What an idea right? Why would I bother writing this blog in two languages? Even more, in English which is not a native language? Well, there are quite a few reason to it and I’ll explain it all in this post but also, I’ll tell you HOW to have your blog become multilingual!
A bilingual blog why and how!
Why did I decide to put my blog in 2 languages?
There are a few reasons to why I wanted to have a bilingual blog from now on.
I’m french but I have been living in Toronto for the past month and a half. I plan to live here for quite some time, maybe not forever but a long time for sure. And Toronto is located in Ontario where the official language is English. Yes, if Canada is officially bilingual, well each province has its own official languages and Ontario is English-speaking. So I need to be able to speak and writing English correctly. So this blog will be a great writing exercise for me, let me know if I make big mistakes 😉
Also, I plan to write about everyday life in Toronto, or share local events. It seems more logical then to also write it in English as local persons would be interested (if ever reading my blog) to read it in English.
And the third reason is I want to use it for employment purpose. I work in the digital field and I need to have kind of an online portfolio. This blog could be used for that now that there is English on it. But also, it’s a good way to train myself to content management in 2 languages at the same time.
Note: I might not always post every article in English AND French. As some subjects might not be of interested to English-speaking persons (for example, if I write about immigration from France, it might be to specific).
How to make your blog bilingual or multilingual?
Actually, it’s way easier than you may think! I quite frankly didn’t have much to do. So here is how I created the bilingual blog:
#1: Make a backup of your blog
The method I’m about to explain is very easy and worked like a charm for me. But well, you never know, better be safe and make that backup before doing any radical changes to your blog!
#2: Download the POLYLANG plugin
I decided to use the plugin POLYLANG to have my blog in several languages. I selected this plugin for a few reasons:
- It’s free
- It’s easy to install and configure
- I didn’t need to do any modifications to my theme to be able to use it
- It has an avarage rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars
So you can download the plugin on WordPress > Extensions > Install > Search “Polylang”. Or you can download it on the wordpress.org page and install it with the zip file.
#3: Configure the plugin
You will need to:
- Add the languages that you want on your blog
I believe you can add pretty much any language you want. I just added English but you can add 2, 3 or more languages if you want.
- Assign all the existing articles to one language
Don’t worry it’s just one click and it can be done massively. When you install the plugin and go to the language setting, the plugin will tell you that no articles are assigned to a language, and they will propose you to add them to a language, just choose which one and you’re good to go!
- Translate chains of characters
Some short sentences are automatic in WordPress, linked to your theme for example or the system. Like the “Read more” button or things like that. The plugin allows you to translate most of this chains of characters so your blog is fully multilingual.
#4: Translate your categories
If you want to keep a consistency in your blog and don’t have your articles from different languages all mixed up together, you will need to put them in distinguished categories.
Go to the WordPress “Categories” setting page. Where all your categories are listed, you will see a new column “Language” with tine flags for all the languages you have set before.
Just click on the little “+” next to one category, and the system will prompt you to add the translate linked to this category.
Note: you will need to have distinct slugs for each language category. For example I have DIY category, I can’t have diy as a slug for both french and English so I entered diy-en for the English one.
It’s a bit time consuming and not so intuitive to do but It’s a necessary step if you want to have a nice multilingual blog.
#5: Update your menu
You will have to update your menu to do 2 things: Add the languages so people can switch from a language to another and have a menu in the correct language.
- Add the language to your menu
If you want people to be able to switch from a language to another, you will need to add the languages to your menu. It’s easy, just go to the menu settings page and on the left click “languages” and add to the menu. You can chose the way you want it to be displayed: text, flags, with or without language name, etc…
- Create ONE menu PER language
You have to if you want to have a menu in the correct language. Even if you translated you categories earlier, the menu wont be updated. Mine was still in french even on English blog.
You actually have to create a new menu for the language, that you will pin to the same space than usual. To this menu, you will add your translated pages and categories. Plus, don’t forget the language switcher!
#6: Write in the other(s) language(s)
Now that configuration part is over, you can start writing blog posts in any other language you wish. I choose English (with a Canadian flag) but you can put Chinese, Spanish or German if you want. Have fun writing!
I hope my explanations were easy to understand!
Let me know of what you think in the comments!
A bientôt ! ❤
28 yo woman living in Toronto , this blog is my space where I share with you any thing that come to cross my mind!