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April 30, 2011

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City foreign language service patchy

ONLY half of guidance signs in foreign-related government service centers provide foreign language information, according to a report released yesterday.

This figure is lower than the average level found in public places popular with foreigners, the Shanghai International Studies University survey found.

Local tourist sites provide the most comprehensive foreign language service, with 82.6 percent of signs available in foreign languages.

They are followed by local airports, which have foreign languages on 79.5 percent of their signs, and Metro stations with 70 percent.

Hospitals with services for foreigners, road and community signs, train stations, hotels, ferries, shopping malls and cinemas provide foreign language information on two thirds of their signs.

Buses and long-distance bus stations offer the poorest foreign language service, with only about 42 percent providing foreign language information.

Shanghai International Studies University researchers surveyed nearly 100 spots foreigners visit frequently and found an average of 65.3 percent foreign language signs.

"That figure is higher than the actual level across the city, as we only visited the spots popular among expats," said Zhao Ronghui, the major researcher.

Among community signs, researchers found Xujiahui has the highest percentage, with translations on 89 percent of signs. In comparison, Lujiazui provides only 60 percent of information in foreign languages.

Most foreign language signs are in English, even though Japanese and Koreans form the largest groups of foreigners in Shanghai, according to statistics between 2005 and 2009.


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