70% of U.S. Residents Support Language Access Measures

The majority of the United States’ residents believe that the nation should do more to accommodate speakers of other languages, according to results from a recently released survey.

Preply, a Massachusetts-based e-learning platform, recently conducted and published the results of a survey on U.S. residents’ opinions regarding language use in the country. The survey paints a complex, often conflicting, picture of the country’s views on language access and linguistic diversity, with most respondents saying that the country should adopt an official language while also doing more to improve language access services.

“Language can be a touchy subject within the United States,” the company wrote in a recent blog post. “According to our survey, 3 out of 4 Americans believe the U.S. should have an official language. At the same time, 70% feel that America should better accommodate other languages.”

In addition to the above data, Preply also found that three out of five respondents believe that non-English speaking residents can fairly easily go about their day without speaking English. According to Preply’s blog post, most respondents believe this is the case “due to both helpful courtesy and other non-native speakers across the nation.”

Additionally, 54% of respondents said they believe that improved language access accommodations would “ensure equal opportunities” while 53% said it would contribute to the country’s status as a cultural “melting pot.” Still, a handful of respondents appeared to view increased investment in language access as a negative for the country — 32% said that this would make the U.S. a “less united society,” while 20% said it would “reduce opportunities for native English speakers.” 

Although the majority of the country’s native English speaking population appears to believe in improving language access and working to foster the nation’s linguistic diversity, 37% of respondents said they were bothered by hearing foreign languages spoken in public. 

“While many support catering to other languages, there’s continued room for growth and understanding of different languages and cultures,” the company’s blog post reads.

Preply attributes the conflicting viewpoints to the political divide between Republicans and Democrats. Still, while Democrat-identifying respondents did tend to be slightly more supportive of improving accommodations for non-English speakers than Republicans, they generally agreed on all issues except for whether or not they were bothered by hearing a foreign language spoken in public (59% of Republicans said yes, compared to 29% of Democrats).

Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.


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