English Language Learners, Beware!
Over the last couple of weeks, I learned that some First Draft users are not writers, but English Language Learners instead. And through a few tech support calls this month, I discovered that they're using the software to learn English in both written and verbal form. I am, of course, honored to be trusted with such a purpose, but it admittedly makes me nervous. And it's why I'm publishing a cautionary message for anyone who wants to continue or start using the software for the same reason.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Plain and Simple, First Draft is Not Perfect
I have spent a countless number of hours developing First Draft, which is why it's able to generate legible text. But mistakes do occur, and though I'm pretty damn quick at resolving them, I'm not confident that an English Language Learner would recognize a mistake in the software's output and know how to correct it. So it worries me that First Draft could be responsible for a mispronunciation or misinterpretation of something that it generated.
That's because First Draft was never designed for English Language Learners. It was always meant for writers whose first or only language is English -- mostly because native English writers will already know how to quickly remedy a mistake that pops up. That's something that an English Language Learner may not be able to do with the same fluency or at all.
Native English writers also understand how, when, and why to work with a specific writing prompt. First Draft can do a lot of stuff. But its main purpose was (and still is) to get rid of writer's block. One of the ways it does that is with writer's prompts. Properly responding to those prompts requires a knowledge and practice with the language that I fear English Language Learners will miss.
So should you want to go ahead and use First Draft to strengthen your English anyway, I strongly recommend that you do it with someone who's an English expert. That person is much more likely to recognize a blooper in the software and point it out so that you don't repeat it in your own writing or speech.
I do want to stress, however, that I really am honored that First Draft could play such a role. I've never heard of anyone using a content generator to learn a language before! So that says a lot about First Draft's quality. And it says a lot about your trust in that quality.
I also want to state that from here on out, I will keep both English Language Learners (ELL) and English as a Second Language (ESL) writers in mind throughout the software's future development. Just remember to take the advice above...
Download it here. And enjoy!