Can ChatGPT really teach you German?

Hallo, Deutschlerner! Are you struggling to find ways to practice your German language skills? Do you find traditional methods of language learning boring or ineffective? If so, you’re not alone. In this post, I’ll show you how to use ChatGPT as an innovative language learning tool, to take your German lessons to the next level.

How can ChatGPT really teach you German? - German Learning Tip

If you are really wanting to put your German learning on track, consider joining Herr Antrim’s Deutschlerner Club! For just $14.99 per month you will get access to his full A1 and A2 courses plus new materials as he creates them. You will go from knowing zero German to being able to have a short conversation in a short few weeks. Before you know it, you will be conversational in German on a variety of important topics, all while mastering German grammar.

What is ChatGPT?

In case you don’t already know, ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence language model developed by OpenAI. It is designed to understand and generate natural language text just like a human would. It works by analyzing large amounts of text data from a variety of sources, and using that data to train its machine learning algorithms.

Once trained, ChatGPT can use this knowledge to generate responses to text-based input that it receives from users, such as questions or prompts. It can generate text that is highly relevant to the input it receives, and can even mimic the writing style and tone of the source material it was trained on.

Controversies of ChatGPT

There are some controversies surrounding ChatGPT, as its information may not be 100% correct all of the time. It is only as good as the information that was used to train the AI and is not based on human expertise. Teachers are worried that students will use ChatGPT to simply do their homework for them instead of doing their own work. There is also the fear that students will rely too heavily on AI to solve problems and will not develop those problem solving skills on their own through the traditional forms of learning.

Despite the controversy surrounding the technology and the potential for academic dishonesty, there are ways to utilize ChatGPT to help you improve your language proficiency. As a high school teacher, I understand the challenges that come with this tool, but I also recognize its potential benefits. In this post, I will guide you through how to use ChatGPT to hone your German language skills effectively. Additionally, I will share some pitfalls of using ChatGPT as a language learning tool and provide tips on how to avoid them.

#1: Obvious Chat Bot is Obvious

One of the major challenges for German learners is finding opportunities to practice speaking the language. With ChatGPT, you can engage in conversations with the bot and simulate real-life scenarios such as chatting with a friend or colleague, ordering food in a restaurant, or going through airport security. Here’s how you can set it up.

First, tell ChatGPT what you want to do. For instance:

I want to chat with you in German. You are a friend of mine, whom I haven’t seen in 5 years. We just saw each other by happenstance while on vacation in Berlin. How would you start this conversation?

Once you’ve set up the scenario, ChatGPT will write the first line of the conversation, and you can respond to it as if you were talking to a real person. You can change out the conversation starters for any situation you can think of. Talking to my boss about an upcoming project, ordering food in a restaurant, going on a date, going through airport security, buying a train ticket, literally anything you can think of can be a premise for a chat with ChatGPT.

Improve Your Communication Skills with Recommendations from ChatGPT

One of the benefits of ChatGPT is that it can help you improve your conversational skills by providing suggestions on how to phrase your sentences more effectively. However, keep in mind that the program is not perfect and may make mistakes, so you should always use your own judgment and double-check the feedback you receive.

For example, ChatGPT may suggest corrections or improvements that are not relevant to the conversation or may miss some errors that you have made. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to the suggestions and use them as a tool to practice your German skills, rather than relying on them blindly.

I tried to get ChatGPT to correct me as we conversed with my first prompt, but it decided to stay in character throughout the conversation, so instead I just asked it to analyze my writing and tell me what it would have changed after the conversation ended. Some of the information is helpful, but sometimes it is just drawing at straws to have something to say.

For example: It claims I said something that I absolutely did not say at any point in the dialogue. It just made this up based on the prompt. It accused me of making a grammatical error that I didn’t make. It made a phrasing recommendation that probably wouldn’t have been used in a real conversation due to context. It did have a couple of good recommendations, however, as it tried to improve my communication skills and the efficiency of my word choices.

Are ChatGPT’s German skills perfect? No. Absolutely not. The program makes mistakes quite often, in fact, but the point here is to have a conversation and by that measure, it is very successful.

#2: Create Reading Comprehension Practice

ChatGPT’s ability to generate reading comprehension exercises with questions and answer keys is a valuable tool for German learners. However, to avoid repetitive exercises, it’s essential to be specific about what you want. As ChatGPT lacks real-life experience, it has limitations in the variety of sentences and structures it can use. But, by providing clear instructions, it can still produce useful exercises.

For example, you could ask ChatGPT to “create a German reading comprehension exercise for A2 learners about a visit to the doctor with questions and an answer key.” Within seconds, you’ll have an exercise that fits your level and can help you test your understanding.

If you want more complex exercises, you can simply adjust the level to B1 or higher. Similarly, you can have ChatGPT generate example dialogues by replacing “reading comprehension” with “dialogue” in your request.

Another way to use ChatGPT is to ask for a list of 25 essential words on a particular topic. You can then use this list to create your own exercises, or ask ChatGPT to generate a dialogue or reading comprehension lesson based on the vocabulary. This is especially useful for teachers who need to teach specific vocabulary but find their textbooks lacking in relevant exercises.

#3: Improve Your Own Writing Skills

If you’ve written a text in German and want to improve its grammar, you can ask ChatGPT to help you. Simply start by saying “Correct my German grammar in the following paragraph,” and then write the paragraph. ChatGPT can quickly and easily correct any grammar errors and even provide explanations for why certain changes were made.

But that’s not all. ChatGPT can also improve the writing style of your text. Just type “Improve this German language text,” and it will not only correct any grammar errors but also rephrase sentences to eliminate repetition and make the text sound better overall. You can then compare your original text to the edited version to learn more about the language and improve your writing skills.

Keep in mind that ChatGPT is still limited in some ways. One issue I had is that it seemed to think I wanted it to make the writing style better, but switched to English for no reason. I had to tell it to rewrite the text in German to get what I really wanted out of it. To avoid this, simply make sure to specify that you want the text rewritten in German. While ChatGPT is an impressive tool, it’s important to remember that it’s not a perfect language expert, but rather a highly advanced AI system.

#4: Ask for a lesson about grammar

If you’re struggling with German grammar, ChatGPT can be a helpful resource for learning any grammar topic. Simply prompt it with a specific request like “Explain the use of relative pronouns in German.” It will provide a few paragraphs explaining the basic rules and concepts of the topic. If you want it to generate example sentences, just ask: “Provide 10 examples of sentences using relative pronouns in German.”

I did notice that the examples didn’t include “dessen” or “deren”, so instead of asking for specific examples, I asked an adjacent question, “Are there any genitive case relative pronouns?” The initial response surprised me, as it began with the word “no,” which is entirely incorrect. It went on to explain that “dessen” and “deren” are indeed relative pronouns, but are not considered genitive. Rather, they are relative pronouns that refer to the genitive case. I asked for further clarification several times, but did not receive a satisfactory answer. What I’m trying to say is, while ChatGPT can be a great resource, it’s always good to double-check its responses to ensure accuracy.

You can also have ChatGPT write practice questions for the grammar lesson. I asked it to write questions about relative pronouns in German, but it gave me general questions about relative pronouns in German and not really a practice exercise for learners. By changing the prompt to include “fill-in-the-blank questions”, it completed the task properly. I had to then prompt it again to get the correct answers.

In general, ChatGPT is a helpful tool for learning and practicing German grammar. However, if you’re looking for clear and accurate grammar lessons, I recommend checking out the lessons on this site to avoid any confusion or strange responses.

#5: Make a language learning plan

If you have a specific language learning goal, like passing the B1 exam in German within 6 months, but you’re not sure how to get started, ChatGPT can create a study plan for you. Simply ask it to write you a plan by saying something like, “Create a 6-month study plan for me to learn enough German to pass the B1 exam.”

The plan will give you an outline of what to learn in each of the six months, and you can refine it to make it more detailed according to your needs. For example, you can ask ChatGPT to create a day-by-day plan for the first week of German learning, assuming that you plan to spend one hour each day learning German. This can be a helpful starting point for your language learning journey.

It’s important to note that while ChatGPT can provide you with a study plan, it’s up to you to follow through with it and put in the time and effort needed to achieve your language learning goals.

Warnings & Cautionary Tales About ChatGPT

While ChatGPT is a valuable tool for language learners, it is not infallible. Its responses are designed to be confident, but that does not always mean they are correct. It has a tendency to repeat incorrect information found online, which can be a problem for learners.

In my experience, ChatGPT has struggled with more advanced grammar topics, such as the difference between possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives in German and expressing possession without using the genitive case. It has also had trouble with cultural context, which can be important for language learners.

Typos and errors can also be an issue, especially for learners who may not recognize them as such. It is important to fact check any information provided by ChatGPT and not simply copy it without verification.

Additionally, ChatGPT’s availability can be unpredictable, which may pose a challenge for learners who are trying to use it to develop a study plan or to stay on track with their learning schedule.

Despite these limitations, ChatGPT is still a useful tool for language learners. It has a wealth of vocabulary and grammar knowledge that can be helpful for beginners and intermediate learners. If you plan to use ChatGPT, it’s important to recognize its limitations and use it in conjunction with other language learning resources.

If you are really wanting to put your German learning on track, consider joining Herr Antrim’s Deutschlerner Club! For just $14.99 per month you will get access to his full A1 and A2 courses plus new materials as he creates them. You will go from knowing zero German to being able to have a short conversation in a short few weeks. Before you know it, you will be conversational in German on a variety of important topics, all while mastering German grammar.

Scroll to Top