Learn English with Alexa Skills: Writing, Grammar and Vocabulary
Have you got an Amazon Echo?
If so, you might well have enabled a bunch of different skills to extend Alexa’s capabilities. (Skills are like apps for Alexa.)
Even if you’ve not got an Echo, you can still use Alexa on your smartphone – and you can enable skills there, too – so you might want to give some of these a try.
How to Enable (Install) Alexa Skills
You can enable and disable skills using the Alexa app or a web browser. Many third-party companies have created skills that you can install, and these are normally free to enable (though you may have the option to make in-skill purchases).
If you want to get better at writing in English (or if you’re a strong writer but want to get more writing done), there are plenty of Alexa skills out there that can help you.
Here are ten great ones to try out:
Alexa Skills to Boost Your Vocabulary and Improve Your Grammar
The Magoosh Vocabulary builder is designed to help you learn new words by asking you questions and offering multiple choice answers. It may be a little simple if you’re a native adult English speaker, but if you’re learning English or you’re a child or teen, it’s a great skill for building your vocabulary.
The Word of the Day Flash Briefing teaches you a useful word each day, giving not only the definition (meaning) of the word, but also its etymology – how it originally came into the language – plus examples of how to use it in a sentence. The skill gets added to your “flash briefing”, which can include news headlines and other short content, depending on what skills you choose to enable. You can also use this in conjunction with the Word of the Day Quiz Game, which appears later on our list.
If you’ve got kids who’d enjoy boosting their vocabulary, or if you’re learning English and want some reasonably basic vocabulary words, the Kids Word of the Day Flash Briefing is designed to be fun and engaging for kids, with guest “special characters” who come on to introduce new words. It includes riddles, too, to help keep children engaged and interested.
If you’re studying for the SAT, then you’ll definitely want to give the SAT Word of the Day skill a try – but even if you’re not a high school student, this is still a great skill for developing your vocabulary. It includes definitions, spellings, plus sample sentences. There’s a new word each day, so keep in mind that if you miss a few days, you’ll miss out on some of the words.
If you want to quickly check whether a sentence is grammatically correct or not, Grammar Teacher could help. You simply say, “Alexa, ask Grammar Teacher to check…” then say your sentence. The skill should let you know if there’s something wrong, like incorrect subject-verb agreement.
This quiz is designed to be a companion to Volley FM’s “Word of the Day” radio program, so you’ll want to listen to that (or the Flash Briefing version, listed above), before tackling the quiz. You’ll get four yes or no questions and you can try to get a good streak going. Some of the words are really unusual ones that you’re not likely to use much – or at all! – in real life, but it can still be fun to learn them.
Alexa Skills to Help You Get Motivated to Write
Writing Motivation is a skill created by writers that includes motivational sayings to give you a little boost. If you find it hard to get started with your writing, this just might be the perfect skill for you. As one reviewer, B. Atwood, put it, “Nearly every writer needs a good kick in the literary pants to get back to writing.”
This skill gives you a new inspirational writing quote each day (in fact, if you want to hear more than one, you can have several in a row). Like the Writing Motivation skill, you might want to use it to help you get into the right frame of mind at the start of a writing session, or you might like to listen to a quote when you feel your motivation flagging.
Are you trying to build a journaling habit? There are lots of prompts out there online, but if you like to journal in a notebook, you might prefer to use a verbal prompt from Alexa. The Daily Journal Prompts skill gives you a prompt (from a list of over 100) when you request one – so you can use it more than once a day, if you want, and you won’t miss out on prompts if you only use it once or twice a week.
Do you struggle to focus on your writing? Writing Sessions is aimed at book writers: it’s designed to break up the writing process and help you get from “idea” to “finished manuscript”. If you find it tricky to make time to write, or if you don’t know where to start on a big project like a book, this skill could be just what you need.
While there’s no substitute for sitting down and writing, skills can be a great, fun way to build your confidence with the English language … and to help motivate you to get more writing done. Which of these will you try out today? Let us know in the comments (and tell us about any other great writing-related skills you use, too).
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