How to Fix It When You Can't Change Google Assistant's Language

Why this happens and how to fix it when it does

A man is unable to change Google Assistant's language on his phone.

Farknot_Architect / iStock / Getty Images

Google Assistant is a virtual assistant that allows you to perform tasks like setting appointments and sending text messages with your voice. It's designed to work with several languages, but setting your phone itself to an incompatible language can make it so that you can't change Google Assistant's language.

What Can Prevent You From Changing Google Assistant’s Language?

Google Assistant works best with English, and specifically with the United States variant of English, but it's designed to also work with several other languages. The problem is that your phone is likely designed to support many more languages than Google Assistant.

The problem arises when you set your phone to a language that Google Assistant doesn't yet support. Even if you set your phone to a version of English that isn't supported, like English (Jamaica), you might be prevented from changing the input language that you use to communicate with Google Assistant.

The easiest way to regain the ability to change Google Assistant's language is to change the language setting in your phone to English (United States), which has the most complete support in Google Assistant.

If doing that allows you to change Google Assistant's language to your own native language, you can go back into your phone's settings and change the system language to something you're more comfortable with.

It's important to pay attention to both the language and the region of the language. For example, you can set your phone to Portuguese (Portugal), Portuguese (Macau), Portuguese (Brasil), and others, but Google Assistant only supports Portuguese (Brasil) and won't work with the others.

After changing your system language, you can attempt to change the input language of Google Assistant. If it still doesn't work, clearing all the local data from your Google app and restoring it to its factory original state may help.

Change Your Android System Language to Change Google Assistant's Language

When you aren't able to change your Google Assistant's language, the problem is usually related to the system language of your phone itself. The system language is completely separate from the Google Assistant language, and it can be changed through the settings on your phone.

Here's how to change the system language on an Android phone:

  1. Open the Settings app, and tap System.

    A screenshot of the Android settings app.
  2. Tap Languages & input.

    A screenshot of the Android system settings menu.
  3. Tap Languages.

    A screenshot of the Android languages and input screen.
  4. If English (United States) isn't present on this screen, tap Add a language.

    A screenshot of the Android language preferences screen.
  5. Tap English (United States).

    A screenshot of the Android add a language menu.

    You can technically set any language that's supported by Google Assistant, but English (United States) has the most complete support in Google Assistant. After successfully changing Google Assistant to a language you're comfortable with, you can return to this step and replace English (United States) with that exact same language.

  6. You will now need to remove the language that was causing a conflict.

    Tap the (three vertical dots) menu icon.

    A screenshot of the Android language preferences menu.
  7. Tap Remove.

    A screenshot of the Android language removal option.
  8. Tap the language, or languages, that need to be removed, then tap the garbage can icon.

    Do not tap English (United States) during this step. Every language that has a check mark next to it will be removed in the next step. Removing English (United States) will prevent you from changing the language in Google Assistant.

    A screenshot of the Android language removal screen.
  9. Tap OK.

    A screenshot of the Android language removal confirmation.
  10. You will now need to open Google Assistant's settings and verify that you are able to change Google Assistant's language.

Verify That You Are Able to Change Your Google Assistant Input Language

Once you have changed the system language of your phone to English (United States), you should be able to change Google Assistant's language. Unlike the main system language, which allows you to choose from a massive list, Google Assistant only allows you to choose form supported languages.

If you are more comfortable interacting with Google Assistant in a language other than English, you can feel free to select any language from the list in Google Assistant's settings. If you don't see your own regional version of the language you want, choose the closest match and use that.

  1. Open Google Assistant, and tap your user icon.

    A screenshot of Google Assistant.

    In older versions of Google Assistant, you need to tap the blue inbox icon then tap the (three vertical dots) icon instead of your user icon.

  2. Tap Settings.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant user popup menu.
  3. Tap Assistant.

    The Google Assistant menu.

    In older versions of Google Assistant, you will need to tap Preferences.

  4. Tap Languages.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant user options menu.
  5. If English (United States) isn't in the list, tap the language that is in the list.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant languages menu.
  6. Tap English (United States).

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant input langues screen.

    You can choose any compatible language at this time. However, the English version of Google Assistant works best with the United States local variant. Google Assistant voice recognition as a whole also works best with the English (United States) setting.

  7. Check to see if Google Assistant is able to understand you. If it is, then you can change the system language of your phone to the same supported language that you chose in the previous step.

Restore Your Google Assistant to Its Factory Original State

If changing your phone's system language to a supported language still doesn't allow you to change Google Assistant's language, you may have a problem with your Google app.

Google Assistant relies on the Google app to work, so corrupt local data or a bug in a recently updated version of the app can end up preventing you from changing Google Assistant's settings, like the input language.

Here's how to restore your Google app to its factory original state:

  1. Open the Settings app, and tap Apps & notifications.

    A screenshot of the Android settings app.

    If you have an older version of Android, you might have to tap Apps instead.

  2. Tap Google.

    A screenshot of the Android apps and notifications menu.
  3. Tap Storage.

    A screenshot of the Google app info screen.
  4. Tap Clear Cache, then tap Clear Storage.

    A screenshot of the Google app storage screen.

    If you have an older version of the Google app, you might have to tap Manage Storage instead.

  5. Tap Clear All Data.

    A screenshot of the Google app storage menu.
  6. Tap OK.

    A screenshot of the Google app delete all data confirmation.
  7. Tap the back arrow.

    A screenshot of the Google app storage screen.
  8. Tap Disable.

    A screenshot of the Google app info screen.
  9. Tap Disable App.

    A screenshot of the Google app disable confirmation.

    Make sure to complete the following instructions to reenable the Google app, or your phone may not work correctly. Never leave the Google app disabled.

  10. Tap OK.

    A screenshot of the Google app factory restore confirmation.
  11. Tap Enable.

    A screenshot of a disabled Google app.
  12. Scroll down, and tap App details.

    A screenshot of the Google app info screen.
  13. Tap Update.

    A screenshot of the Google app needing an update.

    If you want to wait to update your Google app, you can find it in the Google Play store later.

  14. After the update has finished, you will need to check to see if you are able to change your Google Assistant's language. If the option is still grayed out, you'll have to wait for Google to issue a patch to fix your problem. You can visit the official Google Assistant support forum for additional information and to report your problem.