Chinese language DSE exam, not liberal studies, needs a makeover
Anson Chan in his letter, “Liberal studies does not need reworking, change the Chinese syllabus instead” (May 7) has correctly pointed out that the Chinese-language curriculum for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) needs reform.
I do not understand why native speakers of Chinese have to be tested on their listening and speaking skills in their mother tongue. Some Chinese teachers argue that these skills help students develop critical thinking. However, most of the oral paper questions are either unrelated to Chinese culture or more related to current affairs, which should be assessed under liberal studies.
The reading paper is also problematic. As a graduate of the University of Hong Kong’s School of Chinese, I believe there is no single way to view a literary text.
As long as one provides sound arguments to support one’s views, there are many possible answers. This is how literature students develop their critical thinking skills. However, the current reading paper sets up a framed answer to force students to think the same way the examiners do.
I question the view that it is normal for students to be asked to analyse the intentions of writers. How do the examiners know the true intentions of the writers? In fact, reporters have invited these writers to answer the questions set on their work, and some cannot do so.
I suggest Chinese reading skills be assessed by a majority of open-ended questions which allow students to express their understanding of the texts. This would give students a chance to critically think about the readings.
Anson C.Y. Chan, North Point