Coping with the AI Challenge

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

September is here! The past eight months of warnings of artificial intelligence- or AI- generative chat calamities were heeded by some and ignored by others. Hopefully, you are one of the fortunate ones who work in an institution where AI policies, guidelines, just-in-time support and plagiarism teaching-learning plan statements are ready and accessible to supervisors, instructors and learners. If this is not your situation, this post is for you. Read on to quickly pick up some tips to cope with AI generative chat technologies while your institution works towards comprehensive strategies.  

Educators are extremely busy, especially at the start of a new term. However, it is very important for language instructors to have a grasp of the basics of AI generative tools. A few reasons for this are:   

  • instructors can discuss the ethics of using AI tools with knowledge of these tools; 
  • instructors can determine if task submissions are machine- or learner-generated; 
  • instructors can leverage the AI’s potential to generate learning materials for their lessons, and 
  • instructors can be involved participants in AI issue discussions with peers and managers 

Social media platforms and traditional news outlets offer opinions and practical information. Currently, there are too many items to consume. A pragmatic approach is to leverage your existing PLN (professional learning network) or consider looking for and adding groups that champion AI generative tools and trends to your PLN.   

Survey your learners  

Educators should capture a snapshot of their learners’ AI generative chat knowledge and abilities. Instructors may be surprised to learn that their students are ignorant of and unskilled with these tools. There may be competent adopters of AI in the class that can be identified. As with previous emerging technologies, these students can be a wealth of important information and strategies if made partners in learning. Setting AI tasks will provide instructors with the abilities of individual learners. Tips to survey your learners are:  

  • administer a class poll; 
  • set a short writing assignment with no restrictions on using AI tools; 
  • facilitate a guided discussion, and 
  • set basic tasks with AI tools to gauge their expertise. For example: 
    • create an image of a giraffe eating at a fast-food restaurant; 
    • write a poem about the best fishing places in South America; 
    • create a holiday itinerary for a 9-day trip to Antarctica, and 
    • solve a complex math problem 

Once you have an idea of your learners’ knowledge, it will allow refinement of AI generative chat tools implementation for instruction and identifying which students may be sources of AI expertise. 

Skill Building 

Acquiring personal AI skills will help educators enhance their 21st-century teaching toolkit (note: I am dating myself here). We survived COVID. This is just another step forward into another unanticipated technology-enhanced language learning field. Instructors do not have to become experts with generative AI, but learning some of the basics will enable them to be more informed. A few skill-building tips include: 

  • learn prompting strategies by prompting an AI generative tool such as ChatGPT; 
  • learn to use prompt templates from 3rd party providers; 
  • participate in AI-focused micro-credentials, courses or webinars;  
  • generate innovative images with AI technologies such as DALL E 2 and Midjourney
  • use AI tools to assist with routine professional tasks such as email and document summarizing; 
  • use generative chat technologies for your personal life (exercise, travel, budget, etc.). 

Discover AI Integrations 

Revisit existing language learning resources through their websites to learn if they have been enhanced with AI technologies. Standard TESL tools such as Quizlet and Duolingo have new features that may benefit your learners or consider exploring the new language learning apps built from the ground up with AI.  

Think, Explore and Innovate 

Consider using AI generative technologies to assist with targeted professional tasks  
such as: 

  • redefining formative tasks; 
  • enhancing lesson plans; 
  • drafting of documents such as invitations to class events; 
  • providing students with immersive and engaging AI assignments, and  
  • reimagining assessments.  

Final Thoughts 

I hope these tips help you make it through the first few weeks of this term. I am looking forward to learning and sharing with you at the TESOL Ontario conference this November.  


AI Language Learning Apps List,




Open AI,

Quizlet Q-Chat,

Hi—I'm John Allan. I am an educator who works in the technology enhanced language learning field. I create online learning opportunities and mentor instructors on the Avenue project. I have experience teaching ESL and EFL in Canada and the Middle East. I hold an MSC in Computer Assisted Language learning, a M.Ed. in Distance Education, TESL B. Ed., a B.Ed. (OCT), and a variety of TESL relevant certifications from TESL Canada, TESL Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Education. For more articles, learning objects, projects and blog links see


2 thoughts on “Coping with the AI Challenge”

  1. Thanks for your post, John.
    Good to learn about some of these tools! And good to know we are all grappling with the same challenge. 😉

  2. Jennifer,
    It seems like our peers are adjusting to this quickly. I am hoping to read and hear about their experiences as the term progresses.

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