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The Big Debate: AI and inclusivity?




Can AI make language learning more personalised and inclusive for all learners?

There are many claims for what AI can do for language learning. But do they stand up to scrutiny? One claim for AI is that it can adapt the learning to each individual – it can personalise their learning. In this way, it can make learning far more inclusive. AI responds constructively to the student who is struggling as the student is leaping ahead – which can be difficult for teachers to manage.
But are we underestimating the problems that AI brings into the picture? We know that AI can develop biases from the input it learns from – will those biases be influencing the learning without us even realising it? Should we be worried about the ‘hallucinations’ or errors that AI makes? What about the students’ data that the AI system depends on? Are we comfortable with the privacy and security of each student when we’re collecting so much data about them?
These are challenging questions – and that’s why we’ve teamed up with the ELT Journal to set up a live debate on the issue. We’ve asked two leading thinkers on the application of AI to language learning to debate the issue – live and gloves off!

Why is the ELT Journal organising this debate?

The ELT Journal has been linking up research and practice in ELT for 78 years. It’s a quarterly publication, full of high quality (refereed) articles linking the everyday concerns of practitioners with insights gained from relevant academic disciplines such as applied linguistics, education, psychology, and sociology. It has led many of the debates and ideas in ELT over the decades, and its annual Debate at the IATEFL Annual Conference is always insightful and enjoyable. For more information about ELT Journal, visit their site.

Who are the debate speakers?

Speaking in favour of the motion will be Jo Szoke. Jo is a freelance teacher trainer, learning designer, and lecturer in ELT methodology at Karoli Gaspar University in Hungary. She also trains
university staff in digital and AI competences. Her main interests include artificial intelligence in education, all forms of online teaching and learning, and assessment and feedback.
Opposing the motion is Laura Patsko. Laura is a learning experience designer with a background in English teaching, teacher training and ELT research. She specialises in applying insights from research to real teaching and learning practices. She is particularly interested in inclusive practice, teacher development, pronunciation and English as a lingua franca.
Refereeing the debate will be Dr Alessia Cogo, the Editor-in-Chief for the ELT Journal. Alessia is a senior lecturer in applied linguistics/sociolinguistics at Goldsmiths and is director of the MA in Multilingualism, Linguistics and Education. Her research concerns the diversity of English, especially transcultural and transnational phenomena like English as a Lingua Franca and translanguaging.

How Can I Watch?

The debate will take place at the IATEFL international conference at Brighton, UK, on April 18th, 13.50-15.05 If you are at the conference, please do join us for this fierce battle. One of the great appeals of the debate is wide range of expertise and experience that is shared by people in the audience when the debate opens up to the floor.
If you can’t make it to the conference, we will be recording the debate and sharing the highlights later on Youtube.


  1. A very important and pressing debate, one that should include questioning current databases AI uses to impart knowledge about English grammar and phonetics (etc.), which are largely inaccurate to begin with. English grammar is falsely portrayed based on irrelevant Latin-based analyses, despite more accurate linguistics findings.

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