Listening Skills Analysis

Welcome!

This web page covers the listening skills which are required in the HKDSE English Language Paper 3 (Listening and Integrated Skills).  Read this web page thoroughly if you face any difficulties when attempting the Listening and Integrated Skills Paper. Click the buttons on the menu to start!


Essential Listening Skills

1. Numbers and amounts

In both Part A and Part B of the Listening Exam, you are required to write down numbers, dates, percentages and prices. Therefore, you should know how to write the numerical form from hearing the full form.

Full form
Numerical form
one, two, ten, fifty, one hundred, one hundred thousand, one million, etc.
1, 2, 10, 50, 100, 100,000, 1,000,000, etc.
first, second, third, fourth, etc.
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.
fifty cents, one dollar, two hundred dollars, four thousand dollars, etc.
50¢, $1, $200, $4,000, etc.
one half, two thirds, a quarter, fifty per cent, etc.
1/2 , 2/3 , 1/4 , 50%, etc.

Below are some common traps in DSE:
  • Numbers larger than one thousand (e.g. seven thousand four hundred and fifty six→7,456; one hundred and fifty two thousand seven hundred→152,700)
  • Thirteen (13) and Thirty (30), Fourteen (14) and Forty (40), and so on
  • Ordinal numbers (WRONG examples: 13rd, 22th, 31th)
  • Fractions (e.g. a quarter→25%, three fourth→75%)

<Click here> Click this link to study common cardinal and ordinal numbers


2. People's names

You should be able to spell some common first and last names, e.g.

  • First names: Amy, Cindy, Debbie, Eva, Andy, Anthony, Icarus
  • Last names: Chan, Cheung, Chow, Fung, Burton, Miller, Smith, Wood

<Click here>Click this link to study common female names
<Click here>Click this link to study common male names


3. Times and dates

  • Listen for keywords such as o’clock and a.m./p.m.
  • Pay attention to wh-question words and phrases (e.g. when, what time, which day, what date, which month)
  • Days of the week: Monday, Tuesday, etc.
  • Ordinal numbers: first, second, twenty-third, etc.
  • Months of the year: January, February, etc.
Make sure to spell days, months and ordinal numbers correctly. NO mark will be awarded for misspelt words.


4. Locations and addresses

  • Make sure you know the spellings of common place names. Only unusual place names will be spelt out in the exam.

<Click here>Click this link to study places in Hong Kong
<Click here>Click this link to study countries, cities, continents and oceans


5. Opinions, attitudes and intentions

To understand a person’s opinions, listen for the following indicators:
Positive
Negative
Neutral
certainly, definitely, good, good idea, great, I agree, of course, sure, true, well done, yes, you’re right bad idea, can’t be, definitely not, I can’t agree, I disagree, I don’t think so, no, not really, no way, you’re wrong could be, I don’t mind, I’m not sure, I suppose so, it’s all right, maybe, might be, perhaps, possibly, so-so

To understand the attitude of a speaker, pay attention to his/her tone and volume.
  • The intonation usually goes up at the end of a sentence if we feel positively about a situation.
  • The intonation usually goes down if we feel negatively about something.
  • A speaker often raises his/her voices to express how he/she feels strongly about something, but speaks more quietly to express uncertainty.
The following emotion words frequently appear in DSE. Make sure you know what they mean.
Opinion
Emotion
positive encouraging, enthusiastic, happy, helpful, interested, supportive, sympathetic
negative afraid, angry, annoyed, sad, worried
neutral
unsure, undecided, no strong opinion

6. Aim

Synonyms
endpoint, intent, purpose, function, intention, rationale, goal, mission, target, idea, objective, principle
Hints
to, in order to, in order that, so as to, so that, want to, be aimed at, to this end, with a view to
Language requirements
  • to + inf. + n.
  • inf. + n.
Example
Well, as I say, you’ll probably end up having to spend a bit more money than you need have done, but there’re still plenty of measures you can take. The main service we offer for finished buildings is conducting security surveys. There’s more than one purpose for these security surveys. The first is to identify areas of weakness. That’s obviously something we’re very experienced in, and of course we also recommend practical solutions. Now, perhaps Inspector Lee can give you more details about what these practical solutions may involve.


7. Reason

Synonyms
cause, motivation, point, factor, motive, justification, grounds, occasion, purpose
Hints
because, since, as, in view of, due to, owing to, given, on account of, for, Why...?
Language requirements
SVO
Example
That’s a fact. There’s a lot of things you have to consider when planning where to build a theme park. One of the first things you have to make sure of is good public transport – we’ve got trains, buses, even boats to this park. Why’s that important? Well, public transport is usually cheap visitors don’t want to spend too much getting to the place and if they do spend a lot, it means they have less to spend when they get here. Public transport also eases traffic congestion. Nothing worse than being stuck in your car on a hot day waiting to get in. A third factor is less parking space is needed in the park. This kind of real estate sells at a premium, so what you don’t want is an excess of parking lots.


8. Advantages and Disadvantages

Synonyms
asset, good point, strength, attraction, merit, appeal, benefit, plus, on the positive/plus side
bad point, difficulty, weakness, criticism, drawback, on the negative/minus side, danger, minus, demerit
Hints
What's so good about ...?, The best/worst part is ..., What XX likes is ..., Things XX dislikes include, I feel/think that ..., It seems to me that ..., If you ask me, ...
Language requirements
SVO
v. + n.
adj.
Example
Sarah:
Let's talk about the good points first. Rachel, you were researching it, what do you reckon?
Rachel:
I think they're an excellent idea, mainly because they give people a way to give back to the community. So, it's more than just basic welfare.
Sarah:
Year, I was thinking the same. What do you think, Aaron?
Aaron:
From what Rachel was saying, I think the best thing seems to be that it lets people learn life skills like having to deal with money.
Sarah:
Alright. What about the cons? Can you see any downsides to this Imali system?
Rachel:
Well, the obvious problem that I can see is that actual money is more useful. People need real money to spend on meals, not just snacks, especially if they need to help their families.
Sarah:
Yes, that's a very good point. What about you, Aaron? What do you think?
Aaron:
Well, again, from what Rachel's said so far, it's hard to see any bad points. Maybe the only downside I can think of would be it might be vulnerable to hacking, you know, because, well, somebody could hack into it online.


9. Effect

Synonyms
consequence, outcome, impact, result, influence
Hints
so, therefore, as a result, as a consequence, consequently, leads to, contributes to, give rise to, result in, make, bring about, so + adj. + that + SVO, will/ would/ may/ might
Language requirements
v. + n.
n.
SVO
Example
I’m afraid I have to agree with Angela. We have to take a more sophisticated approach with young people these days. To put it bluntly, we shouldn’t treat them like children. If we fail to tackle issues such as drug abuse head on there can be very serious consequences for young people. There’II be more teenage drug addicts, there’s no doubt about that, and a marked increase in youth crime — crime, as the expert just pointed out, is an inevitable part of drug culture. Worse still, therell be more suicides, more kids whose lives have been ruined by drugs, killing themselves as a result.


10. Solution

Synonyms
advice, method, suggestion, key, recommendation, way, hint, tip, guideline
Hints
should/ must/ may/ might/ need to/ ought to/ have to, imperative (v. + o.), It is + adj. + to, Why not ...?, How / What about ...?, Have you thought about ...?
Language requirements
inf. + n.
Example
Ms. Stanley:
Hmm… I’m not sure. To be honest, it’s a bit dull to watch at the moment. Let me make a few points and suggestions. First, it’s not visual enough. Remember this is a video. It needs to be visually interesting. For example at the moment you only have a picture of Robbie’s head while he is talking, with an occasional reaction shot of Helen nodding her head. You could make it more visual by putting in some shots of stray dogs.
John:
Mmm. Okay, I guess we can go back and film some stray dogs. (Sigh). Okay. What about the overall content?
Ms. Stanley:
Actually that was going to be my second point. I think it is pretty interesting but Robbie’s definitely too biased.
John:
I guess it is a bit unbalanced looking at it right now.
Ms. Stanley:
Have you thought about interviewing someone who has a different opinion? It would be nice to contrast Robbie’s opinion with someone who disagrees, maybe someone from the AFCD.


11. Sequences

In the exam, you may be asked to jot down notes for steps or arrange events in order. You should listen for the following sequence words and time phrases:
after, afterwards, before, finally, first, later, next, second, then, to begin with, etc.

12. Directions

The following are some keywords for directions:

  • Compass directions: north, south, east, west, north-east, north-west, etc.
  • Common landmarks on maps: MTR stations, bus stops, post offices, roundabouts, traffic lights, crossroads, banks, supermarkets, petrol stations, churches, temples, etc.
  • Giving directions: left/right, go past the …, go straight on, head north/south, it’s just around the corner, take the second left and on your left/right you’ll see …, etc.
Key words
Other expressions
between (halfway between, in between, sandwiched between)
among, in the middle, amid/amidst

middle
centre (at the very centre of), the heart of, halfway across/ between/ up/ down
back
back out of/ through/ towards sth, back away from sth, back up (a bit), retreat down/ from/ into/ to sth, step back into sth
the back (n.) (at/in the back)
the rear (the rear of the house, at the rear, to the rear of), the other side, the reverse side (sign the contract on the reverse side, on the reverse), behind
front
the head (at the head of the queue)
next to
by, beside, at/ on the side of sth, adjacent to, adjoining (adj)/ neighbouring
side
at the left/ right margin
corner

opposite/ facing


Directions:
backward(s), forward(s), head up the steps, walk on, towards, in the direction of sth, see off for A, head for A, make for A, make a beeline for, advance on, approach, westbound, inward bound, you'll find yourself at, enter via Gate A, clockwise, anti-clockwise, counterclockwise


Objects & Places:

Key words
Other expressions
exit
the front/ rear/ side exit, the nearest exit, way out
entrance
the main entrance, the front/ back/ rear/ side entrance, the entry/ entryway to/ of, way in, midway between/ through
corridor
hall, hallway, aisle, passage, passageway
walkway
pathway, trail/ track, sidewalk/ pavement
gate
doors to the gate
lift
elevator (≠ escalator)
stairs
staircase
lobby

basement
vault

Symbols:

tick / check (✓), cross (✕), arrow (→), asterisk (*)


Lines:
Line


13. Definitions

  • Listen for questions such as What is …? What does … mean? What is the definition of …? The answer will usually come after these questions.
  • Jot down the keywords. Try to come up with a phrase using those words.

14. Vocabulary

It is a known fact that exam setters choose different themes for Listening Exams. In DSE, themes such as reality shows, tourism, media production, museums and gaming have appeared in the Listening Paper. Therefore, besides improving your listening skills, you should also improve your vocabulary at the same time.

<Click here>Click this link to study vocabulary related to Information Technology
<Click here>Click this link to study vocabulary related to jobs and occupations
<Click here>Click this link to study vocabulary related to natural disasters
<Click here>Click this link to study vocabulary related to food and drinks
<Click here>Click this link to study vocabulary related to patterns, materials, colours, shapes and clothing items
<Click here>Click this link to study vocabulary related to common medical conditions


Commonly Confused and Misspelt Words

Many students find the following word groups confusing. Make sure you can distinguish them before the exam.

accept/except
access/assess
advice/advise
affect/effect
all ready/already
allot/a lot
allusion/illusion
along/a long
altogether/all together
apart/a part
ascent/assent
assure/ensure
belief/believe
beside/besides
brake/break
breath/breathe
chord/cord
cite/site
clothes/cloths
complement/compliment
comprise/consist
conscience/conscious
council/counsel
cue/queue
desert/dessert
device/devise
discreet/discrete
dragon/jargon
emigrant/immigrant
farther/further
formerly/formally
forth/fourth
hear/here
hole/whole
insure/ensure
its/it’s
knew/new
know/no
later/latter
lay/lie
lead/led
loose/lose
meter/metre
passed/past
peace/piece
plain/plane
pole/poll
practice/practise
precede/proceed
presence/presents
principal/principle
quiet/quite
raise/rise
sea/see
sight/site
sit/set
staff/stuff
stationary/stationery
storey/story
than/then
their/there/they’re
through/threw
to/too/two
vain/vein
waist/waste
ward/walk
weak/week
wear/where
weather/whether/rather
who/whom
whose/who’s
you’re/your

Many students spell the following words incorrectly. Make sure you know how to spell them before the exam.
Incorrect spelling
Correct spelling
accidence/accidients
accidents
apperciate
appreciate
auther/authur/offer
author
aviod
avoid
awearness/awarness
awareness
bady
baby
bettery
battery
bussiness
business
botton/buttom
button
compaign/campagin/campain
campaign
charater
character
civalization
civilization
climat
climate
creat
create
destory/distroy
destroy
develope
develop
differcult
difficult
desposal
disposal
eletricity
electricity
emptyness
emptiness
enginir
engineer
envirnomental/enviromental
environmental
environmentist/enviromentalist
environmentalist
estim/estem
esteem
expension/expandsion
expansion
gavity/grafity
gravity
humanlity
humanity
incredable
incredible
independant
independent
inefficent
inefficient
mechine
machine
mitre
metre
morden
modern
participents
participants
passagers
passengers
pattens
patterns
pulution
pollution
perpare/prepair
prepare
randam
random
recieve
receive
refleting
reflecting
resercher/reseacher
researcher
resourses
resources
rerange/refrench
revenge
sinery/scenary
scenery
sciencetist
scientist
self-sufficency
self-sufficiency
sence
sense
stronge
strong
tastless tasteless
transperent
transparent
universial
universal
varites
varieties
violant
violent
wheather
weather
wind meals
windmills
writter
writer
yeild
yield

The table below lists other easily misspelt words in the public exam:
accommodate, address, adjusts, alcohol, already, argument, artificial, attacked, attract, autumn, available, bandage, baskets, beginning, believe, bite, bleed, build, burglar, camera, cameras, ceiling, challenge, choose, cliffs, conference, cooperation, create, cucumbers, customer, damage, debt, desperate, develop, disappear, disappoint, dissatisfied, efficiency, elbow, embarrass, entrance, envelope, environment, evidence, explorer, fascinating, February, fisherman, foreign, forty, fragile, fresh, frogs, gloves, goals, government, guarantee, height, horses, hygiene, identify, images, immobilize, immune, information, isolation, jewellery, journalist, laugh, library, loneliness, luggage, luxury, lying, machines, massages, meditation, model, mosquitoes, mushrooms, necessary, neighbour, niece, ninth, normally, observation, occurred, optimistic, pattern, perception, performance, photographs, poison, possess, posture, potato, prawns, preferred, probably, receive, recognize, recommend, resources, restaurant, return, reusable, ridiculous, robots, saliva, sandwich, scissors, security, separate, sharks, shelter, slippery, smile, snake, soldiers, specify, status, steep, sterilize, straight, strengths, suck, suspicions, temperature, thirsty, through, toilet, tongue, Tuesday, unusual, usually, waiter, Wednesday, wooden, worse, wrap

Writing Templates

Reporting numbers
Do not report raw numbers (including percentages) in the Integrated Tasks. The following example will receive no mark for directly copying raw numbers from the Data File:

It has been found that 344 visitors out of 384 think that the size of letters on signs is too small and need to be enlarged. Also, 401 visitors out of 432 think that the colour of signs is not eye-catching.

Instead, report them using the following formulae expressions.
Percentage
Formulae expression
100%
all
90%
nearly all
80%
the vast majority of
70%
the majority of
60%
more than half of
50%
half of the
40%
almost half of the
30%
a minority of
20%
a small minority of
10%
few
0%
none

Reporting trends
Below are some expressions used to describe trends.
(Click to enlarge)
Trends


Formal letter/email
Dear Ms. Lau,

The editorial team has received your article about plastic surgery holidays and thank you for your contribution. I am writing to inform you of some corrections we would like you to make.

To start with, please submit images together with your article. You are encouraged to submit 15 to 20 images in soft copy. High resolution JPEG file format is recommended. Then the editorial team would choose 5 photos from the submission if your article is accepted for publication. You are reminded to state the source of images to avoid breaching copyrights.

Secondly, a title is needed for your article, within 80 characters long. A word limit is also set at 900 words. Regarding this, some content has to be deleted as your article has exceeded 1200 words now.

Moreover, you are reminded of the importance of accuracy of spelling and details. Please check the spelling of Thai place names and details in the article carefully.

Last but not least, please submit the article with all the changes before 30th April. Submission must be on time so as to give time for the editorial team to read through and give suggestion. Otherwise, late articles will not be considered for publication as Asia Life magazine retain the right on it.

Once your article is published, a payment of $1,000 will be given per page, with text and images included.

Thank you again for your contribution and we are looking forward to your article.

Yours truly,
Marty Poon
Editor Assistant
Asia Life magazine

Sentence patterns for formal letters and emails:
Reply
  • I am writing in response to the letter dated ... concerning / regarding
  • Thank you for your letter regarding / concerning / in connection with
  • I will answer your queries as follows.
Inform / Remind
  • I am writing to provide you with information about ...
  • I am writing to inform / remind you about …
  • On behalf of (organization) …, I am writing to …
Apology
  • I am writing to express my sincere apology for ...
  • Please allow me to use this opportunity to explain why ...
Invitation
  • You are cordially / kindly invited to ...
  • On behalf of …, I am pleased to invite you to ...
  • We would be delighted / honoured if you could attend ...
  • We look forward to seeing you that day.
  • We look forward to your participation at the upcoming event.
Enquiry
  • I am writing to inquire about …
  • Please keep me updated on ...
  • Any information about ... would be appreciated.

Report
Report on Problems that the Museum faces

Introduction
This report will cover the problems currently faced by the museum and correlated suggestion in order to improve our services.

Smoking incident
The first problem on the list is about smoking in the toilet. On 4th April, 13 visitors were caught smoking on the toilets at different times, causing the fire alarm being triggered and leading to the evacuation of the building in the afternoon. In order to prevent similar event from happening again, it is recommended that a ‘no smoking’ announcement to be played when a person opens the toilet door.

School Visit to the museum
Alongside the smoking incident, it has been reported that the Committee for Hong Kong International Primary Schools have raised a few concerns in respect to school visits to the museum. Primitively, it is claimed that the museum is not safe for children as a school girl fell off the large plastic ox and broke her arm during her visit. Also, it is claimed that the exhibits are too boring for average primary school students while the museum staff do not offer help to the teachers. In view of this, it is recommended that all members of full-time staff should assist school groups at all times during their visit while part-time staff should help by making worksheets for school groups to allow more exhibits that children can interact with safely.

Signage in the museum
Lastly, it has also been claimed that the number of signs in the museum is not enough that some school teachers and students got lost in the basement of the museum at closing time. However, with reference to the online survey, it is agreed by the majority that there are enough signs, while what the museum should increase is the size of letters on signs and make the colors of signs more eye-catching. It is suggested that the museum take these into consideration.

Conclusion
With the above highlights, it is hoped the museum would make corresponding improvements so that the honorable visitors will find it enjoyable during their visits.


Sentence patterns for reports:
Title
  • Report on Hong Kong's NEETs
  • Report on the Decline in the Number of Moviegoers in Hong Kong
Subheadings
1. Introduction
2. Reasons for the Fall in the Number of Moviegoers
2.1 Rising Popularity of Free Movie Sites/Apps
2.2 The Rise of New Recreational Activities
3. Possible Solutions to the Problem
3.1 Strengthening Law Enforcement
3.2 Promoting Local Movie Stars
3.3 Offering Discounted Movie Tickets
4. Conclusion
Opening
  • The aim / goal / purpose / objective of this report is to … (X I want to)
  • This report will introduce / explain / put forth / suggest … (X I will)
Closing
  • It is hoped that the report has shed light on [problem]. (X I hope)
  • With the above suggestions, it is hoped that the problems will be solved.

Feature article
Offer helping hands to newcomers to Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, there is a certain number of people who are from different countries. However, there are many practical difficulties they are facing. So what are these difficulties and how can they deal with this? Let us investigate it in detail!

There are numerous difficulties they are facing. First is that most of them, normally children, find difficulty in making new friends. Second is that they cannot find school for their children, and also have difficulty in filling in the application forms of school. Following this is that the majority of them have difficulty in finding a place to live. What is more, the vast majority of them find it difficult to find free medical care. Added to this is that most of them face difficulty in dealing with immigration or finding legal advice for other matters because often they cannot afford that advice.

So what can we do to help them? Is there any help available in the community? The answer is certainly yes! To begin with, there is a local youth club run by the Cultural Commons, a non-government organization, for all the kids in Sham Shui Po, including kids from different countries to make new friends. In addition to this, there are some local lawyers provide pro bono service to newcomers coming to live in Hong Kong through a community-based legal advice scheme. What is more, there is also a commission-free service to help newcomers to find somewhere to live in Hong Kong by these local lawyers and there are some free clinics for newcomers in Hong Kong. And for the government organization, the Hong Kong Tourism Board has recently produced a new MTR map for tourists and newcomers to help people new to Hong Kong find their way so they can shop till they drop. Added to this is that, the Cultural Commons has also provided a wide range of service. They offer written translation of formal documents from foreign country; interpreter service for phone calls or for formal interviews; form filling service; child care services to working mothers; introductions to local sports teams; important contact numbers; and sightseeing guides for Kowloon and the Outlying Islands, all for newcomers to Hong Kong!

The situation and difficulties of people from different countries in Hong Kong is so serious that really warrants our concern. But the above service and help is not that enough. So starting from now, offer your helping hands to those less fortunate and create a better future for Hong Kong.

Sentence patterns for feature articles:
Opening
  • Have you ever heard of …?
  • Have you considered why …?
  • [topic] will be introduced in this webpage/article.
  • Here is some information about … to let you know more about this.
  • Read on to find out more.
  • This webpage/article will provide information about [topic] so as to help you gain a better understanding of [topic].
Closing
  • Don’t miss this valuable opportunity!
  • Take the chance to come to … and experience … !
  • If you want to know more about …, please visit …
  • If you are interested in … , you can come visit …
  • There is no doubt that [topic] is [adjective]. Let’s [action to be taken]!
  • It is hoped that …

Proposal
Proposal for a new line of teen sports shoes
Introduction
Research conducted by the marketing department has shown we should develop a new line of sports shoes for teens.

Rationale
Eighty per cent of teenagers said that design was very important to them, while only 20% were more concerned by price, so this line should focus on good design. Eighty per cent of teens said they would be willing to pay $750 for a pair of sports shoes, so the shoes can be priced quite high.

Findings
The findings revealed that 90% of teens wear sports shoes, which is a huge majority.

Recommendations and conclusion
Our research has shown that it is worth developing a line of sports shoes for teenagers. It is hoped that this proposal will be considered positively.

Sentence patterns for proposals:
Title
  • Proposal for the ‘Better Sex Education’ Campaign
  • Proposal for activities to be held in RuMall
Subheadings
1. Introduction
2. Organizing a debating competition
3. Holding a video clip making competition
4. Conclusion
Opening
  • The aim / purpose / objective of this proposal is to …
  • This proposal will suggest …
  • The details of the suggestions are as follows.
  • The details of the activity / plan will be elaborated in the following paragraphs.
Body
  • It is advisable that ...
  • It is proposed that ...
  • (organisation) may ...
Closing
  • It is believed that the suggestions above are feasible and practical.
  • It is sincerely hoped that our suggestions will be considered seriously.
  • It is hoped that the proposal will be approved.

Speech
Hi everyone, I’m Daniel Lo. Thanks for inviting me here today.

I’m going to tell you about the exciting things I’ve been doing on my recent travels. I hope that this will encourage you to do something similar.

I have just returned from an expedition to Costa Rica, where I helped build an eco lodge in the jungle. Your first question might be, how did we do this? Well, firstly, we collected wood to make the lodges. Secondly, we worked with a local community group to build five simple eco-friendly lodges. Finally, we made everything as natural as possible to fit in with the environment. Now the community uses the money it makes from the lodges to fund wildlife conservation projects. Costa Rica has amazing wildlife—while we were working, we came face to face with crocodiles, monkeys and some huge butterflies!

My question is: what about you? Do you think you could do something like this? My expedition was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done, and I learnt so much at the same time. If anyone is interested in doing a similar project, talk to me afterwards.

That’s all for today. Thank you all for listening. I hope you’ve found it interesting.


Sentence patterns for speeches:
Opening
  • I am very pleased to be here today…
  • Thank you very much for inviting me to be your guest speaker at (event). My name is … and I am honoured to be here today…
Body
  • I would like to share with you…
  • An example from my own experience is…
  • Try to remember that…
  • My advice would be to…
Closing
  • I hope that you can take something away from my speech today…
  • It is important to remember that…
  • Thank you for your attention, and I hope that…