Many of us have someone special living in our homes.
Not exactly family, but…
We ask her questions and give her basic commands, so she certainly seems real, doesn’t she?
You know who I mean.
Maybe she lives at your house, too.
That’s right. I’m talking about always-present, ever-ready, through-thick-and-thin Alexa.
“Alexa, turn on the kitchen light.”
“Alexa, play some slow jazz.”
“Alexa, order pizza. With a side of garlic knots, please.”
She’s a live-in genius who follows orders without hesitation.
Perfect for ordering take-out. Turning on the lights. Giving your life some background music. After all, that’s the extent of her abilities, right?
If you think that’s all your resident companion can do, think again!
If you’re not saying, “Alexa, teach languages,” you’re not giving Alexa the credit she deserves.
Let’s see what this little digital polyglot can really do!
What Is Alexa?
This technological magic called “Alexa” is Amazon’s cloud-based virtual assistant. Her name is evocative of the library of Alexandria where at one time all knowledge was thought to be held.
Alexa is a voice-controlled know-it-all that’s connected to something called AVS, short for “Alexa Voice Service.” The AVS is available to be integrated for use with Amazon products like the Echo or Dot. They’re all speaker devices that accommodate the service.
Okay, But How Can Alexa Teach Languages?
Alexa has skills. Think of “skills” as apps that expand Alexa’s knowledge and help her understand more requests. They go way beyond basic commands! Fortunately for us, she has tons of skills specifically designed to teach languages.
The nuts and bolts of accessing this technology is simple.
Just sign into your Amazon account online. On the lefthand side of the search bar, there’s a dropdown menu. Press “Alexa Skills” to go to the skills offered. Search “languages,” then choose one to learn. Press “get this skill” and access the content on all Alexa devices!
Then? Start speaking with Alexa!
It’s so simple to learn either one language or many. Your choice—Alexa’s ready whenever you are to take the next step on your language learning journey. Below, we’ll give you plenty of language-focused skills to start you off!
And Alexa is always gaining skills. If you know a language that she doesn’t, you can actually teach Alexa a language with a skill called Cleo. She’ll ask you questions in English and you answer in your language!
“Alexa, Teach Me a Language!” How You Can Get Fluent with an Alexa Device
Talk about a language-learner’s jackpot!
There are a number of Alexa skills that can teach more than one language so if you’re aiming to become a polyglot, why not try out one of these? Of course, they work just as well if you’re only interested in one target language. The learning’s up to you and Alexa’s ready to help.
If you enjoy this type of innovative language learning, FluentU is the perfect tool to round out your Alexa learning.
With FluentU, you hear languages in real-world contexts—the way that native speakers actually use them. Just a quick look will give you an idea of the variety of FluentU videos on offer:
FluentU really takes the grunt work out of learning languages, leaving you with nothing but engaging, effective and efficient learning. It’s already hand-picked the best videos for you and organized them by level and topic. All you have to do is choose any video that strikes your fancy to get started!
Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.
You can use FluentU’s unique adaptive quizzes to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions and exercises. Just swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you're studying.
The program even keeps track of what you’re learning and tells you exactly when it’s time for review, giving you a 100% personalized experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or Google Play store.
“Alexa, open Rosetta Stone.”
Learn Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Japanese or Russian with this skill.
It’s designed especially for those preparing to travel, so it’ll help you recognize and produce essential phrases for a trip. For example, the lesson categories include greetings, ordering food and drink, asking for and following directions, understanding time and travel issues and shopping with ease.
You may already be familiar with the popular Rosetta Stone language program—a great option for focused language study outside of Alexa-time. Like their Alexa skill, Rosetta Stone’s language programs are aimed at getting you speaking correctly, quickly, with speech-recognition technology and immersive vocabulary and grammar lessons. Check out the full programs on offer for:
“Alexa, ask Translated how to say ‘Where’s the bathroom’ in Danish.”
Alexa translates sentences from English into 36 languages when she’s got this skill in her repertoire. It’s an excellent tool to learn new phrases quickly or even practice your pronunciation by imitating Alexa’s responses.
If you’re having trouble keeping up, just ask her to slow down. Alexa will adjust her speaking speed to accommodate any listener.
“Alexa, teach me Spanish with Daily Dose. ”
Substitute Italian or Chinese—or any of the other languages. It’s really that easy!
Daily Dose enables Alexa to teach 34 languages including Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, Hebrew, Russian, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese… you name it. There are even options to learn Persian, Hindi, Indonesian or Afrikaans, among others.
There’s a “word of the day” for quick vocabulary building. Then there are 10- to 20-minute daily lessons aimed to get you speaking your target language. It all makes daily learning almost as exciting as date night! Pencil in “Alexa and me time” on your schedule. The meetings will be so much fun you’ll be looking forward to them between “dates!”
Three to five new lessons are added every week, making this a continuously evolving Alexa skill.
This Alexa skill comes from the same people behind the Innovative Language podcasts, which are just as prolific! These podcasts bring thousands of video and audio lessons to language learners, with new ones added all the time. The podcasts are designed to be informative but entertaining and full of up-to-date cultural information.
So if this Alexa skill works for you, you’ll definitely want to expand your learning to one of the following Innovative Language podcasts! They’ve got:
“Alexa, ask My Linguist to translate ‘Your eyes sparkle in the moonlight’ into Italian.”
With My Linguist, Alexa can quickly translate words or phrases into 52 languages. It’s also possible to get the translation spelled out so you can write it down correctly.
By the way, Alexa’s Italian translation: I tuoi occhi brillano al chiaro di luna. (Your eyes sparkle in the moonlight.) Feel free to use that one the next time you’re trying to get on someone’s good side!
SayHi Language Learning
“Alexa, ask SayHi to teach German.”
This skill makes Alexa a brilliant language teacher for Spanish, French, German or Danish learners.
She provides full conversational lessons that are designed to have learners understanding and repeating each lesson by the time it’s complete. It also boosts your memory with spaced repetition technology, which has you review key language elements at just the right moment before you forget them. This is the place to pick up these four languages—and have fun while doing it!
Language-specific Alexa Skills
“Alexa, ask Spanish Vocabulary to ask me words from the vacation vocabulary list.”
With this skill, Alexa is able to teach Spanish vocabulary from themed word lists. Currently there are four available: basic vocabulary, numbers, times and dates and vacation.
Turning on the spelling mode makes it possible to hear every Spanish word spelled out, which is perfect if you’re compiling lists or making flashcards for the words you’re learning.
The words run on a continuous loop. You can ask Alexa how you’re doing on this one—and she’ll provide an honest answer!
“Alexa, start German Articles.”
This skill is unique because Alexa brings along Hans, her German pal, to untangle the ins and outs of German articles. It’s all about der/die/das and how to use these different words for “the” appropriately.
Alexa provides a random noun and the learner responds with correct article (or their best guess!). Hans pipes up if an incorrect response is given, providing the correct answer with an example to substantiate his reply.
“Alexa, ask Chineasy for today’s lesson.”
With this skill, Alexa teaches Chinese through daily seven-minute lessons. There’s a new phrase to learn each day, as well.
There are more to lessons with this skill. Daily exposure to Chinese culture and Chinese stories are shared by special guests. The guest list is impressive and includes rock stars, professors and scientists.
Weather in Russian Language (Russian Sky)
“Alexa, ask Russian Sky for tomorrow.”
This is a fun language skill! Use this one and Alexa will report the weather in Russian. You can specifically ask for the weather in Russian cities, to learn weather phrases while getting a little daily connection to Russia, even from afar.
And if you have travel plans to see Red Square, don’t wonder about what to pack. The forecast is available for today, tomorrow and next week!
So now you see that Alexa is a great addition to your family, don’t you? She’s a language-learner’s BFF—and she lives right in your own home! It doesn’t get much better than that!
Don’t keep Alexa on pizza-ordering or temperature-changing detail. Let her help you prepare for travel. And as you’re learning languages with an app like Alexa, don’t just listen. Add to your vocabulary log so your language skills grow every single day.
Let’s face it, there’s no need for another language partner as long as Alexa’s around.
She’s the ideal language buddy. She covers all the bases—and she’s not going to eat the last slice of pizza, either!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.