Tuesday, 20th December (Richmond)

1. A provocative piece by Michael Feldstein on his blog, I Would Have Cheated in College Using ChatGPT https://eliterate.us/i-would-have-cheated-in-college-using-chatgpt/

‘But I wouldn’t have thought of it as cheating’, says Michael. ‘Cheating is a state of mind.’

2. So, I thought I’d give ChatGPT a go.

With an eye (ear?) to developments in Artificial Intelligence, I asked the ChatGPT bot, “For how much longer will we need to learn foreign languages?” The bot replied immediately:

“Learning a foreign language can be a valuable and enriching experience for many people, and it is likely that the need for multilingualism will continue for the foreseeable future. There are a number of reasons why learning a foreign language may be important or beneficial: Communication: Being able to speak a foreign language can make it easier to communicate with people who speak that language, whether you are traveling, working, or interacting with others in your community. Career advancement: Many employers place a high value on employees who are proficient in a foreign language, as it can be an asset in a globalized economy. Cultural understanding: Learning a foreign language can also help you learn about and understand different cultures, which can broaden your perspective and enrich your life. Brain health: Studies have shown that learning a foreign language can have cognitive benefits, such as improving memory and problem-solving skills. Overall, the need for multilingualism is likely to continue as long as there are diverse languages spoken around the world and people who want to communicate and interact with one another.”

I made myself clearer in a supplementary question: “But won’t advances in AI mean that we will all benefit from instant, high-quality translation and interpreting?”, to which the bot replied, again pretty much straightaway:

“While advances in artificial intelligence and machine translation have made it possible to translate texts and spoken language with increasing accuracy, there are limitations to what these technologies can currently do. Machine translation systems are generally best at translating individual words and short phrases, but they can struggle with idiomatic expressions, complex sentences, and context-dependent meanings. As a result, they may produce translations that are less accurate or natural-sounding than those produced by a human translator.

In addition, machine translation systems do not currently have the ability to interpret spoken language in real time, which requires a level of understanding and interpretation that goes beyond simply translating words. Interpreting involves not only conveying the meaning of the words being spoken, but also capturing the tone, style, and intent of the speaker, as well as adapting to the context of the conversation. This is a complex task that requires a high level of language proficiency and cultural knowledge, which can be difficult for a machine to replicate.

As a result, it is likely that the need for human translators and interpreters will continue for the foreseeable future, especially for situations where accuracy and nuance are important. That being said, it is possible that machine translation and interpreting technologies will continue to improve over time, and they may eventually be able to handle more complex tasks.”

One last question from me: “Can I talk to you in other languages apart from English?”

“Yes, you can talk to me in any language that you know. As an artificial intelligence, I am not limited to understanding or communicating in a particular language. However, please keep in mind that my ability to understand and respond to a language may depend on my training data and the specific language model I was built from. If you would like to communicate with me in a language other than English, I will do my best to understand and respond appropriately based on my programming. If I am unable to understand what you are saying or if I make a mistake, please let me know and I will do my best to improve my understanding.”

Try it for yourself! https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt/

3. Dictionary definition sparks global culture clash is a necessarily carefully-written piece by Melanie Butler from the latest issue of EL Gazette https://www.elgazette.com/dictionary-definition-sparks-global-culture-clash/ Be sure to read to the end for the West African Pidgin versions!

4. And, finally, if you’ve not yet had quite enough of football – my wife certainly has! – here’s three football pieces:

Chris Sowton’s new podcast for TeachingEnglish, https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/professional-development/podcast/teaching-english

the Premier Skills English website, stuffed with material and activities https://premierskillsenglish.britishcouncil.org/

and The Athletic’s poignant story of the young French player, Yann Gueho, who everyone was sure would be a better player than Kylian Mbappé https://theathletic.com/3975061/2022/12/09/yann-gueho-france-chelsea-mbappe/

Maybe don’t bother reading that last piece if you haven’t heard of Kylian Mbappé! If that last link doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

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