Short Story Summary

This mixed skills activity helps ESL students learn English summary writing.

Short Story Summary


learn to write a summary of a short text


about 20-40 minutes to complete a first draft


Divide class into pairs. Half the students get Story A. The other half get Story B. Provide students with these instructions.

Part 1

  • You and your partner read a short text. Work together.
  • What is the text mostly about?
  • Write down some key words and phrases. Are some words/phrases repeated?
  • What are the main supporting ideas?
  • Write a one paragraph summary. Try to avoid unnecessary details.

Part 2

  • Find a new partner with a different story.
  • Read your summary aloud.
  • The new partner will ask questions.
  • Ask yourself: is my summary good enough?

Part 3

  • Rewrite the summary and hand in to the teachers for review and feedback.


For this lesson, I used two easy-to-read stories. These stories come from a 2002 California Standards test.

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