Hong Kong netizens object to abolishing HKDSE Chinese speaking and listening exams

An objection letter template on social media argues that students will lose essential Cantonese communication skills if the exams are scrapped

Nicola Chan |

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Over the years, generations of Hong Kong students have spent countless hours practicing their Cantonese speaking skills.

The template for an objection letter against the elimination of the HKDSE's Chinese Languages speaking and listening exams has been circulating on local forums and different social media platforms since yesterday evening, one day before the initial deadline for the education task force's public consultation.

The email template, which was written in Chinese, claimed that Cantonese speaking and listening are essential for students to be able to express themselves clearly and grasp the key points of a discussion in their mother tongue, and that students would lose their schools as a platform to practise these communication skills if the papers were trimmed.

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“In addition to examining students’ knowledge of common expressions, the core value of the speaking exam lies in evaluating whether students are able to construct arguments and create discussions effectively,” the email reads. “Students would have no channels to practise their basic [speaking] skills if the exam was abolished.”

It also states that the oral exam is necessary to acknowledge mentally agile students who aren’t good at expressing themselves in writing, and that the listening exam is crucial for students to learn how to catch the hidden messages in everyday communication.

The Task on Review on School Curriculum published its suggestions to trim the listening and/or speaking parts of the public examination in a consultation document on June 28, a response to some stakeholders’ concerns that the design of the Chinese Language curriculum “tends to gear towards the functional use of the language.”

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The task force also emphasised the need to cultivate students’ interest in the language by strengthening “the learning of literature and classics in the senior secondary curriculum.”

While some netizens have been urging others to take immediate action, the deadline for the consultation has been extended for one month. The extension, announced by the government in a press release on August 28, was a response to “the requests and active response from the public.”