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De Beers English Olympiad Exam Home Language HL Past Paper :

Name of the Organization : De Beers English Olympiad /
Examination Name : De Beers English Olympiad
Announcement : Home Language Paper – HL
Year : 2016/2017
Theme : Then and Now
Type : Past English Olympiad Exam Papers
Website :

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De Beers English Olympiad Home Language Paper

Time Allocation: 3 Hours
Text: Staying Alive
Total Marks: 100

Related : De Beers English Olympiad Mainstream Paper :


1. All answers are to be written in the Examination Booklet.
2. Write the section and number of the question above each answer, and start each question at the top of a new page.

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3. On the cover of the Examination Booklet, please clearly indicate:
** your school’s Olympiad Centre Number
** your personal Examination Number

** each section and the number of the question that you have answered from that section (e.g. Section A: 4 & Section B: 3)
** Do NOT write your name, your address or your school’s name on the cover, or anywhere in your Examination Booklet.

4. Answer :
a) one question from SECTION A
b) one question from SECTION B
c) ALL the questions from SECTION C

Regarding SECTION A :
We invite you to express your own ideas in response to the questions, using your own voice – there are no ‘right’ answers in the strict sense of the word. In other words, there are no ‘model’ answers. However, the better responses tend to refer to the anthology, and quote from it.

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2016 :
2015 :

Discursive Essay

Section A: 50 Marks
Select ONE of the following options and write an essay – not longer than 500 words – in response to your chosen topic.
1. Richards Gere once said, “I am old but I am forever young at heart. We are always the same age inside.”

Henrietta Rose-Innes put this in a different way in the following statement:
“It’s always disconcerting to look back and realise how little the mental furniture has changed”. Discuss these comments with reference to the work of Henrietta Rose- Innes as found in this anthology. (50)

2. ‘A good storyteller is the conscience-keeper of a nation” Gulzar, poet, lyricist and film director (born 1934). Do you agree? Discuss with reference to Safe Home by Nadia Davids. (50)

3. “The early poetry of Jeremy Cronin and Jon Keevy is sentimental, and bears no relation to the hard-hitting writing of their later years”. Although some critics may accuse the early works of the writers featured in the anthology of being sentimental and immature, it can be argued that often their youthful writing is also characterised by refreshing insight and awareness of the world around them. Discuss with reference to the work of Jeremy Cronin and Jon Keevy. (50)

4. While some of the early works of the writers show youthful idealism about the state of the country, a note of despondency and cynicism starts to creep in even at this stage. One feels that the dream of the perfect country is fading! Later, this cynicism seems to deepen. What is your opinion of this statement? Use examples from the work of at least two of the writers in the anthology to substantiate your point of view. (50)

5. Come mothers and fathers Throughout the land And don’t criticize What you can’t understand Your sons and your daughters Are beyond your command Your old road is rapidly aging Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand Cause the times they are a-changing

6. My life still means nothing – without you. (From Mathematician by Karen Jennings)
We expect love to be an overriding theme in the works of young writers, particularly in their poetry. Therefore, it may be surprising that there is relatively little about romantic love in this anthology. With this comment in mind, explore the theme of love found in the work of Karen Jennings. How does the perspective change (if at all) in her later short story, Sarah Begins? (50)

Creative Responses

Select ONE of the following options. Remember that your answer will be assessed based on your appropriateness of register and diction. Your answer may be between 180-220 words in length.

Caution : You may not answer a question on an author whose writing you discussed in Section A. If you do so, your answer will not be marked.

1. Imagine that you are the co-ordinator of the 2017 English Olympiad and have sent an email to Jeremy Cronin, asking permission to publish his work in the English Olympiad anthology. You received the following reply: “No, please don’t publish my early work! The thought makes me cringe!” Write an email to Jeremy, trying to persuade him to change his mind. Give convincing reasons, based on the author’s work featured in the anthology. (20)

2. You are the director of your school play, The Happy Factory. You realise that some sections are difficult to stage! Two of the main actors have also asked for guidance on how to interpret the characters assigned to them. Write stage directions for the cast, giving very brief guidelines on the characterisation of two of the main characters, and showing how you plan to overcome what you consider is the most serious of the staging problems. You may include diagrams, but must have at least 120 words of written direction. (20)

3. Pretend that you are Mamma in Sarah Begins. Write a letter to Sarah, trying to explain your view of what happened. (20)

4. “I remember you – do you still like writing, or have you grown out of it?” Write a dialogue between Nadia Davids and a previous classmate whom she meets at a school reunion. (20)

5. What happened in Cape Town? Imagine that you are a passenger in one of the taxis at the petrol station described in Poison by Henrietta Rose-Innes. Write in your diary, describing how you escaped from the city and giving an account of what is happening at the petrol station. Express your feelings and give your opinion on the cause(s) and meaning of this catastrophe. (20)

6. You have been inspired by English Alive and would like to advertise it at your school – and encourage contributions from your schoolmates. Design an advertisement, especially for your school, to be placed on the school’s noticeboard. (NB Do not copy the advertisement on the back page of the anthology). Give some details about authors featured in English Alive as well as in the anthology, and why their work should be an inspiration to other young writers. (20)


Registering The Importance Of Context :
NB: There is no choice in this section. Answer ALL questions.
1. Rank each of the following sets of sentences from the most formal to the least formal in register. Simply write down the letters in that order.
1.1 A. We regret to inform you that …
B. We are sorry to inform you that …
C. We are sorry to say that …

1.2 A. Thanks a lot for telling me about this.
B. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
C. I appreciate your bringing this matter to my attention.

1.3 A. I am very unhappy about the service they gave me.
B. I am extremely dissatisfied with the service I received.
C. I’m not happy with the service I received.

1.4 A. I have masses of experience in this area.
B. I have considerable experience in this area.
C. I have a lot of experience in this area.

1.5 A. How’s life?
B. How are you?
C. How’s it going?

2. Consider the following telephone conversation snippets and then identify two things:
1. what type of relationship each conversation represents (whether the people know each other or not);
2. whether the language is formal or informal. Set out your answers in the format below and indicate your choice of answers with a cross:
Known person Unknown person Formal Informal

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