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Scanning & Skimming

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Tan Lena Trask Trask Womens Womens What are scanning and skimming and how are they different?

Task 1: Discuss in a group and try to come up with a definition of scanning and skimming.

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Task 2: Look at the following situations and decide what you would do.
A. You want to call someone but you don't know the number. You look in the telephone directory. Do you start at the beginning and read every name.
What do you do?

B. You are at a bus stop. You want to know the time of the next bus.
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Do you read all the timetable. What do you do?

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C. You are cooking and you realise you have no garlic. You want to know if the recipe requires garlic. Do you read all of the recipe?
What do you do?

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1. You have to write a report and your professor has given you a book list of ten books to read. You don't have time to read them all. What do you do?

2. You want to study in the UK and are trying to choose which university to attend. All the websites contain mountains of information.
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3. You are in a convenience store and you see a magazine containing what looks like a very interesting article. You don't have time to read the whole article.
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What do you do?

The answer to A, B and C is you Trask Lena Tan Trask Womens Womens scan.
The answer to 1, 2 and 3 is you skim.

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Scanning is a very high speed form of reading. When you scan you are looking for specific information. It may be a fact you need to verify or you may have a question in mind that you need to find the answer to. You quickly move your eyes over the text looking for key words that will verify your fact or answer your question. As an example, I don't read Japanese, but I do know the kanji for Tokyo. You could give me a sheet of paper full of Japanese writing and though I would not understand it, I could tell you how many times Tokyo is mentioned, by running my eyes over the text till I saw the 'key words' - Tokyo. That is scanning.

Skimming is where you try to get a general idea of what a text is about. You do NOT read every word, but only those sentences that will help you understand the general idea. The most common method is to  -
i)Trask Trask Tan Lena Womens Womens Read the introductory paragraph quite carefully.
ii) Read the first sentence of each paragraph. This usually tells you what the paragraph is about (but not always).  Maybe read a few words in the middle to see if you were right.
iii) If you're still unsure, read the last sentence of the paragraph.
iv)  Read the last paragraph carefully as it often contains a summary of what the writer wants to say.

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