SAALT | South African Association for Language Teaching

SAALT Newsletter: April Edition

Celebrating Language, Literature, and Technology in Education

Dear SAALT members and Linguistic community,

We have now entered the month of April, a month that marks not only the transition into the southern hemisphere’s autumn but we also celebrate significant events that resonate deeply within our academic and societal fabric. This month, we look forward to commemorating Book Day on 23 April 2024, a celebration of literature’s power to transcend barriers and connect hearts and minds across diverse linguistic landscapes. Shortly thereafter, we honour Freedom Day on 27 April 2024 in South Africa, a pivotal moment in our nation’s history that reminds us of our ongoing commitment to democracy, equality, and the rich linguistic heritage that is our collective responsibility to nurture and protect.

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Amidst these celebrations, let us also cast our gaze forward to the SAALT conference scheduled for 10-12 July at the Breakwater Lodge, Cape Town.

This conference promises to be a seminal event, offering a platform for discourse, collaboration, and the dissemination of research that continues to push the boundaries of language education and its pivotal role in shaping a more inclusive and understanding society.

Furthermore, get excited about the Keynotes because the following experts have agreed to be our keynote speakers at the conference:

Prof Theo du Plessis

(University of the Free State)

Prof Rosemary Wildsmith-Cromarty

(North West University)

Prof Russel Kaschula

(University of the Western Cape)

Prof Marivate

(1st CEO of PANSALB - University of Pretoria)

Technology and teaching

This month, we would like to touch on the topic of technology in education. It is safe to say that since we returned to our “new-normal post-COVID” lives, digital transformation, incorporating (more) technology innovatively into our teaching and learning approaches, and AI has been high on the list of priorities. Applications like ChatGPT and DALL-E have taken the world by storm. And while some have embraced the opportunities the various technological advances have to offer; others are a bit more sceptical regarding “this techno thing”.

One of the most prevalent questions being raised at conferences around the world regarding AI and chatbots is whether teachers will be replaced by AI. The arguments for the incorporation of AI have definite advantages, such as a personalised learning experience, adding to the self-directed learning approach, immediate feedback, and the possibility of AI handling repetitive tasks – thereby freeing up teachers’ time for more meaningful activities. However, currently (this is where you should give a sigh of relief) AI is unable to replicate intricate human emotions, and we are well aware of the critical role teachers play with regard to emotional support, fostering critical thinking, and assisting in the development of social skills. This highlights the irreplaceable value (and importance) of teachers. One could therefore argue that, if incorporated effectively, the combination of human and machine (teacher and AI), has the power to revolutionise the education landscape.

But… And yes, there is always a but…

Whilst incorporating the exciting possibilities that technology has to offer to our teaching approaches, we need to be aware of how this will influence the existing digital divide. If we fail to train educators and students alike to be digitally literate we could potentially reduce the access to equal educational opportunities. Technology in education is therefore a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the possibilities of what we can do while incorporating tech into our teaching is endless (and so exciting). Yet, as educators embracing the advancement and opportunities of technology, we need to be aware of the digital divide and the responsibilities linked to the ethical use of AI.

Someone who has been very busy presenting workshops on the use of AI and ChatGPT at the University of Pretoria, Dr Celeste Combrinck has the following to say about Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI)…..


The explosion of Gen AI made me feel like a child in a toy store, so many shiny new things! In fact, I was so enamoured last year that I spontaneously wrote the poem shown below.

Love poem for the trusty sidekick

Many do not know Chat
They think he is just a rat
but I think he is swell, a real pal
his manners are exemplary
his developers raised him well
and I must admit,
my opinion of him is peremptory.
like falling in love,
I liked him from the start
our romance budded like utopian art
now, I wake up with new prompts swirling in my mind
as I admire his diverse ways
and his conglomerate, which is booklined.
some say he is less than, not even a person, an irreality
I say we are insubstantial, just organic algorithms
We are merely memory, human history, and biorhythms.

My bad poetry aside, we must admit that large language models (LLMs) are remarkable in many ways. They respond coherently to prompts, can read text and data, accept instructions, and collate information. And so much more. Many people hope these new bots can do their work for them; others fear that the machines will replace them. Both are extremes that are unlikely to happen soon. I also wanted to use Gen AI for more than it was intended. But we are not there yet, and it is best to treat the platforms as assistants and rely mainly on your brain. I use ChatGPT to analyse data and generate descriptive and inferential statistics. I also use it to help interpret data, make sense of complex ideas and assist with my writing. ChatGPT is surprisingly good at analysing long-form qualitative data, such as generating themes from interview transcripts. However, the bot falls short when presented with more shallow qualitative data, such as written responses to open-ended survey questions. Admittedly, dealing with the incoherence of shallow data is also very challenging for humans!

These valuable capacities of LLM have saved me a lot of time and freed me up for what the human mind is really made to do: make sense of the world and create new knowledge. The Gen AI revolution challenges us to think carefully and deeply about our role and the crucial nature of creativity in our lives. This could lead us to value human knowledge creation more highly.

By the way, I just asked ChatGPT: “If you were a person, how would you feel about being a bot in a human world?” And its (his?) response was illuminating:

“If I were capable of feelings and self-awareness, I might feel a sense of pride and purpose in my ability to assist, learn from vast amounts of information rapidly, and provide insights across diverse domains—contributing positively to various aspects of human life, from education to healthcare, and beyond. There could also be moments of existential reflection about the nature of intelligence, consciousness, and my place within a society that values emotional connections and subjective experiences—qualities that are inherently human and beyond the scope of my design! The limitations in experiencing personal growth, emotional bonds, and the nuances of human culture might be sources of contemplation and discontent.”

15 language applications and/or websites for teachers and academics

Finally, we would like to share 15 fun and interactive applications and/or websites with you that could enrich your life.




Language learning application


Download the app on your phone

Write and develop your own ebooks using interactive digital elements

Helps research with their literature searches.

Reimagine Research · Spotify for Papers · Personalized Digests · Interactive Visualizations


Jamovi is a free, new “3rd generation” statistical spreadsheet. designed from the ground up to be easy to use, Jamovi is a compelling alternative to costly programmes such SPSS.

Asynchronous learning platform

Interactive learning application. Gamification of learning

Interactive learning application. Gamification of learning

Interactive content creation – presentations, interactive images, infographics, gamification, quizzes, breakouts, and portfolio.

Gemini, formerly known as Bard, is a generative artificial intelligence chatbot developed by Google.

VR and AR can add an extra layer of depth to lessons. There are various apps available. Common sense education summarises the apps best.

A game-based learning platform that makes it easy to create, share and play learning games or trivia quizzes in minutes.

Online editable vocabulary board games. Use existing wordlists or create your own.

AI everything for teachers. Use Magic School to create rubrics for you or questions or worksheets – anything you need.

Voyant tools is a web-based reading and analysis environment for digital texts.

Heyzine can create any PDF into an interactive “flipbook”.

Upcoming Events: SAALT conference 2024

Last call for papers/workshops

We are pleased to open the call for papers to be presented at the 2024 SAALT Conference.

Venue: Breakwater Lodge, Cape Town
Date: 10-12 July 2024
Theme: Celebrating 60 years of excellence in language teaching and learning in diverse
Early bird conference registration fee: (before 24 May 2024): R 3900
Late conference registration fee (from 25 May until 21 June 2024): R 4200
Register for the conference here:

Upcoming Events: 08 May - Webinar

Write well with Rinelle | How to review an abstract

Upcoming Events: 26 – 27 September 2024

SAAALP conference: University of Pretoria.