Artificial Intelligence as an English teacher


Are my days numbered as an English Teacher in these heady days of Artificial Intelligence?

First of all, I am not an English teacher as the term is commonly understood. What I do can more accurately be described as facilitating the acquisition of English conversational skills, and consulting on matters of western culture – and sometimes history.

Of course, both of these roles can be fulfilled by any of the chatbots already available to the public, and in a few months (or weeks, or days) will be even better fulfilled by custom chatbots designed for these specific purposes. I could also potentially design a chatbot to perform the tasks as I would do them, as creating chatbots is not as difficult as one thought a few days or weeks ago.

Nevertheless, apart from the above roles that I fulfil in the classroom, or next to someone’s dining room table, I also provide some degree of amusement to my paying customers. All right, the amusement isn’t necessarily top-notch, but people get enough enjoyment out of it to keep paying me. Can Artificial Intelligence provide amusement? Probably in the near future, but not next month.

The third role I serve is similar to that of the Catholic priest, or the bartender. People are surprisingly honest with me about their doings and what goes on in their families and social circles. Because I don’t move in the same circles as them, and because they rightly trust that I will be discreet, they sometimes share stories with me that they want to get off their chests. And I will correct a word here and there, or explain the correct grammar, just so it still looks like an English class.

Will people tell these stories to an AI chatbot? Maybe one day. Today’s kids who grow up with it probably will. But I imagine that this is another reason why I can earn money in my current profession for at least another year or so.

Of course, I work hard to keep up and stay relevant, seeing how fast things change these days.