Kit Pribble headshot

Kit Pribble

Assistant Professor
Department of German & Russian

Courses: Russian language and literature.


What do you teach and how have you been thinking about artificial intelligence in the context of those courses?

I teach Russian language and literature. I am especially optimistic about the potential applications of AI in the foreign language classroom. My students and I have been experimenting with generative AI chatbots like ChatGPT and Claude AI in our Russian language classes, and the results have been encouraging! While many of these tools cannot yet be relied upon to always explain grammar accurately—especially for Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) like Russian—they offer exciting opportunities for conversation practice and gamification.

Interpersonal communication is a notoriously difficult competency to teach in traditional foreign language classes since limited contact hours often mean limited opportunities for one-on-one conversation. Generative AI promises to change that. Of course, there are still unanswered questions about the “authenticity” of speech produced by an AI. Is ChatGPT’s Russian “native” and/or “proficient” according to traditional measures? Can those measures even be applied to an LLM? Moreover, these tools tend to perform less well with LCTLs, including in key areas such as the ability to explain grammar and the ability to maintain speech at a particular proficiency level.

However, I remain optimistic about AI’s affordances as a conversation partner and language tutor and am excited to continue discovering these affordances alongside my students.


One of the greatest benefits of AI in the field of education is its ability to promote the development of self-directed learning skills. By training my students to use AI responsibly, ethically, and effectively as a tool for language acquisition, I am providing them with a significant resource for continued Russian study and practice after they leave Wake Forest. I now view “using AI as a conversation partner,” “writing effective AI prompts in the target language,” and “evaluating AI output in the target language” as major competencies that I want my students to develop. On a day-to-day level this means reimagining assessments to incorporate a greater degree of scaffolding and more focus on the “process”—which often involves at least one step with AI—than the “product.”


One of my major takeaways from the experiments my students and I have done with AI chatbots as conversation partners is that the technology acceptance model still very much applies. While these tools are fun and exciting, it can be tricky to get them to do what we want. Writing a good prompt takes time! Too many technical difficulties—especially with the voice-to-text features currently available on most free platforms—are an obstacle to use and can slow down rather than facilitate learning. I think it is important that we as instructors work to develop our own AI literacy and engage in meaningful collaboration and resource sharing with colleagues in order to design effective prompts and activities. We should also maintain an active dialogue with our students to find out how they are using AI on their own and what unique needs they have that AI might be positioned to address.

One of the most obvious ways that AI answers the unique needs of individual students is its ability to personalize learning. Some of my Russian classes include students with varying levels of experience and proficiency in the target language. These students have responded very positively to AI’s ability to regulate its speech to match their proficiency level and to rephrase overly complex responses using simpler grammar and vocabulary. This is not an exact science—again, many of these models still have issues identifying proficiency levels in Russian—but a simple request to “rephrase at a level appropriate for a ___-year Russian student” will usually do the trick. Moreover, in teaching students how to elicit AI output at a particular language level, we are providing them with a valuable skill for self-directed learning.

Lessons Learned

Don’t be afraid to experiment – and make sure to involve your students in the experimentation process. Talking openly in class about the potential affordances (and risks!) of AI in your field will help students reflect on their own learning process and goals. It will also support the development of self-regulated learning techniques they can take with them beyond your class. When it comes to language learning specifically, I think a lot of instructors are worried about the possibility that AI will replace traditional language instruction and/or render language study obsolete. I don’t believe that either of those things is going to happen. Instead, I see AI as a valuable supplement to classroom instruction, one that can target difficult-to-train competencies like interpersonal communication and provide students with greater agency over their own learning without diminishing the need for person-to-person engagement.

Disciplinary Insights

In order to become responsible consumers of AI tools, students need to know how to critically evaluate these tools’ textual output. Language and literature study are crucial for developing the skills of critical reading, communication, and textual analysis. By learning a foreign language or taking a literature course, students gain the ability to approach AI output with healthy skepticism and the ability to see places where that output falls short.