Meet your new personal translator, Alexa!
International travel may not be in the cards yet, but you can start brushing up on your language skills right now — or just wow your friends and family by throwing in a foreign phrase or two.
Alexa’s built-in translator can help you get the essentials (like “Where is the bathroom?”) or woo your mate with a little French next date night.
Ask Alexa to translate any phrase!
Say “Alexa, how do you say ‘I love you’ in French” — and let Alexa give you the answer.
Pro Tip #1: If you ask the question on an Alexa-enabled device with a screen (like your phone with the Alexa app or an Echo Show), you can see the phrase written out, so you’ll build your reading skills in the language, too.
Pro Tip #2: Alexa offers some of the most common languages through its Bing-powered translator, including French, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese. To get a translator for 37 languages, you’ll need to try the Translated skill (not available in Canada), which offers a basic translation and allows you to play it slower so you can understand the pronunciation.
Pro Tip #3: Alexa is also a great way to get synonyms. Say “Alexa, what’s a synonym for (insert word of your choice)!” (Thank you to the VoiceBrew subscriber who gave me this tip!)
You can also practice your language skills with Alexa
If you’re closer to fluent than I am, you might want to take your Alexa language practice to the next level.
Simply head into the app to switch Alexa to a different language and see if you can get Alexa to follow your lead.
I tried this with a high schooler in her third year of French class, and Alexa seemed to understand her and interact with her as she executed commands.
How to change Alexa’s language setting
- Tap “Devices” (bottom right corner)
- Tap “Echo & Alexa”
- Tap the name of the device whose language you want to change
- Tap “Language”
- Switch to whichever language you want to practice
- Start speaking
When you change your language, you will lose access to any third-party skills that aren’t available in that region. (You’ll get them back when you switch back to English.)
VoiceBrew: Get more out of Alexa with a daily Alexa tip delivered to your inbox
I created VoiceBrew to help people get more out of the Amazon Alexa voice assistant. Whether you’re just setting up your first Alexa speaker or smart display or you’re a seasoned pro looking for advanced tips, VoiceBrew can help.
There are so many life-changing ways to use Alexa, but most people aren’t familiar with all of the things Alexa can do. By signing up for VoiceBrew, you’ll receive a free daily email with one actually awesome thing to try with Alexa. VoiceBrew also publishes comprehensive how-to guides on all the best features and important topics like privacy.