Empowering Arabic Students to Effectively Use AI Writing Tools 

Lots of language teachers are worried that students are utilizing AI tools like ChatGPT to generate essays and writing assignments, instead of doing their own work. That’s a fair concern, as it can be challenging to control that kind of behavior. However, getting all freaked out about it does not help. Fear usually just leads to strict policies aimed at stopping students from doing something, in this case using AI tools, essentially treating it as cheating.

A better approach is to empower students to actually advance their language skills by using these powerful tech tools the right way. When our goal is helping students become independent learners who can win at this whole language game, there’s no need to be afraid. We should be excited about the amazing possibilities AI tools can unlock. In fact, assuming positive intent makes it easier for teachers to come up with creative solutions.

*****

Here are three ideas to try out:

Train Students on Effective AI Usage

  • AI writing assistants like Gemini and ChatGPT perform well with Arabic, and we should teach students how to utilize them in a smart way.
  • Experiment with these tools yourself first, and understand their strengths and limitations.
  • Provide an example task, and demo how AI can assist students with language structure, vocabulary, and writing style.

Develop Activities With the Assistance of AI

  • As instructors, we can leverage the power of GenAI not just for student writing, but for designing engaging learning activities. This saves us a lot of time!
  • AI assistants can help you generate structured lesson plans, sample texts, and creative tasks. But my recommendation is that you come up with your own ideas first, and then use AI to enrich them. You know the interests and needs of your students better than any tool.

This is exactly what my colleague Radwa ElBarouni and I did when designing materials for a textbook that we’re working on. See how we framed the following activity and integrated the role of ChatGPT in the prompt.

NOTE: While it’s tempting to get excited at the ideas produced by GenAI, you need to be extra careful with the quality of the raw output, especially when it comes to language exercises. Discernment is key when vetting AI-assisted materials, and adjustments are always necessary.

Encourage Handwritten Submissions

  • In case you haven’t had the time to explore GenAI tools, consider requiring students to submit their work in handwritten form.
  • Even if students use AI to polish their essays, the act of manually transcribing the output can deepen their grasp of proper structures, as this is an opportunity to slow down and reflect on language form.
  • In cases where portions of the output is linguistically too sophisticated, students will shy away from copying language that is too advanced for their current level. (This is specially true in learning communities that are based on trust and open communication)

*****

Seth Godin nailed it: “GenAI is the greatest invention since electricity, and anyone who is not using it for 30 minutes a day, doesn’t get it.” So go explore, have fun, and empower your students to get skilled at this new way of communicating!

Laila

 

P.D. There are many webinars and workshops being offered these days to learn about AI tools for the language classroom. Sign up with different people if you can, and then go explore the tools yourself to make sure it’s what you and your students need.

Share