Rachel Faerber-Ovaska, MA, MAT, EdD.
Youngstown State University 


Rapid advancements in digital technology continue to reshape educational practices, presenting challenges along with significant opportunities for world language (WL) teachers. In early 2023, updated versions of generative artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4 and Microsoft’s BingAI, became freely available to anyone with Internet access. Interacting with user input, these AI chatbots can communicate fluently in dozens of languages, generating human-like text responses (and even audible speech). This makes them useful for a wide range of language learning activities, and enables teachers to quickly create engaging and effective learning experiences. While many are understandably concerned about their possible use for cheating, these new tools also have great potential to support WL teaching and learning in K-16 classrooms. As a WL teacher and instructional designer, I’d like to encourage my fellow teachers to explore the potential of AI chatbots to serve as a powerful tool in our teaching toolkits.

Challenges, Ethical Considerations, and Goals

While chatbots offer numerous benefits for WL education, teachers must remain vigilant about the challenges and ethical considerations associated with their use. Both surprising inaccuracies, and human biases rooted in the chatbots’ original source material will at times be found in AI-generated content. Teachers should use their subject-matter expertise, professional judgment, and pedagogical knowledge to evaluate the quality and accuracy of AI-generated output, and determine its suitability for classroom use.

Privacy and data security are also important concerns. When using AI-chatbots, make sure to safeguard your students’ personal information and comply with data protection regulations. Collaborating with school administrators and your institution’s technology experts is a good way to be sure you are applying appropriate data security measures.

Making 21st-century digital literacy skills part of our wider curriculum is an important instructional goal, and understanding what constitutes responsible use of digital technology is a key skill for our students. Have conversations with your students about what constitutes cheating, in your classroom and beyond, in the new age of generative AI. Encourage critical thinking about the materials chatbots produce, and guide students in evaluating the credibility and reliability of such content.

Using Chatbots in Your Classroom

Chatbots can help boost student engagement and motivation by offering interactive, immediately-responsive learning experiences. Teachers can prompt chatbots to create customized target-language content, such as stories, informational texts, and group activities tailored to students’ language proficiency levels and interests. Free voice-recognition add-ins can be used with ChatGPT and BingAI Chat to give students an opportunity for more real-time target-language conversations. This enables learners to practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in a low-stakes, adaptive environment.

Teachers can use chatbots to support cultural learning objectives in several ways. We can use them to create resources that allow students to interpret level-adapted target-language cultural information on topics such as history, literature, art, and cultural practices. Teachers can also ask a chatbot to instantly generate a vocabulary list for authentic text excerpts (whether with simple target-language definitions, or English definitions). Using the voice-recognition features mentioned previously, students can practice their interpersonal communication about specific cultural topics with chatbots, in addition to speaking with their classmates and teachers.

Chatbots and Lesson Planning

Creating lesson plans and assessments aligned with state standards and specific learning objectives can be a time-consuming process. Using a chatbot, teachers can input a set of specific learning standards, learning objectives, language skills and cultural content which the chatbot will use to generate lesson plan drafts aligned with the desired elements. Teachers can also prompt the chatbot to suggest and draft a variety of assessments to go along with the lessons. While AI-generated lesson plans will require fine-tuning on the part of the teacher, they can serve as a valuable starting point. The time this saves can give teachers more time to enjoy the creative side of lesson planning, as well as freeing up time to address the needs of individual students.

AI Assistants for Assessment and Feedback

Chatbots can also assist WL teachers in the assessment and feedback process. In addition to creating tailor-made rubrics, ChatGPT or Bing AI can also generate feedback on your students’ written and spoken assignments, based on criteria you request related to specific language structures, pronunciation, and vocabulary. If you provide a detailed set of instructions, a chatbot can use them to generate personalized feedback for each student, identifying errors, highlighting their strengths and areas for improvement. This fast, targeted feedback allows learners to focus on specific aspects of their language development, which supports effective learning.

Streamlining Professional Communication

AI chatbots can also save time by generating personalized first drafts for letters of recommendation, and for communications with students’ families. Teachers can input essential details and preferences about the student or the communication’s purpose, and the chatbot will then create a customized draft that conveys the desired tone and content. As the teacher, you can then create the final version by making adjustments and adding your personal touch. By streamlining your own writing process in this way, AI chatbots can free up more time for you to spend on your highest-priority teaching activities.


The new AI chatbots are likely to have wide-reaching effects on how world languages are taught, learned, and assessed in our classrooms. By learning about and experimenting with these new “power tools” for communication and creativity, WL teachers can begin to save time on routine tasks, and create engaging, personalized, culturally rich learning experiences that align with state standards. While challenges and ethical considerations exist, the advantages of using these new chatbots are substantial, and their adoption can lead to more effective and engaging WL education for our students.

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