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Lesson 6: From Sea to Shining Sea


Plymouth Rock. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Sophia Lai, CC BY 4.0


Writing a Summary

In this lesson you will practice writing a summary. To begin with, let’s take a look at what a summary is – and what it isn’t.

It is an overview of a larger piece of text like a book, a report or a speech. It has much less content than the original work but provides the reader with the main points of the original version. Summaries are usually written to save time. The reader won’t have to go through the whole material but can still get an idea of what the text or speech is about. He or she can then decide for himself/herself if the original text or speech is important enough to read or listen to in its entirety.

A summary needs to form a logical unit of its own consisting of logical thoughts related to each other. It isn’t a collection of separate, individual sentences copied word for word from the original text.

Keep these in mind when writing a summary:

  1. Read the original text in detail. If necessary, look up unfamiliar words or phrases in a dictionary. If that is not possible, use the context (and your knowledge of the world) to figure out their meaning.
  2. Identify the main points/ideas of the text and write them down – use your own words as much as possible. Don’t write any of your own thoughts or ideas in the text: you are summarizing now.
  3. Write the first version of your summary. Check the content: have you included a sufficient amount of content or is your text too general or too detailed? Revise accordingly.
  4. If possible, take a break and let your mind work on something else for a while.
  5. Read your summary again, this time more carefully. Is it really an overview of the original text or speech? Would the reader get enough information just by reading your summary? Is the information correct in your summary? Is your text a logical unit of its own? Again, make sure that you have not added or included any information from any other source than the original text or speech in your summary.
  6. Check the following things:
    • the length of your summary (usually 1/3 at maximum) and the number of words used (if there is a limit)
    • grammar and spelling
  7. Write the final version of the summary.


Red states and blue states. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0


Vocabulary – Listen and practice


Lesson 6: Vocabulary
essential ballot mumbo jumbo
concept convention deploy
implication reputation regime
request prediction convention
acknowledge popularity unconventional
unanimous contemporaries affairs
measures pursue regulation
surpass character legacy


Photo: Wikimedia Commons / White House (pdf), Public Domain


Exercise 6.1 Identifying the main points

Watch the video below and write down the main points. The length of your text should be about 150 words.

The Speech that Made Obama President
https://youtu.be/OFPwDe22CoY (~6 min)

Tehtävä arvioidaan arvosanalla 4-10.

Submit your text below:


Exercise 6.2 A summary


Study both articles listed below and summarize one of them in English. The lenght of your summary should be about 150 words.

America’s Five National Anthems by Stephen Peithman

Analogies for America: Beyond the melting pot by Timothy Taylor

Tehtävä arvioidaan arvosanalla 4-10.

Submit your summary below:


NYC Ellis Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Daniel Schwen, CC BY-SA 3.0

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