Leveraging ChatGPT for English First Additional Language Instruction in South African Schools

In the era of digital transformation, the integration of technology into the classroom is no longer a luxury but a necessity. One such technological tool that South African teachers can harness is ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) language model developed by OpenAI. This tool has shown immense potential in enhancing the teaching and learning of English as a First Additional Language (EFAL). Here’s how:

ChatGPT as a Learning Tool

ChatGPT is a user-friendly tool that can be used as an engaging conversation partner available 24/7. It can be used to practice English at the learner’s own pace and in their own space, making it an ideal tool for EFAL learners. For instance, learners can ask ChatGPT questions like, “What is the difference between ‘there’, ‘their’, and ‘they’re’?” and get instant, detailed responses.

Practicing Tenses and Grammar

ChatGPT can be a safe space for learners to practice different tenses and grammar structures. They can try out the present continuous or past perfect tenses, practice using prepositions, or experiment with complex sentences. For example, learners can ask, “Can you provide examples of sentences using the past perfect tense?” and ChatGPT will provide a variety of examples.

Enhancing Vocabulary

ChatGPT can be a friendlier alternative to dictionaries. Learners can ask for the meaning of a new word and how to use that word in a sentence. They can also ask for fill-in-the-blank tests to reinforce and expand their vocabulary. For instance, learners can ask, “What does ‘serendipity’ mean and can you use it in a sentence?”

Improving Writing Skills

ChatGPT can assist with writing. Learners can write a draft and then copy and paste it into ChatGPT, asking it to highlight the errors. This feature can be particularly useful for EFAL learners who are working on improving their writing skills. For example, a learner can write a paragraph and ask, “Can you check this paragraph for any grammatical, punctuation, or spelling errors?”

The Human Touch in English Learning

While technology and AI tools like ChatGPT significantly enhance language learning, the importance of human interaction in this process is irreplaceable. Teachers provide personalized instruction, encourage students when they struggle, and celebrate their achievements, creating a nurturing learning environment. It’s important to remember that while ChatGPT is a powerful tool, it should not replace the teacher but rather serve as a supplement to traditional teaching methods.


In conclusion, ChatGPT offers a new and innovative way to engage EFAL learners and make English more accessible and enjoyable. As we continue to explore the intersection of technology and education, tools like ChatGPT will undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping the future of teaching and learning in South Africa. Explore the possibilities of ChatGPT in your own teaching practice and see the difference it can make!