Category Archives: School

Learning Mongolian script

Yesterday I took a little time off from packing to go to a Mongolian calligraphy class. There a few similarities with the supplies, as the same brushes and ink, and paper that I used in China. The big difference is that ruler is used in practice  to draw lines to make sure the word is straight.

I looked up the history of Mongolian script. (Omniglot)

Between the 13th and 15th Centuries, Mongolian was also written with Chinese characters, the Arabic alphabet and a script derived from Tibetan called Phags-pa.

As a result of pressure from the Soviet Union, Mongolia adopted the Latin alphabet in 1931 and the Cyrillic alphabet in 1937. In 1941 the Mongolian government passed a law to abolish the Classical Mongol script, but since 1994 they have been trying to bring it back. It is now taught to some extent in schools, though is mainly used for decorative purposes by artists, designers, calligraphers and poets. The average person in Mongolia knows little or nothing about the Classical Mongol script, though there is high literacy in Cyrillic. In Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China the Classical Mongol script is still used.

The best part was the teacher wrote my name in Mongolian script

I love it. The letter J was not in the original alphabet so it is a new letter to the script.

I then asked the teacher if she would write my name in the Cyrillic alphabet. It is on the right hand corner of the paper.

Looks like a very fun way to write my name.

Learning Mongolian

I have been enjoying my Mongolian classes, as they are very casual, and the teacher also talks about the culture which is very interesting. Today we learned that you do not say to a little child that they are cute or beautiful. Instead you say they are ugly as this way the evil spirits will leave them alone, as they only like cute babies. I think I will just smile at them. After they are 3 years old you can say they are cute.
Here are a few phrases I have learned.
Sain bain uu? Hello, how are you?
Saihan amrs-n uu? Did you have a good rest?
Answer. Saihn Nice
Zugeer. Okay
Ugui. No

Bi margaash Pilat yavan. Tomorrow I will go to Pilates.
I like that I don’t have to worry about tones like I do with Mandarin Chinese.

My driver gets a lot of practice with me, and today I talked to the dry cleaning lady who understood, and I was able to understand her answers.

Learning Mongolian

Today I went with Laurie a fellow American, who has lived here 8 years to a Mongolian class. There were 9 of us there with varying degrees of knowledge, so a very casual learning experience.
I learned how to say hello, my name is, I am American and Canadian. I want to buy, do you have, don’t have. It actually was kind of fun, as I would think how the word was said in Chinese although NO similarities, as it is closer to Russian. The class meets once a week in different homes, so I plan to continue.
Our vocabulary for the day.


Cursive style calligraphy

I missed the class last week, so it took me a few tries to get into the spirit of my printing and the meditation again.

I enjoyed the class, but need to practice making fine lines, and the full brush lines.

P1020475On the way home, Tom stopped at a small shop so I could purchase some paper and ink to practice my new learned skill.


The class was full of students today who could write their name with the Chinese characters.

I received a name from my students last term, so I am going to have to practice painting it.


I went for my second calligraphy class yesterday, which I enjoyed. I really appreciate the soothing meditative atmosphere in the classroom. In the middle of the session, we take time to do some stretching exercises, which is great for the whole body.
One of the advanced students brought in some pretty red paper for our final product. Just in time to hang it up for good luck for the upcoming year.
I learned I hung up my decorations a little early as they were just to be put up yesterday. Suppose to completely clean before, which I did spend a couple hours wiping the dirt and dust off of all my plants. I am sure they will be happy to bring in the new year.


A class in calligraphy

I am back in Beijing, and to start off the year I thought I would brush up on my artistic skills by taking a beginner calligraphy class. The class meets once a week for 90 minutes for 4 weeks.

The brochure stated this is what I would learn. Today we learned the oracle style.

Taught by an English-speaking instructor, this class emphasizes the proper posture, breathing, and brush-handling techniques needed to write a character that has the proper “spirit,” rather than one that rigidly conforms to a model. A combination of demonstrations and individualized tips makes up each class.

Content of the Four-Session Calligraphy Course

Our course combines calligraphy practice with meditation techniques and philosophy to create a dynamic learning environment. In this course, you will:

* Gain knowledge of the Four Treasures (brush, ink, paper, and ink stone)
* Learn writing techniques through one-on-one instruction
* Understand the symbolic meaning of the Chinese characters you write
* Try your hand at major styles of calligraphy: oracle, bronze ware, bamboo slab, and cursive
* Create works of art in a soothing environment
* Cultivate concentration with a relaxed mind and body
* Appreciate the inner relationship between writing and Qi/breathing.

Sample characters

Size of the class:
I had bought a starter set when I was in Tianjin so all I needed was some paper.


I was a little nervous about starting a new class, but turned out to be a small group of 8 of us, and quickly made friends with a young gal from Ireland.
We learned two words.


The first symbol is for “new” for the Chinese new year quickly approaching.
It looks similar to a tree with an axe beside it.


The second symbol is for “spring” as the new year is also called “spring festival” as the warmer weather should be arriving soon.
The symbol represents the sun with grass growing and a flower growing beside.


I learned to feel the brush touch the paper, as a knife carving into a tree. After each stroke a deep breath should be taken, so all the strokes start from the top, and go left to right. A slow meditative stroke each time.

I quite enjoyed the process and am looking forward to the class next week.

Canada EH!!

Yesterday, I went to a local school to talk about my home and native land, Canada!

Joan in 3rd grade coat

They asked if all Canadians always dress in red and white with maple leaves!

While doing a little research I learned a few things that I thought I would share.

I was reminded that Canada is the second largest country, with Russia being the largest, US, the third, and China the fourth.

Motto: From sea to sea

Joan with 3 grade

Canadians consume more macaroni and cheese than any other country.

They haven’t had mail delivery on Saturday, for the past 35 years.

It was great being in a classroom again, and being able to understand all that was said. They were most interested in hearing about  the people who went over  Niagara Falls in a barrel. Their most difficult question, could I teach them how to say “I want some candy” in French. I couldn’t as it has been so long since I learned French in school. But next week, when I go back to talk about China, I will be able to tell them.

Joan in 3rd grade

I had a great time!

My last class

Wednesday was my last day of teaching my wonderful class, as Mark and I fly to Utah this Sunday.

Heidi did a great job teaching.


The students learned about occupations.

Last class 4

They sang the song “Imagine”.


They gathered in a circle and sang a farewell song to me.


Jake modeled his superman shirt for me.


It was a delightful experience teaching these young adults to speak English. After 8 weeks, they were able to put simple sentences together. One I will always remember, “I will miss you!”

I Like Being Me!

Today the students did a super job singing “I Like Being Me”.


We have been only singing this song for the last couple weeks. Doesn’t Jake do a great job!

The whole group.

Linda's last class 2

This is a new song called “I Believe” that they sang to thank Linda, as this was her last day.

I think I am going to be sad next week when I have to say goodbye.

Linda's last class 3

Let’s do the Hokey Pokey!

On Wednesday we had a small Halloween Party and played a few games.

The students learned how to do the “Hokey Pokey”.



You can see Larry enjoyed the activity. The weather has turned cold, and with no heat until November 15, we thought the song would warm the students up. We all wore our coats in the classroom, as I think it was in the 50’s.

This was the first time my students played “Simon Says”.



I thought David from the advanced class did a great job, with “Simon Says”.