Kaufmann: ChatGPT: Should Language Teachers Be Worried?

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Re: Kaufmann: ChatGPT: Should Language Teachers Be Worried?

Postby munyag » Wed Nov 15, 2023 10:36 pm

Cainntear wrote:
Irena wrote:That's Irish as used today, by people who actually bothered to learn it. If that is unacceptable, then Irish will simply die, and that'll be the end of it.

No. The problem is people that didn't really bother to learn it and then get shirty about people "gatekeeping" when they point out things they're saying wrong.

The biggest threat to both Irish and Scottish Gaelic is the way learners are crowding out natives in spoken and written media, and producing stuff that genuine native do not and cannot understand.

Hell, I'm an adult learner of Scottish Gaelic, and I've found myself speaking to learners who I couldn't understand at all... right up until I was doing an on-the-fly literal translation in my head of what they were saying, straight into English, so that I could work out what they were saying.


Mr Cainntear

Just to add a bit of relevancy to the subject I have been working in the Scottish Highlands for the last 18 months or so. Such a proud people and the town has a primary school where the children learn immersion style through Gaelic. I have come across one chap who grew up in the isle of Skye speaking it natively. Another chap's brother learnt it through school immersion style. Most of the native Scots that I have spoken to don't speak Gaelic in this town never mind other foreign languages. I guess my question to you is if you were hypothetically put in charge of national policy
for language over Scotland how would you go about trying to raise the number of native speakers of Gaelic either nationally or perhaps just in the Highlands?
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Re: Kaufmann: ChatGPT: Should Language Teachers Be Worried?

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Nov 16, 2023 1:50 am

I've done a bit of reading over this thread. Okay, well admittedly, skipped over many posts and some altogether, as I've only so much time in my day and figured I'd spent enough time reading this thread already. I also know that you're all on the edge of your seats waiting for this reply, so again I'm probably for the most part wasting my time (and potentially yours by reading another potentially meaningless, opinionated post). Still, I feel compelled that I must say something (that's what happens often when you read other opinions, reflections and information, you suddenly can potentially be overcome with a whimsical -or more serious- feeling of needing to put yourself into the mix). I might add however that given how little time I have, I'm eating into my Norwegian study time, French reading time and so, my promise to myself is to not respond to any replies to this post nor to get involved in any more discussions before getting my languages in order (okay, that's a little impossible, but you probably get the point)....


galaxyrocker wrote:
Le Baron wrote:Might as well retire the human race and just leave the AI to it. We'll see if they're any better at politics.

To be honest the excitement around this topic is very tiring now. It's such a one-dimensional view of 'learning'. The deep core of language learning is interaction and the communication/understanding of human feelings, ideas and cultural experience. Not simply 'learning 'facts' and being 'efficient' and getting corrections. There's some of that, especially at the beginning, then it starts fading away.

The faith that somehow the better the AI, the better people will always learn is a curious faith. Any tool is only as good as the user and in this case, because the AI is powerful enough to do something doesn't mean this magically transfers to the user's capacities or benefit! The advent of the internet and smartphone with information and learning tools everyone's fingertips doesn't seem to have made the greater mass of people particularly smarter, perhaps even more stupid. Thinking effort and memory has already been partly abandoned in favour of search engines and cutting and pasting from Wikipedia (or maybe that was already there and was easily transferred). I always thought it was about methods for improving human interaction and understanding.

Teacher's should, as usual, be worried about one major thing: 'service providers' eyeing up AI to eliminate their employment costs and individual students being misled into doing the same.

Mark me down as a naysayer.



You need to read Technopoloy by Neil Postman. Written 30+ years ago, never more relevant. I'm after finishing it myself a few days ago. I also agree about what you said about learning and would go so far to argue they don't learn. I really wonder how much input they require, and how much input that is compared to a human that 'learns' to talk; I'd wager the human is doing a lot more with a lot less (like, actually understanding semantics, idioms, etc and not giving back hallucinations), which shows a huge fundamental difference between LLM 'learning' and human learning.

That said, I'm a naysayer myself. Why? Simply because ChatGPT can't detect what is actually correct. This matters a lot for languages like Irish, where most Irish is you see online, and even most Irish found in EU documents, etc., has lots of mistakes and is simply wrong. Sadly, I've already seen people trying to build apps to teach Irish via AI, and it's set to be a mess. Garbage in, garbage out.

Disclaimer: I am very against AI chatbots in general and think they don't solve any worthy problems and will actually just make humanity worse off in pretty much every way. I hate this whole idea of pushing forward with it without regard to societal consequences that everyone seems to have currently.



Monty wrote:When AI takes away the jobs of 90% of the people (including 90% of the members of this forum), and AI is used everywhere for surveillance and repression, we'll see how much enthusiasm is left for it.

Don't have a job? Retired already? Good luck talking to a chatbot trying to fix an error in your state pension. Good luck with "I'd like to talk to your supervisor".

At that time the standard refrain will be "But we didn't know!"

Yes, you did.


Mark me down as a naysayer as well. I don't hold particularly positive views of AI, generally because I don't trust things 'sold' to humanity on a large scale. It's a bit like mass media hype on whatever topic. Why the hype? Well, there's an objective, one which hopes to see humans en masse behave in a particular manner. I think AI potentially has negative goals, but it may not at all, just my opinion, and an opinion I'm not 100% on, as let's face it, I'm no psychic (so don't anyone accuse me of masquerading as one!).

I think, however, having read a lot of the posts now (yes I did read many), my views on AI were incorrect somewhat. Let's be clear, I'm not IT nor AI expert, but let's also be clear, I do feel I have a good sense of when things are being pushed on humanity often for nefarious reasons, but of course that's personal opinion. Nevertheless, I was more afraid of an artificial intelligence actually learning for itself, much in the way a human could, but more efficiently, no, faster. It doesn't seem that AI actually does this (and I'm regurgitating what I've read from others' posts), but rather takes a mass of samples and 'learns' from them in a way that it reproduces simlar-ish 'things' following the high volume of samples it has 'digested'. If AI stays this way, I don't see much of a danger in it in the way that it could threaten humanity's existence, and while my 'Danger! Danger!' signals are dimmed and I feel a sense of surprise (that I was wrong, pfft, who would've thought, given I am the IT expert that I am), and relief, I do still feel we don't really need this. No surprise though, people will create, and people have created this.

Irena wrote:
galaxyrocker wrote:
Irena wrote:Not legal? Good! And good to know the Irish haven't quite lost their marbles.


Heaven forbid some people think saving a language and culture is more important than letting a bunch of English speakers move wherever they damn well please, as if they're entitled to be able to go anywhere and have everyone cater to them without giving a damn about the locality. It's the same mindset that exists behind AirBnB, which is destroying communities everywhere. Also, housing discrimination is common, under several names. Planning and zoning is one name for it.

You want to restrict where people can live based on what language they speak. If that's your cure, then it's worse than the disease. AirBNB, planning, and zoning have nothing to do with it.


Changing topic a bit... You know this is what they do in some countries (how many IDK) already. Many countries (okay I at least know of one - the Netherlands) have a certain level expected (of the national language) by a certain date or you risk... umm... something? :roll: I actually don't know the consequences, but I know that in the Netherlands, when I was there in 2011 it was policy that your level of Dutch had to reach level ___ by a certain date, proved through an exam. I'm almost certain other European countries have similar policies. Still, this policiy as far as I know, doesn't apply if you come from other parts of the EU, which I think is stupid. If you are trying to culturally and linguistically protect your, well culture and language, then why should free movement take precedence? All in all I agree with such policies. It's not like you're sending people to labour camps. In fact, it arguable aids in 'participation' and diminishes (somewhat?) the risk of fracturing societies in to sub-groups more independent of each other than would be the case without such policies.

Cainntear wrote:AIs have to be deliberately programmed and/or trained to avoid picking up views that are considered objectionable.


Yes this is one of my concerns. Who controls what's considered objectionable? Eg. If extreme leftest views are deemed as favourable, then it's more likely that AI will be programmed to 'think' in such ways. Is this fair? Or if you (that's 'you' as in the reader, not necessarily Caintear) prefer left-wing views and live in a country/area governened by those with similar views, how would you feel about AI having been programmed with right-wing views? AI risks teaching others how to think. Reminds me of something.... mass media! More propaganda! I mean, sorry, more 'correct' views.

galaxyrocker wrote:
tastyonions wrote:For Cainntear and galaxyrocker: what's the realistic or even feasible plan for maintaining actual Irish (not anglicized zombie "Irish") as a living language?


Along with what Cainntear said, we need to drop the whole idea that schools are going to save the language. This idea is very prevalent in Ireland, and has been since the founding of the state. They thought - wrongly - that the National Schools were the reason for the decline and therefore the way to improve it.

My plan would be to focus on the Gaeltacht, and only the Gaeltacht. Drop the mandatory Irish requirement nationwide, first and foremost. Yes, there'll be fewer people taking it, but those few can have better teachers (most teachers are, honestly, quite inept and can't even distinguish /k/ from /x/, let alone palatalised and velarised consonants!) and actually focus on learning the language as it's spoken in the Gaeltacht.

Then, subsidise people from the Gaeltacht becoming teachers, and place them at schools in and around the Gaeltacht. Start with the breac- and iar-Ghaeltachtaí, the places that were Irish speaking within living memory and work outwards. All Irish schools there, taught by native speakers from the area, with the dialect, so they can connect to the local place. And then slowly expand. Also start including grants for more and more business in the Gaeltacht working through Irish. Make it mandatory, and if the business doesn't use Irish, it pays a fine. Also, housing discrimination to stop the gentrification of these areas.

It's not quick, it's not flashy -- and it's probably not legal -- but it's basically the only way.


I'm not an Irish learner. I've not experience on the matter but I appreciate your reply :)

Back to Norwegian.... if I can find the time (and not distract myself)....
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Re: Kaufmann: ChatGPT: Should Language Teachers Be Worried?

Postby galaxyrocker » Thu Nov 16, 2023 4:53 pm

munyag wrote:Hello Mr Caintear

Just to add my thoughts as I'm not too well versed in Irish. I do know there's different types of Irish and the Munster dialect might be different to the one used in Belfast? Surely with modern technology like we have now, wouldn't you think somebody in the Irish government could design a course using the existing native speakers that are there now (aka French In Action or Destinos style?). At the very least the folks at Teach Yourself in collaboration with the Irish government could get their heads together and come up with something like that. They could perhaps maybe have an online newspaper that people could access and really rev things up if they are serious about Irish revival


I'm not Caintear, but, as has been said in this thread several times, that would require the government to recongise there's a difference. Something they try their hardest not to, because it would mean their policies have failed in arresting language attrition in Irish, and that their promotion of speakers elsewhere hasn't succeeded. Then they couldn't use the census to pay lipservice to their efforts anymore! It's telling they look solely at the increase of daily Irish speakers in the Gaeltachtaí only when advertising their health, instead of looking at the density of daily speakers -- which dropped in all Gaeltacht areas but one because more English speakers moved in that new Irish speakers. Indeed, the 2007 Gaeltacht report pretty much said everything we have and it was systematically ignored.
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Re: Kaufmann: ChatGPT: Should Language Teachers Be Worried?

Postby Cainntear » Sun Nov 19, 2023 2:44 pm

munyag wrote:Just to add my thoughts as I'm not too well versed in Irish.

Me neither. (Although I do follow Ros na Rún.)
Surely with modern technology like we have now, wouldn't you think somebody in the Irish government could design a course using the existing native speakers that are there now

Yes, they could.
They could perhaps maybe have an online newspaper that people could access and really rev things up if they are serious about Irish revival

The problem is that the people with a most serious interest in Irish revival are arguably the ones doing it the most damage. As I said:
me wrote:The problem is people that didn't really bother to learn it and then get shirty about people "gatekeeping" when they point out things they're saying wrong.

To expand on that: there are certain people (in both the Scottish Gaelic and Irish worlds) who are fluent in a heavily anglicised form of the language -- people who will literally say they are gazing in an onward direction towards something when they are excited about it happening, because they can't imagine that "looking forward to" something is an idiomatic phrase peculiar to English. They're happy to "correct" things they perceive to be mistakes from other, but if you correct their *actual* errors, you'll be called a purist and a gatekeeper.

munyag wrote:Just to add a bit of relevancy to the subject I have been working in the Scottish Highlands for the last 18 months or so. Such a proud people and the town has a primary school where the children learn immersion style through Gaelic. I have come across one chap who grew up in the isle of Skye speaking it natively. Another chap's brother learnt it through school immersion style. Most of the native Scots that I have spoken to don't speak Gaelic in this town never mind other foreign languages. I guess my question to you is if you were hypothetically put in charge of national policy
for language over Scotland how would you go about trying to raise the number of native speakers of Gaelic either nationally or perhaps just in the Highlands?

I wouldn't -- that's a fool's errand and counterproductive. The main thing is to support natives in letting them carry on. Trying to increase native speaker numbers just leads to people redefining what a native speaker is.

Right now, I think there's a pretty high number of people I would describe as "native non-natives" -- people who speak what is grammatically "learner Gaelic", but which they have learned at a young enough age that it's a native language to them. Personally, I think we're already teaching more kids Gaelic than we can hope to be successful with.

Consider how much English was altered in Africa by being spoken non-natively for generations and then being passed on to kids. Over the generations, English has moved back towards the international norm partly because of the teachers, and partly because of the media (particularly in recent decades). With large numbers of kids learning Gaelic from non-native teachers, and the lack of status of heritage Gaelic anywhere, I think Gaelic (and Irish) is heading towards a pidgin or creolised status.

I'm not saying that pidgins and creoles are bad things in and of themselves -- quite the opposite: they're really fun to learn! But if a pidgin or creole fully replaces the language it was formed from, that's counterproductive if your goal is to preserve the language.
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Re: Kaufmann: ChatGPT: Should Language Teachers Be Worried?

Postby munyag » Mon Nov 20, 2023 4:03 am

Cainntear wrote:
munyag wrote:Just to add my thoughts as I'm not too well versed in Irish.

Me neither. (Although I do follow Ros na Rún.)
Surely with modern technology like we have now, wouldn't you think somebody in the Irish government could design a course using the existing native speakers that are there now

Yes, they could.
They could perhaps maybe have an online newspaper that people could access and really rev things up if they are serious about Irish revival

The problem is that the people with a most serious interest in Irish revival are arguably the ones doing it the most damage. As I said:
me wrote:The problem is people that didn't really bother to learn it and then get shirty about people "gatekeeping" when they point out things they're saying wrong.

To expand on that: there are certain people (in both the Scottish Gaelic and Irish worlds) who are fluent in a heavily anglicised form of the language -- people who will literally say they are gazing in an onward direction towards something when they are excited about it happening, because they can't imagine that "looking forward to" something is an idiomatic phrase peculiar to English. They're happy to "correct" things they perceive to be mistakes from other, but if you correct their *actual* errors, you'll be called a purist and a gatekeeper.

munyag wrote:Just to add a bit of relevancy to the subject I have been working in the Scottish Highlands for the last 18 months or so. Such a proud people and the town has a primary school where the children learn immersion style through Gaelic. I have come across one chap who grew up in the isle of Skye speaking it natively. Another chap's brother learnt it through school immersion style. Most of the native Scots that I have spoken to don't speak Gaelic in this town never mind other foreign languages. I guess my question to you is if you were hypothetically put in charge of national policy
for language over Scotland how would you go about trying to raise the number of native speakers of Gaelic either nationally or perhaps just in the Highlands?

I wouldn't -- that's a fool's errand and counterproductive. The main thing is to support natives in letting them carry on. Trying to increase native speaker numbers just leads to people redefining what a native speaker is.

Right now, I think there's a pretty high number of people I would describe as "native non-natives" -- people who speak what is grammatically "learner Gaelic", but which they have learned at a young enough age that it's a native language to them. Personally, I think we're already teaching more kids Gaelic than we can hope to be successful with.

Consider how much English was altered in Africa by being spoken non-natively for generations and then being passed on to kids. Over the generations, English has moved back towards the international norm partly because of the teachers, and partly because of the media (particularly in recent decades). With large numbers of kids learning Gaelic from non-native teachers, and the lack of status of heritage Gaelic anywhere, I think Gaelic (and Irish) is heading towards a pidgin or creolised status.

I'm not saying that pidgins and creoles are bad things in and of themselves -- quite the opposite: they're really fun to learn! But if a pidgin or creole fully replaces the language it was formed from, that's counterproductive if your goal is to preserve the language.


Thank you Mr Cainntear

I appreciate your educated and considered thoughts in this discussion. It's a shame Gaelic or Irish even isn't a readily available language in the Easy Languages Series on YouTube.
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Re: Kaufmann: ChatGPT: Should Language Teachers Be Worried?

Postby Kraut » Mon Nov 20, 2023 1:10 pm

So what kind of Irish do you get in BBC's channel ALBA which I can receive down in the south of Germany?
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Re: Kaufmann: ChatGPT: Should Language Teachers Be Worried?

Postby Cainntear » Mon Nov 20, 2023 2:41 pm

Kraut wrote:So what kind of Irish do you get in BBC's channel ALBA which I can receive down in the south of Germany?

Is that your way of pointing out that BBC ALBA is mislabelled as an Irish-language channel in your area...?
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Re: Kaufmann: ChatGPT: Should Language Teachers Be Worried?

Postby Kraut » Mon Nov 20, 2023 3:35 pm

Cainntear wrote:
Kraut wrote:So what kind of Irish do you get in BBC's channel ALBA which I can receive down in the south of Germany?

Is that your way of pointing out that BBC ALBA is mislabelled as an Irish-language channel in your area...?

No, I thought of Prussian-Lithuanian churchgoers who came out of church round 1900 shaking their heads because they had only half understood what their pastor had preached in "Lithuanian".
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