Talking Points: should group discussions be scrapped from HKDSE language exams?

Talking Points: should group discussions be scrapped from HKDSE language exams?

Hate it when you can’t talk back? Well, you can with Young Post. Have your say and share with students around Hong Kong

Matthew Lin Kai-him, 17, Law Ting Pong Secondary School

Definitely not! The group discussion is a good way to evaluate students’ speaking skills. Their language skills can be assessed in terms of their body language, fluency and interpersonal skills.

This section of the exam also tests their ability to interact with their group mates, listen to others’ opinions, and respond accordingly. In contrast, individual presentations only allow students to express their views. Their pronunciation can be tested this way, but their communication skills and ability to respond to others cannot be evaluated. This is why the group discussion is a vital component of the HKDSE language exams.

Cheung Pui-sze, 15, Tin Shui Wai Methodist College

Yes, without a doubt. The group discussion tests whether a candidate can discuss a topic with other students they do not know. Some students are very shy or may not know how to interact with other candidates, but that may not necessarily mean they’re bad at English. It wouldn’t be fair if a student got a bad score because of their timid personality. They may be able to get much higher marks for an individual presentation.

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Awan Nimrah Nawaz, 16, St Margaret’s Girls’ College, Hong Kong

Certainly not. The group discussion is a very important part of the HKDSE language exams because it helps to highlight students’ basic understanding of certain topics, and also tests their communication and public speaking skills.

What’s more, it could become very useful in the future, especially at a job interview where a candidate has to interact with company executives. Last but not least, the group discussion offers students a way to get some easy marks because it’s the only section where they can go with the flow and are not required to memorise things.

Christine Li Sik, 17, Po Leung Kuk Wu Chung College

The group discussion should be removed from the HKDSE because it does not truly reflect one’s speaking skills. For instance, if you are a shy person, you may have difficulty expressing your brilliant ideas aloud. Or your group mates might be of a different level to you, which may affect how the group gets along and the group’s score as a whole.

For this reason, students should be tested on their individual performance, not as a group.

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Michael Kwok Pui-hin, 17, Law Ting Pong Secondary School

Not only does the group discussion test students’ language proficiency, it also encourages them to develop good eye contact and to use body language to express their opinions. Most importantly, it helps them to develop their ability to interact with others, and also mirrors the real-life group discussion scenarios that they might come across in the future.

Such interpersonal skills could be very handy at university or job interviews, or work meetings. Therefore the group discussion component of the HKDSE language exams should not be scrapped.

Bobo Cheung Hok-yu, 16, Ma On Shan Tsung Tsin Secondary School

Nowadays, in our society, many people would agree that it’s important to have good communication skills. Therefore, I think the group discussion component of the HKDSE language exams shouldn’t be scrapped. The group discussion not only tests students’ knowledge on certain topics, but also tests students’ ability to respond to questions and discuss topics in a group setting. These are skills that they will need once they are in university or start working, so it’s good for these skills to be learned and assessed early on.

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Yuen Nok-him, 15, Po Leung Kuk Wu Chung College

The group discussion is an effective way for students to be assessed on their ability to communicate, and I really don’t think it should be scrapped.

It is necessary for students learning a language to develop group discussion skills as it is a skill they will use in life, so it wouldn’t make sense to scrap the group discussion component.

Jade Mackinley Herndon, 17, Kwok Tak Seng Catholic Secondary School

Yes, I do believe it should be scrapped. First of all, group discussion is unfair to students who are introverted, as they may feel uncomfortable and anxious when speaking in groups.

Secondly, during group discussion, there are often students who like to take over the whole discussion, causing other students to lose their chance to speak up and share their ideas. It seems really unfair for a student’s mark to depend on the actions of others. Therefore, the component should be scrapped.

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Alan Fai, 17, Po Leung Kuk Wu Chung College

Definitely not. The group discussion component of the HKDSE language exams one of the main reasons why students practise group discussions at school, which, in my opinion, is an important part of language learning.

Practising group discussion can improve one’s communication skills, critical thinking, analytical skills and allows them to express ideas on a specific topic.

If the group discussion in HKDSE is scrapped, they may also stop practising group discussion in school, which would take away from students’ learning.

In our next Talking Points, we’ll discuss:

How old should you be for your first date and why?

We are now accepting your answers for this topic. To take part, email your answer with your name, age, and school, along with a nice, clear selfie (make sure it’s not blurry), to yp@scmp.comby lunchtime on Monday. Don’t forget to include “Talking Points” in the subject line.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda 


This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Should the group discussion component of the HKDSE language exams be scrapped?


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