“In addition to ChatGPT, what are some AI applications and other online tools that students (and teachers) might find useful?”

ChatGPT (and to a lesser extent Bard, Bing and the others) can do pretty much anything, so are the language tools that pre-existed these bots still of any use?

QuillBot (quillbot.com) works well for paraphrasing, as well as editing and correcting texts. The advantage over ChatGPT is that QuillBot’s two-pane system enables you to see what changes it has made.

QuillBot will:

  • shorten (or lengthen) a sentence
  • change the level of formality – great for emails when your students want to sound more professional … or more friendly.
  • provide alternative sentences, i.e. different ways of saying the same thing
  • allow students to set the number of changes they want to make to their text, i.e. how many words they want QuillBot to find a synonym for

Paraphrasing is a key skill to teach students. Not primarily to hide the fact that they have copied someone else’s work (!), but rather when they are not 100% sure that whether what they have written is correct. In such cases, they can rewrite the phrase using a construction and words that they know are correct (using simple words, grammar and word order).

Of course you need to get students into the habit of double checking what QuillBot produces to ensure that it hasn’t changed their intended meaning.

Although not specifically intended for this purpose, QuillBot can correct many mistakes that non-natives make when writing in English.

The QuillBot version also manages to split one long 27-word sentence into two shorter sentences. It corrects the tenses (have been instead of am, and intend instead of will plan), adverbs (for and still, instead of since and yet), articles (an instead of a) and also suggests possible synonyms (converse and enrol instead of speaking and attend).

The output of paraphrasing tools can also be used to discuss grammar and vocabulary points. Get students to think whether the bot’s version has improved on theirs or whether it is simply a different way of saying the same thing.

If you have students who will have to do a presentation, you / they can use the bot to correct their script.

Tips that students learn from QuillBot’s version of the presentation script:

  • It is shorter. This means their presentation will be more dynamic and the audience will have more time to absorb what they say and what is shown on their slides
  • It has corrected mistakes e.g. made of (line 6, original) has been replaced with made up of (line 5, revised). If your students know that the English of their speech is correct, they should feel more confident when delivering their presentation at a conference
  • The main subject of a sentence tends to be placed nearer the beginning of the sentence e.g. optical cavity in the second sentence. This makes it easier for an audience to understand key points
  • Synonyms have been used. Consequently, students can choose between their original version and QuillBot’s.
  • Adverbs such as currently have been repositioned to give them less prominence in the sentence.

Adrian Wallwork

Note: Parts of this post are based on Section 11.1 in English for Academic Research: Grammar, Usage and Style, published by Springer, October 2023. You can see the screenshots much more clearly there – WordPress doesn’t seem to like them!