Multi language content

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 1.9. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: Multi language content.

The Multi-language content filter enables resources to be created in multiple languages. When turned on, it looks for <span lang="xx" class="multilang"> tags which indicate that a text contains multiple languages. Then it selects and outputs the best language for the current user. The language of the resource will change when the user changes their selected Moodle language.

The multilang syntax was changed in 1.8. <lang> is not supported any more. It is required to add class="multilang" into each <span> tag in multilang block. The new syntax is backwards compatible with old plugins, which means it can be used in older Moodle version.

How to use in a course

To use this feature first create your contents in multiple languages (in the same resource). Then enclose each language block (aka multilang block) in the following tags:

      <span lang="XX" class="multilang">your_content_here</span>
      <span lang="YY" class="multilang">your_content_in_other_language_here</span>

It is essential to be in the code editing mode (press [<>] in the HTML editor), when you enter these tags for them to work. Only spaces, tabs and enters can be used between the individual languages in the multilang block. Please note that class="multilang" is not required prior to 1.8. There is a lang drop-down markup tool in the HTML editor in later versions of Moodle. The first versions, at least to 1.8.2, do not make "multilang" language tags. If you are working in a sufficiently new version of the HTML editor you can add these tags without going to the code editing mode. If something doesn't work properly you should check how the markup looks in code mode.

Following code


does NOT work.

The obsoleted HTML tagging

      <lang lang="XX">your_content_here</lang>
      <lang lang="YY">your_content_in_other_language_here</lang>

      <span lang="XX">your_content_here</span>
      <span lang="YY">your_content_in_other_language_here</span>

will not work in 1.8 and later. In 1.8 the lang attribute without class="multilang" can be used to mark the language of the text - see

How it works internally

  1. Filter first looks for multilang blocks in the text
  2. For each multilang block:
    • If there are texts in the currently active language, print them
    • Else, if there exists texts in the current parent language, print them
    • Else, print the first language found in the text
  3. Text outside of multilang blocks will be shown always

Course summary and title tags

To be able to change text such as resource titles and summaries, an administrator must choose Filter all strings in the site administration.

 <span lang="en" class="multilang">Matematically</span> <span lang="sv" class="multilang">Matematiskt (svenska)</span>

functions as English or Swedish title.

It doesn't work for course titles and site names (neither long nor short version) in some versions of Moodle. At least from 1.8.2 long course titles and site name, both full and breadcrumb were multilang filtered.

In the course summary:

<span lang="en" class="multilang">Growth is often a major concern in planning society.
 How can one avoid superficial conclusions? <br>
(Exists in Swedish too. Finns på svenska också)</span>
 <span lang="sv" class="multilang">Tillväxt är ofta använt i samhällsdebatten. 
Hur kan man undvika ytliga slutsatser? 
 (Finns på engelska också. Exists in English too.)
<br /></span> 

Can show in the chosen language (and point out that the other language is there). Please note that class="multilang" is not required prior to Moodle 1.8.

Translations with tags

If you wish to translate a word or phrase in an English text to another language:

If I want to include an explanation <span lang="en"> </span>
 <span lang="sv" class="multilang">(sv: förklaring)</span> in a running text 
 can I do it?


<span lang="en" class="multilang>If I want to include an explanation
 in a running text can I do it? </span>
 <span lang="sv" class="multilang>If I want to include an explanation (sv:
 förklaring) in a running text can I do it?</span>

would both work, but not:

If I want to include an explanation <span lang="en" class="multilang></span>
 <span lang="sv" class="multilang>(sv: förklaring)</span> in a running text
 can I do it?


If I want to include an explanation <span lang="sv" class="multilang>
 (sv: förklaring)</span> in a running text can I do it?

which would show the Swedish even if English was the chosen language. NOTE that before 1.8 the "span lang=en" must contain something, at least a space.

New multilang syntax


  • <span lang="xx"> and <lang> should not be used anymore
  • Existing content can be upgraded using the admin/multilangupgrade.php script, there is a link in the admin notification page if a multilang upgrade is required.
  • The multilang filter can be configured to use old syntax only - see Multi-Language Content Settings; this setting may be removed in 1.9
  • New syntax is forced during a new 1.8 installation, for upgraded sites the new syntax is enabled after the multilang upgrade

Common problems

  • The multilang filter is not enabled. The administrator for the Moodle site you are using must go to Site administration> modules> Multilanguage Content and enable it (by clicking on the "eye")
  • Filter all strings not enabled on sites that need multilang in titles, navigation, headings, etc. The administrator for the Moodle site you are using must go to Site administration> appearance> Filter settings and set a check in "filter alll strings". This will increase server load slightly, so don't do it unless you really need it.
  • Extra characters between language span tags - editor might add <br /> or other tags, please review the html in source view
  • If the course setting is "force" some language, you won't be able to change the displayed language.
  • Extra spaces in language span tag
  • Can not easily access language choice dropdown! Unfortunately you must go to the site homepage or your own profile to change the displayed language. Want a change? see [ MDL-11531]. It is possible to manually quickly change displayed lang by editing the URL in the browsers address bar. See Tips and tricks below!

Tips and tricks

Lang dropdown in HTML editor

In later versions of Moodle there is a lang dropdown in the HTML editor that can be used to do multilang markup. You may have to go to the "edit source" mode (with the [<>] button) to check, and maybe correct, how things turned out.

Changing language displayed without going to front page

It is possible to change the displayed language by manually changing the link.

  • Here is the default language page at id=2306. This link is in English, the default language:
  • The link to change the page display to Spanish is ,
  • When the default language is an other language, to change the page to an English version, the link would be:

Thusly, with a bit of editing, you can manually change the displayed language by adding "&lang=xx" to the URL in the location bar of the browser. Where xx is the abbreviation for the language you want.


One inventive fellow has made a hack to use the multilang filter to be able to adapt the sent content to a users chosen bandwidth. Especiallly international courses can have users with extremely varied Internet connection speeds and this can allow them to chose what level of content (Low = text and small pictures, medium = some mp3, high = some video and other heavy stuff) suits them. the blog with description and downloads

See also

Using Moodle forum discussions: