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READING STRATEGIES: SKIMMING and SCANNING

Reading is a language skill. There are different types of reading, because there are different reading purposes. It is very important to understand why you have to read a text and to choose that reading strategy which is most appropriate to the task. This is very relevant to examinations where you have limited time to do a large amount of reading. Don’t waste your time by trying to read each text slowly and carefully from the beginning to the end. USE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING READING STRATEGIES:

SKIMMING

  • Move your eyes very quickly over the selection.
  • While skimming don’t read every word, just try to find general information.
  • Skimming is reading a text quickly to get a general idea of meaning.

Example: Skim the text to answer the following questions.

  1. What is this paragraph about?
  2. What is the main idea of this paragraph?
  3. What does this paragraph discuss a problem, a solution, or an opinion.

Alcoholic beverages should be banned from college campuses, for two reasons. The first reason is that drinking can cause academic failure. If students drink before class or have a hangover from drinking too much the night before, they will be unable to concentrate on their school work. They may miss classes, fail exams, and miss term-paper deadlines. This behaviour could force them to drop out of school. For example, last semester, my friend Dan, who liked to party ever ynight, dropped out of school. He failed organic chemistry twice and barely passed his other classes. Therefore, his parents refused to pay for his education any longer. Recently, Cypress College did a study of student dropped out because they had failing grades due to excessive reading. Therefore, it is true that drinking can interfere with college success.

SCANNING

  • Scanning is also reading a text quickly in order to find specific information, e.g. name of a person, a place, or a keyword that is important in a story.
  • While finding the specific information, do not read every word.
  • Move your eyes quickly over the text to find the information.
  • if you are looking for one specific detail such as a telephone number, a name, a date, you scan the material for that one detail, wasting no time on anything else. You do not read every word, only the words that answer your question.

Example 1: Scan the text to complete the sentences.

  • Mark Twain was one of the most popular authors in America.  His real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens and was born in 1835 in the state of Missouri. He grew up and spent most of his life near the great Mississippi River. In 1864 he travelled to California. He became famous the following years when he wrote a short story called “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” In the next few year he travelled around the world and continued his writing career.
  • 1.. Mark Twain became famous in …………….…….. A. 1863    B. 1864 C. 1865
  • 2… Twain was born in ………………………………….. A. California B. Mississippi C. Missouri

Example 2: Read the short autobiography of Shakespeare.

  • I was born at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. I was the son of a tradesman (salesman), John Shakespeare. I was the oldest son, and third child (of eight).
  • At the age of eighteen, I married Anne Hathaway. She was eight years older than me.
    Five years later I left for London. I worked at the Globe Theater and appeared (acted) in many small parts (roles). I first appeared in public as a poet in 1593 with “Venus and Adonis” and the following year with “The Rape of Lucrece”. I became joint proprietor (owner) of The Globe and also had an interest in the Blackfriars Theater.
  • I began writing plays in 1595. “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “The Comedy of Errors” were the first plays I wrote. They were followed by “Romeo and Juliet”, “Richard III”, “The Taming of the Shrew”, “The Merchant of Venice”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “All’s Well that Ends Well”, “Much Ado about Nothing”, “As you like it”, “Twelfth Night”, “Hamlet”, “Othello”, “Macbeth”, “King Lear”, “A Winter’s Tale”, “The Tempest”, and more…
  • When I retired from writing in 1611, I returned to Stratford to live in a house which I had built for my family. My only son, Hamnet, had died when still a child. I also had a daughter Judith (twin to Hamnet) and another daughter (Susanna) who got married in 1607.
  • In 1616 I was buried (put in grave) in the Church of the Holy Trinity the same Church where I was baptised in 1564. Tradition has it that I died after an evening’s drinking with some of my theater friends.
  1. Fill in the chart about Shakespeare. 
Date of Birth: 1564
Place of Birth: Stratford-upon-Avon
Father’s occupation: Tradesman
Wife: Anne Hathaway
Children: Two, two daughters and a son (Judith, Hamnet, Susanna)
The name of my theatre: the Globe (Theater)
My two first plays: Love’s Labour’s Lost and The Comedy of Errors
Date of Death: 1616

Answer the questions based on the text above. 

  • 1. How many sisters and brothers did Shakespeare have?
  • SEVEN
  • 2. How old was his wife when she got married to Shakespeare?
  • TWENTY-SIX
  • 3. When did Shakespeare appear with “The Rape of Lucrece”
  • In 1594
  • 4. What did Shakespeare do after he stopped acting and writing in London?
  • HE RETURNED TO HIS HOMETOWN, STRATFORD
  • Hints and tips for better scanning.
  • Don’t try to read every word. Instead let your eyes move quickly across the page until you find what you are looking for.
  • Use clues on the page, such as headings and titles, to help you.
  • If you are reading for study, start by thinking up or writing down some questions that you want to answer. Doing this can focus your mind and help you find the facts or information that you need more easily.

WORKSHEET:

scan-skimming-1scan-skimming-2

Sample Exercises:

http://ielts-up.com/reading/skimming-scanning.html

LINKS

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