It can be difficult to practice English if there aren’t any native speakers around. But these days, that’s no excuse! The device you’re reading this article on probably has an app that can help you start talking right now.
That app is the “personal assistant app” — the best, free speaking practice tool for those of us who want to improve our English through self-study.
Please note that to practice learning English with your personal assistant, your phone and/or your personal assistant app need to be set to English.
What Are Personal Assistant Apps?
These days, most phones come with some sort of personal assistant app. Here are just a few things it can do for you:
- It’ll set an alarm for you if you say, “wake me up at 7am tomorrow.”
- It’ll tell you the weather when you ask, “What’s the weather like today?” or “Do I need an umbrella today?”
- It’ll show you the nearest pizza places if you ask, “Where’s the nearest pizza place?”
- It’ll read out your schedule if you ask, “What appointments do I have today?”
Many devices, such as smartwatches and smart home devices also come with personal assistant apps.
As you can imagine, talking to a personal assistant app is an easy way to practice speaking English in your everyday life. Now how do we do this?
- If you have an iPhone or another Apple device, your personal assistant app is called Siri and you can turn it on by saying “Hey Siri.”
- If you have a Samsung device, your personal assistant is called Bixby and you can cue it with “Hi Bixby.”
- If you have a Microsoft device, your personal assistant is Cortana, and you can cue it with just “Cortana.”
- Regardless of the phone you use, you can download Google Assistant. You turn it on by saying “OK Google.”
But before getting into all the fun things you can do, make sure to check out the commands you can use with your app:
Ask Your Personal Assistant a Question
Besides telling your personal assistant to do stuff for you, you can also ask it questions about the world. Here are some for you to try:
- “Who is Mickey Mouse?”
- “What is a pronoun?”
- “Where is Papua New Guinea?”
- “When was the internet invented?”
- “Why is the sky blue?”
Your personal assistant will answer by reading aloud the first paragraph of encyclopedia entries that have the information you need. This is not only good speaking practice; it also helps you improve your listening skills!
Have A Conversation With Your Personal Assistant
You can also have conversations with them. For example, you can ask them how old they are, whether they like being a personal assistant, and who their best friend is.
However, unlike a real conversation, your personal assistant won’t ask you any questions. So if you want to keep the conversation going, you’ll have to keep thinking of things to ask!
This may feel tiring at first, but it’s great practice for real conversations. Often, language learners rely on their teachers or tutors to ask all the questions, so talking to a personal assistant is a great way to improve your ability to keep a conversation going.
To see what you can ask, check out this video where a guy asks Google Assistant plenty of questions:
Google Assistant can answer a lot more questions than Siri, so even if you have an iPhone, we recommend you download Google Assistant. But if you decide to stick to Siri, here are some funny questions to get you started.
Play Games With Google Assistant
Another great thing about Google Assistant is that you can play games with it. For example, have you ever heard of the game “Mad Libs”? It’s a silly game where one player is asked to say words that will be put into a story that they don’t know.
It turns out that we can play this game with Google Assistant! Just tell Google, “Let’s play Mad Libs.”
Another fun game you can play with Google Assistant is Akinator. You think of a famous person (real or fictional) and Akinator will try to figure out who it is by asking you yes-no questions. Check it out in this video:
If you want to practice numbers, you can play with the Number Genie. The number genie will think of a number and you have to guess which one it is.
More advanced learners can try word games like Vocabulary Quiz and Word Trivia, which quiz you on difficult vocabulary.
And, if you want to know your future, you can ask Google’s Crystal Ball. Of course, it doesn’t actually tell you your future, but it can be pretty encouraging!
Speaking of encouragement, you can also ask Google for a motivational quote. Just say “Motivate me!”
Finally, if you can’t think of a way to use Google Assistant, just say “Abracadabra” and it will suggest things for you to do together.
Give It A Try!
To sum up, you can get free speaking practice with your smartphone by just asking your personal assistant to do things for you, having a conversation with your personal assistant, and playing games with it.
So what are you waiting for? Start talking to your smartphone!
When you’ve mastered having conversations with your personal assistant, and feel ready to move onto conversations with real people, give Engoo a try.
Our tutors give one-on-one lessons and unlike personal assistants, they’ll ask you questions and correct your mistakes! Plus, you get one lesson for free so there’s nothing to lose!