7 Creating Graded Texts for Language Learning and Assessment with ChatGPT

April Peters

A messy library where there are stacks of paper on the desks and floor. A steampunk robot is writing an essay with a pen.

Image created with NightCafe image generator using Stable Diffusion v1.5.

Prompt: “a messy library where there are stacks of paper on the desks and floor. a steampunk robot is writing an essay with a pen”; “detailed matte painting, deep color, fantastical, intricate detail, splash screen, complementary colors, fantasy concept art, 8k resolution trending on Artstation Unreal Engine 5”


In language teaching, a common challenge is finding the right reading or listening text to use. Searching through existing resources is time-consuming and materials quickly become dated, especially those aimed at adults. As a result, teachers often end up using texts that don’t quite match the interests and backgrounds of their students, including cultural references and sensitivities.

Texts might also not be a good fit for learners who are less proficient due to their challenging vocabulary and grammar. It can be a challenge to locate interesting, appropriate content for teenage and adult learners who read at Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Stage 1. Learner engagement suffers when texts are inappropriately juvenile.

ChatGPT is capable of producing texts that are easy to understand, making it particularly suitable for students with varying levels of proficiency. Additionally, it can efficiently generate content on demand, saving educators valuable time that can be redirected towards effective teaching strategies and student engagement.

Generating texts using target vocabulary, grammar of appropriate complexity, contemporary topics, and relevant context can help learners encounter useful, relatable language that has a clear connection to their lives. For example, ChatGPT is already primed to discuss TikTok in the same contexts and grammar that English speakers use every day, modelling realistic language for learners who want to discuss TikToks they have seen or created.

With the ease of generating appropriate texts, a range of activities become faster and more straightforward to design and deliver. Compare and contrast activities can be set up quickly to get learners skimming for details that differentiate two different narratives, or reading passages with identical meaning but different tone and formality in order to notice subtextual cues.

Having easy access to an abundance of text resources can also significantly enhance the assessment process. Teachers can create multiple versions of tests by generating similar but distinct texts, which can improve the security and integrity of exams. Multiple versions – or even totally unique versions – can be used across a timetable or within a classroom to prevent students from sharing answers. With care, the security and integrity of assessments can be greatly improved.

Critical Media Literacy (Curriculum Connection)

Teachers must carefully evaluate if generated texts truly fit the requirements of the task and, if they are being used for assessment purposes, whether alternate versions of a text are similar enough to be fair. Fortunately, AI tools do not take it personally when inadequate texts are rejected. Even after engineering a prompt carefully, it is advisable to create more texts than you need in order to select the best for use in the classroom.

Teachers must also be aware that ChatGPT may present information that is biased, based on stereotypes, or factually incorrect. Either at the prompt stage or the winnowing stage, the teacher must ensure that their broader ethical responsibilities are being met by editing or culling texts that are inaccurate or discriminatory.

Affordances and Constraints


  • ChatGPT 3.5 is free to use. For the process shown in this chapter, many similar tools may be used to generate texts.
  • ChatGPT is very fast and there are no limitations on regenerating a response to get different results.
  • Widely recognized language standards can be used in prompts, making it easier to grade vocabulary and grammar appropriately.


  • The more information you have about the needs of your learners, the more specific you can tailor your output. Without a needs analysis to direct prompt engineering, results will not be appreciably better than pulling a reading from any published textbook.
  • While ChatGPT appears to be well informed about language standards, you must still be able to critically assess whether a text is appropriate in level. In my experience, a reading prompted as IELTS 3.0 still used vocabulary and structures beyond that level until the prompt was refined to specify appropriate tenses.

The Process

Step 1: Decide on an appropriate length.

Please give me a 200 word story…

Texts shorter than 200 words do not vary much when you generate alternate versions. If you are generating a long text (more than 500 words), you may get more structured results generating one paragraph at a time.


Step 2: Be very specific about the desired topic.

… about a teenager’s after school routine…

Without being more specific, ChatGPT will supply a common English name. If I want to adjust the main character of the story to make them more relatable or bring forward more relevant vocabulary, I can specify a name, gender, nationality, etc. and ChatGPT will weave it into the narrative. Be aware that stereotypes crop up in relation to this step.

Step 3: Include prompts about desired language outcomes.

… in present tense.  Please include the words TikTok, Youtube, and phone.

Because my learners have limited proficiency in English, and are not very familiar with complex tenses, I have specified that the text must be in present tense only. If we had recently studied simple past for the first time, I could specify a mix of both.

I know my learners want to be able to communicate about TikTok, Youtube, and using their phones, so I have included them as vocabulary for this text.

Step 4: Specify vocabulary constraints.

The story should be easy to read at Canadian Language Benchmark stage 1. Use high frequency words. Please do not use idioms, metaphors, or similes. 

ChatGPT demonstrates decent awareness of Canadian Language Benchmarks, so I have specified that this text should be easy to ready with CLB stage 1 proficiency (beginner). This tends to limit the vocabulary to high-frequency words with common collocations. Just to be on the safe side, I’ve reiterated to use high frequency words.

Finally, I have requested a lack of idioms, metaphors, and similes, as ChatGPT sometimes uses obscure figures of speech that have simple vocabulary and grammar, but complex contextual meaning.


Step 5: Generate your text and evaluate.

Every day, when school ends, Mia has a routine. First, she goes home. She puts her backpack down and gets her phone. She uses her phone to watch videos on YouTube, which help her with her homework.

After YouTube, she takes a break. Mia watches funny videos on TikTok. She enjoys laughing at the short clips.

Then, it’s time for homework. With some snacks nearby, Mia works on her homework. She wants to finish it before dinner. After homework, she talks to her friends on the phone. They share TikToks and chat about their day.

Dinner is when Mia and her family eat together. They talk and enjoy their meal.

After dinner, Mia goes back to her phone. She watches YouTube to learn new things. When it’s almost bedtime, she puts her phone away. Mia picks up a book to read. She gets ready for sleep, knowing that tomorrow will be another school day.

I’m relatively happy with my output, but I don’t like the structure of the line about dinner and will rephrase. I also caught a stray clause in future tense and will remove it.

Step 6: If desired, generate alternate texts using the same or similar prompt.

When school ends, Jake follows his daily routine. First, he walks home. Then, he drops his backpack and grabs his phone. Jake opens Snapchat on his phone to chat with friends and check their photos.

After chatting with friends, Jake listens to his favorite songs on Spotify. The music helps him relax while he enjoys a snack.

With a snack nearby, Jake starts his homework. He wants to finish it before dinner. After homework, he calls his friends using his phone. They talk about their day and make plans.

Dinner is a special family time for Jake. They sit together, eat, and talk about what happened during their day. It’s a moment to share and connect.

Once dinner is over, Jake goes back to his phone. He listens to more music on Spotify. As bedtime gets closer, he puts his phone away and picks up a book to read. Jake knows that a good night’s sleep prepares him for another school day.

For an alternate text, I used the same prompt but substituted Spotify and SnapChat for TikTok and Youtube.

Prompt Engineering

Take into consideration the following while refining prompts for generating graded texts:

  • As in the example above, changing a few target vocabulary words brings in a new range of collocations. If your learners have a limited range of vocabulary, pay close attention when generating alternate versions of readings to ensure they remain fair.
  • Consider raising the word count and manually cutting out paragraphs that don’t fit your needs.
  • If the level doesn’t look appropriate to your learners, try specifying a reading level by grade rather than CLB level.
  • If your learners have goals related to a specific language benchmark or test, consider adding a prompt to mimic the style of the test. For example, the prompt above gets a significantly different output when you add “Write in the style of an IELTS exam”.

After school, a teenager named Max has a set routine. First, he walks home. Then, he places his school bag down and grabs his phone. Max uses Snapchat on his phone to chat with friends and view their photos.

Following his chats, Max listens to his preferred songs on Spotify. The music helps him unwind while he enjoys a snack.

With a snack within reach, Max starts his homework. He intends to complete it before dinner. After finishing his homework, he phones his friends. They discuss their day and make plans.

Dinner is a special time for Max and his family. They gather around the table, dine, and converse about their day. It’s a moment to bond and share.

Once dinner concludes, Max returns to his phone. He continues to enjoy music on Spotify. As bedtime nears, he stores his phone and retrieves a book to read. Max understands that a good night’s sleep readies him for another school day ahead.


  • As a second opinion on the level of your graded reading, you can paste your text into Hemingway Editor and get an analysis of the level, as well as checking for common writing pitfalls.

A screencapture of a text in Hemingway Editor. It has been analyzed at a grade 4 reading level.

  • If you need to generate questions to encourage learners to explore the text in more depth, ChatGPT can assist you again. For example, I used the prompt “Please generate five fill in the blank questions and three discussion questions based on the following text. The questions should be easy to understand for Canadian Language Benchmark Stage 1”. Again, you may want to generate more than you need, then cut the questions that don’t really suit your learners.

Fill in the blank questions:

  1. After school, Max’s routine includes using ________ to chat with friends and view their photos.
  2. Max unwinds by listening to his favorite songs on ________.
  3. Max starts his homework with a ________ nearby.
  4. In the evening, Max calls his friends to ________ about their day.
  5. Max understands that a good night’s sleep prepares him for another ________ ahead.

Discussion questions:

  1. Why do you think Max enjoys chatting with his friends on Snapchat after school? How does it make him feel?
  2. How does Max use music from Spotify to relax? Do you have a favorite type of music that helps you unwind?
  3. Why do you think family dinner is important to Max and his family? What do you like to talk about with your family during meals?


Informative presentation

Learn more about how to use ChatGPT to create graded texts for language learning and assessment by clicking the image above.


Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks. (2012). Citizenship and Immigration Canada. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/ircc/migration/ircc/english/pdf/pub/language-benchmarks.pdf

OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com/chat

Acknowledgement of AI Use

ChatGPT and Hemingway Editor were used to create the example text and images used in this chapter. In addition, ChatGPT was used to create the first draft of the introduction from bullet points. The instructional video was generated by Lumen5, a generative presentation authoring tool, based on this chapter.


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AI-Enhanced Instructional Design Copyright © 2023 by April Peters is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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