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How to make your Google Home speaker bilingual

Hola! Me llamo Google!

Home speakers are a lot of fun and they’re changing the way we shop, check the outside weather, and listen to our favorite music, but they’re good for a lot more than fun. Did you know that a home speaker and built-in assistant can also help with learning a new language or with bilingual households?

Your Google Home can speak more than English. In fact, your Google Home can speak more than one language at a time, so if grandma is from the Old Country, the kids are trying to learn Spanish, or you’re getting ready for that trip to Japan, everyone can enjoy the capabilities of Google Assistant and use the language they’re comfortable in or want to practice.

The Google Assistant that powers Google Home already supports English, Spanish, Japanese, German, French, and Italian. If that’s not enough, Google also has plans to support 20 more languages before the end of 2018.

And don’t worry, if grandpa won’t get on board with the charms of Despacito, he can still get his weather and news in English. The built-in software responds with the language you used to speak to it, so you can parlez-vous with Google all you like without making everyone in the house speak Francais.

After all, the best way to pick up an additional language is complete immersion and using it as often as possible in everyday life, so why not let Google give you a hand? As they say in Spanish, “Aquí es cómo hacerlo.” Or, as we say in English, this is how we do it.

Get the Google Assistant app  

To get started, you’ll want to already have a Google Home up and running in your home or office. A smartphone is usually the easiest way to control your Google Home, but the app will also work on tablets if you want a bigger screen or an easier way to navigate the app.

  • Go to Google Play
  • Type Google Assistant in the search bar at the top
  • Click the listing for Google Assistant. (It can be confusing since there are lots of apps with similar names, but we want plain “Google Assistant”).
  • Click Install


Just follow the compass

Once the app is downloaded and running, you’ll need to:

  • Tap on the app to open it up
  • Tap on the Explore button, which should be in the upper right. It looks like a compass.
  • Look for the button that looks like three dots on top of each other. (Technically, it’s called the action overflow button).



Set your preferences

From that menu:

  • Tap Settings
  • Tap Preferences
  • Then tap Assistant languages

From there, the app will present the full list of available languages. Google can also support dialects of the specific language, like the Mexican dialect of Spanish or the dialect from Spain itself. Add your language of choice and you’re ready to say “Hola!” to your new Google Assistant.

Brush up on those language skills  

Using your new bilingual Google Home Speaker starts with the usual “OK Google.” Once you’ve said that, ask it questions or make requests in your language of choice and it will respond.  For that immersive touch, Google Home will speak with you in the language you used to speak with it.

In other words, if you ask it a question in Italian, it will answer in Italian. You may need to brush up a little on your language skills to take full advantage of this capability, but you always have the option of asking it the same question in English if it’s too hard to understand. After all, it’s still cheaper than flying all the way to Roma (although it’s not nearly as romantic as The Eternal City).

Want to turn it off? Just go back into the Google Assistant app and remove the language you picked and everything will return to normal.

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