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Reading Summary Challenge with A Twist – Tip Of The Week 8

Would an activity for reading comprehension be useful for your language classes next week? If so, this week’s teaching tip of the week ‘Reading Summary Challenge’ could be just for you!

Reading Summary Challenge with a Twist

Today’s teaching activity of the week is a reading summary activity with a twist. It is particularly useful for getting students to focus when reading a short article or passages of text. What’s more is that you can easily use it with beginners, intermediate and advanced learners.

I used this reading summary activity with my Level 1 ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) learners in my language classroom this week. The students enjoyed the challenge and it was a good active reading strategy, which allowed them to focus as they re-read. The reading activity also helped them to remember key points and recycle vocabulary that they had met in the passage.


Title: Reading Summary Challenge with a Twist
Aim: To improve understanding of a text by summarising with a twist!
Level: Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 (Beginner, Lower intermediate, Intermediate and Advanced)

Keep Calm and SummariseResources Required: A pre-prepared text for reading, pens and paper

Reading Summary Challenge with a Twist Instructions:

1. Provide each student with a printed copy of the text suitable for their level. I used a text about Lord Sugar and the Apprentice from the Speak Out Intermediate book. However, texts for KS3 / KS5 / GCSE French or GCSE German from the AQA (or similar) text books would be more than suitable.
2. Ask individual students to read the text aloud at random, ensuring you swap students before full-stops and commas to ‘guarantee’ they are paying attention.
3. Before giving the students the reading summary challenge, double check with the students what is meant by the terms: ‘summary’, i.e. a short, clear description that gives the main facts or ideas about something. If necessary, elicit some examples, or give the group some examples by summarising the story line of a film or book they might have watched.
4. Advise students they must re-read the text and it is now their task to individually summarise the text in written form. I gave my students the question: ‘What is The Apprentice About?’ to give them a bit more of a focus.
5. Now, the twist is that they must use a set number of words to summarise the text. This means they must keep re-editing their work to include only the most relevant information, until they meet your word limit. I advised 30 words for a text that was about 300 words which worked very well, so you could perhaps use 10% as a guide too.
6. I wandered around the classroom, helping students and giving suggestions for changes. At the end, I asked three different students to read their summaries and the students made notes as they listened and finally discussed which they thought was the best and why.

Things To Think About With This Reading Summary Activity

a) I would recommend advising weaker learners to underline things they feel would class as ‘key points’ as they go along before summarising.
b) Provide learners who would like it, a list of translated key vocabulary (if teaching French, German, Spanish etc)
c) Some students will definitely finish the task quicker than others. If you are able to, mark work and allow them to do the corrections. If they finish, you could ask them to help other students?
d) Set a time limit

How would you adapt this reading summary challenge activity for your language classroom? Let me know in the comments below!

I can’t quite believe that I have been writing my teaching tips of the week for eight weeks, not only that, how is it already November?! If you’ve missed the previous teaching tip of the week posts, you can see them in the link.

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