Google Assistant

Some ideas to use it as an English learning tool

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Voice or speech recognition has developed significantly over time and become a useful tool that has countless applications in many areas of life. Gadgets like Amazon Alexa or Google Home can play the role of a secretary, a speaking encyclopedia, a music player and so many more. The possibilities are endless and some of them applicable to language learning.

 The subject of this blogpost is a humbler version of those devices, that’s to say your mobile google assistant. If you do not know of its existence, it might be found as an inbuilt app. But most likely, if there, it has come into view to greet you at some point. I was not quite sure whether to be annoyed or curious when it showed up on my screen. Was it another one of those time-consuming pop-ups that keep appearing when you least expect them?

 But that day I had some time on my hands and my curiosity was aroused. I started with a search. “Can you recommend a good Indian restaurant in Glasgow?” And the assistant found a few top-rated places and then I asked how to get there and was answered with instructions and a map to navigate my way.


Needless to say, the same can be achieved by typing the words in a web search engine but I could immediately see the application of this “speaking” tool for language learners sentence building, pronunciation and intonation.


On I went, “What else can you do for me?”


    • Set a timer, dictate a WhatsApp message, set up a reminder or an alarm, give me an update on the weather, make a call …  and the list goes on.


On another note and for a bit of entertainment when you are killing time:


    • Make me laugh or tell me a joke.

“Why didn’t the cheese want to get sliced?

It had greater plans.”

Haha. See the play on words in this joke?


Tell me a quote and it produced:

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes” by Oscar Wilde.


Play some music!!

And it did.


    • Tell me a riddle, an interesting fact, tell me a poem …


But of course, the teacher in me was curious about what else it could do in terms of language practice and I was not let down. Here are some ideas:


    • Double-check how to spell a word if you are not sure:

How do you spell Hieroglyphic?

It will show it and dictate it. But only if you pronounce it well.


    • Can you explain what hernia means?

You will get an audio and written definition.


    • Test your pronunciation of minimal pairs:

Show me a picture of

a ship// sheep

a hut // a hat

yolk // joke ….

    • More ideas to come ….


Final note: make sure you change the language to English in settings before you get started.


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