Pupils reminded to use only English or Chinese in exams | South China Morning Post
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Pupils reminded to use only English or Chinese in exams

Pupils used English words when they were supposed to use in Chinese in exams

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 November, 2012, 3:13am

Pupils have been reminded to "watch their language" - but it's not what you think. They should avoid interchanging Chinese and English words, examiners said in reports released yesterday on the first Hong Kong Diploma for Secondary Education examinations.

The reports are published annually on the public exams and this year examiners remarked on the HKDSE, which was part of education reforms and was held for the first time alongside the last A-levels examinations.

The reports said students used English words when they were supposed to communicate in Chinese during some exams.

"Some candidates were used to inserting English words such as "call", "for" and "sorry" in [Chinese] conversations … "iPhone", "iPad" and "Facebook" were also often heard … this issue … of students using the two languages together was quite severe this year," an examiner said in one observation in the report for Chinese language oral examinations.

Tam Mo-yee, senior manager of assessment development (Chinese language) of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, said that candidates may not have even been aware of doing so.

Academics said inserting English words in everyday conversations in Chinese had become common in Hong Kong.

"It's sometimes difficult for students to find equivalents in Chinese for the foreign terms," said Wong Chi-sun, a Chinese teacher at TWGHs Li Ka Shing College. "Using them in conversation doesn't necessarily mean their Chinese is bad."

Some pupils also performed poorly in writing about Chinese culture.

"Under the new syllabus, students are not required to learn Chinese culture thoroughly," said Wong. In the now defunct A-levels pupils needed to spend two years on Chinese language and culture.

Wong said this was where students could acquire their knowledge of Chinese culture systematically.

On English oral papers, examiners said candidates often read from the note cards as they spoke.

"Genuine eye contact is necessary for an effective presentation … and candidates who did not make adequate eye contact … lost marks," the report said.

English language assessment manager Andy Chan said, however, that top students in the paper showed ability comparable to native speakers.

Nearly 80 per cent of pupils who took the Chinese and English language papers overall obtained a Level 2 or above on a seven-level scale, with the top grades being 5* and 5**.

Level 2 is generally regarded as the pass mark.


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