Written by Mark Richards, Senior Vice President
Whether or not you’re a soccer fan, you might find your next several weeks dominated by the World Cup. Starting on June 12, the entire world will turn towards Brazil to see their favorite soccer stars compete for their countries– or, according to a recent poll, almost the entire world. A recent survey indicates two-thirds of Americans don’t plan to follow the competition at all. But at 538, Carl Bialik points out one detail that may have affected the results of this survey: it was only conducted in English.
This may or may not be skewing the numbers. After all, over 230 million Americans only speak English in their homes. Of the 60.5 million who speak another language, over three-quarters speak English “well” or “very well.”
But with nearly 38 million Americans speaking Spanish or Spanish creole, it’s clear that there are many people who may prefer to interact in a language other than English. Living in Miami, where over half the residents regularly speak a language other than English, I am particularly aware of our country’s rich multicultural tapestry.
The fact that English is a second language for a significant number of Americans is particularly important because, as Bialik points out, the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project has identified stark differences between those who choose to respond to surveys in Spanish and those who choose to respond in English. The US Census also identifies differences between those who speak English “very well” and those who speak it “less than ‘very well,’” including in educational attainment, socioeconomic status, employment status, disability status, and rates of health insurance coverage. At KRC, we have also observed these differences in our bilingual surveys.
Despite living in a predominately English-speaking country, accurately capturing opinions from a wide variety of audiences requires communicating with them in whichever language they are most comfortable. That’s why KRC regularly conducts both quantitative and qualitative research in other languages, and especially in Spanish. Of course, with our global reach, we also translate surveys, moderate focus groups, and conduct interviews in French, German, Mandarin, Portuguese, Malay, Amharic, and Tagalog, to name a few.
As for the World Cup: KRCers stateside will be rooting for the US, but when the Stars and Stripes aren’t playing, we’ll be rooting for the many countries where we hold personal attachments: Algeria, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. And may the best team win! I know I’ll be watching…