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.

2020 DSE English Writing Question 5 (Sample)

5. Learning English through Sport Communication

Some people think that the International Olympic Committee should include a greater variety of sports in the Olympic Games. However, for a sport to be considered a new Olympic event, it must meet the following criteria: 1) appeal to young people; 2) promote gender equality; 3) attract media coverage.

The IOC is inviting the public to suggest sports to be included in future Olympics. You would like to propose Dragon Boat Racing.

  • Write a letter to the President of the IOC.
  • Give reasons to support your opinion.

Dear President,

As the IOC is inviting the public to suggest sports for future Olympics, I would like to take this opportunity to propose dragon boat racing be included in the Olympic Games. For dragon boat racing to be considered a new Olympic event, it meets the three criteria for approval. It not only appeals to young people, but also promotes gender equality and attracts media coverage.

Dragon boat racing has its charming appeal to young people. Not only can they meet new people, make new friends and develop social skills but also learn how to collaborate with teammates to achieve a common goal. As dragon boat racing requires paddlers to act according to the command of the drummer and the drum beat.  They will then learn self-discipline and have a feeling of independence. Moreover, as dragon boat racing is both a physically and mentally tough sport which demands a lot of practice through trial and error, young people can learn how to overcome adversity and become more resilient when they are faced with failure.  Once they have successfully coped with stress and failure, they will have a sense of achievement and boost their self-confidence. Besides, dragon boat racing can be fun and an enjoyment too. 

In addition, dragon boat racing promotes gender equality because there is no gender stereotype and discrimination against male or female participants in this sport. As long as you have a strong body and mind, no matter you are male or female, you are qualified to take part in this sport. In the competition, there can be men’s team, women’s team or mixed team just like those in badminton and table tennis. Therefore, dragon boat racing achieves gender equality, empowers women and endorses basic human right for women.

Furthermore, dragon boat racing will definitely attract media coverage because of its intense atmosphere and fierce competition. Dragon boat racing originates from China. I am sure the world will be engrossed in seeing whether the Chinese sport can be skillfully mastered by the western countries as well. What an exciting and exhilarating game to watch the competition between China and the rest of the world! The competition will definitely attract global media attention and a lot of feature stories will be covered worldwide. Dragon boat racing will be such an impressive Olympic event to the world. 

Given the above reasons, I hope that the IOC would consider including dragon boat racing as one of the new Olympic event. 

Yours faithfully,

Chris Wong

2020 DSE English Writing Question 4 (Sample)

4. Learning English through Workplace Communication

You work for the Park Hotel in Hong Kong. You would like to apply for a work transfer to the Shanghai branch of the hotel.

  • Write a letter to Mr Wong, your manager.
  • Highlight your work experience, why you would like to transfer and how your transfer will benefit the organization.

Dear Mr. Wong,

I am writing to apply for a work transfer to the Shanghai branch of Park Hotel for the position of assistant sales manager. As it is indicated that the ideal candidate should possess a strong passion and a target-driven mindset for developing the Chinese market and expanding client base for our hotel group, I believe that, with my strong interest in the Chinese market and my work experience, I am eligible for the position.

Prior to joining Hong Kong Park Hotel, I have completed the internship program at Shanghai Disneyland where I have developed a basic understanding of the Chinese hospitality market, Chinese culture and customer expectations. Besides, having participated in the two-year rotational program at Hong Kong Park Hotel, I have obtained a full picture of hotel operations by engaging with different hotel divisions ranging from front desk guest services, room reservations, food and beverage to sales and marketing and management. I have learnt the importance of teamwork collaboration to bring about a professional and satisfactory customer-oriented experience and to boost the efficiency of different departments. In addition, I have also demonstrated excellent interpersonal communication skills by establishing good relationships with guests and colleagues as well as resolving potential conflicts between departments to ensure the seamless and smooth running of operations. With the above experience, I believe that I am qualified for the management level of work at the hotel industry.

During my seat at the sales and marketing department, I was involved in sales planning, assisted our team in achieving annual sales targets and raising our sales revenues by 15%. This successful experience reveals my strength in sales accomplishment and encourages me to further develop my career path as a sales manager. The current vacancy is a golden opportunity which provides me with a springboard to my next step in career development. Moreover, along with my fluent Mandarin and English and my deep sense and knowledge of Chinese market, I believe that I am able to develop and maintain strong client relations and pursue new business and sales opportunities by catering both international and local guests with the individual characteristics and tailor-made products and services of our Shanghai branch. Furthermore, I am keen to develop strong ties between Hong Kong and Shanghai branches with an aim to build and strengthen the relationship and connection between Shanghai and Hong Kong colleagues so as to achieve better collaboration, mutual communication and resource allocation which will benefit our whole organization.

My rotational program will soon come to a completion at the end of August. Should I have the opportunity of securing the position, I am delighted to make a seamless transition from Hong Kong Park Hotel to Shanghai Park Hotel. I look forward to discussing with you the ways I can contribute to Shanghai Park Hotel as well as Park Hotel Group. 

Yours sincerely,

Chris Wong

2019 DSE English Writing Question 5 (Sample)

5. Learning English through Popular Culture

This week’s question in the Young Post’s Over to You column is:

Where do you get information about the latest trends in pop culture? Do you turn to newspapers and magazines or do you prefer blogs and videos on social media?

  • Write an article for the Over to You column
  • Choose one or two areas of pop culture from the chart below and tell readers where you like to get information about the latest trends. Provide the name of the sources you recommend
  • Give your article a title

Areas of Pop Culture

TV & MoviesMusic & ConcertsFood & DrinkStyle & BeautyTech & Games

Get Connected Online to Pop Culture


Nowadays, due to the advancement of technology, people can receive news and information online from the internet in addition to traditional newspapers and magazines in print. As teenagers born in the digital age, I prefer blogs, websites and social media sites to newspapers and magazines to get information about the latest pop culture because it is cheap, fast and convenient and is also easy to share the information with family and friends. There are two areas of pop culture which I am particularly interested. They are food and drink, and style and beauty. I am keen to share with you and recommend the following sources where you can get the latest and interesting information about these two areas of pop culture.

For food and drink, there are several channels where you can get to know the latest popular cuisine and delicious dishes. Go to U Magazine Facebook Page which features the most popular food among the teenagers. For example, each month, it covers a story about affordable local specialties favored by teenagers, such as HeyTea, the tea-drink brand which blends tea drinks with fresh milk, cream and fruit. From the built-in comment boxes, you can see reviews about the customer experience of the product quality. Also, very often, it features hidden gems found in the city, such as egg tarts, egg waffles, pancakes and soufflé etc. Apart from U Magazine, another way is to try Eat Weekly Instagram page which publishes photos and descriptions of seasonal food promoted by different eateries and restaurants, such as spicy chicken hotpot, Japanese Toro and Sashimi, A5 beef eat-unlimited buffet etc. There are also video posts about the preparation or cooking process of different dishes which enhance your visual appetite.

For style and beauty, despite the Facebook and Instagram Page of the fashion and beauty brands where you can easily see up-to-date information about the hottest products, you can turn to renowned blogs to get access to the latest trends in fashion and beauty. One of the famous blogs called Trendy Zone composed by a fashion and beauty consultant and blogger Victoria Chu is my favourite choice. Each day, there is a blog entry about the best selected clothes and the best bargain clothes among the popular fashion brands. Besides, there is another blog entry about how to mix and match different clothes together with stylish make-up to give a trendy and chic look. The recommendations are professional and well-received by teenagers.

If you are one of those who like to keep abreast of the trend in pop culture, I would definitely recommend the above sources where you can follow the latest teen pop. I hope you will have a well-informed choice before you head for food and fashion.

2019 DSE English Writing Question 7 (Sample)

7. Learning English through Poems and Songs

Taylor Swift is an award-winning singer-songwriter. In an interview with Parade magazine she said:

I wrote the song ‘Mean’ about a critic who kept giving me really bad reviews. I get that, no matter what, people will criticise what you do. But there are different ways to criticise someone… and there’s a line that you cross when you just start to attack everything about a person.

You lead an after-school arts club. You would like to instruct members on how to review each other’s work.

  • Write a speech to be delivered to club members
  • Discuss what a critic does, how to give criticism and ways to respond to criticism
  • Give your speech a title

A Line Drawn for Criticism

Dear club members,

Today I am going to give a speech on how to review a work of arts by your counterparts. Recently, some members have revealed that they constantly receive extremely bad reviews and opinions on their works and even personal attacks and criticism. As such, I would like to reiterate how to criticize as a critic should do and how to respond to criticism.

A critic is a person who assesses and evaluates a work of arts according to his knowledge and taste of the subject matter. It is supposed that a critic is knowledgeable so that his criticism and comments will have a reference base and follow a set of rules and values upheld by the specific field. A critic should also be well-intentioned to prevent abusively attacking a person because of his dislike or hatred of the person. A critic should also have a good taste about his professional area so that he can distinguish good work from bad work.

For example, when evaluating a poem, we should first read the poem aloud to see if it has rhythm and sounds good to the ear. Then, read the poem closely. Next, spot each line if it has used figurative language like simile, metaphor, rhyme, imagery, personification etc and see if they have been used properly. After that, look at the content of the poem and try to figure out the meaning of the poem. What is the context of the poem? When and where does it set? To whom the poem is talking? Does the poem follow any pattern? Does the poem evoke any feelings, emotions, pictures, associations and imagination? Is the language used beautiful? Is the poem cohesive and coherent? How does the poem speak to you personally? Finally, based on the above rules, you can draw a conclusion about the poem and give a review whether it is well-written or not.

When you receive bad reviews on your work of arts, you should remain open-minded as it often happens. As works of arts have both their objective and subjective level, it is unrealistic that you expect everyone to appreciate and like your work. For example, when you receive bad reviews on your poem, you can at the very least refer to the above-mentioned standard to discern whether your poem has failed in a certain way. However, if you receive personal attacks such as hostile insults or shameful remarks due to your work of arts, it is likely that the critic is ill-intentioned and has crossed the line and you should refute the disapproval.

In short, when we review a work of arts, we should criticize based on the work of arts and not the person. Moreover, it is common that we receive bad reviews on our work of arts as everyone has different perspectives and taste. We should not only be open-minded to others’ criticism but also beware of malicious attacks.