Setting up a Multilingual Drupal 8 Site

Many blogging and Content Management Systems have trouble handling bilingual content. Setting up a multlingual website usually requires a bunch of plug-ins, modules and often getting your hands dirty in the code. Such was the case with Drupal until version 7. Drupal 8 totally changed this. It is now really easy to set up a multi-lingual version of Drupal 8, at least as far as the initial installation goes. The post-installation nitty-gritty will vary with how far you want to go with a multilingual content.

Where you used to need about twenty modules or more, you can now have a working setup with only four modules that come in Drupal core.
The following video shows how to set up a bilingual (English-French) Drupal basic installation with a first shot at a multilingual article.

Installation Procedure

The basic procedure is quite simple:

  • Under Extend > Multilingual activate these four modules: Configuration Translation, Content Translation, Interface Translation and Language. The two basic ones you will use in the installation process are Language (which languages you install) and Content Translation (which features and content types you will translate). I would explore the other two just so that you know what they are all about and can decide how to use them.
  • Then go to Configuration > Regional and Language > Languages to add your language(s). Choose and click Add Language
  • Still on Configuration > Regional and Language > Content Language and Translation, check the items you want to be able to translate then go down the screen and for each item for which you need translation capabilities, click the box at the left of the item down the screen. By default almost everything is selected.
  • Configuration > Regional and Language> User Interface Translation and Configuration Translation. Look around and see if you need to translate material there.
  • Structure >Block layout > Choose where you want to place the Language switching block, supposing you want to use it, and click on Place block. There choose Language switcher, place the block and do not forget to save the layout (!).

That’s it! Now look at the site and play around with it to have a feel for how multilingual Drupal works. You can start adding content and translate it using the translate tab. The tab will appear only on content types for which translation has been enabled.

You will still have stuff to tweak and configure (Vocabularies, Pages, Menus, etc.) but you can start working and exploring from there. I would play around with fake content for a while just to get an understanding of the process and see how you want to handle the translation process. Drupal is so powerful that it can get hairy here and there, especially if you use more than two languages, but the multilingual features are definetely powerful and worth the time taken to get an understanding of the process.


The process shown here will get you going with Drupal 8.24. Once you get the gist of it, visit these sites for more details: