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HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 1

Oral English is an important requirement of work. When you prepare for the Speaking section, you are not
just preparing a paper but empowering yourself for career success!
Mr. Courtship: Havent I seen you sometime before?
Ms. Beauty: Probably, I work at the zoo. J

Preparation tips:
Keep yourself informed about current affairs. ()
Participate in debate competitions, speech festivals, etc.
Practice useful sentences/expressions before the examination so that they can always pop up at critical
moments. ()
Develop these habits: (1) Listen and then speak without further thinking. (
) (2) Always get to the point when you speak. ()

Performance Tips:
Important principle: Communication is the most important point in a group discussion (Group
Discussion ). Speak up! Dont be shy! ()
Dont worry about some occasional and minor errors (
). Grammar and the pronunciation of individual words are relatively of minor importance
when compared to the general impression you give (
). Go on! ()
During the 10-minute preparation time (): List salient points during
preparation in point form and NOT in sentences (point form);
figure out 10-12 points to speak; spare 2-4 minutes to rehearse what you would say (10-12
2-4 Group Discussion ); think about your stand
(); your role () to lead or induce another to lead (
)?; your technique to communicate (), to express yourself (), to query (),
to stop an aggressive partner (), to respond and defend ().
Think about the tenses to be used (). Be careful with your pronunciation ().
Level 5 candidate as an individual (Level 5 ): Good audibility (
); Clear and accurate pronunciation (); overall accurate grammar ();
use of stress and intonation to enhance your message (); fluency ();
good body language (see below) (); a good range of appropriate vocabulary
items (), phrases and patterns (); relevant ideas and
explanations (); cogency (); an ability to argue sophisticated
viewpoints (); an ability to provide justifications and explanations for a
standpoint (); even with some occasional and minor errors.
Level 5 candidate as a team member (Level 5 ): a desire to
contribute to the group interaction (/); effective
communication and interaction skills (); good-turn-talking skills (take up and
pass on the talk smoothly and not mechanically) (
); contribution to the smooth flow of discussion (); active and
HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 2

effective participation (listen to other participants earnestly; respond to them appropriately)(

); meaningful contribution (contribute additional ideas of your own).

How long should I speak every time in the group discussion? A group of 4 candidates have 8 minutes
for discussion. Preferably, you should speak no less than 30 seconds and no more than 1 minute every
time (30 1 ).
Body language () includes (1) maintain genuine eye-contact () with fellow
candidates (during group discussion) (Group Discussion ) and
examiners (during individual response) (Individual Response examiner ); (2)
hand gestures (); and (3) back-channelling, which is a way of showing the speaking candidate
that you are following what they are saying and understand, often through interjections like I see,
yes, OK and uhu. (I see, yesOK uhu)
Make a favourable impression on your examiner ():(1) Legibly jot down keywords/brief
phrases but NOT sentences. You may refer to your notes when speaking but NEVER read out verbatim
what you have written. Your examiner will award you a lower score for that (
points points). (2) Maintain eye-contact with your
fellow candidates (during the Group Discussion section) and your examiner (during the Individual
Response section). (3) Always try to speak smoothly and with confidence; (4) Pay attention to the
intonation of whole sentences (); (5) Support your points with relevant examples, if
possible (). (6) Conduct yourself with decorum (), but make the
discussion lively and pleasurable and avoid being too formal with your discussion partners (
). Always interact well with them through body language (see
above). Show interest in what they say.
Contribute as a team member (): Avoid dull discussions followed by awkward silences.
Use closed-ended questions to get your discussion partners involved. (e.g. Can we reduce work
addiction () by spreading the importance of leisure time activities, Mr. Lam?). Use open-ended
question to keep your discussions going and help them reach greater depth (e.g. What do you think we
could do to reduce work addiction, Miss Chan?). ((
)close-ended question open-ended question )
During individual response: Dont ramble (). Answer the examiners question directly (
). Dont be too slow in response (). Keep good eye-contact with the examiner (
). Use short sentences (). But dont give an answer which is too short (
). Avoid mistakes (). Be articulate (). Use correct tenses ().
Listen to the examiners question carefully. (). Say I beg your pardon if you
cannot hear the question clearly (). If you really cannot understand the
question, IMMEDIATELY ask the examiner for another question:Excuse me, examiner, I cant
understand your question. Would you mind asking me another question? (
Refer to the Annual reports for grammatical and pronunciation errors.

HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 3

How to improve in the oral exam (group discussion) - part 1
The two videos are about three skills of actively listening (for the purpose of speaking). Firstly, you may ask for
clarification of something which you do not understand. Secondly, you may make an elaboration after expressing
your agreement or disagreement by saying: I (cannot) agree with you, because. In addition, my view is that
() Thirdly, by listening
actively, you may paraphrase your fellow candidates opinion, i.e. re-state their opinions in your own words when
you do not have anything meaningful to say!

Formulaic expressions are useful, but never overuse them or use them regardless of the context. Use
formulaic expressions only when the situation warrants their use. ()
Always ask meaningful questions or provide natural or appropriate responses.

HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 4

Skill 1: Greet group members; start the discussion; make your point; invite others to join (
Nice to meet everyone here for our discussion. The topic we are going to discuss today is For me
Do you agree? What would be your opinion?
Good afternoon / Good evening, everyone. We are here to discuss a topic on [body art and
individuality]. We have to complete the discussion in 8 minutes. Lets begin the discussion/Lets get
started. In my opinion Does any one of you have any similar or other examples / ideas / points /
Well, friends, I believe you are already aware of the topic of todays discussion. We are here to
exchange our views on an article titled [A question of privacy]. Shall we start? Let's start with the point
[whether the media have too much freedom] (If the first point to talk about in the paper is [whether the
media have too much freedom]).
Hello, everybody, mind / do you mind if I begin? Today we are talking about I suggest that [Mr.
Wong], do you think it is feasible / can work? Id be happy to hear your opinion.
Lets start our discussion on [picnic arrangement] if everyone is ready. This discussion topic is not new
to any one of us here. Our task is to discuss [which destination would be ideal for our picnic]. My own
view is that Do you think so?

Skill 2: How to respond when a member starts the discussion by saying Shall we start? (
Sure, we have 8 minutes. Go ahead.

Skill 3: Initiate the discussion with a question ()
Hello, everybody. We are here to discuss the topic of privacy. [Do the media have too much
freedom?] What are your opinions? (Turn your head to scan through your three partners after you ask
the question. If nobody responds, immediately give your viewpoints by saying, As I see it, )

Skill 4: What should I do if I dont understand the topic at all? ()
Dont try to initiate the discussion. Be a good listener first. Get the idea of others and then give good
Well, Im not sure. Ill have to think it over. (
May I think about it for a moment? (

Skill 5: How to participate if I dont know the topic or what other members are talking about? (
You may rephrase a point of your partners (). For example, if a member
proposes to regulate tongue piercing () to protect teenagers, you may say, Yes, regulating
tongue piercing is a good idea. We should protect teenagers.

HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 5

Skill 6: Give Suggestions ()
I think / I believe / I suppose / I reckon () / I figure () [itll be successful].
I'll be brief. ()
As I see it, / As for me
I suppose
To me
So far as I can judge, [it is impractical, because] /My judgment is that [it is impractical]
How about (if we)?
How about this idea: [we have our summer vacation on Lantau Island instead]?
Wouldnt it be a good idea if?
Wouldnt it be sensible for us to?
The way I see it, we should
Id like to put forward a suggestion: [Lets conduct an opinion survey on...]
What I want to say is that
A point I want to make is that
One idea would be

Skill 7: Invite members to speak ()
What do you think
How does that sound to you?
Do you have any suggestion?
What you would recommend, [Mr. Chan]?
Whats on your mind?
Do you think we ought to [Mr. Chan]?
What would you do if you were me, [Miss. Chan]?
Would you mind sharing with / giving us your opinion?
Does it make sense to you?
Would we try to [be strong/learn from the case/reason with them], [Mr Chan]?
What else can you suggest, [Mr. Chan]?
What do you think about my / this suggestion?
Miss Chan, is it alright/do you think itll work?
Mr. Chan, we would you do in this position?
What about you, [Miss Chan]? Do you have any other points?
What about you, [Mr. Chan]? Have you got any suggestions?

Skill 8: Emphasize your point ()
Im certain that
I feel strongly that
Im really very enthusiastic about that!
HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 6

Great! / Terrific! / How wonderful! / How marvelous ()! / Its breathtaking (). /
What a good idea!
Well, I'm surprised that no one has thought about that.

Skill 9: What to say when nobody follows up after you/another member speak (
Would any of you say a few words on? ()
I would like to add something here. ()
I would like to give some explanations here. ()

Skill 10: How to express agreement and why ()
I agree with you, but (partial agreement, i.e. agree on one point but disagree on another)
That makes sense; however (partial agreement)
It's a good idea / point, but (partial agreement)
I suppose so. (partial agreement)
Certainly its true that, but on the other hand(partial agreement)
I can see that But surely(partial agreement)
I am in total agreement with you about but we also have to consider. (partial agreement)
Agreed, but if we accept then it must also be true that(partial agreement)
In that case, ... (carry a members point further, and then agree or disagree)
People like to read magazines for gossip only. I suppose so.
If you reply to a negative statement, you say, I suppose not. People like to read magazines for
gossip only. I suppose not.
64. Yes, and in fact (corroboration, i.e. agree and add a further point)
Yes, and what is more
I agree, and in fact one might go so far as to say
Absolutely. Actually, I would go further, and say
Thats a sensible / constructive ideas / point / suggestion, because
That sounds great, as
Sounds good.
That makes sense since
Very sensible of you, since
Fine, let's do that.
I agree with
I think is a good idea / point
I think you're right.
I completely agree.
You're totally correct/right.
You know, thats exactly what I think.
Thats just what Im thinking.
HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 7

Thats exactly what I mean / what is in my mind.
Id go along with your idea / suggestion.
Thats a good point. Your suggestion is very innovative and creative.

Skill 11: How to express disagreement and why ()
Important: Calmly express your opinion and respect the other members opinion all the while. Use
expressions which soften the contradictory opinion you are giving (), and give a
reason why you disagree. ()
Yes, but (English is difficult. Yes, but its not so difficult as German.)
I take / see your point, but
I am afraid I cant agree because
Im afraid not. There is a point which I should mention.
The problem with that is
The way I see it is
I'm against it because
Instead, I think that
Actually, I find that
Im not sure I quite agree, because
Yes, perhaps, but I think
Well, yours is not a bad idea, but I am sorry I cant agree with you that
I agree in part / to some extent but
Well, that might work but
Okay, I see your point. But surely you'll admit that
I see what you mean, but many people may not, because.
I see what you mean but I have to say no to that because. /but I dont think
I see your point but I have another idea.
Thats not a very good idea.
I think we should (indirect disagreement)
Perhaps we could consider an alternative solution. (indirect disagreement)
We could (indirect disagreement)
How about(indirect disagreement)
What about(indirect disagreement)
Is that really necessary? (indirect disagreement)
One solution may be(indirect disagreement)
Its not an entirely correct thing to do actually.
Personally, I feel that might be a bit unnecessary.

Skill 12: Respond to challenge ()
You may ask for details by saying: (i) Why do you say that, [Mr. Wong]? (ii) Could you be more
specific? (iii) Whats there about [going on picnic on a holiday] that you dont like?
HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 8

You may ask for confirmation by saying: Are you saying that I have left out an important point,
which is?
You may insist by saying: Its not a bad idea having regard to all circumstances. Why dont we give it
a try?
Occasionally, you will find that what you thought to be criticism really isnt!

Skill 13: Circumvent ()
Thank you for your question. In general, I see your point. In addition, I believe that How about you?

Skill 14: Change your standpoint ()
Yes, I guess you could be right.
Yes, you have a point on
Im not sure about that. / I cant be certain about it.
I cant say for certain. / I cant say with any certainty about it.
Actually, your idea is better. So, why dont we?
Perhaps youre right. Im too pessimistic / ignorant to say / believe that
(Its) hard to tell. It could be
I cant make up some mind.
Im in two minds about [which method to use].
On my second thought, I will follow your idea
I have to agree with you on but I think I am right in saying that ()

Skill 15: Query or ask for details ()
Why do you say that?
What good is [the freedom of media] supposed to do?
That was a fascinating idea you give us. Tell me, [Mr. Cheung], why do you think [people like to read
magazines just for juicy gossip]?

Skill 16: Ask for repetition ()
(I'm) sorry? (I) (beg your) pardon?
Sorry, could you possibly repeat what you said?
Excuse me, could you please repeat that (for me) / say that again?
Sorry/Im sorry, would you mind saying it/that again / repeating it/that?
Im afraid I didnt quite catch what you said. Could you repeat it?
Hang on. / Just a minute, please say it / that again.
Im sorry, [Miss Chan]. Do you mean (that)?
If I understand you rightly, do you mean that we should?
If I get you right, do you mean we shouldnt?
Sorry, would you mind speaking a bit slower?
Sorry, can / could you repeat it more loudly? Im afraid we cant hear you clearly.26. Sorry, did you
HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 9

Skill 17: Correct members mistakes politely ()
Sorry, thats not correct.
The way isnt right, is it?
I think it might be more accurate/correct to say that [drunk driving () causes many car accident] .
Well, actually / as a matter of fact, [Hong Kong Island lies to the south of Kowloon].
Im sorry, [Miss Chan]. It might not be correct to say because
Sorry, Im afraid its not suitable to say
Ive to say that/Im afraid that its not quite right.
It doesnt correct to say/suppose that [teenagers have no choice but to abuse drugs].
Wouldnt it be better to say because
[Miss Chan], I suppose youre mistaken there.
If I may say so, the choice is incorrect / its actually not the case / youre wrong there.
Pardon me, [Mr. Chan]. Im afraid youre wrong in saying that In fact, dont you think its better

Skill 18: Correct your own mistakes ()
My mistake.
I must apologize for what Ive said.
If I may correct myself, I dont think that [capital punishment is justified].
Im sorry Im afraid I was wrong to say so. In fact, thinking about it, it is better
I didnt mean it that way.
I think I got that wrong. What I meant to say was
Im sorry that Ive just made a mistake. Actually, it should be

Skill 19: Take up a point ()
On the subject of investment/music, people nowadays
About [the property prices of Hong Kong], I think [they are so high that many of us cannot afford a
comfortable home].
That reminds me of [the time I went camping with my friends, and we waited at different locations
because of poor coordination].
Sorry to butt in (), but did I hear you say that [Hong Kong and Guangdong should have economic
communion (), will Hong Kongs competitive advantage become blurred by such communion

Skill 20: When asked a question, and you have no idea () or think the question is not
appropriate ()
Im sorry. I have no idea at this moment.
I dont have much to say.
I know too much about this (Alternatively, you may summarize or paraphrase the points of your
partner(s) and say if you agree or not, and why. (agree/disagreepoint )
HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 10

I would like to hold my comments for the time being. [Mr. Tang] seems to have something to say on
this point. [Mr. Tang], would you share your ideas with us?
Thank you for asking me, [Miss Cheung], but perhaps we should focus on the question of [what
qualities make a person successful at this stage].

Skill 21: Get passive members involved ()
[Miss Lee], do you agree with the idea of [organizing a music party]? (Ask a weaker candidate a yes /
no question)
[Miss Lee], do you think we should organize [a picnic or a party]? (Ask a weaker candidate to choose
between two options)
[Miss Lee], what do you think about [organizing a music party]? (Ask a weaker candidate for views on
a point)
Excuse me. Perhaps we should hear [Mr. Chan]s opinion. [Mr. Chan], what do you think about
[Miss Chan], do you think the idea will work?
[Miss Chan], can I ask if you would agree that [the competitive strengths of Hong Kong are
deteriorating ()]?
[Miss Chan], would you like to say a few words on?
[Mr. Chan], we havent heard from you yet. Whats your opinion on?
[Mr. Chan], you agree with me, wouldnt you?
Would anyone care to comment?
Let us, I mean all of us, take part in the discussion.
Which one do you prefer? X or Y?
Mr. Chan, do you have any comment on my idea?

Skill 22: Have I expressed myself clearly ()
Do you get me?
Ok so far?
Do you see my point?
Have I made my point clear? /Have I made myself clear?
If there s anything you are still not clear about, please let me know.
Do you see / know /get what I mean?
Are you with me?
Do you follow me? / Are you following me? ()
Does it make sense to you?
Does that seem to make sense?

Skill 23: Ask for clarification ()
If I understand you correctly, you're saying that
May you be simpler about what you have just said?
Could you explain your idea further?
Could you elaborate your point/ idea?
HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 11

Pardon me, but are you really certain about it?
Do you mean to say [drug abuse are common among artists]?
Hang on! What are you talking about?
Im sorry. Whats the meaning of?

Skill 24: Clarifying ()
What I mean is
What Im trying to say is
Let me put you in the picture. ()
What / All Im trying to say is that
I was merely stating the fact that
I was just making the suggestion that
To put it simple, I mean
Im sorry I havent made myself clear. My point is
Let me put it another way / Let me explain it in another way / To put it another way / To put it in other
words, Im saying that
Sorry, I think I was wrong to say
I said, could [social workers give students a hand ()]?

Skill 25: Avoid awkward silence ()
Lets be more outspoken / active.
Time is running short. Should we say something about

Skill 26: Add a point to what you / others said ()
Lets go back to the point of [Mr. Chan]. I would like to add something here.
Before jumping to a conclusion, I would like to say something more about

Skill 27: Interim summing up ()
So we all agree that
It seems we all think that

Skill 28: Prevent digression (say so only when you are sure that a member has side-tracked)(
Im afraid we are a bit off the point here. We are discussing, rather than
Our discussion is going off track, let return to the subject of
Hang on, can we stick with that point about [property hegemony ()]?
Excuse me, [Mr. Chan], that is an interesting point, but I am afraid that we are getting off the topic of
[Christmas Party].
Im sorry. I think we have to return to the topic of [the advantages of abolishing school uniform].
An interesting point, but we are talking about [unethical business practices], I think it will be great to
I think we're going around in circles now. Todays topic is
HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 12

This would be some sidetracking from the topic although it might be a good point which deserve our
attention after discussion. Todays topic is
Excuse me. Im afraid we have gone off the topic. We should be discussing Shall we go back to the
[Mr. Chan], I am afraid were not talking on the right track here / talking about the right thing here.
I see what you mean but I think we should stick to the topic at hand.
That is all well said but it would be better if we limit out discussion to the given topic.
I understand your point but I do not find a link between what you say and our given topic. Could you
please return to the main point?
That is not the main point under discussion. Lets now come to the main topic.
Im sorry. You are a little bit off the topic / off the track. You mention A, but we are talking about B.
Do you feel the same?

Skill 29: Go to the next topic ()
Lets move on to?
Let's go ahead to the next point, which is ...
It seems that all of us have voiced our opinions / given our views on this topic. Shall we move on to the
next one, which is [how Hong Kong society views people with tattoos / read out the next point]?
So if we agree about this topic, let's look at the next one, which is
Do you mind if we move on to the next point, which is
Okay, should we move along to the next item?
Well whats the next thing we have to decide?
Well, lets move on to another point now, shall we?

Skill 30: Stop members from repeating the same point ()
Right, I think weve covered that point already.
Im afraid we are repeating our arguments.
Im afraid weve said enough about that.
Lets move on to another area. It seems that we have discussed this in full already.

Skill 31: Challenge others ()
Your suggestion sounds good, but have you considered its feasibility?

Skill 32: Refrain from arguing ()
Excuse me, theres no point in arguing. We should try to reach an agreement on
As time is running short, lets not argue over this point. Wed better discuss
Hang on. I think you two have all you say. Shall we listen to [Mr. Chan]s idea?

HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 13

Skill 33: Interrupt / interfere (/)
Good point, [Miss Chan], what do you think about [inviting a teacher to act as our M.C.]? (The secret is
to agree with the dominant candidates first and then redirect the conversation to another candidate or
the group.)
[Mr. Chan], I agree with your point about [budgeting] but what does the rest of the group think?
(Interrupt, and ask other members to state their views.)
Sorry to interrupt, but...(interrupt, and then speak yourself)
Can I come in at this point?
Excuse me, may I say something
Im sorry, sorry to interrupt. Not bad of your idea but Ive an alternative idea. That is
Sorry for interrupting you, but you seem to digress. Our topic is concerned with
Could I add something to what you said about

Skill 34: Move the discussion along when an aggressive member tries to take too much time and
monopolize the discussion ()
Thank you [Mr. Chan]. Your idea is really good, but other members are also eager to state their views,
could you please give them a chance to speak?

Skill 35: Defend against interruption / interference ()
Excuse me, Mr. Wong, we are here not to argue / debate / compete, but to complete a task / solve a
common problem / work out our ideas together. Would you please let me finish my point first?
Excuse me, could I just finish this point first? And I would try to be as brief as possible.
Would you just let me make my whole point first, please?
Sorrybut may I finish my point first?

Skill 36: Return to your point after being interrupted / interfered (
As I was saying
To return to / go back to my point
Where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about.

Skill 37: About to conclude ()
Does anyone want to contribute before we wrap up the discussion?
As the time is going to be over, should we make a conclusion on the points of our discussion?
It seems that we dont have any more ideas to contribute but I would really like to do a summary of the
discussion. May I?

Skill 38: Pre-empt a conclusion ()
Excuse me, before we conclude, may I say something about first?
Would you mind if I finish my point before we sum up?

HKDSE ENG Paper 4 / 14

Skill 39: Complete discussion ()
So, to conclude
To sum up then,
We have got three ideas in all
In brief, they
In short, we
It seems weve finished our task / discussion, and we can stop here.
Thats all we have discussed today. Thank you everyone.
We have finished our discussion. Thank you everybody.