How can I use Siri to learn English?
Siri may not be human, but her English is quite good! If you have a Samsung phone, you can try these with Bixby too. Since I have an iPod, I have used Siri.
While her conversation skills are limited, there are many ways Siri can help you learn and practice English. Let’s look at some examples.
We’ll look at the following 5 ways to use Siri to learn and practice English:
- Asking Questions
There’s a bonus idea the end, along with an idiom related to dating. Also, you’ll find an audio and script to a joke conversation between Siri and me.
When you see a new word that you don’t understand, you can ask Siri the meaning of the word.
Example: What does idiom mean?
Siri will both speak and show the answer, which helps you understand the word and also gives you practice with listening.
You can also ask Siri to show you pictures to help with new words.
Example 1: Show me a picture of an apple.
Example 2: Show me a picture of BTS.
Many conversations start with greetings and other small talk. While she isn’t very good at small talk, Siri will respond to a variety of greetings. It’s important to note that her responses are not typical responses to greetings.
To learn natural ways to respond to greetings, check out my post Greetings vs. Real Questions and Different Ways to Say Hello in English.
Ask Siri What’s up? or What’s new? Her responses will vary. Here are her responses from June 30, 2018 during the World Cup:
3. Asking Questions
While Siri can’t really have a conversation (unlike Google’s latest AI), she will provide answers to a variety of questions.
Here are some questions you can ask Siri:
- Where are you from?
- When were you born?
- How old are you?
- What’s your favorite movie?
- Who’s your favorite actor?
- What’s the population of South Korea?
- How do you say 1-9-9-3? (This is helpful for learning how to say large numbers!)
- How do you say 1-0-9-0-0? (one-zero-nine-zero-zero) (Answer: ten thousand nine hundred)
- How do you say 1-2-3-7-9-8-2-1?
- How many websites are there?
- What time is it in the United States?
- When does the sun set? (This is helpful for hearing times.)
- When does the sun rise?
- How many people in the world speak Korean?
- What’s a good movie?
- What sports are on tonight?
- What’s the most common sound in English?
- What’s the most common word in English?
- What’s the most difficult word in English?
- What is zero divided by zero?
- What phone is the best?
- Can you beatbox?
You can substitute the underlined parts with other words and numbers.
As you can see, Siri can help you with numbers and provide both factual and funny responses. If you want to ask Siri some more funny questions, check out these 55 Questions.
You can test your pronunciation by saying words to Siri. She will write what you say. If the word she writes matches what you said, then she understood your pronunciation. If the word does not match, ask her how to pronounce the word you are trying to say and then try again.
To ask Siri how to pronounce a word, you can spell the word, and she will say the word for you so you can hear how it is pronounced. Example: How do you pronounce w-a-t-e-r?
Be sure to set Siri’s language and voice (American, Australian, or British male or female) to the accents you want in Settings.
If you really want to improve your pronunciation, I recommend working with a tutor or checking out Shayna’s course at Espresso English.
I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase. It helps me pay for my website, but it does not cost you anything extra.
Shayna’s pronunciation courses – If you prefer self-study, Shayna’s pronunciation and shadowing courses are great, particularly for beginners as her speech is very clear and her speed is not too fast. She has free samples, great low prices, and a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Siri will tell you jokes! This is for intermediate and advanced learners as many of the jokes might be difficult to understand due to both vocabulary and cultural references. Give it a try! You can always Google the joke to find the meaning if you don’t understand it.
- Tell me a joke
- Tell me a knock-knock joke
- Tell me a pun
Do you get it? A person who has 10,000 bees is a beekeeper, and a keeper is colloquial for someone worth keeping or marrying. We might also say they’re a catch, which is an idiom related to fishing.
Speaking of fish idioms, when we say there are more fish in the sea, we are saying there are more eligible people to date. We sometimes say this to console a friend who has recently broken up with someone or been dumped by someone. Go ahead and ask Siri what “been dumped by someone” means. Again, it depends on context, so be sure to look for the meaning related to dating. For 29 more dating and love related expressions, check out my post Dating and Love Vocabulary, Idioms and Expressions.
Below is an example of a knock knock joke. If you ask Siri to tell you a knock knock joke, you need to say “Who’s there?” and ” ____________ who?” (Fill in the blank with her answer.)
Trey: Tell me a knock-knock joke.
Siri: Knock, knock…
Trey: Who’s there?
Trey: Dishes who?
Siri: Dishes Sean Connery ha ha.
Do you get it? It uses wordplay, which is very common in jokes. Dishes sounds like this is.
Here’s another audio example:
Trey: Tell me a knock knock joke.
Siri: Knock knock…
Trey: Who’s there?
Trey: Ammonia who?
Siri: Ammonia a humble assistant.
Do you get it? In this case, ammonia sounds like I’m only.
Siri will also tell you a haiku. She knows a few. Just say: Tell me a haiku.
Bonus: Be creative!
Think of your own questions to ask Siri. When Siri first came out, people asked her all kinds of questions. Now you can practice speaking English with Siri and ask her questions to see how she responds in English. Think of some questions to ask using Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
Never stop learning!