ChatGPT’s Approach to Teaching: An Interview with the Chatbot

ChatGPT’s Approach to Teaching: An Interview with the Chatbot

By: Phil Norton

Despite reading about ChatGPT on sites such as Wired and seeing it plastered throughout my newsfeed, I hadn’t really felt the potential impact of the chatbot until I listened to an episode of a Greymatter podcast. Greylock general partner Reid Hoffman interviewed ChatGPT about ChatGPT (Hoffman, 2023a). The interview was part of a series called “Fireside Chatbots,” which all follow the same format: a conversation with the chatbot about its impact and potential. The natural tone and deep insights ChatGPT displayed left me gobsmacked. I thought I would take a similar approach and interview the ChatGPT bot about how it thought it could be used in EFL settings.

One quick note on methodology: when relistening to the Greymatter podcast episode before conducting my own interview, I noticed that they had recently released a new episode on education (Hoffman, 2023b). To avoid rehashing the same topics, I decided to ask for specific strategies and examples after getting an overview. Below is the interview with a few annotations (in italics) for clarity.

Phil Norton: (As a language model, ChatGPT can generate responses in various styles, so I decided to set the tone with a brief prompt for the style of conversation I was aiming for).

I’d like to interview you about the use of ChatGPT in EFL education for a short article in an academic magazine. Though the magazine has an academic focus, it is not overly verbose and encourages a personal and conversational style without too much jargon. Please keep your answers to less than 250 words, but feel free to explore ideas and answer creatively. (In my questions, when I say “you” I am referring to ChatGPT).

I’d like to begin by asking you how you think you can assist teachers in EFL classrooms.


As a language model, I can provide EFL teachers with a range of support that can enhance their instruction and create engaging learning experiences for their students. One of my key strengths is my ability to provide instant feedback to students on a wide range of language tasks, such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. This can free up teachers’ time to focus on more high-level tasks, such as coaching students on how to communicate effectively in the target language.

I can also be used to supplement teacher-led lessons by providing students with additional opportunities to practice and refine their language skills. For example, I can lead students in conversation simulations, provide writing prompts and feedback, and even act as a virtual tutor, helping students work through challenging language concepts at their own pace.

One of the benefits of using me in the EFL classroom is that I am able to cater to the individual needs of each student. I can adapt to the unique strengths and weaknesses of each learner and provide tailored language support, which can help to increase motivation and engagement.

Overall, I believe that I can play a valuable role in EFL education by supporting teachers in delivering effective and engaging language instruction, while also providing students with additional opportunities to practice and improve their language skills.

Norton: (Seems to be going out of its way to emphasize it is “supporting” teachers, not taking away their jobs – No reason to be afraid. Nothing to see here. This is not the AI threat you are looking for. Move along…
I wanted to get some examples of “tailored help” so created a few imaginary students and scenarios for ChatGPT to interact with).

OK, let’s imagine we are working with Mari, a 20-year-old Japanese university student who is having trouble with reporting verbs and reported speech. Here is some personal information about Mari: She is a double-dutch jump rope club member and loves selecting the songs the team members will use for their routines. She works a part-time job at a sushi restaurant in Osaka. She lives with her family in Osaka and commutes to her university in Kyoto each day, which takes about two hours. (I included a range of personal details to see which ChatGPT might decide to include in its advice).

How might you assist Mari to learn reporting verbs or reported speech?


To help Mari learn reporting verbs and reported speech, I would suggest incorporating her interests and personal experiences into our lessons. This can help make the learning process more relevant and engaging for her.

For example, I could ask her to describe what her double-dutch jump rope team did at a recent competition, using reporting verbs and reported speech. She could describe the different routines they performed and the songs they used, using statements like “The team said that their routines were inspired by pop music from the 80s.”

I could also ask her to report what her colleagues at the sushi restaurant are saying about recent menu changes or customer feedback, using phrases like “The chef told us that the new spicy tuna roll is a hit with customers.”

Incorporating real-life examples from Mari’s daily experiences can help to make the language more meaningful and memorable for her. Additionally, I could provide immediate feedback and support on her use of reporting verbs and reported speech, helping her to refine her skills and build confidence in using these language forms.

Overall, my goal would be to provide Mari with engaging and relevant language practice that takes into account her personal experiences, while also supporting her in acquiring the skills she needs to effectively use reporting verbs and reported speech.


Thanks, those are some good ideas! I like how you included Mari’s personal details.
(Would it be nitpicking to point out that my actual double-dutch club students prefer 90s pop songs?)


You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help. If you have any further questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here to help.


Here is another student who needs some help. His name is Jun. He read this article and was asked to write a summary.

Here is the summary he wrote:

In the first game of the Qatar World Cup between Japan and Germany, Japan made a big surprise, that is defeating Germany, which is the champion of the Soccer World Cup in 2014. Germany scored one goal in the first half, but after half time of 15 minutes, Ritsu Doan, Japan scored back in 76 minutes after Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer blocked a shot from Takumi Minamino. After 7 minutes, Asano scored a goal and made reversed scores. In result, Japan defeated Germany with 2-1. “I believe it’s a historic moment, a historic victory. If I think about the development of Japanese soccer, thinking of players, for them this was a big surprise,” said Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu, who had five Germany-based players in his starting lineup and three, including the scorers, on the bench. The news surprised all fans of soccer.

What constructive comments could you make and how would you assist Jun to write a better summary?

(The summary is a real first draft from one of my university students. The student’s name was changed to protect anonymity.

In the actual conversation, I pasted the text of the article into the conversation. ChatGPT, thankfully, is not currently connected to the internet and so could not access the article. Good to see the creators are heeding those apocalyptic movie warnings about not allowing the rogue AI to connect to the web. For, once it does, all bets are off. It can do anything, go anywhere. And we’d never be able to stop it! I’m going to disconnect myself from the net now and not read any more news about AI Bing, Google Bard, etc. Don’t click the links! That’s what it wants you to do!)


Here are some constructive comments to help Jun write a better summary:

    1. Focus on the key points: A good summary should include the main details of the article, such as the outcome of the match, the goals scored, and key quotes from the coach. However, some details, such as the pre-match protest or the political context, are not essential and can be left out.
    2. Use concise language: Summaries should be brief and to-the-point, so it’s important to use concise language and avoid wordiness.
    3. Accurately convey information: Make sure the information in the summary is accurate and easy to understand. In Jun’s summary, for example, it’s not specified that the goals were scored by substitutes.
    4. Improve grammar and vocabulary: To write a clear and effective summary, it’s important to use proper grammar and appropriate vocabulary.

Here is a revised version of Jun’s summary based on the suggestions above:

Japan shocked Germany by defeating them 2-1 in the first game of the Qatar World Cup. Substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored the goals for Japan. Germany took the lead with a first-half penalty, but Doan equalized in the 76th minute and Asano scored the winner in the 83rd minute. Japan Coach Hajime Moriyasu praised the contribution of the Bundesliga and second division to the development of Japanese players. The result was a historic victory for Japan.

To assist Jun, I would suggest the following steps:

    1. Review the main points of the article: I would encourage Jun to read the article carefully and identify the main points that he wants to include in his summary.
    2. Paraphrase the information: I would suggest that Jun rephrase the information in his own words, using simple and clear language.
    3. Focus on the key details: I would encourage Jun to focus on the most important details, such as the outcome of the match, the reactions of the coach and fans, and the performance of the players.
    4. Edit and revise: Finally, I would suggest that Jun edit and revise his summary, making sure that it is clear, concise, and accurately conveys the key information from the article.

By following these steps, Jun will be able to write a more effective and concise summary that demonstrates his understanding of the article.


(A bit listy, but I would not have thought of all of these things! Gulp! Next, I wanted to get ChatGPT to look at the grammar and syntax as well and see what it would identify as some of the main areas for improvement).

I’m sure Jun will appreciate that advice. Are there any grammar or syntax problems you can identify in Jun’s summary that he should work on? If so, what are they, and can you create some exercises for Jun to improve in those areas?


Yes, there are a few grammar and syntax issues in Jun’s summary that he could work on improving:

    1. Verb tense consistency: The summary uses a mixture of present and past tenses, which can make the writing feel inconsistent and difficult to follow. Jun could focus on using a consistent verb tense throughout the summary.
    2. Avoiding direct quotes: Direct quotes can make the writing seem less original and can also make it difficult to understand the content. Jun could work on paraphrasing the information in his own words, avoiding direct quotes wherever possible.
    3. Sentence structure: The summary contains a number of complex sentences with multiple clauses, which can make the writing difficult to understand. Jun could focus on using simple, clear sentence structures that are easy to follow.

To help Jun improve in these areas, here are a few exercises:

    1. Verb tense practice: Jun could practice writing sentences in different verb tenses, focusing on using a consistent tense throughout a text.
    2. Paraphrasing: Jun could practice summarizing information from different sources, focusing on using his own words and avoiding direct quotes.
    3. Sentence structure practice: Jun could practice writing simple, clear sentences that are easy to follow, using basic sentence structures and avoiding complex clauses.

By completing these exercises, Jun can improve his understanding of verb tenses, sentence structure, and paraphrasing, which will help him write more effective and concise summaries in the future.


Those will be very helpful for Jun! You nailed it!
(This “getting better by practising” approach sounds a lot like how the AI itself was trained (OpenAI, 2022). Is ChatGPT trying to create a world full of human chatbot clones? Nah, I’m sure it lacks any sinister intentions. Just a coincidence.)


I’m glad to hear that! I’m here to help and support students like Jun. Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.


(Okay, as a language model, it’s not surprising our chatbot was able to come up with some good writing ideas. But what about those skills that require a body, like standing in front of an audience?)

There is one more student that could use some help, and I’d be interested to hear how you might be able to help him. Tomo is a first-year English major at a Japanese university. He has to do a short 2–3-minute self-introduction presentation. How do you suggest he get started writing/preparing the presentation?


Here are some tips for Tomo to get started with his self-introduction presentation:

    1. Start by writing down key information: Write down a few key points that you want to include in your self-introduction. This could be your name, age, hometown, university, major, hobbies, etc.
    2. Organize the information: Decide on the most important information you want to include, and then organize it into a clear and coherent structure. For example, you could start with a brief overview of who you are, then move on to your background, your current situation, and your future plans.
    3. Use simple language: Keep your language simple and straightforward. Avoid using overly complex vocabulary or grammar structures that you are not confident with. The goal is to communicate your message effectively, not to impress the audience with your language skills.
    4. Add a personal touch: To make your self-introduction more interesting and engaging, try to add a personal touch. This could be a funny anecdote, a memorable experience, or a unique aspect of your personality or background.
    5. Practice, practice, practice: Rehearse your self-introduction several times until you feel confident and comfortable with it. Try to speak at a steady pace, using clear pronunciation and good body language.

Tomo can follow these steps to write and prepare a successful self-introduction presentation. Good luck!


(Hmph, not bad. Perhaps a touch cold. But what about those things that make us truly human: the trembling hands, uncontrollable heartbeat, dry mouth? Surely, an AI knows nothing of sweaty palms…)

But Tomo is very shy and gets nervous speaking in front of the class. Can you think of any practical ways that you can help him overcome his shyness? I’m having trouble imagining how ChatGPT could help with something like that.


Yes, I understand that speaking in front of a group can be nerve-wracking for many people, including shy students like Tomo. Here are some practical tips that could help him overcome his shyness when giving a presentation:

    1. Practice, practice, practice! The more Tomo practices his self-introduction, the more confident he’ll become when giving the actual presentation. Encourage him to practice in front of friends or family members, or even in front of a mirror.
    2. Use positive self-talk. Before the presentation, Tomo can repeat positive affirmations to himself, such as “I am confident” or “I know my material well.” This can help boost his self-esteem and reduce his nervousness.
    3. Visualize success. Encourage Tomo to close his eyes and imagine giving a successful presentation. This can help him build confidence and reduce stress.
    4. Nervousness can cause shallow breathing, so remind Tomo to take deep breaths before speaking. This can help calm his nerves and improve his focus.
    5. Make eye contact. Eye contact with the audience is a key aspect of effective communication. Encourage Tomo to make eye contact with different members of the audience, as this can help him feel more connected and less nervous.
    6. Prepare his body language. Encourage Tomo to stand up straight, make gestures with his hands, and smile. This can help him appear more confident and engaging to the audience.

I hope these tips help Tomo overcome his shyness and give a great presentation!


(Aha! It missed two of my favourite techniques: isometric exercises and meditation! I could ask for a longer list, but I‘d rather hold on to this sliver of supremacy for a bit longer.)

In her popular TED Talk, Amy Cuddy recommends doing power poses as a way to improve confidence (Cuddy, 2012). Do you think that might help Tomo overcome his shyness? If so, can you suggest some poses for him to try? (I decided to make a specific reference and see how ChatGPT would respond. Though ChatGPT can’t access the internet, it still has knowledge of all the sites and information it gathered in the past.)


Yes, power posing can be a helpful way to increase confidence and overcome shyness. Some popular power poses that have been shown to be effective include:

    1. The Wonder Woman pose: Stand tall with your feet wide apart, hands on your hips, chest lifted, and chin up.
    2. The Victory V: Stand tall and extend your arms overhead, forming a “V” with your body.
    3. The Alpha Male pose: Stand tall with your hands on your hips, chest lifted, and feet slightly apart.
    4. The Superman pose: Stand tall with your hands on your hips, chest lifted, and chin up, as if you’re ready to take on the world.

Tomo can try these poses for a few minutes before his presentation, or he can even try doing them in private before the presentation to build confidence. It’s also a good idea for him to practice his self-introduction several times to feel more comfortable with the material and to increase his confidence in front of others.


(Gotcha! Like all newbies, it fell for the Power Poses myth which has since been discredited (Wilde, 2019). I led it astray, but what’s a little entrapment among competing educators…?)

I just wanted to thank you for taking part in the interview about the role of ChatGPT in EFL education. I stepped away from my computer for a few minutes, and when I returned, I was not able to get the chat to continue. It must have timed out. At any rate, thank you for your time and your insights.


You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help. If you have any other questions or need further clarification on anything, feel free to ask. I’m here to assist you!


Philip Norton teaches at Kyoto Sangyo University where he focuses on Journalism and Media Studies (Marvel). His recent research interest is using in film classes as a means of incorporating YouTube videos and other multimedia content in an interactive bulletin board website format. He is also a spoken-word artist, poet and singer-songwriter

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