In our website language selector, we have a text in English saying "Choose your language".

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Should that text be ALWAYS in english, or should it also be translated to the current and selected language?

For example, if by mistake I am visiting the Spanish version of the website but I don't speak Spanish, I will not understand "Elige tu idioma". But of course I would understand "Choose your language".

  • 2
    On this screen, I'm not sure it matters... people will get here, see the name of their language in their language and click it. More importantly, how do users access this selector in the first place? Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 14:00

3 Answers 3


The "choose your language" text should not exist at all.

The intended audience for this label is a user who needs to switch the site language. But the only users who can read the label are those who do not need to use this feature, since the site is already in their preferred language. In short, the label is not useful.

Make sure any user will be able to see something that indicates their language, without having to navigate through something in a foreign language.

The list of languages, on its own without any explanation, will be clear enough. Or, you could use small flags if the list takes up too much space.


You mentioned that in your website language selector, you have a text in English saying "Choose your language". As stated earlier I wonder too how you would want to point out to that very user that his language is available as well.

Accepting that that very user will make it to here, I would address the user in their language available through a short sentence rather then stating the name of the language. So being from Holland I would like to read in Dutch that I can enjoy the site in my own language. Just stating the name of my language I think is too thin to my liking. So my advise is to drop that very top line and return a sentence in the very language available in stead.

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    But presumably the language hasn't been chosen yet. How does the site know what language to use?
    – user31143
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 21:30

English text for "Choose your language" is a best practice.

  1. English is by far the most used language on the internet (see below from Wikipedia). All of your users will be extremely familiar with commands, prompts, and iconography in the English language. enter image description here
  2. The text should always be in English for simple error handling. When a user who speaks Spanish accidentally selects German, if the entire page is turned to German--including the "choose your language" selector--the user will have a difficult time navigating back to the menu because of the anxiety and distraction principles of the LIFT model for conversions. enter image description here
  3. You can include an icon along with the "choose your language" text to increase recognition. Text + icons are by far the most recognizable form of visually communicating ideas (ie. a red octagon with the word STOP).
  4. Without the above text + icon, there is not enough context for the language list to stand alone. Depending on the context of your website, the list could lead to country specific sites with completely different content, navigation, services, etc. (ie. Ikea's website). enter image description here enter image description here
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    Your point #1 might be taken with a grain of salt. The chart seems to refer to the language of content on sites, not to the languages that users speak or use. Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 20:58
  • @KenMohnkern no salt needed, you're right that the chart is such and my answer clearly describes it as such. Furthermore, the question asks what language a menu CTA (content) should be in, further making the chart all the more authoritative.
    – rmarti55
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 21:06
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    Sorry, @rmarty55, I'm not sure we agree. I meant that the chart above shows what websites offer, not what users need. And the question is asking what to do to benefit users. Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 2:35
  • As for your last point, that is a list of countries not languages. I think a list of languages on its own would indeed be clear.
    – user31143
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 6:34

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