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Will SPM 1119 candidates be asked to write about what they like and dislike, most probably in review writing? There is a possibility. They could be tested to do so based on 4.1.1 and 4.1.4 below where candidates may have to evaluate as well as express imagined opinions or feelings. Opinions and feelings can certainly be positive (likes) and negative (dislikes). The language used to write about one’s likes and dislikes is not so complicated. However, most students have to be exposed to the relevant vocabulary and phrases to fulfil the tasks. No doubt, some other students would also need coaching from their ESL teachers on the best way to write about likes and dislikes.

Let’s say, there is a question focusing on reviewing a novel and the writing task is this, “What do you like and dislike about the novel?”. How can candidates answer this question? What could be a practical and logical way of fulfilling the task? Well, from my perspective, the candidates may not have problems to write what they like (about the novel) as they are familiar with it. However, the candidates should be careful in writing about their dislikes. In my eyes, they should present details which present only minor issues or problems of the novel (or whatever review they are writing). The candidates should not explain about major issues of the novel because that would affect their next or final task which could be, “Would you recommend the novel to others?”.

The examples above show relevant vocabulary and phrases to present their likes and dislikes (focus on the phrases / vocabulary in red). To express likes, candidates should be exposed to words or phrases such as “I am in favour of …”, “the good side of the …”, “…positive aspect to be highlighted is” and “… strengths …”. Those words or phrases would surely enhance their language quality as they do not only keep repeating the word “like” all or most of the time.

On the other hand, to express dislikes, the relevant words or phrases that candidates should know would be “…little criticism”, “…minor downside …”, “…not in support of the …” and “…forgiven drawbacks of the …”. Indeed, some intermediate and most of lower intermediate candidates may need writing coaching on how to use criticism, downside and drawback so that the word ‘dislike’ is not repeated all the time. Do bear in mind that candidates should not highlight major issues or problems of the novel when they write about dislikes because it will be difficult and illogical too to recommend the novel (or other item/place/service they review) in the third task later. If they mention the novel is boring (major issue), how can they recommend it? Similarly, if they say the novel touches on sensitive issues (major issue), then it would not logical to recommend the ovel too. Therefore, candidates should only include minor issues to express their dislikes because it is easier for them do their recommendation later. (I believe it is easier for candidates to recommend rather than not to recommend).

Hopefully this sharing can help ESL teachers to prepare their candidates better for the writing paper, in particular, to write about likes and dislikes. Teachers, do prepare your candidates to write about likes and dislikes as 4.1.1 and 4.1.4 are learning standards to be covered by us and mastered by our learners.


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