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Updated
October 11, 2021

WPML lets you translate your site into 65 pre-configured languages, add your own custom languages, and customize a variety of configuration options for your language switcher, URL format, and more. These options are all available in the WPMLLanguages menu.

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Site Languages

Choosing languages for the site

When you configure WPML for the first time, you need to choose the language of your existing content. Then, choose which of the 65 pre-configured languages you would like to translate your site into.

It’s also possible to create a custom language. This is especially useful if you would like to add a country-specific language to your site (such as Canadian French or Swiss German), or if you need a language that does not appear in the list of pre-configured languages.

You can add, edit, or remove languages from your site at any point by going to WPMLLanguages. These options are available in the Site Languages section.

Language URL Format

WPML lets you choose how to organize content in different languages. You can choose between:

  • Different languages in directories – like wpml.org/es/ for Spanish and wpml.org/de/ for German.
  • A different domain per language – sub-domains like es.example.com and de.example.com or completely different domains like ejemplo.es and beispiel.de.
  • Language name added as a parameter – like wpml.org/?lang=es for Spanish.

For Different languages in directories to work, your site’s permalink structure needs to be different than the default one. We recommend choosing Year/Month/Name or %postname%.

For more detailed examples and documentation on what’s needed for each of these modes to run, please read about language URL options.

Language Switcher

To let visitors select their preferred language, WPML adds a language switcher to your site’s footer by default. You can also add language switchers to widgets, menus, or create your own custom language switcher.

Options for WPML’s language switchers

You can also display language switchers using the following hooks:

Order of Languages

You can control the order in which languages appear in the language switcher in the Language switcher options section of the Languages menu.

Setting the order of languages

Click and drag the languages to change the order.

Please note that when you use a drop-down language switcher, the first language shown is always the current language. The other languages will be listed according to the order that you set in the Order of languages list.

Choosing What to Display in the Language Switcher

You can choose what to include in the language switcher. WPML can display a country flag, the native language name and the language name in the page’s current language.

You can also choose colors for all parts of the language switcher.

Language switcher options

You can style WPML’s language switcher so that it matches your site’s design.

To change the flags that appear next to languages:

  1. Go to WPMLLanguages
  2. In the Site Languages section, click Edit Languages
  3. Here, you can choose a different flag from WPML’s install directory or upload your own

For more information about different styles of language switchers that you can add to your site, please read about language switcher options.

Custom Language Switchers

You can create custom language switchers and add them to the site’s theme.

Option to enable or disable custom language switchers

In the Custom language switchers section, you can enable or disable the custom language switchers on your site. When custom language switchers are disabled, the related CSS and JavaScript resources are not loaded anymore. This is useful for sites that do not use any language switchers.

In this case, it is still possible to use the wpml_language_switcher shortcode and the wpml_language_switcher action, however, they will output the language switchers without any CSS or JavaScript.

Custom language switchers are enabled by default for existing installs updating to WPML version 3.8 or later. For new installs using WPML version 3.8 or later, this option is disabled by default.

SEO Options

Enabling SEO Options

When your multi-language site is analyzed by the search engines, such as Google, it is important to “tell” them about the alternative languages available for your site’s content. This way, search engines will not handle the translations as duplicates but as the same content, only in different languages. This is good for the SEO rankings of your site.

Please note that when enabled, this information is not visible on your website’s front-end but only in the source code.

In addition to turning this feature on and off, you can also use the Position of hreflang link option to set where this information will be output:

  • As early as possible – default, priority 1
  • Later in the head section – priority 10

In most cases, it is best to use the default setting. Sometimes, different themes and plugins may cause conflicts when this option is used. These conflicts may lead to wrong or completely missing set of these SEO language links. In that case, switching to Later in the head section option should resolve the issue.

Admin language

The default language is normally also the admin language. However, you can also choose to display your site’s WordPress admin in a different language than the default language of your site’s content. This is not in the WPMLLanguages menu. Instead, you can find this by going to UsersProfile.

Selecting a different admin language

This allows websites that have several authors, each writing in a different language, can have a different admin language per user. Individual users can select their admin language in their own profile page.

To learn how to set the site’s default admin language and different admin language per user, read about setting the WordPress administration language.

Language filtering for AJAX operations

WPML allows you to enable a JavaScript cookie so themes and plugins can perform AJAX filtering without issues, even on cached sites.

Storing a language cookie to support language filtering for AJAX

Learn more about this on the page about enabling language cookie to support AJAX filtering.