Epic fails on the English DSE: pronunciation problems and too many cliches, la

Epic fails on the English DSE: pronunciation problems and too many cliches, la

Students need to stop directly translating Chinese into English, work on their pronunciation, and speak more formally, says report

An English teacher from a Happy Valley school says students should spend more time reading books, newspapers, and magazines instead of just school textbooks, as this will help with exams, and also teach proper usage of the language.

She was responding to an examiner's report on the most common errors students make on the English DSE. Common errors included pronouncing "daughter" as "doctor", "robot" as "Robert", "game" as "gam", and "shower" as "sour". Another comment in the report was that many students used the Cantonese expression "la" to end sentences and struggled with pronunciation in their oral exam.

Some students also used "Chinese-influenced" English when speaking - a direct translation of the Chinese language structure, which makes grammatically incorrect English. Examples include: "I very enjoy it" and "foreign country people".

As for the written portion, the teacher said students today tend to write faster and more simply, as they spend more time online. "For example, they write 'u' as 'you' and think that's acceptable in formal writing," she said. Examiners also found that many students used flowery vocabulary and old-fashioned expressions in the hope of impressing markers.

"It is conspicuous that we should do something to wrestle with the aforementioned rub," was one such example. The candidate should have kept things simple with: "It is clear that we should do something to consider the previously discussed problem."

Others resorted to clichés such as "every coin has two sides" and "a blessing or a curse?" instead of writing clearly and formally.

About 68,700 candidates took the exam earlier this year, with a 79.3 per cent pass rate.

This video will help you pronounce some of the DSE's tough words:

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Common mistakes on English DSE


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