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Multilingual Research for Interviewer Doorstep Messages Final Report

Working Paper Number RSM2018-08
Mandy Sha, Jiyoung Son, Yuling Pan, Hyunjoo Park, Alisú Schoua-Glusberg, Casey Tasfaye, Anna B. Sandoval Girón, Yazmín A. García Trejo, Rodney Terry, Patricia Goerman, Mikelyn Meyers, Lucia Lykke, and Aleia Clark Fobia


This study uses focus group methodology and a team of language and survey experts to tailor and improve interviewer doorstep messages for use with English and non-English speakers. A secondary focus is to investigate whether bilingual respondents understand and interpret these messages differently from monolingual respondents. The focus group data formed the basis of the analysis to address the following research questions: (1) Which messages work best in various languages to encourage census response from English and non-English speakers? (2) How should the content of messages be tailored for the specific language groups in question? (3) Do monolingual and bilingual respondents understand and interpret messages differently?

This report presents findings from 42 focus groups conducted in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic, Spanish, Russian, and English. One hundred seventy-one monolingual and 169 bilingual participants were in the non-English groups and all participants in the English-language focus groups spoke English as their native or near native language. Findings include discussion of the use of a Language Identification Card, interviewer’s behavior and appearance, messages that best encourage census participation, and the most common concerns regarding the census. The report recommends key messages and interviewer behaviors that could encourage English and non-English speakers’ participation in the decennial census, along with lessons learned and recommendations for future research.


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