Retelling Vs Summarizing: What’s the difference?

Traversing through a concept or a story again may turn interesting when presented in a distinct way. If it is presented in an alternative format, we may call it Retelling. And, if it is condensed to depict the essence, it refers to summarizing. 

While we may observe these strategies in multiple areas like teaching and literature, discerning the difference between them is important to choose one among them. Many interesting facts are piled up in the following lines, ensuring to provide you with valuable insights. 

Reteaching- A strategy that proved effective

The first glimpse of this word can imply its meaning. It is the method of teaching students relevant concepts again to ensure they grasp them properly. Depending upon the extent of the need, one among multiple teaching methods like retelling and summarizing can be employed. 

 Anne Bellrt[1] marks out the importance of reteaching. In his research, he outlined that reteaching is an effective teaching and learning strategy that is lesser spoken in pedagogical intervention. He also outlined that this plan of action is useful for the learning disabled as well ensuring better motivation, self-advocacy, and self-esteem

Here are some reasons why teaching again may be important:

  • Simplifying Preaching: The level of comprehension often varies from one pupil to another. While some may grasp it soon, some may need a different approach. By retelling techniques, the techniques of the concepts may be deconstructed from the standard level breaking them up into simple pieces that are easy to assimilate.
  • This strategy also involves feedback from the student, This way the status of the pupil along with the level of progression may be estimated effortlessly. 
  • With simplified teaching, communication with learners often ameliorates. This way, students may painlessly set future goals along with peers based on their ability to learn and retain insights. 

Types of reteaching- That is assistive for learners!

Reteaching may be of multiple types. But, Retelling and Summarizing are two literary techniques used to narrate an event/ concept swiftly. Retelling is narrating the prospect of the narrator while summarizing is saying the events that happened in brief. 


Retelling is going back and narrating an experience or event from your past. It may be true for stories and lectures as well. It is a technique where the narrator focuses on different characters’ retelling of the same story. It reveals the narrator’s perspective, foreshadows future events, and explores how the characters remember certain events.


Summarizing is a literary technique in which the person takes a series of events and presents them in brief. It is like narrating the summary or the extract of the story, event, or speech. It is a theoretical strategy that allows the writer to condense larger pieces of information into a few lines. A summary is to provide the most important information in a smaller space. In other words, it consolidates an argument. It highlights what’s most important and provides supporting details when necessary while explaining the article’s major points and connecting data from one section to another.

Retelling vs summarizing

When is retelling employed?

Retelling is typically needed in two situations: introducing new content in a lesson and reviewing early taught content that students need for an upcoming lesson. When we are about to introduce a new chapter or heading, we need to retell the previous headlines to make a smoother transition to the newer topic. 

It helps in understanding the concept easily because the students can recall the necessary things that are required to understand the newer concepts. Sometimes we get the information in class, and other times, it doesn’t stick. In Nutshell, this strategy assists in recalling concepts that were taught earlier.

Summarizing is necessary when a teacher is wrapping up the class. It usually refreshes the pupils with necessary takeaway points before dispersing. In technical concepts, it also allows students to memorize the keywords related to the topic. 

When is summarizing needed?

Summarizing often means condensing a larger piece of information. It can be applied effectively to identify certain interesting factors related to a topic. Asking students what areas they are confused about and briefing them in a condensed form works. 

Summarizing strategies have also become more accessible than ever before, with books like “A Brief History of Twentieth-Century Literature” offering over 1000 points for academics who cannot find all the pertinent information needed in one vast book.

Summarizing teaches students to incorporate the most vital elements or ideas in a text and skip the irrelevant information. It also involves integrating the central ideas in a meaningful fashion. Exercising students to summarize improves their long-term memory for what is read. Summarizing strategies can be used in almost all fields of study. It is an important tool to sum up the main aspects of the event. 

How do you teach to summarize?

Here are a few strategies that a teacher can employ in class to summarize concepts:

  • Underline the main idea: While the whole chapter is a combination of multiple insights and examples, ensuring the main idea is important. At the end of the class, outlining the central idea can be a summarizing idea. 
  • Give out an Instance: Often, summarizing a new and brief way of reteaching. Accordingly, in case of doubts, the teacher may give an example rather than reexplaining the whole context, thereby little ones may better understand. 
  • List the points: Postulated summary often includes words in multiple areas. When the teacher has multiple insights to outline in a lecture instead of the briefing, they can list, say five points to make sure these are the areas to focus on finally. 

Retelling vs. Summarizing

Retelling is a newer method of narrating a concept, while Summarizing is all about briefing down the points. Both of these are pivotal in certain places in literature or the classroom. The mentor may use retelling to explain things better, but it may be a time taking process sometimes. While summarizing is easy, it may miss out on detailing. With a set of pros and cons, each of them has its own set of applications. It is thereby the call of the instructor to make out which of these is the apt choice for the day.


To ensure a pupil comprehends the concepts well, a few specialized strategies may be essential. Retelling and summarizing are a couple of techniques to offer better insights into an event, chapter, or lecture. Comparing these, an appropriate plan may be chosen. Generally speaking, it is not easy to pick out one unless the motto is clear enough. Nevertheless, the edges of both of these are clearly explained.  Check out the insights elucidated above to ensure fitting ideas to make an apt decision for your little one.

1. Bellert, A. (2015). Effective retelling. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 20(2), 163-183.

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