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In my spare time, I prep Italian teenagers for English language exams and recently I have been reading essays, articles, reviews, and informal emails that have been generated by ChatGPT. I let the private student know that I can tell the difference between an original piece of writing and one which was regurgitated by an AI and they soon stop copying-and-pasting.

Compositions by AI are usually easy to spot because the writing is fluid and absolutely free of grammatical or lexical errors, something highly unusual when English is the student's second or third language. Large language models (LLM) such as ChatGPT and Gemini use the same fixed phrases time and time again; it rarely produces anything which is genuinely funny, creative or even thoughtful.

The following sentence is from an essay by a 16-year-old Italian speaker.

"Meanwhile, individual sports focus on specific skills leading to target improvement and athletic performance”

At first glance, the sentence looked perfectly fine until I questioned whether people actually said, “target improvement" in connection with sport.

Would a typical 16-year-old English speaker know this jargon and would they use it in speech or writing?

In my opinion, the phrase has an American feel to it but maybe Brits and Australians are also familiar with its use and meaning. I don't know as this is the first time I have come across it.

Main Question
What would be a more natural and more common way of saying “target improvement” in the sentence above?

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    No, a typical 16-year-old would not write that. I think what could be said here is: effective goal setting appliedsportpsych.org/resources/resources-for-athletes/… You set yourself goals that when achieved improve your performance. That kid is definitely using AI and not writing it him/herself.
    – Lambie
    Apr 13 at 16:37
  • I do not get the people here. I thought your question was fine. These vote-to-close folks are very quick on the trigger, sometimes fast, certain and wrong...
    – Lambie
    Apr 13 at 19:52
  • @Lambie In this case I agree, so I've voted to keep it open. It's not a matter of opinion, but asking if any native English speaker would use the phrase in that context, and I'd say no. May 3 at 1:53
  • @PeterJennings Right, no they would not, which is why I provided a different term for this context.
    – Lambie
    May 4 at 14:20

2 Answers 2

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If it were "targeted improvement" I wouldn't have blinked at all, but I find "target improvement" very jarring.

To me, "target improvement" is somehow trying to better a target, while "targeted improvement" is improving something very specific.

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  • targeted improvement of what? Anyway, it's all too sophisticated for a 16-year-old leaning English...
    – Lambie
    Apr 13 at 22:40
  • In this case I would say "targeted improvement" would apply to "skills", since the sport isn't name neither are the specific skills. Apr 13 at 22:51
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Goal Setting

Performance is what sports is all about. To improve performance, the athlete sets goals. You set yourself goals that when achieved improve your performance [sorry for the repetition]:

First hit:

Eva V. Monsma, Ph.D. University of South Carolina

  1. Make goals specific, observable and in measurable terms – Setting general goals such as improving your shooting percentage in basketball is easy but it becomes hard to determine how to go about doing this without specific criteria or directives. Specifying how and when to do things can help to this end.

goal setting

Another one: Goal Setting in Sport and Performance

technical article

goal setting in sports This is Google page that shows the relevance of goal setting

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