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

Why this happens and how to solve this problem

Google Assistant is a virtual assistant that allows you to use voice commands to tell Google Home and other connected devices to perform tasks, such as setting appointments and sending text messages. It's designed to work with several languages, but sometimes users run into trouble trying to change the language setting on Google Assistant. Here's a look at why this problem occurs and how to fix it.

These troubleshooting steps work for the Google Assistant app for Android devices.

A man is unable to change Google Assistant's language on his phone.
Farknot_Architect / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Why You Can't Change Google Assistant's Language

Google Assistant works best with English, and specifically with the United States variant of English, but it's designed to work with several other languages, as well. Your smartphone, however, is likely designed to support many more languages than Google Assistant offers.

Sometimes, a user will set their phone to a language that Google Assistant doesn't yet support, such as English (Jamaica). When this happens, Google Assistant may prevent the user from changing its input language.

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.

Pay attention to both the language and the region. For example, you can set your phone to Portuguese (Portugal), Portuguese (Macau), Portuguese (Brasil), and others, but Google Assistant supports only Portuguese (Brasil).

Change Your Android System Language

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.

  2. Tap Languages & input.

  3. Tap Languages.

    Screenshots of Android settings with System, Languages & Input, and Languages highlighted
  4. If English (United States) isn't present on this screen, tap Add a language.

  5. Tap English (United States).

    You can technically set any language that's supported by Google Assistant, but English (United States) has the most complete support.

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

    Tap the three vertical dots menu icon.

    Screenshots of Android Language preferences with Add a language, English, and the three-dot menu highlighted
  7. Tap Remove.

  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 checkmark next to it will be removed in the next step. Removing English (United States) will prevent you from changing the language in Google Assistant.

  9. Tap OK.

    Screenshots of Android language preferences with the Remove, Trash, and OK buttons highlighted

See if You Can Now Change Your Google Assistant Input Language

Once you've changed your phone's system language 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 allows you to choose only from supported languages.

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

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

  2. Tap Settings.

  3. Tap Assistant.

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

    Screenshots of Google Assistant with the profile image, Settings, and Assistant highlighted
  4. Tap Languages.

  5. If English (United States) isn't in the list, tap the language that is in the list.

  6. Tap English (United States).

    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.

    Screenshots of Google Assistant
  7. Check to see if Google Assistant is able to understand you. If it is, you can change your phone's system language to the same supported language 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, such as 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.

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

  2. Tap Google.

  3. Tap Storage.

    Screenshots of Android settings with Apps & Notifications, Google, and Storage highlighted
  4. Tap Clear Cache, then tap Clear Storage.

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

  5. Tap Clear All Data.

  6. Tap OK.

    Screenshots of Android Storage settings
  7. Tap the back arrow to return to the previous screen.

  8. Tap Disable.

  9. Tap Disable App.

    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.

    Screenshots of Google app info with the Disable options highlighted
  11. Tap Enable.

  12. Scroll down, and tap App details.

  13. Tap Update.

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

    Screenshots showing how to update Google on an Android phone
  14. After the update has finished, check to see if you're 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. Visit the official Google Assistant support forum for additional information and to report your problem.