultural Understanding
It is often seen in any foreign language textbook, phrases and words that are seldom used. AI language learning tools suffer from this same drawback.
In my experience as a learner, I have often heard the phrase “its accurate but sounds weird” or “we wouldn’t say it like that”. This kind of feedback is part of the process of learning, and AI language learning tools currently aren’t able to feedback and correct students in the same way. This leads to habits of saying this in a strange way being formed early on in the language learning journey.
4. Limited Real-World Experience
Holding a conversation with a native speaker is often heralded as the gold standard for being fluent in a second language. For learning to speak Chinese as much as any other language this takes a significant amount of effort and study.
I am firm believer that if you want to improve in a skill, the best way is to practise that skill. Practising speaking or chatting with AI language learning tools, whilst it can help, can’t prepare a student for that kind of real world situation.
Not only is there a lack of cultural understanding, inaccurate language use etc, it doesn’t present the same real-time, back and forth conversation stress that a normal conversation with a human gives. You can read more about stress-based learning in the below article.
5. Difficulty in Understanding Ambiguity
Language learning AI tools also fall down in understanding ambiguity. There are many times in all language, and especially when learning to speak Chinese, where ambiguity leads to confusion.
Whether it’s a wrong tone or character, it’s easy to make mistakes leading to a different meaning and understanding of a sentence or phrase. Moreover there are nuances in the language that can change the meaning altogether, even though its correct to the textbook.
Understanding what the student is trying to say and giving feedback on better ways to do it is the role of a teacher. To date, teachers are still able to do this much better than AI can.
6. Inaccuracy of Language
The final point here is the inaccuracy of the language used, particularly in AI chatbots.
A quick study I did was to do some questions and answering with Chat GPT and asked it to test me on my Chinese knowledge, with my Chinese friend sitting beside me.
Whilst it is not terrible, especially at lower levels of Chinese, my friend was certainly disagreeing with Chat GPT a lot of the time.
I believe that as the technology advances this won’t be such an issue, but currently the language skills of the AI just isn’t up to scratch yet.
So why is AI language learning becoming so popular?
There are a number of things that the AI language learning tools do well.
Accessibility and Flexbility
AI language learning apps are available 24/7, enabling learners to practice and study at their convenience. This flexibility accommodates busy schedules and allows for on-the-go learning.
Independent Self Study
AI tools are great for self-study or for students without a teacher. whilst it may lack the richness of having a teacher, it is perfect for providing quick answers to students studying alone.
AI Language learning tools are at their core data driven. Making it perfect for some of the more tedious study points, such as memorising vocabulary or grammar points.
As a tool using the internet for its sources, AI has the potential to use an almost limitless source of information to feed into your learning experience. Where a teacher may not know much about your particularly interest, AI will be able to source the information in an instant and use it with you.
To make the most of AI in language learning, it’s essential to strike a balance. Incorporating AI-driven tools into a broader language learning strategy that includes human interaction, cultural immersion, and real-world practice can help learners harness the benefits of AI while mitigating its negative impacts.
Ultimately, the successful acquisition of a new language often depends on a holistic approach that combines technology with the richness of human experience.
That all being said, it is certainly a rapidly moving and exciting space that will sure make huge progress in the years to come. Watch this space!