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4 Ways to Have Alexa Translate Languages

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Through the power of AI, Amazon Alexa has evolved to become the voice assistant that seems like it can do everything. And it’s not just limited to telling you the latest weather updates and turning your lights off. Alexa can also be used as an effective translation tool.

We’ll show you a number of ways that Alexa can translate words, phrases, and even whole conversations.

1. Ask Alexa How to Say a Word or Phrase

If there’s a specific word or phrase you need to translate, you can just ask Alexa. Amazon doesn’t seem to have published a list of the available languages to translate, but in our tests, it was pretty comprehensive.

For example, we were able to translate into Croatian, Swahili, Kazakh, and Macedonian with no problems. However, our requests to translate into languages with fewer speakers, like Māori, Tibetan, and Georgian, were denied by Alexa. As time goes on, it’s likely these languages will be added.

To have Alexa translate your word or phrase, you can use the following format: “Alexa, translate (desired phrase) in (chosen language).” You can say something like, “Alexa, translate, ‘would you like a drink?’ in Danish”, and Alexa will play the translation for you.

If you need to know the spelling, open the Alexa app (available for iOS and Android) and tap the Type to Alexa bar. Here, you can type in your request just as you’d say it, and Alexa will return the translation in text format.

2. Use Live Translation for More Complex Conversations

Live Translation is a powerful feature that can translate conversations in real-time, allowing Alexa to act as your AI-powered interpreter. It currently supports seven languages: English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. Alexa uses your default language and the language you specify.

To get started with Live Translation, say something like “Alexa, translate French.” After a brief introduction, Alexa will beep and begin listening. Speak in either English or French to hear the corresponding translation.

After you stop, there will be a brief pause before Alexa translates what’s been said. It will then beep again, and you can continue talking in either English or French. Once you’re finished, just say, “Alexa, stop.”

If you own an Echo Show, you’ll also see the translation on screen. However, there’s also a way to see a transcript in the Alexa app. Navigate to the More tab along the bottom, then tap Activity. Change the tab to Voice History. You’ll then see everything said during your translation session. Tap the phrase to see the translated text.

If you’re interested in using a similar feature outside the house, then check out our article on how to translate conversations on the go using an iPhone.

If you’re having trouble understanding Alexa, try the Translated skill. This skill has 37 languages available to translate from English. No other base language is supported, unfortunately.

These include a handful of languages that Alexa doesn’t yet translate, like Basque, Galician, and Swiss German. There are also options for different dialects of Spanish, like American Spanish or Latin American Spanish.

One of the best features of this skill is the ability to slow down translations and instantly repeat them. After listening to the translation, Alexa will ask if you’d like to hear it slower or repeated—two features that the built-in translation feature lacks.

My Translator is limited to just French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese, but it does an excellent job of providing accurate translations and authentic pronunciation.

While Alexa’s translations can sound a little robotic, My Translator sounds like a natural voice speaking your phrase. It’s also ideal for longer phrases: whereas Alexa will repeat the entire sentence or phrase before translating, My Translator will immediately translate it.

After playing your translation, My Translator will ask if you’d like to repeat the phrase. Additionally, it asks you to set a target language when you first open the skill, reducing the need to say “in French” or “in Spanish” after each word or phrase. This target language is then remembered for future occasions.

Despite My Translator’s lack of supported languages, it makes up for this by being easy to use and providing stunning accuracy. If you’re frequently translating audio, then this skill might be preferable to Alexa’s native service.

But what if you’re frequently translating text? In that case, you might want to take a look at our recommendations of the four best translation apps for Windows.

Explore the World of Language With Alexa

Once a figment of science fiction, being able to translate sentences and entire conversations with your robot voice assistant is now a reality. Using the methods we’ve shown you above, it becomes possible to have a conversation with most of the global population—even if you don’t know a word in each other’s language.

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