More and more Chinese want to learn to speak English correctly, and many of them are having tongue operations to improve their pronunciation. Plastic surgeons there claim that minor surgery can improve pronunciation overnight. The operation is quick?just a snip of the muscle under the tongue done under local anaesthetic. To improve things even more, some people do tongue exercises afterwards.
Plastic surgeon Chu Jian has more potential patients than he can handle. “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 says. Chu tells most of them that a strict regimen of tongue exercises will do the job just as well as surgery.
Seven-year-old Ding Ding is a recent patient. He was rejected by a bilingual primary school because of his English pronunciation, so his parents decided to operate. Wei Bo, his father, says, “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.”
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