章节、专题 Summary writing
To enable students 教学目 to know the properties of a good summary 标及基to know how to summarize a piece of writing 本要求
教学 1) how to gather essential facts and main points of a writing 重点 2) how to summarize a story that uses narration to describe a person 教学 how to gather essential facts and main points of a writing 难点
total:4 hours 教学内 2 hours for the basic knowledge of summary writing; 容与时 2 hours for exercises. 间分配
习题 exercises in the textbook
1. What is a summary?
A summary is a short piece of writing that gives the main facts or ideas of a story or article, etc. It is a condensed or compressed version/a brief restatement of the essential thought of longer writing. It restates
all the main points of the longer work in their proper relationship to each other with as few words as possible.
A summary should be written in one’s own words, and if wording from the original needs to be repeated, this wording should be put within quotation marks. Writing an effective summary is not easy. In general, summaries are written in the third person even if the original is written in the first person.
2. The qualities of a good summary
It should be objective – the writer does not include any ideas of his/her own.
It should be complete – the writer does not leave out important facts or ideas.
It should be balanced – the writer gives equal attention to each main idea.
3. The goal of a summary
It is to give readers an objective, complete, accurate and balanced view of something (an article, a story, a novel, a play, etc.).
4. In what way is summary important?
1) Students often have examination questions that require them to summarize.
2) Newspaper or TV reports often summarize the latest news stories.
3) Employees are often asked to report briefly on the development in their departments.
5. What are the purposes of summaries?
Students may be requested to summarize any of the following, for instance:
1) a table of facts and figures, i.e., to give the statistical findings in the form of a written summary;
2) a sequence of actions or events in fictional or non-fictional narration;
3) a series of narrative or historical events;
4) the structure, plot, theme, etc., of a literary work;
5) the main ideas of a theoretical work;
6) news events of any kind, personally experienced, or seen in the press, on television or the internet.
6.What we have to do when we are given a piece of writing to summarize
1) Read it carefully to understand it carefully.
2) Master the thought of the writing and express the main ideas in your own words.
3) Leave out unimportant details but omit nothing of real importance.
4) Add nothing that is not in the text.
5) Limit the number of words according to the requirement. Generally, a summary should be no more than one third to one fourth the length of the original.
6) Preserve the mood (the way the text makes you feel) and the tone (the general feeling of attitude expressed).
In-class Practice: Read the following passage and the three summaries. Judge the summaries according to the guidelines above. Point out which of them is the best, and what is wrong with the other two.
I walked by my father’s side, clutching his right hand. All my clothes were new: the black shoes, the
green school uniform, and the red cap. They did not make me happy, however, as this was the day I was thrown into school for the first time.
My mother stood at the window watching us, and I turned towards her from time to time, hoping she
would help. We walked along a street lined with gardens, fields planted with crops, pears, and date palms.
“Why school?” I asked my father. “What have I done?”
“I’m not punishing you,” he said, laughing. “School’s not a punishment. It’s a place that makes useful
men out of boys. Don’t you want to be useful like your brothers?”
I was not convinced. I did not believe there was really any good to be had in tearing me away from my home and throwing me into the huge, high-walled building. (157 words)
The first day I went to school, I was wearing new clothes: a pair of black shoes, a green
school uniform, and a red cap. I held my father’s hand tightly as we walked there.
From time to time I turned round to look at my mother, who was standing at the window. I
hoped she would tell m father not to punish me by sending me to school, but she didn’t.
When I asked my father what I had done wrong, he said that school was not a punishment,
but a place to turn boys into useful men. Still I couldn’t understand why I should go to that place.
This summary is too long and includes too many unimportant details.
The day my father took me to school, I was not happy. I thought school was a punishment
and asked him what I had done wrong. He said that school would make me a useful man. But
what he said did not convince me. (44 words)
The writer masters the main idea of the passage: 1. The boy was unwilling to go to school.
2. His father explained to him the purpose of school. 3. What his father said did not convince him.
What’s more, the length of the summary is appropriate.
The first day of school, my father took me there. I didn’t want to go. I asked my father why
they decided to send me to that high-walled building and what I had done wrong. Then he
explained what a school was for, but I didn’t believe him at all. How I hated the place that looked
like a prison! (59 words)
The tone of the summary is not quite the same as in the original passage. The general tone
of the original passage is not one of hatred, but of doubt and fear. Moreover, the writer of the
summary added his own understanding of the passage to the summary. Actually the boy didn’t
thought the school was like a prison.
7. The steps of writing a summary
1) Read the article.
2) Re-read the article. Underline important ideas. Circle key terms. Find the main point of the article. Divide the article into sections or stages of thought, and label each section or stage of thought in the margins. Note the main idea of each paragraph if the article is short.
3) Write brief summaries of each stage of thought or if appropriate each paragraph. Use a separate piece of paper for this step. This should be a brief outline of the article.
4) Write the main point of the article, using your own words. This should be a sentence that expresses the central idea of the article as you have determined it from the steps above.
5) Write your rough draft of the summary. Combine the information from the first four steps into
Note: Include all important details.
Use the author’s key words.
Follow the original organization where possible.
Include any important data.
Include any important conclusions.
6) Edit your version. Be concise. Eliminate needless words and repetitions. Avoid using "the author says...," "the author argues...," etc.
7) Compare your version to the original.
? Do not use quotations, but if you use them be sure to quote correctly. Indicate quotations with
quotation marks. Cite each quotation correctly (give the page number).
? Do not plagiarize. Cite any paraphrases by citing the page number the information appears
on. Avoid paraphrasing whenever possible. Use your own words to state the ideas presented
in the article.
(Adapted from Writing Across the Curriculum 4th edition, L. Behrens and L. Rosen, eds.,
1991, Harper/Collins, pp. 6-7.)
In a summary, you should include only the information your readers need.
1) State the main point first.
2) Use a lower level of technicality than the authors of the original article use. Do not write a summary your readers cannot understand.
3) Make the summary clear and understandable to someone who has not read the original article. Your summary should stand on its own.
4) Write a summary rather than a table of contents.
Wrong: This article covers point X. Then the article covers point Y.
Right: Glacial advances have been rapid as shown by x, y, and z.
5) Add no new data and none of your own ideas.
6) Use a simple organization: main points; main results; conclusions/recommendations
7) Unless the examples in the article are essential, do not include the examples in your summary. If you include them, remember to explain them.
8. How to gather essential facts
1) Keep only essential (extremely important and necessary) facts and main actions (the events in a story, film, play, etc.).
2) Provide necessary background information (when and where the events happen, who are involved, etc.).
3) Leave out unimportant action and descriptions.
4) Use indirect speech and straightforward language.
5) Arrange the events in a story in chronological order.
In-class Practice: Read the following passage and answer some questions, and then point out the main idea in the following short passages.
No, we two haven’t changed much, but the village has. In what way? Only ten years ago, you could barter for things, but now it’s all cash. Years ago, you could ask your neighbors to help build your house, reap the rice or dig a well. Now they’ll do it only if you have money to pay them. Plastic things replace
village crafts. Men used to make things with fine bamboo pieces, but no longer. Plastic bags litter the
village. Shops have sprung up, filled with colorful plastic things and goods we have no use for. The young go away to towns and cities leaving us old people to work on the land. They think differently, I know, saying that the old are old-fashioned. All my life, I have never had to go to a hairdresser, or to paint my lips or nails. These rough fingers and toes are for working in the mud of our rice fields, not for looking
pretty. Now young girls put on jeans, and look like boys and they think it is fashionable. Why, they are willing to sell their pig or water buffalo just to be able to buy a pair of jeans. In my day, if I were to put on
a pair of trousers like they do now, lightening would strike me. (220 words)
Questions: 1. What is this passage mainly about?
The passage is mainly about the changes in the narrator’s village.
2. What are the changes exactly?
People no longer barter for things, instead, they use cash to buy everything. Villagers no
longer help others for free. Plastic things fill the village and people give up village crafts.
Young people go to cities and towns, leaving the old to work on the land. Girls wear jeans,
go to barbers and paint their lips and nails.
Main idea: Great changes have taken place in the village. The villagers no longer exchange what they
have for what they need. They have to pay for everything they get – goods and services.
Plastic items have replaced traditional village crafts. Shops have mushroomed, filled with
plastic things the villagers have no use for. Young people follow fashion and leave for the
cities. (59 words)
9. How to outline (to give the main facts about something) a story
1) Divide the story into smaller parts.
2) Summarize each part in one sentence.
3) Number your sentence summaries to make them an outline of the story.
In-class practice: Read the passage and divide it into several parts and summarize each part in one
I recently heard a story about a famous research scientist who had made several very important medical breakthroughs. He was being interviewed by a newspaper reporter who asked him why he was able to be so much more creative than the average person. What set him so far apart from others?
He responded that, in his opinion, it all came from an experience with his mother that occurred when he was about two years old. He had been trying to remove a bottle of milk from the refrigerator when he
lost his grip on the slippery bottle and it fell, spilling its contents all over the kitchen floor – a veritable sea
When his mother came into the kitchen, instead of yelling at him, giving him a lecture or punishing
him, she said, “Robert, what a great and wonderful mess you have made! I have rarely seen such a huge puddle of milk. Well, the damage has already been done. Would you like to get down and play in the milk for a few minutes before we clean it up?
This renowned scientist then remarked that it was at that moment that he knew he didn’t need to be afraid of making mistakes. Instead, he learned that mistakes were just opportunities fro learning something new, which is, after all, what scientific experiments are all about. Even if the experiment “doesn’t work,”
we usually learn something valuable from it.
Wouldn’t it be great if all parents would respond the way Robert’s mother responded to him?
Part 1: Para. 1. A famous scientist was asked why he was so creative.
Part 2: Paras. 2 – 4. The scientist said it all came from a childhood experience with his mother in which he learned that mistakes were opportunities for learning.
Part 3: Para. 5. All parents should respond as the scientist’s mother did when their children make a
10. How to summarize a story in chronological order
When a story suddenly flashes back to an event that happened in the past, the earlier event is called a flashback. In writing a summary of a story, we generally present the events in chronological order or
chronologically and don’t use flashbacks.
11. How to open a story summary
1) Open the summary with the thesis – the central or what the story is about.
2) Name the story in the opening sentence.
3) Provide some background information (setting, general remarks about main characters, etc.).
12. How to summarize a story that uses narration to describe a person
1) Focus on the main character, mention the opponent (someone whom you try to defeat in a composition, game, fight, or argument) where necessary and ignore other characters that are created to bring out/heighten a contrast with the main character.
2) Briefly describe the main character’s appearance and behavior in a shorter and clearer way using straightforward, everyday words and expressions.
3) Describe an incident to display the main character’s character and personality.
4) Conclude with a remark about what the incident implies.
In-class practice: Study the three summaries that describe the main character. Point out which of them is
the best, and what is wrong with the other two.
The Midnight Visitor
Ausable did not fit the description of any secret agent Fowler had ever read about. Following him down the corridor of the gloomy French hotel where Ausable had a room, Fowler felt disappointed. It was
a small room on the sixth floor, and hardly a setting fro a romantic figure.
Ausable was, for one thing, fat. Very fat. And then there was his accent. Though he spoke French and German passably, he had never altogether lost the New England accent he had brought to Paris from
Boston twenty years ago.
“You are disappointed,” Ausable said wheezily over his shoulder. “You were told that I was a secret agent, a spy, dealing in espionage and danger. You wished to meet me because you are a writer, young and
romantic. You thought you would find mysterious figures in the night, the crack of pistols, drugs in the wine.”
“Instead, you have spent a dull evening in a French music hall with a sloppy fat man who, instead of having messages slipped into his hand by dark-eyed beauties, gets only an ordinary telephone call making
an appointment in his room. You have been bored!” the fat man chuckled to himself as he unlocked the door of his room and stood aside to let his frustrated guest enter. (218 words)
Ausable did not look a bit like what Fowler, the writer, romantically imagined a secret agent to be like. He was fat and untidy and quite ordinary and lived in a cheap hotel. Although he could speak French and German, he had an American accent. (45 words)
This summary is objective, complete and balanced with appropriate length.
Ausable did not fit the description of any secret agent Fowler had ever read about. Fowler was a young and romantic writer. He came to visit Ausable, expecting to meet mysterious figures and
experiencing a thrill. But he was bored and disillusioned, for Ausable was a fat, sloppy man who lived in an ordinary hotel and spoke French and German with an American accent. (63 words)
This summary focuses on a minor character.
Ausable was a secret agent, but he did not look like a spy dealing in espionage and danger. He was fat, sloppy and ordinary. He spoke French and German passably but had a New England accent. He lived in a small room on the sixth floor of a gloomy French hotel. And there were no dark-eyed beauties around him. So he didn’t look like a mysterious figure. (69 words)
This summary includes an unimportant detail in the last but one sentence. The second half is a repetition of what is stated in the opening sentence. And an important detail – Fowler’s presence
and his impression of Ausable – is left out.
1. Finish the exercises on summary writing in the textbooks.
2. Write a summary of “Christmas Day in the Morning”.
章节、专题 Figures of Speech
教学目 To enable students :
1) to know figures of speech that is commonly used in English 标及基
2) to apply these figures of speech to their writing to make it better. 本要求
教学 Different kinds of figures of speech 重点
教学 the differences between metonymy and synecdoche 难点
total:4 hours 教学内 2 hours for the basic knowledge of figures of speech; 容与时 2 hours for exercises. 间分配
exercises on the textbook 习题
1. Definition of figure of speech
A figure of speech is a word or phrase which is used to create a particular mental image or effect, and
which does not have its usual or literal meaning.
We are said to be speaking or writing figuratively when we use words in non-literal senses to lend force to an idea, to heighten effect , or to create atmosphere. For example, it is more vivid and colorful to say that stars “twinkly like diamonds” in the sky, than to say simply that they “shine brightly in the sky. Similarly, “Imperialism is a paper tiger” is an expression more suggestive of outward ferocity and inner
weakness than the literal statement “Imperialism appears to be strong but inwardly it is weak.”
Concrete wording can bring to your reader images or pictures of abstract things in mind. In addition, images can be evoked through what are called figures of speech, which often use the following devices:
2. Different figures of speech
A simile makes a comparison, but is different from an ordinary, literal comparison.
When we say “Jim looks like his brother”, we are making an ordinary literal comparison, for (a) we
are comparing two like elements – Jim and his brother are both human beings; and (b) we mean Jim is
literally like his brother in appearance.
But when we say “Jim and his brother are as like as two peas”, we are using a simile, for (a) we are comparing two unlike elements – human beings and peas; and (b) we don’t mean Jim and Billy are literally like peas, but only that they have one thing in common with peas: great similarity in appearance.
Simile is a figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are explicitly compared, usually by
means of words like, as, or as if. It makes a comparison between two unlike elements having at least one quality or characteristic in common. E.g.
Characteristics of a simile
a. comparative words: like /as;
b. tenor; vehicle
c. totally different things of different properties.
d. one quality in common
They were packed into the bus like sardines.
The wind is biting into my skin like a mad dog.
Why are you rushing like a chicken with its head cut off?
It was snowing heavily and a thick white blanket covered everything. The branches of the bare trees
looked like white arms against the night sky.
Patterns of simile
a. X is like Y
My wife’s new hat is like a lighthouse.
Living without an aim is like sailing without a compass.
b. X…as /(as…as)/ as if/ though Y
You cannot hope to move me, as you cannot expect the sun to rise in the west.
Men fear death, as children fear to go in the dark. (Francis Bacon)
c. X is to A what Y is to B
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
Judicious praise is to children what the sun is to flowers.
d. X is …no more than Y
A home without love is no more than a body without a soul.
e. X … and Y ？This is a special simile, which often occurs in English proverbs.？
A word and a stone let go cannot be recalled.
Truth and roses have thorns about them.
A metaphor, like a simile, also makes a comparison between two unlike elements, but unlike a simile,
this comparison is implied rather than stated.
In a simile, the words like, as, as … so … are used to make the comparison, as in
(1) Jim was as cunning as a fox.
(2) The world is like a stage.
In a metaphor, however, the comparison would appear simply as
(1a) Jim was a fox.
(2a) The world is a stage.
So metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily and primarily denotes
one thing is applied to another in an implied comparison. e.g.
Water is the lifeblood of agriculture.
Our solar system includes the mother sun and her nine offspring.
Metaphors can be used in various forms. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs can all be used in a metaphorical way.
Patterns of metaphor
a. Full length metaphor: X is Y.
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. (William B. Yeats)
She was strangled in the net of gossip.
b. Compressed metaphor: If a metaphor states only one term of the comparison, leaving the other
implicit, such a metaphor is compressed metaphor. There is only a tenor, and the vehicle is indicated by a
verb, an adjective, an adverb, etc.
The boy wolfed down the food the moment he grabbed it.
My sister has starry eyes.
c. Extended metaphor: An extended metaphor is a metaphor which is developed by a number of different figurative expressions, extending perhaps over several clauses or sentences, and involving
several tenors and vehicles.
Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. (Francis
Both a simile and a metaphor involve a comparison between two unlike things. The three essential elements of them are unlike elements, similarity, and comparison. But a metaphor indicates a complete identification. It simply states that one element is another. So a metaphor is an implied comparison
between two elements. The properties of the element forming the comparison, known as the vehicle, are
transferred to the subject of the metaphor, known as the tenor. The tenor of a statement is made more comprehensible by the vehicle which carries new meaning to it. The metaphorical element encourages the
reader to think of the tenor analogously. Generally the vehicle is more familiar to the reader than a tenor,
thus the vehicle assures quick comprehension.
Both metonymy and synecdoche fall into the category of substitution, using one thing to refer to
another. Metonymy is a figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another closely
associated with it. It is to use something that has some connection with the subject to stand for the subject.
The substituted name may be an attribute of that other thing or be closely associated with it. In other words, it involves a “change of name”, the substituted name suggesting the thing meant. E.g.
Men have heads/minds, women hearts.
Wisdom, reason kindness
The two countries have never crossed swards with each other.
Scepter and Crown must tumble down.
The ruling class
Only the knife can save him.
She reads Shakespeare to improve her English.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
Books, articles weapon
Metonymy can be derived from various sources – from names of persons, from animals, professions, locations or place names, etc., as listed below
a. names of persons
John Bull: England, or the English people
Uncle Sam: The United States of America
Ivan: The Russian people
John Doe: ordinary American citizen
British Lion: England or the English government
the bear: The former Soviet Union or the Soviet government
c. parts of the body
Heart: feelings or emotions
Head, brain: wisdom, intelligence, reason
e.g. Use your brains.
Gray hair: old age
the bar: the legal profession
e.g. He has been called to the bar.
the bench: the position of judge or magistrate
e.g. He has been appointed to the bench.
the veil: vocation of a nun
e.g. She took the veil at 20.