How to switch languages using the Android Gboard keyboard


Learning a new language on an Android device? If the language uses a different alphabet or employs accents that your primary language does not, you may need to add a new software keyboard to your phone.

Luckily, Google’s standard Gboard keyboard includes a plethora of language-related keyboards; at last count, it offered over 500 languages over 40 different writing systems. If you’ve already installed Gboard in the US, you’re likely already set up with US English. But it’s not difficult to add one or more new keyboards and quickly switch from one language to another. Here’s how to install and use one or more of the many languages available.

First, you need to get to the “Languages” page. There are actually several ways to do that.

Two of those ways involve your Gboard keyboard. Go to an app that uses a keyboard (such as email or chat) and tap in an area where you can type. After that, you can:

  • Long press on the spacebar. This will bring up the “Change keyboard” pop-up menu; tap on “Language settings” to get to the correct page.
  • Or you can tap on the “Open features” symbol on the top left of the keyboard, and then tap on the three dots on the right. Select “Settings” > “Languages.”

You can also get to the page from your Android device’s main settings menu. From the settings:

  • Select “System”
  • Select “Languages & input” > “Virtual keyboard” > “Gboard” > “Languages”

Once you’ve reached the “Languages” page, you can add a new language:

  • Tap on “Add keyboard” at the bottom of the page
  • Scroll to the language that you want to add and tap it. (It’s a long list, so you might save some time by using the search icon on the top right of the screen.) If you’ve been using a language-learning or other language-related app recently, the one you want may already be on top under “Suggested languages.”
  • For each language, you’ll be able to choose from a list of several types of keyboards on top of the screen. (For example, you may be able to opt for a QWERTY or Dvorak keyboard.) The most likely suggestion will be first, but you can swipe across to see others that are available. On the same page, under “Language settings,” you may also be able to choose to be given word suggestions from more than one language while you type. (This depends on which language you’re adding.)
  • When you’re finished, tap the “Done” button. You’ll be brought back to the “Languages” page where you’ll see the new language listed. Tap the left arrow at the top left corner to leave the page.

You’ll now see the keyboard’s language named on the spacebar. (If you enabled multilingual typing, you’ll see abbreviations of both language names.) In addition, there will now be a globe icon to the left of the keyboard instead of the emoji icon. (The emoji icon can now be accessed via a long press on the comma key.) To change languages, tap on the globe; your keyboard will switch to the next in line. You can also long press on the spacebar and select the language you want from the pop-up menu.

If you’re no longer using one of your languages, and you want to remove it from the list:

  • Long press the spacebar to get the “Change keyboard” menu.
  • Tap on “Language settings.”
  • Find the language you no longer need, and swipe to the left to remove it.