WYSEguidance Logo

Kelly Chen – I Was Born in the USA but Chinese is my First Language!

Dive: Linguist - Chinese (Mandarin)
Description: Can read, write, speak, and understand a particular type of Chinese
Level: Level 1
Level Requirements: Can read, write, speak, and understand Chinese (Mandarin) at a basic level
Certified On: Jul 4, 2019

Editor’s Note: On all dive certifications, we try to edit the writing as little as possible to preserve authenticity, personality, and writing style. We typically fix spelling errors, but minimally modify grammar and sentence structure (just enough to ensure readability).

Kelly Chen

Name: Kelly Chen Break Diving Level: Recruit Number of Certified Dives: 4 From: United States In: United States

1. When and Why Did You Decide to Pursue This Dive At This Level? What was your inspiration and motivation?

Well, I actually wasn’t given a choice: my parents and their families are all Chinese. Funny thing is, I might have been born in the U.S, but Chinese is actually my first language. A year after I was born, I was sent to China. I went to school in China like other Chinese kids, and received the same level of education, and in the same environment. It was an unforgettable experience.

I moved back to the U.S. at the end of 5th Grade when I was 11 years old, which was and is another learning process in my life. I get to learn a new language, and again had to adapt to the new environment as a novice.

As for Chinese, while I had to learn it due to my family background, while learning it, I fell in love with Chinese calligraphy, and can’t wait to share how amazing it is with others. Plus having really good Chinese handwriting and the ability to tell everyone else that you speak fluent Chinese is something you can be really proud of! You get to brag about it and enjoy the unbelievable faces and praise you get. It’s a huge accomplishment!

2. 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?

I’m actually not so sure. Since I learned Chinese as a baby, it was a lot easier to learn in that environment.

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

Unlike English with only 26 letters to make up words, Chinese has very distinct characters. Missing a tiny dot or line might change the whole character, and thus, the whole meaning. In order of difficulty from least to most difficult, think it would be: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. With the technologies nowadays, it’s easier to practice listening in the language environment to reduce accent. With speaking, you have to learn Pinyin (拼音) which is an anglicized form of Chinese writing. It requires a bit more practice but it is considered easier than reading. Next, it’s very helpful and super important to feel comfortable to go outside your comfort zone and be brave enough to go out and seek opportunities to talk to more native speakers. Reading is when it gets a bit harder. Chinese characters at first glance may seem daunting and you probably won’t know where to start. Here are some tips, learn the 部首 bu(4)shou(3) or 偏旁 pian(1)pang(2) first. These two grammatical structures are similar to root words in English, and learning them will help you, later on, surmise the definition of the characters or words in order for you to better understand the passage you’re reading.

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

Having parents with whom I could practice every day.

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

Persistence is the key. You have to be able to constantly talk, listen, read, and write Chinese. There’s no shortcut! You just have to Practice! Practice! Practice!

6. What Are Some Of The Best Resources You Recommend to Those Pursuing This Dive At This Level, And Why Do You Recommend Them? Please Include Relevant Weblinks, If Applicable.

Here are some great resources to help you.

Resource 1: Break Diving's Chinese Fluency Project - Come and practice with others!

Resource 2: Hack Chinese - Practice vocab with this great website.

Resource 3: -

Resource 4: -

Resource 5: -

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

书法 (Chinese Calligraphy)


8. What Evidence Did You Submit to Prove You Met the Requirements for This Dive and Level?

I have provided regular feedback to others on BreakDiving.io to posts that ask for help about understanding Chinese, have texted in the live chat, and had a number of voice chats with Break Diving founder Monroe Mann. I also have passed the Chinese 1 CBE (credit by exam) with a score of 99 out of 100, and shared those results with the Break Diving Dive Committee. The exam includes reading and listening multiple choice questions, speaking live to a Chinese teacher, and writing.

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

Yes, of course! In the next level, I will share my experience taking my Chinese 2 CBE and more tips on learning Chinese.

10. What is the Break Diver's Creed?

No Rules. No Excuses. No Regrets.

Certificate photo:

And having made this post, and provided adequate evidence to the dive committee, Kelly Chen is now hereby certified by Break Diving, Inc. as: Linguist - Chinese (Mandarin) - Level 1. Congratulations ! Thank you for being an inspiration to others!

Certificate number: 17

The author above wrote this WYSEguidance post as one of the certification requirements to become certified by Break Diving, Inc. for a dive completed. Would you also like to find greater success, happiness, and friendship, and make genuine supportive connections with others around the world pursuing your same dreams? Come join us at Break Diving and soon your story will be the next one you read about on this site!

Break Diving Advertising Photo
Read More Stories on the WYSEguidance Homepage