In 2003, three years after I moved to China, I attended university in Kunming to study the Chinese language with the idea that I would be able to best assist the vision of Back to Jerusalem if I could speak the language. Studying Chinese was really a step of faith for me, because I have never been good with language.
As a child, I struggled to speak my native language of English and while in primary school, I was put into special classes to provide extra instruction to help me develop my language. While attending university in southern California, I took required Spanish courses and struggled a lot. After a full year of Spanish, I failed to speak a single intelligible sentence, so I knew that the Chinese language was going to be virtually impossible for me to learn.
Fortunately, I was wrong! One night in 2003, while attending university in China, I went to sleep and in a dream I simply started understanding and speaking Chinese! When I attended class the next day, everything simply made sense and the Mandarin language came rolling off my tongue in such a natural way. It was unbelievable.
For the last twenty years, I have also been learning and speaking another language – Swedish. Every day I read the news and my Bible in the Swedish language to help me get a better grip on the language. I am proficient in the language, but because I spend quite a bit of time in Sweden, I would like to get better. That is when I discovered a brand-new way to increase my language for free!
Last night, while scrolling on Instagram, I saw an advertisement for a cutting-edge interactive language learning software that uses AI to help develop language skills at a more rapid rate than other methods. The program had an ongoing cost of $20 USD per month or $80 per year. I paid for the annual subscription with a free 7-day trial.
Basically, the program was a chat-bot. I wrote to the bot in Swedish and it wrote back, using new words and sentence structures that helped me learn the language. I was instantly addicted and loved it. Already having a basic grasp of the language, I wrote about all different types of subjects that I was interested in to help hone my reading and writing skills. The language program tailored answers to help me improve my conversation ability.
As I was using it, I wondered if ChatGPT could do something similar – for free! I opened up the application in my phone browser and began communicating with it. I told the chat-bot that I wanted to practice my language. The ‘bot’ clearly understood my goals, desires and promptly accommodated me.
After an hour of chatting back and forth, I already felt better about my Swedish communication skills and realized that I didn’t need to pay for the program when ChatGPT provided the same service – for free!
Communicating with AI might not be as good as language development gained by interacting with human beings, but for the price and convenience – it is a great tool to add for anyone struggling to learn a new language.