2021 DSE English Writing Question 9 (Sample)

9. Learning English through Drama

You want to be a screenwriter and have an idea of a TV drama series about three generations of a family.

Write a letter to the production manager at TV-Station X.

  • Introduce the characters, plot and setting of your TV drama.
  • Explain why you think this idea would be popular with viewers.

Dear Production Manager,

The Crossroad in the Triangle

I am writing to propose to you my idea of a TV drama series called The Crossroad in the Triangle which is about three generations of a lower-middle class family set in the present-time Hong Kong. The storyline centres on the university and working life of the female protagonist Suzy Lo whose adventure triggers conflicts and fights with the older generations of her family. It mainly depicts the difficulties and problems faced by the youth nowadays. I hope you would take my story into account. 

The drama series begins with Suzy Lo, a millennial born in 1997, having passed the public examinations with flying colours and feeling deeply vexed about which major study to take in the university. She has always dreamed about being a writer. However, Suzy knows very well that only the exceptionally talented writers can earn their livelihood from writing. Despite her excellent academic results, she doubts her creativity and ability in writing. Meanwhile, her parents, born in the 1960s, exhort her to study medicine at the University of Hong Kong because of the handsome salary and the high living standard that the profession guarantees. Still, Suzy wants to take a risk pursuing her dream partly because her 80-year-old grandma passively backs her up. It is later discovered that Suzy secretly changes her first choice of major study to English literature and her application gets accepted. Her parents are very furious about her decision. They have several quarrels over her future, with occasional flashbacks to their poor and hard lives in the 1960s when they had to work at the factories at an early age and could barely earn money to support their living. They try to remind Suzy of the golden opportunity that she now has of earning a decent living and securing a stable career. The first series ends with the confrontation. 

The second series follows Suzy’s university life and the problems she is faced with. In her final undergraduate year, Suzy finds the study too daunting and subsequently suffers from depression. Her parents blame Suzy for her illness. It leads to clashes with her parents again. Suzy feels guilty and painfully abandoned and looks for comforts and encouragement from her grandma who treats and tends her wounds with love and care. Suzy goes through psychotherapy and at the same time manages to pass the graduation examination. The second series ends with Suzy’s happy graduation. 

The final series begins with Suzy’s first job as a contributor to life and arts section of The Times and the challenges it poses and puts her through. She tries hard to keep up with hectic schedules and hit tight deadlines. After successfully passing the probation, Suzy suddenly experiences writer’s block and runs out of inspiration. She believes that she has reached her limits and regrets having chosen the less travelled road. Grandma discovers that Suzy cries hysterically in the bedroom and learns that she wants to give up her dream. Grandma recalls her arranged marriage at an early age when her life was mostly arranged and decided by her parents. She had no options available to choose what to do with her life. Grandma shows her appreciation for the courage of her granddaughter to choose her own way of life regardless of the strong disapproval of her parents. The final series ends with the grandma’s motto “For one thing, be prepared and responsible to bear any consequences due to one’s choice of road. Once you have chosen, commit to it and pay all the price for and efforts towards your goal no matter how many times you fail, because in the end, you have nothing to lose but only learn better.”

I believe that the proposed TV drama series would be popular with viewers and become a great hit because of several reasons. There is a growing cultural trend among the current teenagers that one should live out one’s dream instead of the wishes of one’s parents or the favours of the society. Yet, in the pursuit of dreams, they are afraid of failure, fragile and easy to succumb to the pressure of the surroundings. They hope that someone would understand and encourage them to become who they want to be in spite of how many times they fail. The series depicts not only the generation and communication gap between the new generation and the old generation but also the many trials and errors, fears and doubts, struggles and hardships experienced by the new generation when they grow up to become an adult. As there are many monologues about the inner world of the female protagonist in the series, the old generation can understand more about the thoughts and beliefs of the new generation and be more sympathetic to them. Therefore, I believe the TV drama series would certainly click and resonate with the current generation of adolescents as well as the old generation. At the same time, teenagers are in need of a role model who can set a good example for them to imitate. From the protagonist, they can learn the proactive and resilient attitude to overcome any obstacles at the time of adversity.

Given the originality and novelty of the plot, I hope that you would consider the story. If you are interested, please feel free to contact me at 9876 5432 and I would send the whole drama scripts to you for your perusal. 

Yours faithfully,

Chris Wong

2021 DSE English Writing Question 8 (Sample)

8. Learning English through Poems and Songs

You read this poem in class and your teacher has asked you to write an essay on the theme of friendship.

New Friends and Old Friends

Make new friends, but keep the old.

One is silver, the other is gold.

Friendships that have stood the test—

Time and change – are surely best.

Cherish friendship in your breast –-

New is good but old is best.

Joseph Parry

(1841 – 1903)

Use these questions to help you write your essay:

  • What is the difference between old and new friendships?
  • Do you agree that older friendships are better than new ones?

Sincere and true friendship is what matters

Everyone is born alone to the world but no one is an island. We need friends as much as we need family to live a good life. Therefore, friendship is precious indeed. As we grow up, we come across and make friends with others under different circumstances. Along the way, we will have some old friends and some new friends as well. But how do you weigh between old friendship and new friendship? As Joseph Parry’s poem on friendship conveys, though new friends can be great, old friends are much more worthwhile. However, I think that new friends can be just as good as old friends as long as the friendship is mutually sincere and true.

Generally speaking, old friendship refers to those friends we have known for a long time while new friendship those people with whom we have befriended and got along for just a short period of time. When we talk about old friends, we will immediately think of those friends we know when we are young like childhood friends and school friends. It is generally believed that old friendship is much more valuable than new friendship because of several reasons. 

Old friends are golden. From childhood to adolescence, we are more or less young, pure and innocent. It is the most carefree time when we can be true to ourselves as well as to others without pretense or disguise. We would share our interests and hobbies with each other and talk about the same conversation topics to better understand others. We are curious and eager to know if there is anyone on this planet who thinks and feels the same with us. Those think and feel alike stick together and become good friends.  As we are getting closer, we would even confide our secrets and expose our little inner world to each other. Thus, we get to know the true character and personality of the old friends with whom we are growing up. And we will always have sweet memories to look back on and share with our old friends when we have grown up.  This is what makes old friendship dear.

Moreover, old friendship that has stood the test of time and change is priceless. Like any relationship, true friendship never runs smooth. Sometimes, it gets quite complicated. For example, when I was one of the student union members in secondary school, I had a heated argument over some of the principles and implementations with my best friend. She got very upset with me because she thought that I was trying to deny her wholehearted efforts. I also got very angry with her. Since then, our friendship suddenly turned very worse and we went our separate ways. Several months later, I thought that it was very stupid of me to lose a dear old friend because of some unreachable ideals. I apologised to her and tried to mend and rekindle our friendship. She forgave me and we made up. As a result, we reconciled our differences and became even closer than before.

However, not every old friendship can last. Sometimes, old friends can become strangers. For example, when I was in primary school, I had another best friend. We thought and felt alike and treated each other like sisters. However, time changes, people and things change. After we graduated from the primary school, we went to different secondary schools and embarked on different paths which tore us apart. Our minds gradually changed. We could no longer talk with open heart like before. We are now like simple acquaintance. It is nobody’s fault. But, sometimes, things can turn out like this even we were once best friends. 

On the contrary, new friends can be as wonderful as old friends. As we grow older, we get smarter and more experienced in finding out whether the new friends with whom we get along is sincere or not. For instance, in the first month I attended my classes in the secondary school, I immediately had a sense of who would be great to make friends with. Indeed, I have made a few new friends whom are now my dear old friends. We think and feel alike and can talk about anything. Even though we may have different opinions towards different subjects, we stay true to each other and treat one another respectfully. What’s more, regardless of the short period of time we have known each other, they stand by me and help me through in bad times; they share my excitement and happiness in good times. As the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed. New friendship can become lasting old friendship. It all depends on whether both parties are sincere and willing to communicate and relate to each other. 

In short, it is not that whether old or new friends are better but that what matters is sincere and true friendship. 

2018 DSE English Writing Question 9 (Sample)

9. Learning English through Short Stories

Imagine you are a pet bird in a cage. One day your owner left your bird cage open.

Write a story from the bird’s point of view.

Brave New World

As far as I could remember, I had always been in a cage since my birth. When I was two years old, Mr. and Mrs. Jones adopted me as their pet bird because they thought I could sing well. The Joneses were a good old couple who did not have children. Every morning, they would go to the Chinese restaurant in the neighbourhood, tasting their favourite Jasmine tea and eating dim sum. They would bring me along and show me off to their friends who applauded my charming songs. The couple would be very delighted and I would be very proud of myself. I was then fed with delicious food as a compliment. I was living a comfortable and happy life.

One day, Mr. Jones passed away. Mrs. Jones was full of sorrow and sadness. I couldn’t sing either. “My dear songbird, one day not far from now, I will be gone too and no one is going to look after you. It is time for you to learn to stand on your own feet and fend for yourself,” sighed Mrs. Jones. Then she left the cage wide open. I was too afraid of the outside world to leave the cage which had been my home ever since my birth! I didn’t even know how to fly, not to mention how to live on my own. But on second thought, I came to my senses, “Mrs. Jones is right. One day, I will have to leave this comfort zone and will be all by myself.” Plucking up my courage, I flipped my wings, ready to brave the storm in the whole new world. After several failed attempts, I finally took off and began a flight. I flew against the strong wind in search of a natural habitat where I could feed and rest myself. However, along the way, there were so many high-rise buildings ahead of me that I was flying in a precarious position and almost lost my balance. Suddenly, a large eagle swooped past me and knocked me down. I fell 50 metres down, nearly hit the ground and got injured. Luckily, a sparrow came to my rescue and I survived the fall. “What are you doing here? Don’t you know that it is the territory of the big brother eagle? You would have died! Where is your home?” The sparrow asked me. “I am homeless now. My owner has just abandoned me. I have nowhere to go.” Hearing what I said, the sparrow led me away from all the skyscrapers, up into the wide-open sky and towards the North. “This was the farthest distance I had ever flown!” I thought. “Now, here we are! Mai Po Nature Reserve. This is the homeland and haven for many different kinds of birds and species. We live together in harmony and happiness. Don’t worry. You will have sufficient food to eat here. We all live off the wetland, the grasses and the trees around. Let me introduce you to all my friends.” said the sparrow. 

“Hello, everyone, I am songbird. I was born to be a pet bird living in a cage. My owner has just abandoned me and I have to find a new home. Would you please allow me to stay here?” I pleaded. All the species shook their head and were shocked to hear that I was a pet bird and spent almost all my life in a cage. “Poor you! You must have been much deprived. We will teach you how to be a real bird. Welcome to our family!” said a seabird. 

Each passing day, I was taught how to fly without crashing against the others, how to use my beak to catch small insects for food and most of all, how to enjoy the natural environment. I still sang. But I no longer sang for those who took me for a toy. I now sang for all the spectators who came to appreciate bird-flying and the nature. I had never felt this bliss of freedom and happiness. I was terribly mistaken that a comfortable life in a bird cage was what I wanted. Life with freedom was much more satisfying indeed.

2016 DSE English Writing Question 6 (Sample)

Learning English through Short Stories

One of the planned activities for the Creative Writing Week at your school is a short story writing competition. The theme for this year’s competition is ‘revenge is sweet’. 

Write your story.

Revenge is sweet

Bill, Jim, Beatrice and Jill were a group of big bullies in high school. No one dared to oppose them when they chose to pick on somebody. This time, their target was Sally, a newcomer to the class. Sally was an immigrant, coming from a poor family background. As Sally was not very well-versed in their language, she was quiet and shy. Having no friend in the class, she was always alone. 

Seeing that Sally was defenseless, they were fond of gossiping about her every day. They made fun of her look, her appearance, her clothes, her shy and timid personality. They picked on her whenever there was a chance. 

“Look! She is reading a book! Such a nerd she is,” ridiculed Jim.

“She is living in her own world with lofty thoughts. She is so exceptionally unlike us,” said Beatrice and Jill, giggling with contemptuous eyes. 

“Look at her dirty dress! I wonder where she gets it from!” said Bill mockingly.

Sally overheard what they said and felt intimidated. She hid away at the corner of the class, still looking down on her book.

“Well, let us teach her a lesson, shall we?” Jim suggested.

As soon as Sally went to the washroom, the group took her books from her school bag, tore and ripped the books off and then threw them all into the rubbish bin. When Sally came back to her seat, she found that her books had gone missing. She was both very angry and scared. She went everywhere to look for her books. Finally, she ended up getting back all her shattered and broken pieces of books from the rubbish bin. The group burst into laughter and shouted loudly, “What a pity!”

When Sally got home, her father found out what happened to her daughter. “Maybe it is time I should teach you some martial arts to protect yourself,” said the veteran martial arts master. 

Hardly a month had passed without tricks being played by the group on Sally. This time, the group ran into Sally outside McDonald’s in the district when she was walking out eating an ice-cream. The group stared at her hard and directly challenged Sally to a fight. Jim extended his leg in order to trip her but Sally immediately jumped up and stamped on his feet. Jim was furious and the group was curious of and astonished at how quick Sally was. Then as Bill swiftly moved forward in an attempt to strike her down, Sally was fast enough to grab him and throw him on the ground. They were so scared that they immediately ran away. Smiling in triumph, Sally thought to herself, “The ice-cream couldn’t be sweeter.” After this day, the group no longer bullied Sally any more. 

2016 DSE English Writing Question 9 (Sample)

Learning English through Drama 

As a Form Six student, you are considering educational opportunities after your HKDSE. One option you have selected is the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, as you want to take up an acting career. However, your parents would like you to pursue an academic subject at another institution. 

As the deadline for submitting the application is approaching, write an email to your parents, who are now on an overseas trip, to convince them to support your choice.

Dear Mum and Dad, 

How is your vacation? I hope you enjoy your trip in Scotland. Last time, we had a conversation about my future education. I expressed my wish to study acting at HKAPA. But you objected to my plan and advised me to study medicine at the University of Hong Kong instead. As the deadline for submitting the application to the education institutions is due next week, I would like to reiterate my decision to further my study at HKAPA.

I understand that you are both worried about the stability of the acting career. You said that the acting opportunities are much smaller now than the past because the television and film industry in Hong Kong is dwindling and the competition for the major actress role is unprecedentedly huge. However, times have changed. Unlike the late 20th century when Hong Kong television dramas and soap operas are mainly made and produced by the only TV channel TVB, with the rapid advancement of technology, there are now many worldwide platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Streaming where drama series and films are shown. It means that the entertainment market is still bustling and vibrant. It is possible that Hong Kong drama series and films can gain entry into these global platforms in the near future. Moreover, I intend to take a minor in directing at HKAPA and equip myself with filmmaking, directing and screenwriting skills so that I can make my own short films or short videos at a very low cost and then sell the productions to the producers. With both directing and acting skills, I believe that I am able to develop an amazing career path in the creative industry.  

Dad, I remember you once told me that your parents objected to your plan of becoming a journalist when you were young in light of the inappropriate proportion between salary and workload along with the uncertain political environment in the future. However, you insisted on going to study journalism at the university to follow your dream just because you have strong passion for telling stories. Despite the tough working environment and heavy workload, you have never given up on your dream and keeps reporting important news and covering influential articles in the newspaper industry. Your passion is what keeps you striding forward and conquers.

Do you know I am so proud of you? A persistent and successful Hong Kong journalist. You have set an excellent example for me to pursue my own passion and dream regardless of the difficulties along the way. Haven’t you taught me not to be afraid of obstacles but to have courage to overcome them? My strong passion for acting together with my endeavors will definitely lead me to success in the future.

Do you still remember that I won the best actress in the drama competition in the Hong Kong School Drama Festival two years ago? Isn’t it a proof that I have a real talent in acting? I really hope that I can follow my dream and become what I want to be, just like you Dad.


Your daughter Amy 

2016 DSE English Writing Question 3 (Sample)

Learning English through Workplace Communication

Many Hong Kong graduates complain about the lack of employment opportunities in the city. It has been suggested that graduates who fail to find a job in Hong Kong could look for opportunities in other cities in Asia. Do you support this suggestion?

  • Write an article for your school magazine expressing your views.
  • Give three reasons to support your views. Provide an appropriate title for your article.

Alternative workplace in other Asian cities

In recent years, the unemployment problem of Hong Kong graduates has raised concern in our society. Many Hong Kong graduates complain about the lack of employment opportunities in the city. It is suggested that they could look for jobs in other cities in Asia. In my opinion, it is advisable for them to go to other cities in Asia to look for opportunities. I will explain my perspective in the following arguments.

To start with, working in other Asian cities can help graduates broaden their horizons, gain international perspective and exposure. They can get a hands-on experience about different Asian business cultures and markets. It can deepen their sense and knowledge of how to do business with people from different ethnical and cultural background. Having such an exposure and insight is definitely a competitive edge and attracts decent job opportunities in multinational corporations in Hong Kong as well as in other Asian cities. 

What’s more, we should note that other cities in Asia provide legal ways for Hong Kong graduates who are bored with Hong Kong lifestyle and look for exotic and fascinating working experience. As we all know, they can simply apply for a work visa by taking part in working holiday scheme offered by other countries in Asia such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore to work in their cities. At the same time, Hong Kong teenagers like a fun lifestyle. Some graduates said that working holiday is just like traveling because they can explore and enjoy the culture and lifestyle there when they get off work. Therefore, if Hong Kong graduates want to work hard and play hard, working in other Asian cities is a good choice for them.

In addition, it is worth noting that the culture of other Asian cities is, to a certain extent, similar to that of Hong Kong. As Hong Kong is a culturally diverse city, Hong Kong graduates will find themselves easy to integrate into the culture and lifestyle of these Asian cities. For example, as the people in Singapore and Malaysia speak in English, our Hong Kong graduates who have a good command of English can communicate with them with ease. Hence, they can work in these Asian cities without much difficulty.

In conclusion, it is a good suggestion for Hong Kong graduates to work in other Asian cities to tackle their unemployment problem in Hong Kong. I hope that they would consider the alternative option available.

2016 DSE English Writing Question 8 (Sample)

Learning English through Poems and Songs

A famous songwriter once said, ‘Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power.’

How important is it for you to acknowledge the challenges we face and find ways to cope with them? Write an essay explaining your opinion with relevant examples from your personal experience.

Growing Pains: Break out of the Cage of Fear

There is no denying that we are all faced with different kinds of difficulties and challenges in our life no matter how old we are. It is especially true in the time of adolescence, when teenagers begin to be exposed to challenging circumstances and problems like demanding schoolwork, peer pressure, competition with peers, bullying, stress, to name a few. And, most teenagers are inexperienced in dealing with problems. Many of them would rather avoid or escape from problems without acknowledging their existence because of their inner fear and lack of courage. They are afraid of facing the harsh reality as it might be too daunting and painful. However, I think it is important for us to take up the courage to acknowledge the existence of challenges and find ways to cope with them so that we will grow out of our innocence and become a mature and responsible adult.

When we acknowledge the challenges we face, we begin a journey of knowing about ourselves such as our personality, our strengths and weaknesses, our potential talent so that we will understand ourselves more and live a more fulfilling life. For example, when I was at junior secondary two, I was afraid of disagreeing with others and offending others. I dare not speak my mind even though my real thoughts are different from others. Instead of pretending to follow and agree with others, I would keep my mouth shut and refuse to communicate with others. As a result, silence became my friend and I was isolated by my peers.  As soon as I felt rejected and isolated, I could no longer hide away my own problem. I came to understand my timid and shy personality prevented me from getting along with my peers. Then I started to reconnect with and be open to them about my real thoughts. Surprisingly, they accepted and respected my different opinions. Our friendship was thus established. If I had not been bold enough to face my inner fear and find a solution to my problem, I would not have made any friends and improved my interpersonal and communication skill.  

When we acknowledge the challenges we face, we will learn to face success and failure with a proper attitude and develop a healthy outlook towards life. For instance, when I was at senior secondary five, I got very bad grades in my academic performance and became the last in my class position. I became socially withdrawn from other aspects of life like having fun or playing sports with my friends as I was afraid they would find out my poor academic results and would laugh at me. I skipped school and stayed at home to avoid facing my academic failure. However, after several days of absence from school, I decided to talk to our school’s social worker about my problem. She helped me figure out that failure is just part of our learning process and academic result is not the whole of my life and that, there is still hope that I can do better next time if I do not give up. Suddenly, I realize that it is not the end of my life and there is still a long way to go ahead of me. If I had not learnt to face my fear of failure, I would not have stood any chance of achieving success.

Facing life challenges is like a butterfly struggling to break out of its cocoon. Once, you acknowledge your problems, struggle with them and try to sort out them, a beautiful you will soon come out and become a wonderful person just like a beautiful butterfly.

2017 DSE English Writing Question 9 (Sample)

Learning English through Workplace Communication

It has recently been claimed that in the workplace many Hong Kong fresh university graduates are less hardworking and less willing to face challenges compared to those in the past.

You strongly disagree with this opinion. Write a letter to the editor of Hong Kong Daily disagreeing with this opinion. Support your views with three reasons and /or examples.   

Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my disagreement with the recent saying that Hong Kong fresh university graduates are less hardworking and less willing to face challenges in the workplace than those in the past. The opinion is simply lame. Times have changed. Nowadays, Hong Kong fresh university graduates face tough and unfavourable circumstances which means that they have to pay extra efforts at work in return for lower salaries.  By giving three reasons below, I will prove the opinion wrong and unfair. 

Nowadays, in this age of globalization, one of the severe challenges facing fresh graduates is that they have to compete with international counterparts upon entering the workforce. Gone are the days when a university degree was a guarantee to a decent and stable job with high salary. With the increase in the number of universities in Hong Kong, more local university graduates are churned out. They have to work harder and compete with a larger pool of local graduates than those in the past. Despite keen competition among local graduates, Hong Kong university graduates also have to compete with overseas graduates who are favored by the employers because of their fluent English and international exposure. Moreover, after Hong Kong’s handover to China, mainland graduates are preferred by the employers because of their fluent Mandarin and understanding of Chinese business culture. Local graduates pale in comparison with mainland and overseas graduates. Unlike their predecessors, faced with tough and fierce competition, they have to work much harder and learn more skills in order to stay afloat in the workplace.  

In this digital era and social media age, fresh graduates are willing to face the challenge posed by the advancement of technology. They are versatile and able to adapt to the ever-changing pace and demand of the workplace. For example, my friend Sarah, a fresh graduate who is now an office worker, has to know how to use mobile apps like Deliveroo and Foodpanda to order food delivery on time for her bosses and colleagues whenever there is a pop-up lunch meeting. Also, she has to know how to use mobile payment service like PayMe or ApplePay to collect lunch payment from her colleagues. Moreover, they are adept at learning new skills such as building websites, vlogging, making short films and live-streaming videos, marketing and advertising products and services via Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, online teaching via Zoom or Google Meet, using Fintech and so on. These tech skills are highly sought after in the job market. Isn’t it a strong proof that fresh graduates are willing to adapt to the changing demand of the workplace?

In this global era, as business goes international, fresh graduates are required to work long hours and even around the clock to meet their clients’ needs. For example, my friend Cara, a fresh graduate who now works at a multinational corporation, has to work late into the night to make deals with her client on the other side of the world and return early the next morning to report to her boss the progress of her work. Another example is that my friend Joey, a fresh graduate who works at a leading advertising agency, has to work 120 hours’ overtime in a month due to heavy workload. In contrast to the claim, this is a convincing evidence that they are just as diligent as their predecessors.

In the 21st century, expectations placed on fresh graduates are much higher since the workplace has become more demanding and competitive than that in the past. The claim that Hong Kong fresh university graduates are less hardworking and less willing to face challenges is just a stereotype against the young generation. I hope that the above can help set the record straight and appreciate the efforts paid by Hong Kong fresh university graduates.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Wong 

2019 DSE English Writing Question 3 (Sample)

Learning English through Debating

The Hong Kong Daily Press invites readers to submit their views on the following topic:

Do social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter encourage or stifle public debate? When first created, social media was thought to be a place where rational debate and logic would thrive. However, as time has shown, this is not always the case.

  • Write an argumentative essay
  • Choose one side of the argument and state your position, giving reasons and evidence to support your view
  • Include a title for your essay

Social Media: A Platform for Rationality & Logic?

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter allows us to convey our own thoughts and comment on others’ thoughts as well. It is thought that it can encourage rational discussion when different views are exchanged. However, in reality, when it comes to public affairs, social media falls short of promoting rational public debate. For example, in recent years, as the political climate in Hong Kong becomes very tense, the discussion on these social media platforms has become a battlefield among people having opposite political views. The dispute is so heated and harmful that people start to withdraw from expressing their political views openly on these social media sites. Public debate becomes silenced.

Public debate on these social media platforms are in fact less rational and logical than we would have thought. In order to grab viewers’ attention, social media users tend to post provoking or emotional remarks about current news or social issues. They intend to arouse others’ emotions and drive the conversations rather than raise rational discussion.  Moreover, the thoughts and comments are mostly impulsive rather than thoroughly examined. Rational public debate mostly does not happen.

The fact that like-minded people flock together and exclude dissidents stifles public debate. Social media tends to show the content from people whom we like or who are similar to us. Social media users are fed with what they like to see and hear and are less exposed to the other side. Moreover, when people talk about political and social issues on these sites, people tend to prefer listening to similar comments rather than opposite views. If someone voice out dissenting views, they are likely to become the target of attack and be abused verbally. Therefore, the dissidents will shy away from expressing opposite views to protect themselves from hostile insults or bullies. 

It turns out that people unfriend those whose views are opposite to theirs; as a result, there is only one side of opinions allowed, not to mention public debate. In the matter of public affairs which concerns the core values and interests of Hong Kong people, people of opposite views stand against each other. When one side notices that the opposite side expresses dissenting views, it will draw massive criticism from the other side.  People vent their anger and resentment on the person who represents the other side. It happens that some people feel so emotionally hurt that they unfriend their enemies. There is a great divide among people having opposite political views. Rational public debate becomes impossible.

To conclude, as far as social media is concerned, on the one hand, it can facilitate people to express and share their own views; on the other hand, it cannot be relied on for rational discussion. As such, the traditional form of media such as newspaper forum, radio forum and academic paper are still a more reliable platform for rational public debate to take place.

2020 DSE English Writing Question 7 (Sample)

7. Learning English through Poems and Songs

You are a reporter for Do-Re-Mi, a music magazine. You interviewed Zoe Kwan, who has just won ‘Best New Artist’ at the HKTV Music Awards.

  • Write a feature article based on your interview
  • Report on Zoe’s sudden rise to fame and where the ideas behind her songs came from 

Zoe Kwan On The Rise To Top Singer

Zoe Kwan, the famous singer-songwriter now, has just won ‘Best New Artist’ at the 2020 HKTV Music Awards for her hit song ‘The Way We Dance’. Released in February, the song has reached the top of music charts of the four major radio stations and music streaming platforms for several weeks. What’s more, her first album ‘Dreaming’, which includes the song, has been released for only a month and immediately it has become the best-selling record the same year. Besides, Zoe is one of the most talked-about singer on social media and accumulates a multitude of fans on her Instagram. This is a real success for a new artist who has only worked in the music industry for just two years and has already earned widespread recognition of her musical talents.

‘Like many teenagers, I was constantly told by my parents to study hard and find a stable office job for a comfortable future. But when I turned 22 years old, after I had graduated from the university, I decided to enter the music industry and become a singer because I like music very much and I want to pursue my long-time dream of being an influential singer. I cannot think of myself being anything other than a singer.’ Zoe writes the song ‘The Way We Dance’ based on the movie of the same name in which Fa, the female protagonist, has a passion for dancing and joins the hip-hop dance crew when she enters the university. Fa practises hard in order to beat their dance rival in a dance competition. The movie also tops the 2020 box office which makes the song even more acclaimed. ‘I want to encourage young people to pursue their dream like Fa and me and to keep trying in the process despite frustrating obstacles. This is the message behind the song. Just like what the lyrics said, 

/Stretch out your hands
To catch the dreams
They are something like diamonds in the rough
That’s waiting to shine

There aint no hills that’s too steep to climb
There aint no pains that could make you cry
You’re much more stronger than people think you are
Carry that strength to fight your fate/’

The song is lively and the melody is pleasant. Its lyrics captures the heart of our young generation and resonates deeply with them. Many young people are talented but they need courage and resilience to work out their talents and realize their dreams. That’s why the song is so popular among the teens. It acts as an encouragement to them.

Because of her talent and endeavour, Zoe Kwan has successfully become a famous singer. Maybe you are now in the dilemma between succumbing to the reality and taking courage to pursue your dream. Try for a moment to listen to ‘The Way We Dance’ and get some inspiration from it. You may find something you need there.