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AI as a Tool for Emulating Language Immersion

AI as a Tool for Emulating Language Immersion


It’s a commonly accepted fact that language immersion is the most optimal way one can learn a new language. The constant exposure to the grammar and vocabulary of the language forces one to practice comprehension on a daily basis. And when propelled to interact every day to a community of native speakers, students are able to internalize the language more — that is, they learn to think in the language, not to think in English and translate on the spot.

Of course, there is one major drawback of language immersion: it is extremely difficult to accomplish practically. Often language immersion requires students to spend extended periods of time in different communities or other countries, which can be quite time consuming and costly. A couple solutions have been formulated to promote the accessibility of language immersion. Teaching in a foreign language and treating a class as an immersive environment has worked for many classrooms, yet this suffers from a similar accessibility issue, since it requires one to be a registered student in a particular class. The other is engaging in online forums or watching immersion videos on platforms such as Youtube. Though these methods are available to anyone with an internet connection, they are often less flexible: forums are typically limited to a certain subject and videos have little sense of interactiveness. Recently, however, a new solution has arisen — one that incorporates both customization and interactive dialogue: AI chatbots.


Generative AI chatbots like ChatGPT are perfect for immersion. Since these AI tools learn from a vast bulk of reliable information (on most, if not all, commonly spoken languages), they will be able to provide high-quality conversations on any topic desired. The key lies in the way users prompt the AI to initiate conversations. A prompt tool can be found here. This tool streamlines the process of generating new scenarios; all users need to do is fill out certain fields of information and the chatbot will automatically start a conversation. Note that the tool’s interface covers many characters but not all. This means that although languages like English, French, Latin, and Spanish (which use the Roman alphabet) work, languages like Chinese may not. ChatGPT, however, has an interface that works for most if not all scripts. As a result, it’s advised to migrate the prompt from LowtechAI to ChatGPT if possible (just click “Show Prompt” and replace the placeholder words in double curly brackets). A sample input and output of the prompt is provided below. The input and output are the ones given to and received from ChatGPT:

INPUT: Begin a conversation in Spanish as if I were in a library. Treat me as if i am a beginner.

OUTPUT: ¡Hola! Bienvenido a la biblioteca. ¿En qué puedo ayudarte hoy?

¿Estás buscando algún libro en particular o necesitas información sobre algún tema en específico? Estoy aquí para ayudarte a encontrar lo que necesites.

Though specific conversation scenarios are provided in the example, and recommended in the prompt outline’s current form, this is not necessary. For instance, if learners wish to challenge themselves with random scenarios, they can edit the prompt to specify a random scenario. Alternatively, they can create a follow-up prompt that asks the chatbot to randomize the scenario (when writing prompts from scratch, it is best to start with action verbs like “generate” or “begin”). The point is that generative AI chatbots are incredibly flexible; their large dataset has allowed them to adapt to almost any question. So no matter what condition users wish to apply to their immersive experiences, these tools will most likely be able to meet the demands.

Additionally, students can emphasize certain topics they struggle with in order to improve their well-roundedness in the language. An example prompt and output are given below to illustrate this:

INPUT: Begin a conversation in Spanish as if I were in a library. Treat me as if i am a beginner. Emphasize the subjunctive.

OUTPUT: ¡Hola! Bienvenido a la biblioteca. Espero que encuentres lo que busques. ¿Necesitas ayuda con algo en particular?

Si estuvieras buscando un libro, te recomendaría que preguntaras al personal de la biblioteca. Ellos pueden ayudarte a encontrarlo. Es importante que hables con ellos para que te den la información correcta.

Si quisieras leer algo en específico, podrías pedir recomendaciones o sugerencias. Sería genial que leyeras diferentes géneros y autores para que tengas una experiencia de lectura más variada.

Espero que disfrutes de tu tiempo en la biblioteca y que encuentres libros interesantes. ¡No dudes en preguntar si necesitas algo más!

Here, ChatGPT was careful to utilize subjunctive phrases in its response as per the user’s request. For instance, the phrases "te recomendaría" (I would recommend), "pidieras" (you could ask), and "tengas" (you have) are all subjunctive forms. The same logic can be applied to different styles of speaking. Here’s another example of a conversation starter, but this time it emphasizes a colloquial style of speaking:

INPUT: Begin a conversation in Spanish as if I were in a library. Treat me as if i am a beginner. Use colloquial grammar and syntax.

OUTPUT: ¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás? Bienvenido a la biblioteca, ¡qué chévere verte aquí! Si necesitas ayuda, ¡estoy a la orden! Puedo ayudarte a encontrar libros geniales para leer.

Oye, ¿buscas algún libro en particular o estás abierto a cualquier cosa? Tenemos una variedad increíble, desde novelas emocionantes hasta libros de aventuras y misterio. Si no sabes qué leer, no te preocupes, ¡te doy una mano! Te puedo recomendar los libros más populares y los que la gente ha disfrutado mucho.

¡Ah! Y si te gusta leer en otros idiomas, también tenemos algunos libros en inglés y otros idiomas interesantes. Así puedes practicar y expandir tus horizontes.

Así que, ¿qué te parece? ¿Te animas a sumergirte en el maravilloso mundo de los libros? ¡Estoy seguro de que encontrarás algo que te encante! Si tienes alguna pregunta o necesitas ayuda, no dudes en preguntar. ¡Estoy aquí para ayudarte!

Again, the chatbot catered its reply to “us[ing] colloquial grammar and syntax” as mentioned in the prompt. Specifically, the following phrases are typically used in a colloquial, less-formal setting:  "¡Qué chévere verte aquí!" ("chévere" is a colloquial term used to express excitement or enthusiasm),  "¡Estoy a la orden!",  "¡Te doy una mano!" ("Dar una mano" is an idiomatic expression used colloquially to mean "to help" or "to lend a hand"),  "Oye, ¿buscas algún libro en particular o estás abierto a cualquier cosa?" ("Oye" is an informal way of saying "hey," and the word order "estás abierto a cualquier cosa" is a common colloquial structure).

There are many more ways to customize a language immersion experience through AI. For instance, students need not limit themselves to AI-initiated conversations; here is a version of the tool that can be used if the learner wishes to begin the conversation. Since the input and output look practically identical to the first prompt tool, an example is not provided. However, feel free to investigate and adjust the prompt to your liking.


Besides learning the language, one prime benefit of immersion is the opportunities it provides for cultural exploration. Being able to constantly engage with an authentic environment is arguably the best way to absorb aspects of the culture that can be incorporated in dialogue. As with the language-learning aspect, machine learning chatbots can help with cultural learning as well (see the prompt tool here). Moreover, here is an example of the prompt in action:

INPUT: Explain Chinese New Year in Chinese.

OUTPUT: 中国新年,也被称为春节,是中国最重要的传统节日之一。它在农历的正月初一庆祝,通常在公历的1月底或2月初。中国新年是一个欢庆的时刻,人们会与家人团聚,共享美食,参加各种传统庆祝活动。





One advantage of using an easily-customizable tool like ChatGPT is that users can continuously ask follow-up questions to broaden their knowledge, dig deeper into a certain aspect of the cultural topic, or just clear up confusion. Admittedly, using AI like this can be almost analogous to a streamlined method of reading a textbook or online articles. That said, it is nonetheless a great way of understanding some cultural subjects, whether it be through one’s native language or the foreign language in question.


AI is an invaluable tool that is effectively designed for uses like simulating language immersion. But as hinted at before, it is not a direct replacement for actual language immersion. Part of immersing oneself in a language is building connections with people of other societies and truly being forced to engage with the language and culture 24/7. And though we might never come across a chatbot that can emulate all of these elements, engineering clever prompts is an effective way to approximate that experience.

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