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Generative AI and second/foreign language education from Vygotsky's cultural-historical perspective

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posted on 2024-02-17, 12:16 authored by Ngo Cong-LemNgo Cong-Lem, Samran DaneshfarSamran Daneshfar

ChatGPT is a conversation-based generative artificial intelligence (GAI) chatbot with impressive capabilities for performing language processing tasks, such as answering questions, generating texts in various styles, making plans, and providing feedback. In this article, we explore how Vygotsky’s cultural-historical perspective could be applied to explain ChatGPT's facilitation of the second/foreign language learning process. Major theoretical tenets from Vygotsky’s theory utilized involve perezhivanie, speech development, and the zone of proximal development. Three principles for understanding L2 acquisition from this perspective include: (1) the environment as a source of the ideal forms of the target language, (2) internalization through active and meaningful social interactions, and (3) optimal L2 acquisition when effectively scaffolded in the ZPD of the individual. Additionally, we highlight the significance of ChatGPT’s capabilities to provide target language input, simulate authentic conversations, answer questions on diverse topics, and offer feedback as crucial functions for fostering the second/foreign language learning process. Implications, challenges, and future directions in integrating and researching ChatGPT in L2 training and research are discussed.

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