Break Diver Evelyn Li
  • DIVER: Evelyn Li
  • CATEGORY – Linguist
  • DIVE: Chinese (Mandarin)
  • LEVEL: 1
  • REQUIREMENTS: Can read, write, speak, and listen at a basic level

When and why did you decide to pursue this dive at this level?

I did not pursue this dive intentionally since my parents taught me how to speak Chinese when I was very young, so my inspiration and motivation would be my parents. I also did not choose to go to Chinese school myself to learn how to read and write. Instead, my parents forced me to do it, whether I wanted to or not. Although at first it was something I didn’t want to do, learning Chinese has actually been a great experience. It turned out to be very fun, so I am thankful to my parents for making me do all of it. I have no regrets and cherished the years I spent at Chinese school.

How Long Did It Take For You To Accomplish This Dive At This Level From The Day You Decided To Pursue It, And Why Did It Take That Long? 

It didn’t take me long to acquire a basic understanding of Chinese, especially since both of my parents are native speakers. I was fully immersed in Chinese as a child, which allowed me to learn really fast. They spoke Chinese to me every day, so it only took a short while to pick it up. However, not all people studying Chinese will have both parents as native speakers so in those cases, it would take a much longer time to attain basic Chinese skills. For some people, it could take as much as 5 years just to be proficient. In addition, since it is easier to learn languages as a child, it will take longer if you are learning at a later age.

What Was The Hardest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

The hardest part of basic proficiency was learning to pronounce things correctly. It is not easy to pronounce Chinese words, as they have 4 different tones and some unusual sounds that may be hard for toddlers or English speakers to pronounce. Also, I had slow speech development and learned to talk at a late age, which didn’t help at all. I would often pronounce words incorrectly when I was a small child, but eventually I started to get it right after lots of speaking practice with my parents. Even to this day, there are some words that I have trouble pronouncing, but I did get a lot better and that’s what matters. I think improvement is more important than learning quickly or getting things right the first time.

What Was The Easiest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

The easiest part of achieving basic Chinese proficiency was the vocabulary. For me, the vocabulary was basically just memorization. Again, this was made a lot easier since my parents would teach me everyday. For example, they would hold up an object or point to something and tell me what it is in Chinese. By doing this everyday, it allowed me to remember all of the words through repetition. If someone does not have a teacher to teach them vocabulary everyday, I would recommend flashcards because they also help a lot, working in a similar fashion.

What Is Your Advice For Someone Who Is Pursuing This Dive And Level?

My advice for someone who is pursuing this basic level would be to try to immerse yourself in the Chinese language as much as possible. You can improve your reading and comprehension by reading books, for example. Children’s books are a good choice because they are simple enough for beginners. To improve listening skills, you can watch Chinese television or music with Chinese lyrics. To learn how to speak correctly, you can practice with someone who is a native speaker or even with someone who is learning it too. Another option is online language learning apps or websites (like Break Diving, for example). Although you can’t achieve fluency just with an app or online community, you can get a good start and gain the practice you need.

What Are Some Of The Best Resources You Recommend to Those Pursuing This Dive At This Level, And Why Do You Recommend Them?

  • A popular language learning site is Duolingo. Duolingo is the most popular language learning site and they recently added Chinese as a language you can learn. It is perfect for beginners.
  • One of my favorite tools of all time is Google Translate. Whenever you want to write something and you don’t know how to write it in that language, you can use Google Translate to help you. The same goes for reading; it will help you translate any text that you put in.

How did you prove you met the requirements for this level?

I participated in a video and voice chat with Break Diving founder Monroe Mann, who verified my basic Chinese speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. I have also participated several times in the Chinese chatroom on the Break Diving site.

Tell Us A Story Of One Of Your Adventures While Pursuing This Dive (At This Level)

雖然我説中文説了很久了,我是到十一嵗才開始學閲讀和寫作。我在2014年第一次報名上中文學校. 老師們把我放到一年級班因爲我剛開始。一年級是最低的班。這個班的人都是很小的小孩所以我總是覺得自己很奇怪因爲我都比他們大。我記得只有一個人是跟我一樣的年齡,並且他是一個老外。大家都覺得這有一點怪。爲什麽一個十一歲的孩子會在一年級?我最后跳績到比較高年紀的班。之後我就覺得比較正常了因爲我的同學都是跟我一樣年齡的。

Will You Be Pursuing The Next Level For This Dive?  If Yes, Why?  If Not, Why Not?

I will be pursuing the next level for this dive because I have already met the requirements for it. Level 2 currently requires having passed a certified Chinese ability test, which I have already done through taking the AP Chinese exam. In addition, Chinese is an interesting language so I would enjoy learning more about it. It is a useful language to learn too. More than 1 billion people speak Chinese, making it the most popular language in the world, so it is definitely worth learning.

And having made this post, and provided adequate evidence to the dive committee, Evelyn Li is now hereby certified by Break Diving, Inc. as: LINGUIST – CHINESE (Mandarin) – LEVEL 1.  Congratulations Evelyn!  Thank you for being an inspiration to others!

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