This blog attempts to share the assential of English Language to meet the needs of pupil in the Secondary School and to whom English is a foreign tongue. While I agree that learning the knowledge of English here is not the highroad to good speaking and writing, it must be acknowledged that English Proficiency is an important element in speaking and writing correctly. Pupils as well teachers should find this blog of some assistence, and those who wish to conduct a more extensive study of English Proficiency, will find it useful as a starting-point.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Summary Writing

What is a summary?
A summary restates the main ideas of an author (without most of the details) in your own words. It is generally about 25% the length of the original.

Why are summaries important?
In the upper class high school courses and certainly in university courses, you often have to write research papers. In these papers you gather information from many sources and include this information in your paper. A few direct quotations are allowed, but generally you are expected to summarize or paraphrase this information in your own words. (You also have to indicate the source of the information.) Summary writing gives you practice in this rather difficult task. Most students also tell me that when they write summaries, their understanding of what they are reading improves. In addition, by the end of the course many of my students say that they feel their writing has improved as well, and I would agree. Finally, as students use new words they have learned in their summary writing, their vocabulary improves as well.

How do I write a summary? (check off each step as you do it)

__1. Preview the article (read the title, subtitle, headings, first paragraph, first sentence of the following paragraphs, and the last paragraph. Get an overall idea of what this article is about. This is when to use your dictionary. Look up unknown words that seem to be important from your preview.

__2. Read the article. Underline (about 20%) as you read.

__3. Go back over the article and make boxes over just the key words/phrases that you underlined. The boxes should remind you of the author’s main idea. (Boxes should equal about 5% of the article). If I give you study questions to help you find the main ideas, answer those in your own words.)

__4. Find the author’s thesis statement and summarize it in your own words. You can use headings or the main text of the article.

__5. Make an informal outline of the article from your “boxes”. Usually, but not always, you should include in your outline one main idea from every paragraph of the article. Emphasize the points the author emphasizes.

__6. Summarize the author’s conclusion (last paragraph) in one sentence.

__7. Begin to write your summary from your outline, without looking at the original article.

__8. Your first sentence should approximately follow this model: “In his article ‘March on Washington’ (Newsweek, April 8, 1991) Osborn Elliot (discusses, states, argues, describes)...” MAKE SURE THAT YOUR FIRST SENTENCE GIVES THE THESIS (i.e., main thrust) OF THE ARTICLE.

__9. At a later point in your summary remind us one more time that you are summarizing another person’s work: e.g. “Mr. Elliot (or ‘the author’) also (states, believes, argues, etc.)...”

__10. If you want to, you may directly quote the author once briefly. Use quotation marks.

__11. Include a response at the end. Mark it “ MY RESPONSE” Here and only here should you include your opinions.

__12. Go back over your summary and check that you have used your own words and not copied! (By all means, use new vocabulary from this article in your summary. Underline these new vocabulary words.)

__13 Now read your summary out loud and make sure that your meaning will be clear to someone who has not read the article.

__14 Now read your summary out loud a second time, and look for mistakes. Especially look for mistakes in: (1) fragments and run-ons, (2) verb tenses, (3) articles, (4) spelling of easy words

__15. Type your summary and use spell-check. For most of the articles we read in this class your summaries should be not less than 200 words nor more than 250 words.