2023 was the year of Artificial Intelligence (AI) being put fairly and squarely on the map. Some people are excited by its potential, others are scared about where this could go. Will we all be out of a job? Will we fail to distinguish the difference between human-generated text and machine-generated text? Will AI help us to make great scientific discoveries? Will it make medical interventions safer and better? Which way will the balance swing?
It is scary; a super powerful tool with no moral compass, where “truth” and “fact” can become even more blurry concepts than they are now!! But, ignoring its benefits for business is potentially a dangerous thing to do.
Working in the language teaching industry is no exception, and despite our continued and genuine appreciation of teachers, AI is actually very good at giving corrections and feedback on students’ written work. Is it as good as an experienced and qualified English language teacher? No, and it probably won’t be for a long time. But is it as good as a mediocre or recently qualified English teacher, then, probably yes. It’s very good at giving corrections and explanations once it’s been properly trained.
What isn’t it good at doing? Well, don’t expect it to empathise with the writer, or relate to what a student has written on an emotional level. And it’s not great (yet) at grading in an acceptable way according to level.
So, it’s most definitely a wake-up call for teachers to realise that they need to do more than just correct a piece of writing with token explanations about why something is incorrect if they want students to appreciate and be prepared to pay for their services. For most dedicated teachers, this shouldn’t be a problem but the days of winging it are over. But for those teachers whose feedback is noticeably above and beyond AI, this, on the other hand, is an opportunity to get their value felt.
On the flip side, for those students who either can’t afford tutor rates, or those who just don’t like working with a teacher, this is their opportunity to effectively develop their language skills in a safe and instructive learning environment without having to talk to anyone “real”.
We’re excited at Net Languages to see how AI can add value to our courses. Why not check out our video on how we have incorporated AI into the General English course or our information pages to see what we’ve been doing? We hope you’re impressed!
For the time being and the foreseeable future, however, we’re definitely not ready to dispense with our wonderful team of tutors. AI just helps us to provide more options and cater for a wider range of needs, and that makes strong business sense.