Dear TIRF Colleagues and Friends:

I had the pleasure of being invited to give a keynote speech on September 15th at the 2023 TOEFL Annual Conference in Beijing, China, in my role as TIRF President. In my talk, which was entitled “How Will AI Transform ELT?”, I used video clips and examples to illustrate the following six ways that AI has already played important roles in ELT:

  1. Personalized and adaptive learning: AI can analyze student data, identify individual learning needs, and provide customized learning paths and content. This allows for personalized instruction and adaptive learning experiences, catering to each student’s abilities and progress.
  2. Intelligent tutoring and feedback: AI-powered virtual tutors can engage students in interactive conversations, simulate real-life situations, and provide immediate feedback. With AI’s natural language processing capabilities, students can practice their English speaking and writing skills with a responsive and patient tutor, improving their fluency and accuracy.
  3. Enhanced accessibility and inclusivity: AI can make ELT more accessible to diverse learners, including those with special needs or limited resources. AI can provide text-to-speech and speech-to-text features, real-time translation, and assistive technologies that aid learners who require additional support.
  4. Language assessment and evaluation: AI can automate language assessment, providing objective and consistent evaluations of student performance. It can analyze written work, pronunciation, and comprehension to assess grammar, vocabulary, and fluency. This allows teachers to save time on grading, focus on providing targeted feedback, and gain insights into students’ progress.
  5. Intelligent content creation: AI can assist in creating and adapting English language learning materials. It can analyze existing resources, identify gaps or areas for improvement, and generate content tailored to learners’ needs. This can result in dynamically generated lessons, exercises, and quizzes that align with individualized learning plans.
  6. Language learning companions: AI-powered applications can act as virtual language learning companions, available anytime and anywhere. These companions can interact with learners through speech recognition and synthesis, engage in conversations, and help learners practice their language skills in real-world scenarios.
TIRF President Jun Liu Presents at 2023 TOEFL Annual Conference in Beijing

I pointed out that, overall, AI has the potential to revolutionize ELT by providing tailored and adaptive learning experiences, personalized feedback, enhanced accessibility, and innovative content creation. However, it is important to find the right balance between AI and human interaction to ensure a comprehensive and effective language learning experience. By combining technological advancements with human expertise, addressing biases, promoting authenticity, and adapting to individual learner needs, language learning, teaching, and assessment in the AI era can be enhanced to provide more effective, engaging, and inclusive language learning experiences.

I concluded my talk by pinpointing the challenges in evaluating a language learner’s proficiency in English as a lingua franca (ELF). It is crucial to consider the learner’s ability to effectively communicate with other non-native speakers of English in international settings. Therefore, assessing English as a lingua franca proficiency should focus on effective communication, intercultural competence, and adaptability in international settings where English is used as a common means of communication among non-native speakers.

I conclude my Chair’s Report by offering a thought-provoking question to TIRF supporters: If the majority of English speakers in the world use English as lingua franca, is it time for TOEFL® test designers to consider the change of its acronym and implication of TOEFL to TOELF?

Write to us to share your thoughts on this issue! We can be reached at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you!

Kind regards,

Jun Liu

TIRF President