Language configuration in CommCareHQ

You may build a CommCare application in English, another language, or a combination of languages. Here are some instructions on how to set default languages and switch between multiple languages.

Below you will find an overview of the different elements of managing multiple languages. There are also separate pages on the following topics:

  1. Form Bulk Translation - how to translate an entire form efficiently

  2. Local Language Support and Fonts - advice on fonts

  3. Translate the CommCare User Interface - detailed instructions on how to change the language of the buttons and navigation elements of CommCare 

  4. Application Profiles

To build an application that supports multiple languages

  1. Navigate to the Applications tab. 

  2. Select your application, then click on Languages under Settings in the list on the left panel.  

  3. Under Language List add your language code. (i.e. hin for Hindi, en for English, etc.). The field will auto-populate. If your language does not exist, you can google the language name, and typically the first result on wikipedia is the right language and has the 3-letter code you need to add. If your language still does not show up, create a new code and add it. This is not recommended, but is OK if the language comes up as "unrecognized." Don't do this if the language comes up as "invalid." 

  4. Click Save.

  5. Now all the module and form names will need to be updated in both languages. A dropdown menu will appear next to the "Languages" menu item so that you can switch between multiple languages.

Follow these steps to default to a specific language should your application have multiple languages

  1. Navigate again to the "Languages" part of the Application settings 

  2. Click on Languages again. Here, you will see the different languages associated with your application.

  3. If you see multiple languages, and want to change the default, you can drag the language preferred to the top. The box around the language indicates the default language. 

  4. Save changes. Note: to have the new default language show up in your mobile application, you will need to install the mobile application for the first time with the default language. Therefore if you're changing default languages, you will need to uninstall your app and then reinstall the application with the new default language in order to have the application reference the new default in HQ.

  5. Go the Release Manager and make a new build. The forms and modules in the application will default to the language that is listed at the top in the 'Supported Languages' box.

  6. You can also choose to not deploy a language (for example, if you're using english for development and testing, but not in the field), by un-checking the 'Deploy' checkbox.  This will save space on the phone. 

If CommCare HQ already has a list of UI strings translated for your language, all the menus will display in the preferred language. If not, you may contribute translations for UI strings in CommCare; instructions can be found here

Follow the below steps to change the default language of the application on the phone


To change the module/form/user interface language:

  1. Login as any user

  2. Click on the phone's "Settings Button"

  3. Choose "Settings" from the menu that pops up

  4. Choose "Change Locale" from the menu that pops up

  5. Select the desired language




This should automatically switch the forms to the selected language, provided there are translations.

To change the language of the question within an open form:

  1. Open a form

  2. Press the phone's "Settings Button"

  3. Choose "Change Language"

  4. Select the desired language

Changing the Form Language in Web Apps

Once multiple languages have been added as described earlier in this document, users are able switch between them inside forms within a web app. This functionality is primarily designed to be used by multilingual users, who can adjust the language of the form based on who they are contacting and may do so multiple times throughout the day or the form.

To change form language in a web apps form:

  • Click the menu on the top right of the form entry UI. 

  • Under the ‘Languages’ section within the menu, a list of available languages are shown.

Note: Only the language of the form content is switched, the rest of the web app UI remains in the language configured in user settings.

Multiple languages and audio files:

  1. If you have already created your app in one language, create a new language for your application (see above for instructions). 

  2. Go into your first form, and click "Edit" on the form questionnaire. 

  3. Just as you would add in audio files to an English app, the app should now feature two separate languages. Notice that the names of the two language files are the same.

  4. If you want to upload audio recordings in another language, you will need to change the file names of the new language. Do this and click save.

  5. When you go to multimedia reference, you will now notice that there are new audio files for you to upload. Upload your new audio files here. 

This change will only apply to this particular form.