Jul 6

Using AI for CELTA Assignments- The Language Analysis Assignment

CELTA assignments and ai
Using AI for the Language Related Task
If you're doing CELTA and want to know how AI can help with your assignments, you're in the right place. Here are some thoughts from an experienced CELTA tutor about AI and the Language Related Task (or Language Analysis Assignment or Grammar Assignment as it's often known).
For help with the other assignments, there are more videos in this series taking you through all four assignments, so watch out for them!
There is also lots of help on assignments in the Resource Library on my site.
Video transcript

If you’re approaching the hurdle of CELTA written assignments, you’d probably love me to tell you that AI can do them for you. Well, I can’t say that, but this video will take you through how it can support you with the assignment that’s seen by a lot of CELTA trainees as the scary one- the Language Related Task! Interested? Keep watching…

I’m Jo Gakonga, I’m a teacher educator and I’ve been a CELTA trainer and assessor for over 20 years. I’ve also got a website at ELT-Training.com where I make video based support material for English language teachers at all stages of their careers. Check it out and if you like this, give it a thumbs up and subscribe, I make a new video every week.
The elephant in almost any educational room at the moment is AI, so let’s address it. Before we do, though, as with any of these videos I’ve got on CELTA assignments and AI, MAKE SURE you check with your tutors before you use AI in any way. Different centres have different rules for this and you don’t want to fall foul of them!

There are always two important things to keep in mind:

The first is that using AI is akin to using any reference material- you need to be transparent in how you use it. This means citing it and because responses are different every time you put in a prompt, you need to make sure that you begin a new search for every assignment and copy the share link, or take screenshots, to show your prompts and how you adapted the material you got through the chat. In that way you can show that your work is your own.

The second is that, again as with any reference material BUT EVEN MORE SO, you need to make sure that you’re engaging CRITICALLY with whatever AI gives you. It’s less likely to be reliable than grammar reference books or dictionaries like the Cambridge Learner Dictionary online.

OK- with those caveats and provisos out of the way, AI is a helpful friend and it will be really useful in your teaching life, so it seems to me that it’s a good idea to learn how to take best advantage of it.

This Language Related Task assignment is the one where you have to analyse grammar, vocabulary and functional language for teaching purposes and it’s often the one that candidates worry about and very often the one that has to be resubmitted for changes. It’s a skill you need to learn and for many trainees, they feel a serious lack of knowledge of grammar terminology. If you feel this way, my Grammar for Language Teachers course has helped thousands of trainees and is recommended by centres all over the world (just saying!).

The Big Question?- can AI help with this assignment. The main thing to understand is that it can’t do it for you and it’s still useful to use more traditional reference sources as well- a dictionary for vocabulary and a reference book like Murphy, Parrott or Swan for grammar structures for example.  AI can give you a lot of help but it can also get confused with the language of the context. Let me walk you through a couple of examples:

Here's an item of vocabulary – pension. Let’s assume we want to analyse this for teaching purposes in the context of ‘My Dad worked as a farmer for most of his life but he retired when he was 60 and started to draw his pension’.

This is what a dictionary will give you. Here’s the meaning, the form and the pronunciation. It tells us it’s a B2 level word, gives a clear definition that we can turn into concept check questions. We’ve got the pronunciation here with the stress and the phonemic transcription and the form here- it’s a countable noun and here are some common collocations.

Let’s see what AI gives us in terms of meaning, form and pronunciation. I asked Gemini first and as you can see, it gives us these and a lot of other information. Some parts of this are definitely more helpful than others, though, so as I said before, you need to approach the information critically.

It gives us a definition- OK- but I’m not sure that ‘in their golden years’ is so great and I wouldn’t include it for learners. It does give us alternative meanings, though and I can see that the boarding house one is useful to consider as it’s a false friend in a lot of European languages.

Chat GPT gives us the same thing but it also includes teaching tips that I personally think are a bit dodgy. If you look at these ideas they fall into the same traps that CELTA trainees often do- they are explaining the CONCEPT of a pension as if the person you were teaching it to didn’t know what one was. Your adult learners DO know what a pension is- they know it’s important to plan for the future- they just don’t know the WORD for it in English.

In terms of the form, Gemini tells us that the noun is the most common form and also gives us a verb form that I think is rather unusual. I can see to ‘pension someone off’ but I think ‘to pension’ is pretty unusual and I wouldn’t include it in a B1 language analysis.  Like the dictionary, it gives related words- pensioner (yes- useful) and pensionable ..hmm I think I’d only use this in the expression ‘pensionable age’.

Chat GPT is more straightforward and tells us it’s a noun (but not whether it’s countable or not) and also includes its etymology. Definitely not needed in a language analysis!

Moving on to the pronunciation, Chat GPT gives us a simple transcription- great but then a huge amount of linguistic information that’s not needed for this assignment. Gemini doesn’t give us a transcription here- although you can prompt it to do that later. It suggests practising similar words like ‘tension’ but according to the Cambridge dictionary (and my intuition) this is also a B2 level word so they might not know it.

I asked Gemini to give me concept check questions for ‘pension’ and got this response.

I think this first one is really useful:
Yes/No: Do you get a pension when you are still working? (No)

But the next one could easily be misleading:
Is the person on the beach just relaxing? Do they have to be getting a pension?

The next ideas are quite helpful. These are words that could be confused but the other questions don’t seem so good to me although some could work. What do you think?

I HATE the bonus idea- how are you supposed to act this out??

I asked Chat GPT to do the same thing and this is what I got. Although it’s maybe over-egging the pudding, these definitely cover the meaning of ‘pension.

Let’s try with a grammar structure- here’s an example: I’ve been really busy this year. The present perfect for unfinished time- The being busy is still true now but the time is ongoing- we’re still in this year.

If we look in a grammar book, like Parrott, we get potential difficulties with the meaning and the form…
And he tells us how to form the tense.

This does, of course make the assumption that you know what the tense is called. If you don’t, you might think AI could help with that- let’s try it.

Hmm- this was my first attempt and although it’s got the right meaning, it’s mis-identified the tense.

I asked it again and it got it right but I think this is another lesson in ‘don’t take everything it says at face value.
This time, it gave me a much more accurate answer and an explanation that I thought was very user friendly.

I tried out Chat GPT- this time using the same marker sentence that Parrot uses so that I could compare like with like: Here’s ChatGPT:
And it gives teaching tips here.

And here’s Parrott.

For the sake of completeness, I asked Gemini, too and got this which, again, is useful and reasonable, but for the pronunciation, it gave me this which isn’t accurate here... had CAN be weak like this, but here it’s a past participle and the main lexical verb here, so it’s not – it says ‘had’.

Using reference books also has the advantage that they come from writers with experience of the difficulties faced by learners, so they’ll give you other useful information that you might not think to ask. Examples like these rules of thumb that might not always be helpful from Parrott or this summary of the differences between the present perfect simple and continuous.

We need to check meaning, so I asked Gemini first- These are either inaccurate- one of the accidents COULD be today or else rather convoluted and not very clear or helpful.

ChatGPT did much better with this CCQ question although #1 uses the target language and #2 focuses on the context, so neither of these is great. Some of the others, though are sensible and useful. As with all of this, you have to take a critical approach.

Moving on, as part of the language related task and of your teaching practice, you’ll often be asked to analyse functional language- a piece of language that fulfils a particular purpose in the language (advising/ persuading/ expressing likes etc). These functional exponents as they’re called are often phrases, so they’re less easy to look up in a dictionary or grammar book and AI can be helpful here.

I gave ChatGPT and Gemini the task of analysing ‘How about going for a drive?’ and this is what I got. Mostly pretty useful.

Note that whatever you ask as CCQs, Gemini seems to automatically throw up this as a Bonus and it’s usually ridiculous…

The overall message here is that AI can give you really useful information about analysing language but you’re going to have to be a bit careful about what you choose to use. Checking information that you get from AI against a grammar book or a dictionary will help you to make sure your information is accurate and also to widen your understanding of the forms you’re analysing.

Remember that you also need to cite ALL sources you use- whether that’s grammar books, dictionaries or AI and with the latter in particular you need to share the link to the Chat and maybe screenshots of the relevant parts of the chat to show that you haven’t simply cut and pasted.

As I said right at the beginning, also check with your tutors when they set the assignment about the Centre’s policy on the use of AI.

I hope that this helps and good luck with all of your language analysis.

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