BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Chinese Vietnamese Burmese Thai Indonesian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Asia-Pacific  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 01:17 GMT 02:17 UK
Chinese find learning English a snip
Tongue operation in China
The operation is carried out under local anaesthetic

More and more people in China are seeking tongue operations to improve their English.

Plastic surgeons say that with minor surgery, patients can improve their pronunciation almost overnight.

With China's growing internationalisation, people's determination to become more proficient in English has reached fever pitch.

The operation itself is simple and quick - just a snip of the muscle under the tongue using local anaesthetic - even if it does make you twinge.

Tongue operation in China
Even after the snip people still need to do exercises
Plastic surgeon Dr Chu Jian is inundated with people begging for the operation because they want their English pronunciation to be clearer, freeing them from that tongue-tied feeling.

"Lots of people come to us asking for surgery hoping it'll help with their English pronunciation because they're taking interpreters exams or wanting to go abroad or get a job here with a foreign company," he said.

Dr Chu tells most of the people they do not need an operation because a strict regime of tongue exercises will work.

"There are lots of people who have serious problems with their tongues, affecting their pronunciation. They're not bothered about their Chinese pronunciation and they don't think about having an operation.

"But when they start to learn English they think it's really important, so they come to us," he said.

Parental pressure

Seven-year-old Ding Ding is one patient he has recently operated on.

Ding Ding is bright and lively. But he was rejected by a bilingual primary school, let down by his English pronunciation.

So his parents decided on the operation for the sake of his future.

His father, Wei Bo, said: "With China becoming more and more international, if you can't communicate properly in English it will have a serious effect on your career prospects."

Child waiting for tongue surgery in China
Ding Ding's English pronunciation let him down
People who do have the operation still need to do the exercises afterwards, meaning that for children like Ding Ding it is too early to say whether the operation was a success.

In Shanghai's People's Park on a sweltering Sunday morning, the heat does not stop droves of people turning out to practice their English.

Everybody's chatting away to each other purposefully, striving to improve themselves.

But the question is, which is the best way?

Mr Xie, a retired teacher, is an old timer here and his ideas on how to learn English pronunciation are somewhat traditional.

Asked about the people having operations on their tongues to improve their pronunciation, Mr Xie laughed.

"It's a waste of time, waste of money," he said.

See also:

30 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
11 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
14 Aug 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes