2018 DSE English Writing Question 8 (Sample)

Learning English through Poems and Songs

Poetry House is offering a scholarship for ten young writers to attend their summer poetry workshop. The workshop will promote the art and craft of poetry in a creative environment and participants will have a chance to discuss their work with guest poets from around the world.

Write an application letter, explaining your interest in poetry and why you should be selected to take part in this workshop.

Dear Sir,

Application for Poetry House Scholarship for Summer Poetry Workshop

I am writing to apply for the Poetry House scholarship to attend the summer poetry workshop. It has always been my dream to meet with internationally renowned poets and learn poetry writing from them face-to-face. I have been interested in poetry reading and writing since junior secondary form. There are a few reasons why I am interested in poetry. 

First of all, poetry is a creative form which can convey a variety of messages in a concise and interesting way. Unlike short stories or novels which normally tell stories ranging from a number of pages to hundreds of pages, poems are generally written in several stanzas and are used for different purposes. I can write in just a few lines to describe an object, express my feelings, narrate an important event, reflect on a meaningful experience, present my point of view about something or just to send a lovely message to my friend. It is a much easier and more convenient vehicle for me to try creative writing as a layman on different kinds of subjects and themes. For example, I can mimic some short poems by well-known poets. As a young writer, when I can successfully write a poem, I have a sense of satisfaction which encourages me to experiment with writing different kinds of poems.  

Moreover, poetry broadens my mind and expands my imagination. By making use of poetic devices, poems are composed in an uncommon way. For example, the poem ‘Color’ by Christina Rossetti associates different colors with different things in nature. It paints a creative picture in my mind using different images. Also, the use of metaphor helps me think of ordinary things in a new perspective and refresh my ordinary life experience. Poetry helps me see simple things imaginatively. 

Furthermore, poetry helps express my emotions and achieves inner healing. For instance, when I read “Autobiographia Literaria” by Frank O’hara, I can identify with the poet’s loneliness in his childhood and his amazement in the discovery of poetry. It makes me feel that someone who has the same life experience empathizes with me and that I am not alone in the world. It is emotionally therapeutic for me. 

I am eager to take this precious opportunity to participate in the poetry workshop because I can not only learn to compose poems under the guidance of the guest poets in a creative environment, but also discuss with them how my work relates to the Hong Kong context. After the workshop, I am sure I can contribute to the poetry development in Hong Kong by creating more poems with local voices. Besides, as an underprivileged student, I am lacking in both funds and favourable environment to support my pursuit of poetry writing. Therefore, the scholarship is an important passport for me to open my eyes to the latest ideas about poetry writing. In addition to my strong interest in poetry, I am a poetry club chairman at my school and I have won an award in the latest Hong Kong poetry competition. I enclose my poetry work portfolio for your information. I would be grateful if I am given a consideration for the scholarship and am offered a place in the workshop. I look forward to receiving your reply soon.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Wong

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2018 DSE English Writing Question 4 (Sample)

Learning English through Social Issues

You write an advice column for Teen magazine and you have received the following letter:

I’ve been thinking about my future. I love animals and I’ve always wanted to be a vet. But when I told my parents, the first thing they said was ‘No’. I feel really frustrated. What should I do? – J.C. 16 years old

Write a letter of advice.

Dear J.C.,

I am writing in response to your letter concerning your choice of future career. I am sorry to hear about your frustration and would like to offer some advice to you.

First of all, you should understand the worries of your parents about your future. Although you love animals, it is hard to make a living as a vet in Hong Kong. In general, it is not common for people in Hong Kong to keep pets as there are many residential buildings which ban keeping pets. As a result, the demand for a vet in Hong Kong is very low and the job market for a vet is very small. You have to be exceptionally competent in order to secure an employment as a vet in Hong Kong. You might think that you can work as a vet in foreign countries. However, it is hard for a vet to apply for a work visa in other countries. Even if you are allowed to work overseas as a vet, you will have to leave your homeland and will need to face many problems living and working overseas such as culture shock and communication barrier. Other problems may come along.

Second, you should know that it is difficult to turn interests into career. There are many people who like singing, drawing and dancing. In fact, however, very few of them can work as a singer, a painter or a dancer and make a decent living. There is only one in a thousand chance that you can develop a successful career from your interests. More often is that interests remain hobbies in your spare time. For example, you may think about being a part-time volunteer at SPAC to help take care of abandoned animals in your free time. 

Third, you should know that you can always choose to be a vet. You may first think about a more practical career like dentistry or nursing, earn enough money, then study a part-time vet programme and open a pet shop if you like. People pursue a second career after they make enough money to realise their dream. 

After considering the above obstacles, if you still want to be a vet as your first career choice, then you should try to convince your parents that you want to follow your passion and that you are able to overcome the obstacles in the pursuit of your career as a vet. You have to show them that you understand all the negative sides of following your dream and that you agree to bear all the responsibility and consequence of your choice. 

To pursue one’s dream is never easy. I hope the above suggestions are helpful to you.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Wong

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2018 DSE English Writing Question 6 (Sample)

Learning English through Popular Culture

‘Athleisure’ is currently one of the biggest trends in the fashion industry. This is a term for clothes that can be worn both for exercises and as everyday wear.

Write an article for the local newspaper explaining possible reasons for the rise in popularity of athleisure.

Athleisure – A Healthy Lifestyle

Athleisure has become popular and has set the fashion trend in recent years. Basically, athleisure means athletics and leisure.  People wear sports clothing not only for exercising but also for casual occasions. They wear yoga pants, gym clothes, sports tops and shorts, leggings, sneakers and shoes as everyday wear.  There are several reasons why athleisure is so popular.

Most people are now living and working under pressure in the city. Normally, they spend at least 8 hours stuck sitting in the air-conditioned office working with the computers. It easily leads to stress, headache, muscle fatigue, back pain and other body-related problems.  They are in need of stretching, breathing and exercising to reduce stress and keep their body healthy. As a result, the concept of living a healthy lifestyle becomes so popular with the office workers that yoga studios, gym rooms and fitness centres are opened everywhere to cater for their needs. They wear sportswear outfit to go to these fitness centres to do exercises on a regular basis to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, athleisure comes with the healthy lifestyle and becomes trendy fashion.

As fast-food diet is common to our everyday life, many people are overweight and have the problem of obesity. Many celebrities also face the same issue. They usually upload photos and videos of their workout process and result on their social media accounts to advertise the concept of athletics, sportsmanship and healthy lifestyle as well as their sportswear sponsorship since they are representative of some sportswear brands. People are easily attracted to their outfits, efforts and workout performance and follow suit. Moreover, as the newspapers and magazines are full of the celebrities’ success stories of weight loss through exercising to achieve a perfect figure and wear slim sportswear outfit, the general people are easily influenced to follow the trend. With the impact of celebrities, athleisure becomes a popular trend.

In recent years, the annual marathon competition has become so popular that it has attracted thousands of people to take part in. People from all walks of life are interested in joining the marathon run. To prepare themselves for the competition, they have to keep training themselves throughout the year. The marathon run is now a major sports event in Hong Kong and has spread its influence among the general public. It has created a culture of athletics. This is one of the driving force behind athleisure. 

Last but not least, sportswear products are trendy and fashionable. They offer both comfort and a taste of fashion. Comfort wear is preferable to denim jeans because not only the fabrics used serves the purpose of comfort, durability and flexibility, but also its design is stylish as well. So athleisure becomes fashionable and is much sought after.

In short, athleisure is equal to healthy lifestyle. As long as people are obsessed with health pursuit, athleisure will sustain and continue to set the trend in the fashion industry.

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2019 DSE English Writing Question 2 (Sample)

Learning English through Social Issues

The following excerpt appeared in an article in the Hong Kong Daily Press:

To participate in today’s global economy, companies hire individuals whose skills and talent meet standards of excellence. One hundred years ago, people were hired from within the local community but today the best individuals are hired from around the world.

  • Write an essay for your English teacher
  • Explain some of the benefits and challenges international talent brings to Hong Kong society and ways to ensure that people from the local community are not neglected
  • Include a title for your essay

Local Talent in Danger

As the world is undergoing globalization in the 21st century, business is becoming international. Companies are eager to recruit global talent to cater for the demand of business as they have to co-operate with companies and countries worldwide to develop and expand their business. While there are benefits to Hong Kong society and economy by hiring global talent, there are also challenges to the local community.

The benefits brought about by global talent are numerous. First of all, it can diversify the local workforce so that they can learn to work with people from other languages, cultures and countries. It increases their international exposure. Second, it can satisfy the needs of multinational companies or international corporate which set their headquarters and branches in Hong Kong. An Indian manager stationed in Hong Kong is more likely to know how to communicate with his fellow colleagues in India and oversee the business performance in his home country than local counterparts. Moreover, it brings in the necessary and professional knowledge and skills to help build and develop business. For example, the Hong Kong branch of US-based international company Apple employs tech-savvy and IT talent from India to bring in the first-class information technology knowledge and skill to assist the business development in Hong Kong. Lastly, with the inflow of foreign talent, it brings in innovative ideas and insights into the local business and avoids brain drain of the talent pool in Hong Kong.

Despite the positive effects mentioned above, there are negative sides to the input of global talent. First, it increases the competition of local job market. Local talent is compelled to compete with global talent in order to secure a place in internationally renowned companies. In terms of language, international experience and professional knowledge, they may pale in comparison and thus lose out the opportunities of getting hired. Second, it is difficult for local talent to find a good job with potential development. As well-paid jobs are filled up by global talent, local talent is only left with jobs without good prospects and benefits. As a result, global talent seemingly “steals the rice bowl” of local talent and affects its social mobility.

In order to prevent local talent from being neglected, the Government should take certain measures to tackle the problem. For example, it should allocate more resources to the education sector, particularly higher education sector, to attract more internationally-renowned talent or scholars to foster and nurture our local students and to expand their horizons so that our students can also measure up to international standard. The Government should also set up education funds to subsidize our university students to participate in foreign exchange programs.

As the inception of global talent is inevitable, local people should not lose heart but work hard to make themselves unique, useful and competent so as to increase the competitive edge and “protect the rice bowl”.

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