WITH 36 symbols instead of our 26 letters – the Mongolian alphabet is no easy read.
But for children born into Nottingham’s tiny and tight-knit Mongol community it provides a valuable link with their homeland more than 4,000 miles away.
A new Mongolian education centre is about to be launched at a city church and will be the first place of its kind in the East Midlands.
It has already begun hosting weekly language classes for primary-aged children whose parents travelled from Mongolia to settle in Nottingham.
Nineteen families have been taking part in the pilot and parents have expressed their delight over the opportunity.
Dima Kim, 34, lives in Aspley with his wife and two daughters, Angela, nine, and Jessica, eight.
Mr Kim, a full-time student at NCN who has lived in Nottingham for 12 years, thought it was important that his children connected with their heritage.
He said: “We are first generation Mongolian families in Nottingham so we do not have an established community like some of the other ethnic groups in the city.
“This is the first type of group I have been involved with and I think it is really important.
“The children get to meet other Mongolian children and they can learn about where they are from.
“It gives the children options as well in case they ever want to go back to Mongolia. It is a hard language to learn because it is a completely different alphabet and the sounds are different.”
It is thought that there are around 7,000 Mongolians living in the UK, but retired teacher Francis Luckcock, who is the acting centre director, said he did not know how many had settled in Nottingham.
He said: “Mongolian parents want their children to be global citizens and have opportunities of following their careers in the UK or in Mongolia.
“Because these families are first generation they don’t have the background in the UK so we want to help and support them to succeed within Nottingham.”
Mr Kim’s daughter Angela, who attends Rosslyn Park Primary and Nursery School, in Aspley, has been enjoying the classes.
She said: “We’ve been learning the alphabet which has been hard because there are 36 letters instead of 26 but it is funny too as some of the words are hard to say. I like learning the old songs too.”
Angela’s sister Jessica, who also attends Rosslyn Park School said: “We got to learn the ABC but it wasn’t the ABC – it goes way past Z.”
Fellow student Michael Stone, 10, of Sherwood, who attends Seely Primary School, has also been enjoying the classes and was finding it easier the more he practiced.
Based at Grace Church, in Castle Boulevard, the East Midlands Mongolian Centre will officially be launched on March 1 at 2pm.
The centre hopes to teach young Mongolian children about their heritage and welcome Nottingham residents from all backgrounds into the school to learn about the nation’s history and culture.
The project has been two years in the making and was originally the brainchild of a former caterer at Nottingham’s Masonic Hall, in Goldsmith Street. Jamts Chimedbaldir has now returned to Mongolia after 30 years in the UK.
The East Midlands Mongolian Education Centre will be hosting an open day on February 22 from 2pm until 4.30pm in The City Suite at Grace Church.
Have you moved to Nottingham from overseas? Or are you learning a new language? Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
MONGOLIA is located more than 4,000 miles away in central Asia and counts Russia and China as its neighbours.
A staggering 45 per cent of the country's three million population live in the capital Ulaanbaatar.
Many nomadic empires have claimed the country as its own but perhaps the most famous historical ruler was Genghis Khan who founded the Mongol Empire in 1206.
Mongolia is the world's 19th biggest country and boasts a diverse terrain, with the Gobi desert to the south and a mountainous region to the north.
Most of the country is hot in the summer but winter temperatures can drop to as low as minus 30 degrees.
The diet of the Mongolian people largely consists of meat, dairy products and animal fat.
The most common dish is cooked mutton with buuz – dumplings filled with meat. Sometimes this is cooked in a sealed milk can or carcass of a de-boned goat. A popular drink is salted milk tea known as Süütei Tsai.