2022 DSE English Writing Question 8 (Sample)

8: Learning English through Short Stories

You entered the “Stories of Survival” short story competition. The theme of this year’s competition is “Nature: friend or enemy?” Write a story about a hiker who gets caught in a storm while hiking in the mountains.

Nature: Both a friend and an enemy

It is springtime in early March. The sun is shining through the cracks in the clouds and a mild breeze is blowing in the air on a Sunday morning. Zoe wakes up to the radio broadcast in the sitting room which is forecasting some sunny days with a few passing clouds throughout the week. “The weather feels so pleasant!” Zoe thinks to herself. She then calls her best friend Suzy and asks her to go for hiking together. Zoe and Suzy are just average hikers. They usually do the easy hikes for recreational purpose at weekends. 

Today, they decide to hike up to the Peak from the University of Hong Kong and then continue the climb up to Mount High West because the scenic views up there is superb. Along the way, the sunshine is creeping in through the shaking leaves on the trees and a stream with clear water is flowing gently down the mountain. The air is crispy fresh. When they are halfway up the Peak, to their amazement, there emerges the spectacular view of the Victoria Harbour between Central and West Kowloon. Zoe and Suzy love the cozy feeling that nature brings.

When they reach the Peak, the weather seems to be changing suddenly. The sky is filled with dark clouds and the wind becomes stronger. Suzy decides to stay under the shelter in the park to have a rest. Zoe insists on going on with her hike to Mount High West and leaves behind Suzy. The path to Mount High West consists mainly of steep, narrow and rocky stairs . When Zoe is in the midway, it suddenly rains heavily and becomes stormy. The stairs are too slippery for her to climb downhill. Zoe cannot move but gets stuck there. She is very scared and trembles severely without any help.

Noticing that the weather is getting worse, Suzy thinks that Zoe might be in danger and calls for the rescue immediately. The search and rescue team flying in the helicopter comes in five minutes and saves Zoe successfully. Luckily, Zoe still survives and only suffers from a little panic attack. 

Nature is always changing. It can be both a friend and an enemy to human beings. It can give us a pleasant breezy warm day which is good for our well-being as well as a bad stormy day which is dangerous to our lives. Like a friend, we can enjoy the friendly company of nature; as an enemy, we need to protect ourselves against its threats and attacks. By adapting ourselves to the precarious nature, we can live with nature in harmony and peace.   

2022 DSE English Writing Question 7 (Sample)

7: Learning English through Drama

As part of your drama class, you played the role of the hero and the villain in different plays.

Write an entry in your drama journal. Reflect on which role you preferred playing and why.

From Villain to Hero

Last year, I started taking English literature as my elective course and studying drama was part of the course requirement. My drama teacher said that the best way to study drama was to act out the plays. So I was required to play the role of hero and villain in different plays we were studying as our assignment. I played the role of Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice and the role of Joker in The Dark Knight. Though I enjoyed playing the character Darcy as he was a fine noble man, I found playing the character Joker very demanding and stimulating.

I preferred playing a villain character because I believe that in order to make my dream of becoming an all-rounded actor come true, I have to put my acting skill to test and stretch it to the limit. Personally speaking, it does not take me much effort to play a hero character as I embrace the universal values of courage, goodness, kindness and love in real life. However, since I am not used to being a villain in real life, I would like to dare myself to play a villain character in order to enhance my acting skill to a professional level and to get closer to become a successful actor.

Moreover, I want to know more about human nature, especially evil. Despite the fact that I am well aware of good, I seldom have knowledge about darkness and evil. By tapping into the mind and heart of a villain character, I am able to gain a better understanding of what evil exactly is and how evil takes shape which enables me to prevent myself from falling into the trap of being a villain in real life. 

Another thing is that in real life, we have many chances to be a hero but we rarely risk our life being a villain. Things as small as giving a helping hand to an old lady crossing the road,  opening a door for a wheelchair-bound person or doing volunteer services for the sick, the poor or the disadvantaged are already deemed as an act of a hero. However, most of us generally won’t choose to be a villain in our daily life because being a villain will very likely lead to serious consequences under the rule of law in the modern society. No one will dare to run the risk of being convicted or sentenced to imprisonment in the court and spending the rest of life in prison. Therefore, since, in reality, most of us won’t behave like a villain, only under a pretend setting, that is drama, will I be able to have a chance of experiencing the complex mind and psychology of a villain character as well as the evil and the darkness inside. 

What’s more, playing the villain character appeals to me personally because I want to be a hero in real life. As Chinese saying goes “If you know yourself and your enemy, you can fight a hundred battles without defeat”, by putting myself into the shoes of a villain, I can better understand them and thus will more likely to fight against them, save the world from destruction and bring faith and hope to the humanity in real life.  

2022 DSE English Writing Question 5 (Sample)

5. Learning English through Social Issues

The following comment appeared in the editorial of Hong Kong post.

Young people today lack interest in traditional art forms such as lion dance, calligraphy or the art of tea drinking.

You are the chairperson of your school’s Heritage Club. Express your views by writing a letter to the editor of Hong Kong Post.

Dear Editor,

Recovery of Traditional Chinese Cultural Heritage

I am writing in response to the editorial of Hong Kong post on 1 April 2022 commenting on young people’s lack of interest in traditional art forms such as lion dance, calligraphy or the art of tea drinking.  As a chairperson of my school’s Heritage Club, I think that the phenomenon is owing to three major factors: the many other substitute activities that young people find more appealing, the preference of parents for study in the spare time and the Government’s lack of respect and support for traditional Chinese cultural heritage. In my opinion, should the Government promote these traditional art forms to the public and encourage the young people to participate in these activities, they will definitely be attracted to the treasure of our traditional Chinese cultural heritage.

A recent survey revealed that nowadays, young people prefer extracurricular activities such as sports and music to traditional Chinese art activities. Young people find that playing sports like swimming and football and playing musical instruments for an orchestra are more exciting and rewarding as they can take part in local, regional and even world events and competitions if they are talented and competent. It is easier for them to become famous if they have won awards or medals. On the contrary, traditional Chinese art activities lack the interactive, collaborative and competitive dimension. For example, calligraphy and the art of tea drinking are more of personal cultivation and social function. Young people may find it too quiet and boring.

Moreover, parents prefer their children to study or extracurricular activities that benefit their further study and future career development. Despite academic results, sports and music are widely recognised by schools as favourable to  students’ admission. However, traditional Chinese art forms lack general recognition which is unfavourable to students’ admission. As a result, without practical incentive, young people thus lose interest in these activities.

To raise the general status and recognition of traditional art forms among young people, the Government should take the lead to promote these traditional art forms by organising exhibitions, live shows or workshops at schools or museums to educate young people about the many advantages of practising these arts forms and the rich history, meaning and spirit behind. For example, lion dance is a kind of martial arts that requires body and mind coordination and is very important politically and culturally as it helps bring good luck, fortune and blessings to people in Chinese New Year. As for tea drinking, it is a kind of Chinese culture that plays an important role in enhancing communication and socialization among people. In addition, the Government should encourage schools to accept these traditional art forms as a good consideration of student admission. It will surely provide incentive for young people to practise these art forms.

Last but not least, the Government can provide funds and subsidies to small businesses or social organizations that engage these traditional art activities to support their initiatives so that they can really become part of our daily life and hence, our culture. As explained above, with the wholesome support of the Government, as the society as a whole are more aware of the great importance and the rich history of traditional Chinese cultural heritage, young people will no doubt change their mind and become more interested in these art forms. 

Yours faithfully,

Chris Wong

2022 DSE English Writing Question 6 (Sample)

6. Learning English through Poems and Songs

The musical group Nine Dragons has asked you to help promote them by writing a bio for their website. The bio should include background information about the group, style of music and plans for the future.

Nine Dragons — All you need to know

Nine Dragons is a rock band from Hong Kong formed in 2021. It is composed of five boys and four girls named Adam, Anson, Jeremy, Louis, Stanley, Annie, Christina, Emma and Victoria accordingly. All of them participated in the music talent show Hong Kong’s Got Talent at ViuTV in 2020 and won many cheers and applause from the audience. Taking this opportunity, they signed with World Records and released their debut song Warrior on 1 November 2021 which was very well-received. Their second single The Origin of Time won widespread recognition and topped the Radio 903 song chart for two weeks. 

As the members of the band are quite young, aged between 20 and 26, Nine Dragons carries a symbol of youth power which refreshes the current aging Hong Kong music industry. Their style of music is mostly pop rock, with Adam as the drummer, Louis and Emma the electric guitarists and, Jeremy and Victoria the lead vocalists whose voices are idiosyncratic. Apart from being vocalists, Anson, Annie and Christina are also composers and songwriters. They write captivating melodies and catchy poetic lyrics that communicate mainly love and life and resonate with many hearts of Hong Kong youngsters. Each member has his or her own special contribution to the music.

In the near future, Nine Dragons has some breakthrough plans. They would like to try and play different genres of music, for instance, hip hop and dance music, to add rapping and breakdancing elements to their performance.  They would also like to produce new music through experimentation and improvisation. This significant move will definitely establish themselves a unique identity and position themselves a distinct standing in the music industry. 

As Nine Dragons is becoming more popular, the band has decided to do a series of live performance at the Central Harbourfront in the forthcoming Christmas holiday. Tickets will be sold at all 7-Eleven convenience stores and via this website on 25 and 26 November 2022. The price would range from HK$700, $500 to $300. If you are a die-hard fan of Nine Dragons, you will regret should you miss their first amazing live show!

Moreover, Nine Dragons is now making plans to debut individually and release their own singles in order for each member to have a chance to do his or her own signature music to engage with their own respective fans. This move is going to bring about many inspirations to the music industry. Stay tuned!

2022 DSE English Writing Question 2 (Sample)

2. Learning English through Popular Culture

You are the host of “Teen Chat”, a YouTube Channel that explores a wide range of topics from a teenage perspective. Write an article for Teen Magazine about why you started this channel and what you have learned in the process.

Teen Chat — A Teenage Channel

Teen Chat is now a very popular YouTube Channel among young people. It aims to give a voice to the youth in a society where the voices of teenagers are usually unheard and subdued. In recent years, the suicide rate among teens has been unprecedentedly high. A recent survey reveals that many teenagers feel hopeless about the future and that they feel helpless about many problems facing them such as social expectations, intergenerational difference among family members, school performance, peer pressure, bullying at school, to name a few. It is alarming that the pillars of the future are so desperate that they have no choice but to resort to suicide. In view of the depressing situation, I have started the channel to explore various topics and issues from the youth perspective so that it resonates with teenagers who will then feel empowered.

As a host of “Teen Chat”, I have learnt that most of the teenagers need so much to be listened to and to be understood by the adults, especially their parents. Having an intensive interview with teenagers from various secondary schools in Hong Kong, I realize that teenagers seldom have quality conversation with their parents over topics that are intimate to them, plus they usually find themselves being ignored and misunderstood by their parents.  For example, when it comes to what to study at the university or what career to choose after graduation, it often leads to heated argument and even violent conflict between parents and their children. An interviewee named Joyce revealed that her parents would not have an open conversation or discussion with her over her decision to study fine art at the university. Even Joyce tried to convince them that she had shown artistic talents and abilities in various art competitions, her parents would not listen but insisted that she was chasing some unrealistic and nonsensical dream. They not only rejected her decision but also threatened her to study business and finance; otherwise, they would not pay for the school tuition fees. Joyce felt disregarded and helpless. When I retold the story in Teen Chat, many viewers commented that they were facing similar problem and feeling upset about their parents being nonchalant towards their dreams.

Moreover, I have found that almost all teenagers are weak and fragile psychologically and in need of acceptance and encouragement, especially their parents and teachers and classmates.  Most teenagers revealed that under the result-oriented learning atmosphere which put so much emphasis on correctness, they were very afraid to make mistakes because they would be scolded and rejected by their elders and would be laughed and mocked by their peers. For example, an interviewee named Jess from a famous secondary school revealed that as she was not quite good at science subjects compared to her peers, she was very afraid of being asked to answer questions by science teachers during class and felt very ashamed each time after learning that her answer was wrong in front of all her smart classmates. Because of the many mistakes she had made and her poor results in science subjects, she felt that she was not worthy as she was looked down upon by her teachers and classmates. She had lost confidence almost in everything she did. When I retold the story in Teen Chat, many viewers commented that they were quite upset about the fact that instead of giving guidance and encouragement to them, how few chances the adults would give them and how easily the adults would give them up when they had made mistakes or had not performed or behaved well as expected . 

The Youtube Channel Teen Chat has not only attracted the society’s attention to teenage voices but also raised the awareness of the society of the difficult situations faced by teenagers and their concerns. Consequently, the Government has initiated and rolled out various plans and measures in support of teenagers in terms of education, social welfare and health. Teen Chat has finally achieved its ultimate aim.

2021 DSE English Writing Question 4 (Sample)

Dear Human Resources Manager,

Application for the position of Assistant Coach

I am writing in response to your recent advertisement about the position of Assistant Coach at Hong Kong Sports Foundation. Having been a professional swimmer for over twenty years, I would like to make a career change and become a professional coach. I believe that my solid athletic experience would make me a strong candidate for the position.

Since I was 11 years old, I have trained under the famous and successful swimming coach Michael Chan. I receive intensive morning and afternoon training every weekday and spend hours on workouts every weekend. I mainly practise freestyle and breaststroke.  Since high school, I have participated in many open swimming competitions held by local, regional and international sports organizations including Hong Kong Sports Foundation. At the age of 18, it is the first time I have taken part in Asian Swimming Championships where I have won a silver medal in women’s 50m freestyle event and earned a fourth place in women’s 100m breaststroke event. In the following years, I compete in various World Championships where I have won several awards such as a bronze medal in both women’s 50m freestyle and breaststroke. In 2016 Olympic Games, I have got a fourth place in women’s 50m freestyle final.

Throughout all these years, having participated in numerous international sporting competitions and contests, I am very well aware of how to organize world-class sporting events such as bidding world events, identifying appropriate venues, providing hospitality to sponsors, coordinating different participating parties and governing bodies, communicating with the press, arranging accommodation and transportation for participants and so on. Given the exposure and experience, I believe I can help deliver smooth and successful international sporting events.

As a competent and well-trained professional swimmer, I understand that a high-quality training programme is necessary for developing future elite athletes. In additional to regular and disciplined physical training, mental and psychological preparation play a very important part in enhancing the performance of the athletes and taking them to the elite level. Not to mention the harsh and tough daily athletic training, the athletes are under tremendous pressure in the preparation for, in the anticipation of and in the participation in various contests. They need consolation to relieve their stress. Besides, on becoming an elite athlete, the athletes have to face countless failure, struggles and frustration. They need constant motivation and encouragement to build their confidence and resilience to enable them to strive for excellence and outperform their contestants. Therefore, I believe that I can help design training programmes suited to the needs of the elite athletes.

Having accumulated sufficient professional athletic experience, I have developed passion for raising and supporting the next generation elite athletes. In fact, there are many athletic talents in Hong Kong waiting to be discovered. The 2021 Olympics gold medalist Cheung Ka Long in fencing and silver medalist Ho Sze Pui in swimming are the good examples. I would be very happy to help seek out Hong Kong young people with right physical and mental attributes and lead them on to the journey of a professional athlete. 

I enclose my resume that details my background and experience and how they relate to the position.  I would appreciate if I could be given an interview to discuss further. I can be reached at 9292 9393. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Yours faithfully,

Sara Tse

2021 DSE English Writing Question 5 (Sample)

5. Learning English through Debating

A social media influencer is a person who is paid by a company to promote goods and services through their social media networks. Surveys show that a majority of millennials trust the advice of social media influencer over a traditional media advertisements. Write an argumentative essay. 

  • Discuss whether social media influencers are more trustworthy than traditional media advertisements. 
  • Give reasons to support your point of view.

Social Media Influencer More Preferable

Thanks to the technological advancement, social media has become indispensable in our modern life. It helps connect people around the world and influences what information they share and receive and thus their thoughts and behaviours. Due to the powerful influence of social media, some industry experts choose to promote and sell specific goods and services through their social media networks. Because of their professional knowledge and insights, their opinions greatly affect their followers’ purchase decision and behaviour. Therefore, some of them have become social media influencers. According to a recent survey, a majority of millennials trust the advice of social media influencers over traditional media advertisements. In my opinion, this phenomenon is justifiable. The following arguments will explain the reasons why social media influencers are more trustworthy than traditional media advertisements.

In the first place, social media influencers are more trustworthy than traditional media advertisements because they demonstrate professional knowledge over the goods and services they choose to promote to their target customers. Most of them have achieved professional insights and accumulated solid experience in their own industry. They are willing to share and communicate with their audience their expertise and professional opinion in respect of certain goods and services. As a result, they have gained trust and confidence from their followers. For example, Gloria Tsang, an experienced nutritionist and dietician, has gained widespread credibility from her numerous Facebook and Instagram followers by sharing her professional opinion on how to keep fit through healthy eating and how to choose healthy food through reading nutrition labels. Gloria’s choice of and recommendation on certain brands of food is highly respected and adopted by her audience. On the contrary, traditional media advertisements, usually in the form of celebrity endorsement, are less persuasive because they only rely on the positive image and popularity of the celebrities to attract customers’ attention and to raise the awareness of and the status of the goods and services promoted. The celebrities are not necessarily experts in the products and services promoted. Therefore, social media influencers are more trustworthy.

Second, social media influencers have a more authentic relationship with their target customers than traditional media advertisements. In order to maintain trust and credibility among their followers, social media influencers tend to promote good and services which they have used and preferred by themselves. Social media influencers will not risk losing their hard-won long-term credibility by selling poorly-performing products and services in favour of short-term interests. However, traditional media advertisements in general lack sincerity and authenticity because it is uncertain whether the celebrities actually use or prefer the products and services they endorse. 

Lastly, social media influencers are more transparent than traditional media advertisements. The former has a two-way communication with their audience while the latter is only a one-way communication. As social media users can leave their comments and reviews on the products and services recommended by the social media influencers, in order to avoid any misunderstandings and doubts about their credibility, social media influencers usually actively engage and interact with their target audience. The two-way communication deepens the trust between the social media influencers and their followers which traditional media advertisements can never achieve.

In short, compared to traditional media advertisements, social media influencers are more trustworthy in terms of their professionalism, integrity, sincerity and transparency.

2021 DSE English Writing Question 7 (Sample)

7. Learning English through Short Stories

You are joining a short story contest organized by a book shop.

  • Write a scary story about a security guard on duty one night,
  • Use the pictures to help you write your story. You can use the pictures in any order.

An Unforgettable Death

Five years before Bob’s retirement, financial crisis broke out and hit the economy very hard. Bob was sacked by his company where he had worked for his whole life. He was devastated because he still had to pay for the rent of his flat and the university tuition fees of his only son. While the job market was very bleak, to his surprise, Bob saw a job advertisement in the newspaper. It read, “A Brave Security Guard Wanted. Guaranteed Good Pay”. Without doubt, Bob immediately applied for the job and had a telephone interview with the security manager. “Do you mind working night shift?” The manager inquired. “No, indeed. Not at all.” Bob replied firmly. “That’s great. You got the job. If anything does happen, just take it easy.” Bob was very grateful.

On his first day of work, Bob found out that it was a top rank high-rise office building that he had to report duty as a security guard. To his amazement, the building had the state-of-the-art security system to detect any unauthorized intrusion and monitor all the entry and exit. The job looked easy and it seemed that the only drawback was that Bob had to do the night shift. At midnight, Bob checked the record system and was pleased that everyone in the building had checked out and left. As soon as Bob started to patrol the building to make sure that he was right, he saw a lady-like shadow walking slowly in the corridor on the 11th floor on the CCTV monitor screen. Suddenly, the alarm bell on the 11th floor set off. Bob immediately went to see what happened. 

When he reached the 11th floor, the alarm bell stopped ringing. It was completely silent. But the office light was going on and off. Bob unlocked the office entrance and entered. Upon entry, he felt a cold breeze blowing against his cheek. He turned left into the office area and saw a long hair lady in a red dress typing very fast with her back to Bob. Bob cleared his throat and said, “Excuse me, Madam, are you the employee of this company?” “Yes.” The lady answered, typing even faster. “Sorry. I would like to have an identity check. Could you show me your company pass?” Bob asked. The lady slowly turned her head around. She did not have five sense organs and her face was covered with dripping blood. Bob let out a cry and fainted. 

The next morning, Bob’s manager came to wake him up. “How are you? Are you alright?” Bob came to his consciousness and screamed. “What happened?” The manager asked with a grin. Bob was so scared that he immediately quit his job.

When Bob arrived home, he went online and searched for the old news about the office building. About a decade ago, a top university student who freshly graduated with distinction worked there for one of the most famous marketing company. Six months later, she jumped to her death from this building. She had left a suicide note and revealed that she committed suicide because of overworking and insistent mental abuse by her manager. Back then, she was only a 21-year-old orphan. 

2021 DSE English Writing Question 6 (Sample)

6. Learning English through Popular Culture

You took part in a social media challenge called ‘The 21-day Gratitude Challenge’. For three weeks, you kept a journal about the things you were thankful for on a daily basis. After completing the challenge, participants are invited to share their experience on the 21-day Gratitude Challenge website. Write a blog post.

  • Explain why you accepted this challenge and what you hoped to achieve. 
  • Reflect on the 21 days and whether taking on this challenge has changed you in any way. 

Gratitude Makes Your Day

This year, the social media platform Instagram had held a local event called ‘The 21-day Gratitude Challenge’. When the event first came out, it swept through Hong Kong city. Hong Kong people were enthusiastic about participating in the challenge because they wanted to create and promote a culture of positivity and gratitude towards their fellow citizens. As one of the Hong Kong citizens, I would also like to take on the challenge to express my deepest gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives and contributed to the city and spread a message of hope around the city.  I hope that, by doing so, more teenagers can be encouraged to choose a positive attitude towards their lives and feel grateful for the good things they are still having in the city.

In the 21 days, I would like to express my gratitude to my fellow Hong Kong citizens and return their goodness by showing kindness, appreciation and support to them. For the first few days, I dedicated a handmade gift to my parents and gave a big hug to my siblings to express my thankfulness to them for giving me life and bringing me up with love and tolerance. The next few days, I went on to thank my friends for always being there for me in spite of my many weaknesses and character flaws by sending them a heartfelt thank-you note, offering them a treat, saying encouragement words to them and keeping them company. 

For the following few days, I expressed my appreciation and gratitude to the community helpers, who are doctors, nurses, teachers, journalists, musicians, artists, firemen, social workers, counsellors, postmen, construction workers, bus drivers, hairdressers, trash collectors, for their sacrifices and contributions to Hong Kong city, by giving a compliment to them and showing my admiration for their efforts. What’s more, I went to local shops and eateries and bought some local products to show my thankfulness and support to small local businesses such as café, bookshops, hawkers, groceries stores, street food stalls, wet-market stalls and so on because along with the community helpers, they make our lives easier and better and also promote our well-being. 

In the last few days, I expressed my gratitude to all the people above and returned their goodness by giving back to the underprivileged and disadvantaged in the Hong Kong society. I donated and gave second-hand books and clothes to the charity organisations. Then, I made and wrote encouragement cards to the children in the orphanage. On another day, I volunteered to help children from the grassroots family with their homework, followed by taking a meal to a homeless person.

Having successfully completed “The 21-day Gratitude Challenge”, I have found myself humbled by the gratitude that I expressed day by day. I am able to appreciate the others as well as the surroundings because I have come to the realisation that the contributions and sacrifices made by others should not be taken for granted.  Showing gratitude helps me look at the good and bright side instead of the bad and dark side even in times of adversity. Therefore, I have become a more resilient and contented person instead of a negative and grumpy one.