Matilda’s first class

Matilda just taught her first class. She studies techniques of teaching Chinese as a foreign language at Beida (a kind of applied linguistics) and hopes to become a Chinese teacher after she graduates. Her teachers organised this opportunity for her and her classmates to try out what they’ve learnt on real foreign students learning Chinese at Beida. Like me. Indeed, I was in the class.

Matilda was clearly terrified at the prospect in the first ten minutes of her class. But she warmed into it. She took a Mongol song from Qinghai province (‘Zai na yaoyuan de difang’: ‘In that far-off place’) and helped us work through the new vocabulary and grammar in the lyrics. It’s a sweet song, if a little culturally ‘different’: the boy in love with the Mongol girl, for instance, wishes to turn into a sheep so he can brush up against the girl’s side every day. I’m sure there’s a law against that.

So I thought I’d post the song (listen here) and the sheet Matilda used to teach us (complete with my scribbles, sorry) so as to add another song to your repertoire beyond Beijing f-ing Huanying Ni:

In that remote place, theres a beautiful girl...

First line: "In that remote place, there's a beautiful girl..."


  1. Your article evokes my memories. when you enter our classroom, some girls cheers up . Becouse Matilda’s friend is a nice boy?And I say Alec’s father is a charming man!O(?_?)O??~

  2. When I visited the Arch monument in St. Louis. A curator on his break played this exact song on a Lakota flute, which seems quite out of place. When I strike a conversion with him, he mentioned that when he was playing Lakota music for the museum. The Chinese visitor always comment on similarities of Chinese/Asian music and American Indian ones. Which prompt him to practice Chinese songs. Well, it’s nice to see the world is small place after all.

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