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Welcome back to Beijing, everyone!

With a month of R&R under our belts, some of you may be looking to get back into a regular workout routine. With the pollution above 200 for the past 2 weeks, it is recommended to avoid outdoor activities. That said, we want to deter from seasonal affective disorder and stay healthy, active, and social. Although there are hundreds of places you can go to in Beijing for a good workout, the places and the people I am recommending are mainly for the teachers in the housing provided by the school.


Maya Does Yoga – As most of you may know, one of own Carden staff members is a 200-hour certified yoga instructor. This past winter vacation, Maya received her teacher training in New Zealand and will be opening up classes in her home. Maya’s classes are dynamic and fun. She concentrates on the importance of the fundamentals of yoga in hopes to provide her students with a strong foundation and an acute awareness of their bodies. With a focus on alignment, Maya takes the time to explain each asana (pose) and to make adjustments when necessary. Her classes are suitable to people of all levels, from beginners who are merely curious to intermediates who are looking to build strength and gain flexibility. Her studio is clean, spacious, and often smells of relaxing essential oils. It also comfortably holds up to 8 people and is conveniently located in Wudaokou.

For more information, email her directly.
Email: mayadoesyoga@gmail.com
Times: 5:30-7:00 (M, T, Th, and F)


International Beijing Shuai Jiao Martial Arts Club – 

Shuai jiao (摔跤 or 摔角) is the general Mandarin Chinese term used today for any form of wrestling, both inside and outside of China. There are various styles of Chinese wrestling, but the Beijing style stems from the Manchu Buku style that was practiced by the Imperial Guards Brigade who were responsible for protecting the Emperor and the royal family during the Qing Dynasty. The main characteristic of the Beijing style is the use of the legs to kick and off-balance opponents, and the use of arm locks.

The best part of the club is not only the company of some of our wonderful Carden staff members, but also Coach Liu Zu Guang. Coach Liu is a five-time consecutive winner of the Beijing city championship in the heavyweight division. If this isn’t enough to convince you to at least try it out, then you should check out some of the photos and videos on their Facebook website. Coach Liu’s mastery of the sports’ technique and ability to effectively teach them has gained international attention. Last spring, he and two members of the Beijing club were invited to lead a seminar in Athens, Greece for the Greek Shuai Jiao Union. This spring, they will be returning to Athens to lead a few public seminars, as well as private teacher trainings.

Location: Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU or 北京语言大学)
Time: 5:00-7:30PM (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays)
Website: https://www.facebook.com/InternationalBeijingShuaiJiaoMartialArtsClub?ref=br_tf


Yoga with Yonnie – Yonnie is Beijing’s only registered Yoga Alliance 500-hour yoga instructor. Her dedication and passion for yoga is evident in her continual training in India, where she travels every 6 months. Yonnie is sensitive to others’ needs and will cater your weekly practices accordingly. Her knowledge of human anatomy and physiology is vast; she will always give you an extensive answer to your question. If you thought yoga equated to merely stretching, think again my friends. Her classes will challenge you and make you aware of muscles you never knew existed! For those interested in yoga therapy, she also offers private classes (individual or group) and can tailor them to suit your body. With a maximum of 6 people in a class, Yonnie gives you the full attention that your body deserves.

She was also recently featured in Beijing’s Time Out magazine for tips on relieving back and shoulder pain.Check it out.

For more info, contact her directly.
Website: www.yonniefung.com
Email: yogawithyonnie@gmail.com


Zumba with Terry – I have seen several adds for this Zumba class in Beijing’s City Weekend. For those of you who don’t know what Zumba is, it is a dance fitness program incorporating dance and aerobic elements. Zumba exploded in popularity in the mid 2000s; According to the official Zumba Fitness website, “approximately 14 million people take weekly Zumba classes in over 140,000 locations across more than 185 countries.” Even the First Lady Michelle Obama has included Zumba into her Let’s Move campaign. 

Time: 6:50PM (every Friday)
Location: Peking University, No.5 Yiheyuan Road
Fee: FREE to the public!



For those of you living in school provided housing, there are gyms close to your neighborhood. Some of you may not have noticed it or have had issues communicating with the staff due to limited Chinese. Below are either gym names or locations that you may want to check out for monthly/yearly memberships.

For teachers living in 曙光花园 (Shuguang Huayuan) or 金牙园 (Jinyayuan), here are two options:

  1. 顶级健身 (Dingji Fitness) – This gym is located in the Shuguang Huayuan complex.
    Location:  望河园 (Wangheyuan) Building 5
    Contact number: +86 10 8845 8080
    Map: https://plus.google.com/109075145261689451005/about?gl=US&hl=en
  2. 十二星座健身俱乐部(Twelve Stars Gym) – This gym is located just north of the Jinyayuan complex.
    Location: Inside the Chengpinjianzhu complex 诚品建筑小区.

For teachers living by the 金源新燕沙购物中心 (Golden Resources Mall), here is the main option:

Check the 6th floor of the mall for 红人运动俱乐部. According to some veteran teachers, this gym has a much nicer space and has better equipment. However, it is also more expensive than the others that I have mentioned.

Most of these gyms also have a swimming pool. You can either sign up for a gym membership including access to the  pool or you can sign up just to swim. It typically costs anywhere from 40-70 RMB per swim and access to the locker room. I personally prefer the BLCU one due to its chlorine level and length (25 meters).

Many of our veteran teachers who live in the area probably have a gym membership. Don’t be afraid to ask them about it! They can give you their personal review of the place and a general idea of where it is located.

SO there is no excuse not to get on a mat, get on a treadmill, or jump into a pool! Spring is approaching and in order to stay healthy, exercise is the key!



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Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” During the process of learning Chinese, it is good to keep this quote in mind. Like most languages, Chinese is not something you pick up in a day, a week, or even a month. It takes a lot of patience and discipline.

Many new teachers this year have asked me about places to study Chinese in Beijing. Since most Chinese people do not speak English, learning basic conversational Chinese is important and very helpful. Luckily, the subway system has romanticized pinyin to help foreigners get to the places they need to be; however, other forms of public transportation such as buses and taxies have not yet adopted pinyin. When studying Chinese, I recommend learning simple conversational terms and phrases using pinyin. Once you get a feel for the language, studying will get easier. If you are determined to learn the language, then you can progress into learning the characters, grammar structures, and all that jazz.

The Chinese language has many different varieties, of which Mandarin is one. Mandarin is also known as “Putonghua” (Common Language) or “Guoyu” (National Language). It is the official language of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan).  Chinese is often perceived by native speakers as dialects of a single Chinese language. However, many linguists and sinologists consider this to be incorrect because most the Chinese “dialects” are mutually intelligible due to differences in pronunciation, grammar, and lexicon.  Therefore, the varieties of the Chinese language can technically be defined as separate languages. For example, Cantonese – the lingua franca of Guangdong Province, Hong Kong, and Macau has nine tones and is typically written in traditional Chinese. On the contrary, Mandarin only has four tones and is written in simplified Chinese.

The Origin and Evolution of Chinese Characters

The Origin and Evolution of Chinese Characters

The following methods to studying Chinese that I am recommending will teach the standardized form of Chinese – Putonghua and its written form, Zhongwen.

1-on-1 Tutoring

If you want the full attention of your teacher, the best way to learn Chinese is to find a native Chinese speaker who is willing to tutor you. In the past, many of our Chinese teachers at school have done 1-on-1 tutoring with our foreign teachers. If you have already built a good rapport with your TA, you should ask her if she has free time to tutor you. If she does not have time, you can also check out the Classified section under The Beijinger (http://www.thebeijinger.com). Many foreigners and Chinese people create a profile and use this website as a platform to communicate. Some of our foreign staff have found their tutors and language partners using this website. Another way to find tutors is to check foreign areas for advertisements. Wudaokou’s Bridge Cafe always has fliers on their bulletin board. Compensation is dependent on your personal preferences. For example, if your tutor is meeting you in your home, it is likely she will ask for a little more. However, if you are willing to compromise regarding the location, the average rate is approximately 60 RMB per hour. This price is negotiable and is not a standard rate.

Language Partners

If you would like this to be a reciprocal experience, you can always try finding a language partner. While tutoring requires a fee, having a language partner is free. The exchange is your knowledge of English as a native speaker. It is reciprocal 1-on-1 tutoring. There is always someone out there who wants to learn English as much as you want to learn Chinese. Beijing is a city of about 20.7 million people; you are sure to find a language partner if you put in the effort. Again, check the Beijinger and foreign areas for posts. Chinese Teachers might also be interested in this form of cultural exchange as many of them want to continue their studies in the English language. As always, it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Global Village School, Wudaokou, Haidian District   

Global Village is a popular Chinese language learning school in Wudaokou; this area has the largest population of university students in Beijing. The school is Korean-owned and is very accommodating to foreigners. Some of their office representatives can speak basic English and can help you sign up for classes. It is located just west of the Wudaokou subway stop on the south side of Chengfu Road. If you copy and paste the Chinese characters for the name of the school, a google map will pop up. Make sure the school is in Haidian District because the other one is located across town in Chaoyang District’s Wangjing. Most of their classes are around 35 RMB per drop-in class. However, if you sign up for 10 or more classes, each class is only 30 RMB. If you notify them of your absence in advance (around 24-hours), they allow their students to make-up their sessions in another class or in the same class scheduled at a different time. If you do not notify them at all, you lose the 30 RMB and cannot make it up. If you are new to the school, they also give you a free class. This way, you can observe their teacher’s methods, the class size, and get a good feel for their classes before paying for a packaged deal. They are fairly strict about these policies and abide by them carefully.


Look for this logo when you enter the building.

For beginners, their lessons are paced fairly fast. So, if you are looking to do only one class a week, I would not recommend taking beginners’ classes here because it would require much catching up on the side. For people who want structure, consistency, and more discipline for their studies, Global Village can provide that for you. I would recommend trying their free class and seeing it for yourself.

I personally very much enjoyed the Advanced Reading class; we read the daily newspaper and discussed the jargon, the content of the articles, and its relevance to present day Chinese society. The teacher was well-versed in media jargon and was very helpful when presented with questions. He was informative and gave profound insight into the part of Chinese society that foreigners rarely see. With a consistent group of students in class, he opened up to us and shared his raw opinion about the Chinese government. He is one of the most educated and non-PC people that I have met in Beijing. Since I have not taken the other language classes, I cannot speak for them. However, I have based these evaluations from other foreign teachers’ experiences at the school.

1on1 Mandarin,
Wudaokou, Haidian District

1on1 Mandarin is a Chinese language school located in the same building as The Global Village School. I first heard about this school at one of Beijing’s expat career fairs. The school is managed by foreigners from the UK and the US.  Their website is not only in English, but they also provide their contact information, directions, and all the relevant information you need to know to get started. Although their rate is quite high, they arrange everything for you. In addition, they offer four different types of classes: One on one Chinese class, Friends Chinese class, Door to Door Chinese class, and Skype Chinese class.

For more information regarding this school, check out their website at http://www.1on1mandarin.com


Some of 1 on 1 Mandarin’s staff members

Culture Yard, Shique Hutong, Dongcheng District    

Culture Yard is not only a language school, it is also a cultural center. They offer space “for filmmakers to present their films and engage in conversations with the audience.” They have movie nights every month with an entry fee between 30-60 RMB. Their center is unique because it is located in the heart of Beijing, in a quaint hutong off of Line 5’s Beixinqiao Station. They cater to all levels of Chinese and offer different level group courses including Intensive Courses, Evening Courses, Chinese Through Media Courses, Survival Courses, Characters Course, and Individual Chinese Classes. Please check out their foreign-friendly website for the details: http://cultureyard.net/homepage/

There are clearly numerous schools to choose from in Beijing. The list would go on forever if I had to write about all of them. Please check The Beijinger and the City Weekend magazines if you want to learn more about the variety of language schools around the big city. You can find these magazines in Sanlitun’s Element Fresh restaurant, Wudaokou’s LUSH cafe, and other places geared towards foreigners. Each school offers a different environment and caters to all levels of Chinese. What defines a good program or an effective learning method is really dependent on your personal preferences and the time you put into studying.

This is an exciting time for you as you begin your first steps in learning a new language. While you are here, why not pick up an extra skill?

Fun fact: About one-fifth of the world’s population speaks some form of Chinese as their first language. 

The good news is, your days of pantomiming will soon be over!

Best of luck to you and your journey of a thousand miles,

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           Although I am 1 of the 3 Canadian teachers at our school this year, that isn’t to say I didn’t appreciate American Thanksgiving–it just meant I got to have *nearly* the same holiday twice this year. Throughout the past week, lessons revolved around pilgrims and feasts, ultimately prepping everyone for the holiday. On Thursday after my morning classes I joined about 50 other staff members in upstairs in a classroom that has seen the greatest variety of delicious treats over the years; a row of desks held boxes upon boxes of Chinese pastries as well as traditional pumpkin pies. With a lot of hushed tittering and hunkering down in chairs we awaited the arrival of Ms. Wang, Carden’s headmaster, whose birthday fell on Thanksgiving, and whose sly personality definitely contributed to her pleased-but-not-shocked expression when we all jumped up to sing Happy Birthday, first in English and then in Chinese. After taking pictures we proceeded to pounce on the various desserts, a culture exchange in itself.

           On Saturday I joined the foreign teachers who, like a flock of birds, migrated to Sonny & Maya’s apartment in Wudaokou, a thriving university area of Beijing (though my quick entrancement by food and banter would cause me to forget the outside world). By 3pm, after Paul who had been donned The Carver had worked up an appetite, everyone was ready to fill their paper plates with a feast, thanks again to Ms. Wang, of turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, veggies, cheeses, etc. etc. etc., followed by 6+ hours of as many drinks as their bulging stomachs would allow.

           In the end, I learned a lesson from Maria’s dog, who was able to make it to the gathering due to no conflicting priorities, and was smart enough to hide bits of turkey around the living room. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for napkins, because that was how I managed to slip turkey and ham into my pocket for the taxi-ride home.

~ Heather ~

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Hello, and welcome to Carden China’s blog where teachers from our school will contribute posts to talk about living and working in China.

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