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Can Alexa Teach Languages? Yes, It Can—and Here’s How

You’ve probably already used Alexa for playing music, ordering takeout and other mundane tasks. But did you know she can teach you a language or two, too?

If, for some reason, you’re not familiar with Alexa, it’s basically Amazon’s cloud-based virtual assistant. She (and I’m using this pronoun because Alexa sounds female) is voice-controlled and connected to the AVS (Alexa Voice Service), which can be integrated with Amazon products like Echo speakers.

Most importantly for our purposes, Alexa can be programmed to dish out language lessons while you’re vacuuming your living room or just chilling on the couch.

To find out how to do that, as well as other things you need to know regarding the question “can Alexa teach languages,” read on.

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How Can Alexa Teach Languages?

Alexa can teach languages through the “Skills” feature. Essentially, “Skills” are apps that expand Alexa’s knowledge and help her understand requests that go way beyond basic commands. Fortunately for us, she has tons of Skills specifically designed to teach languages.

To enable Alexa to teach you languages:

  • Open the “Skills” page. You can do this on your Alexa app or say “Alexa, what are your Skills?”
  • Find the Skill related to the language you’re looking for, and open or enable it. Locate the Skill on the app or say “Alexa, open [Skill].”

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start learning! And if you want to end your language lesson at any time, just say “Alexa, cancel.”

10 Alexa Skills That Will Raise Your Language Fluency

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, some of them work just as well if you’re only interested in one target language. It’s all up to you—just know that Alexa’s always ready to help!

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1. Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone“Alexa, open Rosetta Stone.”

 

Learn Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Japanese and/or Russian with this Skill.

It’s designed especially for those preparing to travel, so it’ll help you recognize and use essential phrases during your trip. The lesson categories include greetings, ordering food and drinks, 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 study outside of Alexa time. Like its Skill counterpart, Rosetta Stone’s language programs aim to help you speak correctly and quickly in your target language using speech recognition technology, plus immersive vocabulary and grammar lessons. 

2. Translated

Translated

“Alexa, ask Translated how to say ‘Where’s the bathroom’ in Danish.”

Alexa translates sentences from English into 37 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.

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If you’re having trouble keeping up, just ask her to slow down. Alexa will adjust her speaking speed to accommodate any listener.

3. Daily Dose

Daily Dose by Innovative Language

“Alexa, teach me Spanish with Daily Dose. ”

Daily Dose enables Alexa to teach 34 languages including Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Japanese and Korean. There are even options to learn Persian, Hindi, Indonesian and Afrikaans, among others.

For each language, you’ll get a total of 100 audio lessons—25 for each of the four available learner levels. After completing one level, you’ll automatically “graduate” to the next level and feel awesome about your achievement!

4. My Linguist

My Linguist

“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 49 languages. You have to be very careful about pronouncing the English words you want translated, though. Otherwise, the translation is going to be off.

By the way, Alexa’s Italian translation of the phrase I just mentioned is I tuoi occhi brillano al chiaro di luna. Feel free to use that one the next time you’re trying to flirt in Italian.

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5. SayHi Language Learning

SayHi Language Learning

“Alexa, ask SayHi to teach German.”

This Skill makes Alexa a brilliant language teacher for Spanish, French, German and Danish learners.

You’ll have full conversational lessons designed to have you understanding and repeating each lesson by the time it’s complete. It also boosts your memory with spaced repetition technology, which allows you to review key language elements at just the right moment before you forget them.

6. Language Tutor

Language Tutor

“Alexa, what’s my progress in the Australian dialect?”

This one teaches you intermediate to advanced phrases in Spanish, French and Italian. If you feel like it, you can also have Alexa use this Skill to help you communicate in the Australian dialect—just in case you’re traveling to The Land Down Under any time soon.

Alexa will give you phrases in your chosen language that you’ll try to translate into English. You can ask Alexa to repeat the word, go to the next word or go back to the previous word. If the phrase sounds too fast, ask Alexa to “speak slower.” And if you’re stuck, just say “tell me,” and Alexa will give you the correct translation. (I recommend only using this option after you’ve already tried translating, though.)

7. Spanish Vocabulary

Spanish vocabulary“Alexa, ask Spanish Vocabulary to ask me words from the vacation vocabulary list.”

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With this Skill, Alexa can teach you 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, allowing you to practice for as long as you want.

8. German Article

German Articles - learning by doing“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 you have to respond with the correct article—or your best guess! Hans pipes up if an incorrect response is given, providing the right answer with an example to substantiate his reply.

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9. Japanese Basic Word Quiz

Japanese Basic Word Quiz

“Alexa, I think ‘arigatou’ means ‘thank you.'”

This one is exactly what it says on the tin. After you’ve gone through your essential Japanese words list, ask Alexa to open this Skill.

Alexa will start slinging Japanese words at you, and you have to respond with the correct English translation. You need to phrase the response in the form of a sentence (like the one I just gave above), or Alexa won’t understand you.

If you get it right, Alexa will move on to the next word. If you get it wrong or you say “I don’t know,” Alexa will repeat the word so you can try translating it again.

10. Teach me French by FrenchPod101.com

Teach me French by FrenchPod101.com“Alexa, get today’s word from Teach me French.”

 

Brought to you by the folks behind FrenchPod101 (full review here), this Skill will move your French mastery beyond the basics like oui (yes) through 10-20 minute daily audio lessons.

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The lessons update every day at midnight EST, so if you live in a different timezone, be sure to sync your current time with that. (You can also ask Alexa what time is 12 midnight EST in your timezone!)

You can ask Alexa to get today’s lesson, word or immersion. Getting “immersion” means Alexa will teach you French vocabulary in the form of calming content that you can listen to during your downtime.

 

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.

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 day. Use the new words you’re learning in conversations, or plug them into another app like FluentU to get additional practice.

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Can Alexa teach languages? Definitely. She’s the ideal language buddy. She covers all the bases—and she’s not going to eat the last slice of pizza, either! As long as she’s around, you’re probably not going to need another language partner.

And One More Thing...

If you dig the idea of learning on your own time from the comfort of your smart device with real-life authentic language content, you'll love using FluentU.

With FluentU, you'll learn real languages—as they're spoken by native speakers. FluentU has a wide variety of videos as you can see here:

FluentU has interactive captions that let you tap on any word to see an image, definition, audio and useful examples. Now native language content is within reach with interactive transcripts.

Didn't catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? Hover your mouse over the subtitles to instantly view definitions.

You can learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU's "learn mode." Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.

And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You get a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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