The System Usability Scale and Non-Native English Speakers


The System Usability Scale (SUS) was administered verbally to native English and non-native English speakers for several internally deployed applications. It was found that a significant proportion of non-native English speakers failed to understand the word “cumbersome” in Item 8 of the SUS (that is, “I found the system to be very cumbersome to use.”) This finding has implications for reliability and validity when the questionnaire is distributed electronically in multinational usability efforts.

Practitioner’s Take Away

  • The System Usability Scale (SUS) as originally conceived may not be
    suitable for electronic international distribution.
  • Many non-native English speakers do not understand the word “cumbersome” in
    SUS Item 8, but do understand “awkward”.
  • A simple fix for SUS Item 8 is to substitute “cumbersome” with “cumbersome/awkward.”
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