With this week’s release of Gemini Advanced, Google’s latest, premium AI model, we have another platform for language learning content creation.
Google fanfares Gemini as the “most capable AI model” yet, releasing benchmark results that position it as a potential ChatGPT-4 beater. Significantly, Google claims that their new top model even outperforms humans at some language-based benchmarking.
So what do those improvements hold for language learners? I decided to put Gemini Advanced head-to-head with the leader to date, ChatGPT-4, to find out. I used the following prompt on both ChatGPT-4 and Gemini Advanced to create a topic prep style worksheet like those I use before lessons. A target language text, vocab support, and practice questions – perfect topic prep:
I then laid out the results, with minimal extra formatting, in PDF files (much as I’d use them for my own learning).
Here are the results.
ChatGPT-4, gives solid results, much as expected. I’d been using that platform for my own custom learning content for a while, and it’s both accurate dependable.
The introductory text referenced the real-world topic links very well, albeit a little dry in tone. The glossary was reasonable, although ChatGPT-4 had, as usual, problems leaving out “obvious cognates” as per the prompt instructions. It’s a problem I’ve noticed often, with other LLMs too – workarounds are often necessary to fix these biases.
Likewise, the gap-fill was not “in a different order”, as prompted (and again, exposing a weakness of most LLMs). The questions are in the same order as the glossary entries they refer to!
Looking past those issues – which we could easily correct manually, in any case – the questions were engaging and sensible. Let’s give ChatGPT-4 a solid B!
And onto the challenger! I must admit, I wasn’t expecting to see huge improvements here.
But instantly, I prefer the introductory text. It’s stylistically more interesting; it’s just got the fact that I wanted it to be “engaging”. It’s hard to judge reliably, but I also think it’s closer to a true CEFR A2 language level. Compare it with the encyclopaedia-style ChatGPT-4 version, and it’s more conversational, and certainly more idiomatic.
That attention to idiom is apparent in the glossary, too. There’s far less of that cognate problem here, making for a much more practical vocab list. We have some satisfyingly colloquial phrasal verbs that make me feel that I’m learning something new.
And here’s the clincher: Gemini Advanced aced the randomness test. While the question quality matched ChatGPT-4, the random delivery means the output is usable off the bat. I’m truly impressed by that.
After that storming performance by Gemini Advanced, you might expect my answer to be unqualified support for that platform. And, content-wise, I think it did win, hands down. The attention to the nuance of my prompt was something special, and the texts are just more interesting to work with. Big up for creativity.
That said, repeated testing of the prompt did throw up the occasional glitch. Sometimes, it would fail to output the answers, instead showing a cryptic “Answers will follow.” or similar, requiring further prompting. Once or twice, the service went down, too, perhaps a consequence of huge traffic during release week. They’re minor things for the most part, and I expect Google will be busy ironing them out over coming months.
Nonetheless, the signs are hugely promising, and it’s up to ChatGPT-4 now to come back with an even stronger next release. I’ll be playing around with Gemini Advanced a lot in the next few weeks – I really recommend that other language learners and teachers give it a look, too!
If you want to try Google’s Gemini Advanced, there’s a very welcome two-month free trial. Simply head to Gemini to find out more!