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AI Tools for the Four Skills in English Language Learning

by Matthew Sussmann |

It seems like everyone is talking about artificial intelligence (AI) these days. What are the inventors of AI talking about, meanwhile? Education. Prominent leaders in the AI industry, such as ChatGPT cofounder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, are eager to demonstrate how AI can positively impact learning, as highlighted in his 2023 TedX talk.

As English teachers, how do we make sense of this revolution in technology? How will AI affect the process of teaching and learning English?

I began my career as an English language teacher almost 30 years ago, at a time when the internet was just emerging in the mid-90s. My teaching journey in Japan paved the way for a variety of roles in education, including arranging international internships, coordinating study abroad programs, and administering scholarships and research grants.

The internet's evolution has brought us online video calls, podcasts, social media, YouTube, and Netflix. While not initially designed for educational purposes, these online tools have become immensely popular and beneficial tools for multilingual learners of English.

Now, with the advent of AI tools, we stand at the starting line of another transformative era in English language teaching (ELT). These new tools have the potential to speed up the learning process significantly.

AI Tools Are Just Beginning to Flourish

AI tools offer two distinct advantages over current online tools and traditional materials. First, AI is interactive, allowing for a two-way learning process that promotes independent thinking. For instance, while learners typically passively consume content such as podcasts and online videos, AI tools require active participation, whether through writing or speaking, thereby demanding greater mental focus. I have witnessed numerous instances where both teachers and learners have been thrilled by the responsive nature of AI.

Second, interaction with AI can provide instant and detailed feedback for rapid improvement. For example, let’s consider a learner who wants to improve her speaking skills. She has to wait in the real world for occasions to meet English speakers and have similar repeated conversations to receive feedback on her accuracy and comprehensibility. On the other hand, using AI tools for language learning, she could repeat the same practice conversation and receive feedback an unlimited number of times.

This is an exciting time for teachers, too. They have the chance to shape how this technology will be used and integrated into classrooms. Another advantage of AI for teachers is that they will have access to much more data to track and guide student progress. In the past, when you assigned a reading assignment, you could not be sure if your students had actually read it. With the AI tools available today, you have the option to access insights, including: when your students choose to read the assignment (perhaps right before class?), how long they spend reading it, how many times they read it, and what words they look up. These insights can then be applied to guide your lesson planning and teaching.

Teacher Input Is Still Key

Although AI tools bring many advantages for ELT, the integration process is critical to ensuring they are used effectively in English language classrooms. In other words, simply providing the tools to students will not be sufficient. I am convinced that teachers lead the way, and the AI tool is a supplement. It’s important to choose the correct tool for your course goals, test it thoroughly, give students targeted instructions, and model how to use the tool successfully to support their learning.

Another key issue for implementing new AI tools effectively is making sure students can easily access and get support, especially if they have low digital literacy skills. When introducing an AI tool or app, I recommend showing students in class how to make a new account using their email and creating a password. Encouraging students to use their school-provided emails can also facilitate the smooth adoption of new tools. Additionally, if feasible, providing instructions for downloading the app onto their personal devices and showing students how to access lessons with a simple tap on the icon can reduce frustration and simplify use.

Which AI Tools Work Best for English Language Teaching?

As an ELT professional, now is the perfect time to experiment with AI tools. Imagine witnessing more of your students overcome hurdles because you found the right tool for them. New apps can support student learning in each of the traditional four skills. Here are a few tools worth trying:


Speechify can “read to you.” It allows adjustments to listening speed and includes the option to choose from various voices, such as celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Snoop Dogg. provides AI-powered transcription services, allowing teachers to create transcriptions of audio content for enhanced listening practice. For example, teachers can choose segments from a podcast for current news or a conversation that students can read for greater comprehension. Teachers could also omit some words from the transcript as “blanks” and challenge students to try to fill in the words by listening.


Readlang assists learners in reading foreign language texts by providing instant word translations and AI-generated, contextual vocabulary definitions.


FLOW Speak* empowers learners in building confidence and fluency through unlimited speaking practice with AI-powered feedback on pronunciation, speed, fluency, and grammar. Speaking is often the area that students most want to improve, but classroom time is limited. Now students can practice as much as they like. Teachers can access an insightful admin dashboard to track data for their students' response scoring, time spent on lessons, and number of attempts.


Grammarly, ProWritingAid, Slick Write, QuillBot, and AI Email Writer are practical tools for refining writing skills. One way of using these tools is to assign students the task of drafting sample email replies to sample messages. This approach allows students to quickly understand the practical application of the tools in their lives. Consequently, when faced with an actual email to respond to, they will feel less intimidated.

In short, we are at the beginning of an exciting era for AI tools in ELT. EdTech companies are eager for feedback and ideas from teachers to improve their products, so do not be surprised when they go the extra mile to support you. By becoming early adopters and embracing these tools now, teachers can stay ahead of the curve, and students will reap the benefits.

*The author is one of the creators of FLOW Speak.


About the author

Matthew Sussmann

Matthew Sussman is the CEO and cofounder of New Voice Learning, based in San Diego, CA. The company has built FLOW Speak, which uses AI voice technology to empower learners to speak English confidently for career success. Prior to this, he was the executive director for Fulbright Japan. Matt enjoys making banana waffles and surfing with his three kids on the weekends.

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