Do you have 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 don’t have an Echo, you can use Alexa on your smartphone—and you can enable skills there, too.
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).
(You can find out all about Alexa Skills on Amazon here.) 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 10 to try:
Alexa Skills to boost your vocabulary and improve your grammar
The Magoosh Vocabulary builder helps you learn words by asking you questions and offering multiple choice answers. It may be a little simple if you’re an adult native English speaker, but for younger people and those just learning English, it’s a great skill for building vocabulary.
The Word of the Day Flash Briefing teaches you a useful word each day, giving not only its definition, but also its etymology—how it 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 which skills you 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 explore the SAT Word of the Day—but even if you’re not a high school student, this is still a great skill for developing your vocabulary. It includes definitions, spellings and sample sentences. There’s a new word each day, so if you miss a few days, you’ll miss those words.
If you want to quickly check whether a sentence is grammatically correct, Grammar Teacher can help. You simply say, “Alexa, ask Grammar Teacher to check…” then speak your sentence aloud. It will let you know if something is wrong, such as flawed subject-verb agreement.
This quiz is a companion to Volley FM’s “Word of the Day” radio program, so 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 streak going. Some words are obscure, but it’s still fun to learn them, even if you never use them.
Alexa skills that inspire you to write
This skill, created by writers, includes motivational sayings to give you a boost. If you find it hard to get started with your writing, this just might be perfect 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 quotation each day. (You can even get several at a time.) Like the Writing Motivation skill, it can put you in the right frame of mind at the start of a writing session, or you might like to hear a quotation when your motivation is 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 use it only 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 could be just what you need.
Though there’s no substitute for sitting down and writing, skills can build your confidence with the English language and motivate you to do more writing.
A version of this post first appeared on Daily Writing Tips.