Can ChatGPT’s AI write a better German listening comprehension lesson than me? – Was wäre wenn…

In this post, we’ll see if the AI ChatGPT can write a better German listening comprehension lesson than a human. I asked ChatGPT to write a German listening comprehension dialogue around the phrase “Was wäre wenn…”. In this post I share three of the resulting dialogues and my thoughts about them.

If you are a member of my Deutschlerner Club, you get access to a worksheet that tests your listening comprehension of these dialogues along with your knowledge of the subjunctive mood, which is what many German teachers use this phrase to teach. Click here to find out more about the Deutschlerner Club and to join.

“Was wäre wenn…” Dialogue #1

“Was wäre, wenn wir unseren Urlaub in einem anderen Land verbringen würden?”, fragte Anna ihren Freund Max.
“What if we would spend our vacation in another country?”, asked Anna her boyfriend Max.

“Das klingt interessant. Wo hätten wir denn gerne Urlaub?”, antwortete Max.
“That sounds interesting. Where would we have our vacation then?”, answered Max.

“Ich habe immer davon geträumt, nach Australien zu reisen. Was meinst du?”, fragte Anna.
“I have always dreamed of traveling to Australia. What do you think?”, asked Anna.

“Australien ist sicherlich ein interessantes Land. Aber was wäre, wenn wir lieber in Europa bleiben würden?”, fragte Max.
“Australia is definitely an interesting country. But what if we would rather stay in Europe?”, asked Max.

“Das ist auch in Ordnung. Wie wäre es mit Italien? Ich habe gehört, dass die Amalfiküste wunderschön sein soll”, sagte Anna.
“That works, too. How about Italy? I heard that the Amalfi Coast is supposed to be beautiful”, said Anna.

“Italien ist auf jeden Fall eine tolle Idee. Aber was wäre, wenn wir lieber ein bisschen Abenteuer suchen und nach Südamerika reisen?”, fragte Max.
“Italy is absolutely a great idea. But what if we rather look for a bit of adventure and travel to South America?”, asked Max.

“Südamerika klingt auch sehr aufregend. Aber was wäre, wenn wir lieber etwas Ruhe und Entspannung suchen und an die Ostsee fahren?”, fragte Anna.
“South America sounds very exciting, too. But what if we prefer to seek out peace and relaxation and drive to the Baltic Sea?”, asked Anna.

“Die Ostsee ist auch eine tolle Idee. Lass uns ein paar Optionen recherchieren und sehen, was uns am besten gefällt”, sagte Max.
“The Baltic Sea is also a great idea. Let’s research a few options and see what we like the best”, Max said.

“Gute Idee. Lass uns heute Abend darüber sprechen und eine Entscheidung treffen”, sagte Anna.
“Good idea. Let’s talk about it this evening and make a decision”, Anna said.

Herr Antrim’s 2 Cents About Dialogue #1

I find the continuity in this conversation to be a bit odd. Max asks if they could stay in Europe, but the next time he speaks, he suggests South America. To me, it would have made more sense for Anna to suggest something other than Europe after Max asks to stay there. Or she could have just lead with the last option she gave of going to the Baltic Sea. That would have kept on point with his suggestion and made the conversation flow better. Of course, others might just see it as a brainstorming session, which includes whatever ideas come to mind as they come up.

Other than that, I think this conversation was well written. I liked the fact that it included the simple past tense around the quotes, so it read more like a book or story rather than a listening comprehension dialogue. I also liked the variety of phrasing used. That is actually a problem that I often have is getting stuck using the same phrasing over and over again in a dialogue instead of finding other ways to phrase the same concept. ChatGPT does a good job of keeping the conversation fresh in this way. 

“Was wäre wenn…” Dialogue #2

Person 1: Was wäre wenn wir heute Abend ins Kino gingen?
Person 1: What if we went to the movies tonight?

Person 2: Das wäre toll! Aber was wäre, wenn der Film ausverkauft ist?
Person 2: That would be great! But what if the movie is sold out?

Person 1: Dann könnten wir uns einen anderen Film ansehen. Oder was wäre, wenn wir stattdessen lieber zum Bowlen gingen?
Person 1: Then we could watch a different movie. Or what if we preferred to go bowling instead?

Person 2: Das wäre auch eine gute Idee. Aber was wäre, wif wir beim Bowlen ausrutschen und uns verletzen?
Person 2: That would also be a good idea. But what if we slip and hurt ourselves while bowling?

Person 1: Dann würden wir uns wahrscheinlich eine Pause gönnen und stattdessen etwas anderes unternehmen. Wie wäre es, wenn wir zu Hause einen Film ansehen und etwas Leckeres essen?
Person 1: Then we would probably take a break and do something else instead. How about if we watch a movie at home and have something delicious to eat?

Person 2: Ja, das klingt gut. Lasst uns das machen.
Person 2: Yes, that sounds good. Let’s do that.

Herr Antrim’s 2 Cents About Dialogue #2

When ChatGPT wrote this one, the typo in the 2nd line by “Person 2” “wif” was included. I know it meant “wenn”, but it was an odd error to make. It is almost as if it took the phrase “was wäre wenn” and half translated it to end up with “wif” instead of either “wenn” or “if”. 

It is also odd that it used “was wäre wenn” at all, as most German native speakers would actually use “ wie wär’s wenn”. The former asks for a possibility and for your thoughts how it would play out and not really what you wanna or wish to do. This conversation is really about what they want to do and not about “was wäre wenn…”

This conversation came with an English translation for this dialogue, which I thought was an interesting development, but it didn’t include that for the other 2. The English translations you see for those in this post are ones that I wrote.

I also love the quirky ending that was given here. In the end they decide to simply stay home and watch a movie instead of going out for anything. It is the kind of dumb humor I try to weave into my own dialogues and I think it is a great ending to this one. 

“Was wäre wenn…” Dialogue #3

Sophie: Hallo Maria, ich habe gerade angefangen, über das Leben nachzudenken und mir ist die Frage in den Sinn gekommen: “Was wäre wenn ich eine andere Karriere gewählt hätte?”
Sophie: Hello Maria, I just started thinking about life and the question came to mind: “What if I had chosen a different career?”

Maria: Oh, das ist eine interessante Frage. Was denkst du, wäre anders, wenn du eine andere Karriere gewählt hättest?
Maria: Oh, that is an interesting question. What do you think would be different, if you had chosen a different career?

Sophie: Ich weiß es nicht genau. Vielleicht wäre ich jetzt glücklicher oder erfolgreicher. Oder vielleicht würde ich mich in meiner aktuellen Karriere besser fühlen, wenn ich andere Entscheidungen getroffen hätte.
Sophie: I don’t know exactly. Maybe I would be happier or more successful. Or maybe I would feel better in my current career, if I had made different decisions.

Maria: Ja, das ist wahr. Es ist schwierig zu sagen, wie sich unser Leben entwickelt hätte, wenn wir andere Entscheidungen getroffen hätten. Aber ich denke, es ist wichtig, im Hier und Jetzt zu leben und das Beste aus unseren Möglichkeiten zu machen.
Maria: Yes, that is true. It is difficult to say, how our life would have developed, if we made other decisions. But I think it is important to live in the here and now and make the best out of our opportunities.

Sophie: Du hast recht. Ich denke, ich sollte mich auf das konzentrieren, was ich jetzt habe, anstatt mich zu fragen, was wäre, wenn. Danke, dass du mir geholfen hast, das in Perspektive zu setzen.
Sophie: You are right. I think I should concentrate on what I have instead of asking myself what might have been. Thank you for helping me to put that into perspective.

Herr Antrim’s 2 Cents About Dialogue #3

This ChatGPT dialogue is a bit more complicated in the vocabulary and phrasing. It strikes me as odd that ChatGPT is giving life advice here. There is also the phrase “in Perspektiv setzen”. This is a Google Translate kind of sentence. It just doesn’t sound like something a German person would say. There are better ways of phrasing this like, “ins rechte Licht rücken”. Other than that, I don’t really have any notes about this dialogue. 

As I said at the beginning of this post, I did not write these dialogues. I simply asked ChatGPT to write a dialogue around the German phrase “Was wäre, wenn…”. You can try it out for yourself by clicking here.