Content creation is what AI excels at. That’s a gift to language learners and teachers, as it’s the easiest thing in the world to create a set of prompts to run off original, immersive worksheets.
AI isn’t great at everything, though, which is why our prompts need to tweak for its weaknesses – the things that are obvious gotchas to language folk, but need explaining to a general assistant like AI. Fortunately, in most cases, all you need is an extra line or two to put it right.
Here are five of my favourite prompt-enhancers for worksheets, covering everything from vocab to copyright!
Five Tweaks for Perfect Prompts
Cut Out the Cognates
Cognates are generally great for language learners. As words that are instantly recognisable, they’re extra vocab for free. But for that very reason, they’re not the ones that worksheets should be making a song and dance about. It’s not particularly useful, for example, to have “der Manager” picked out in your German glossary as a key word. Yes, I worked that one out!
Try this in your vocab list prompts, bearing in mind that not all platforms will work equally well with it (Gemini aced it – ChatGPT sometimes gets it):
Highlight the Good Stuff
You know what I mean by the good stuff – those structures and snippets of languages that are really frequent, and really reusable. I like to call them sentence frames – you can learn them, and switch in other words to add to your own linguistic repertoire.
You can ask AI to draw attention to any really pertinent ones in your target language texts:
Make It Colloquial
Vanilla AI can sound bookish and formal. That’s no good as a model for everyday speech, so polish your prompts with a wee push to the colloquial:
Include an Answer Key
It might seem obvious, but if you’re making materials for self-study, then you will find an answer sheet indispensable. It’s an often overlooked finishing touch that makes a worksheet truly self-contained:
Covering Your Back With Copyright
Copyright issues have been bubbling in the background for LLMs for some time now. They produce texts based on vast banks on training data, which isn’t original material, of course. But in theory, the texts that pop out of it should be completely original.
It can’t hurt to make that explicit, though. I like to add the following line to prompts, especially if I’m intending to share the material beyond personal use:
What are your favourite tweaks to make perfect prompts? Let us know in the comments!