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Cognitive Testing of ACS Multilingual Brochures in Multiple Languages

Yuling Pan, Marjorie Hinsdale, Alisú Schoua-Glusberg, and Hyunjoo Park

KEY WORDS: Survey participation, translation of survey documents, cognitive testing, multilingual


In a continued effort to ensure high-quality data from the increasingly multi-lingual and multi-ethnic universe of respondents, the American Community Survey (ACS) developed two versions of a multilingual brochure that will be included in a Pre-Notice mailing packet and an initial questionnaire mailing. The ACS multilingual brochure is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Russian. This task order, the Cognitive Testing of ACS Multilingual Brochures Materials in Multiple Languages, was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of two versions of the ACS multilingual brochure.

Using the methodology for cognitive testing of translations in multiple languages (Pan et al, 2007), this study aims to assess if the multilingual brochures are able to successfully convey the key messages about the ACS in target languages and to effectively encourage survey participation from non-English-speaking populations. Specific research goals were targeted at how non-English-speaking respondents handled the mail packages which contained the multilingual brochure, how they interpreted the messages contained in the multilingual brochure, and whether the translation successfully conveyed the key messages in the target language.

Findings from this project show that respondents of the four target language groups reacted positively to the multilingual brochure. Thus providing survey messages and information in target languages is an effective way to communicate the legal requirements and importance of the ACS to non-English-speaking populations. It is also a crucial step in reaching the linguistically isolated households in order to encourage them to participate in the ACS. However it is of paramount importance to ensure that the translation of survey messages is adequate and appropriate at the pragmatic level. That is, the translation should convey survey messages and information in clear and comprehensible language and in a culturally appropriate manner so that the target populations can be receptive to the messages contained in survey documents.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Created: July 24, 2008
Last revised: July 24, 2008

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010