Skimming and scanning are reading techniques that use rapid eye movement and keywords to move quickly through text for slightly different purposes. Skimming is reading rapidly in order to get a general overview of the material. Scanning is reading rapidly in order to find specific facts. While skimming tells you what general information is within a section, scanning helps you locate a particular fact. Skimming is like snorkeling, and scanning is more like pearl diving.
Use skimming in previewing (a preliminary reading), reviewing (reading after you read), determining the main idea from a long selection you don't wish to read, or when trying to find source material for a research paper. Use scanning in research to find particular facts, to study fact-heavy topics, and to answer questions requiring factual support.
Skimming can save you hours of laborious reading. However, it is not always the most appropriate way to read. It is very useful as a preview to a more detailed reading or when reviewing a selection heavy in content. But when you skim, you may miss important points or overlook the finer shadings of meaning, for which rapid reading or perhaps even study reading may be necessary.
Use skimming to overview your textbook chapters or to review for a test. Use skimming to decide if you need to read something at all, for example during the preliminary research for a paper. Skimming can tell you enough about the general idea and tone of the material, as well as its gross similarity or difference from other sources, to know if you need to read it at all.
To skim, prepare yourself to move rapidly through the pages. You will not read every word; you will pay special attention to typographical cues-headings, boldface and italic type, indenting, bulleted and numbered lists. You will be alert for key words and phrases, the names of people and places, dates, nouns, and unfamiliar words. In general follow these steps:
1. Read the table of contents or chapter overview to learn the main divisions of ideas.
2. Glance through the main headings in each chapter just to see a word or two. Read the headings of charts and tables.
3. Read the entire introductory paragraph and then the first and last sentence only of each following paragraph. For each paragraph, read only the first few words of each sentence or to locate the main idea.
4. Stop and quickly read the sentences containing keywords indicated in boldface or italics.
5. When you think you have found something significant, stop to read the entire sentence to make sure. Then go on the same way. Resist the temptation to stop to read details you don't need.
6. Read chapter summaries when provided.
If you cannot complete all the steps above, compromise: read only the chapter overviews and summaries, for example, or the summaries and all the boldfaced keywords. When you
skim, you take a calculated risk that you may miss something. For instance, the main ideas of paragraphs are not always found in the first or last sentences (although in many textbooks they are). Ideas you miss you may pick up in a chapter overview or summary.
Good skimmers do not skim everything at the same rate or give equal attention to everything. While skimming is always faster than your normal reading speed, you should slow down in the following situations:
•When you skim introductory and concluding paragraphs
•When you skim topic sentences
•When you find an unfamiliar word
•When the material is very complicated
1.1.1 Skimming For Point Of View
Skimming is helpful when you want to find out quickly about the writer. You may want to find out what the writer thinks about some idea. This is the writer’s point of view.
When you want to know the point of view you do not need to read everything. You only need to read a few important words.
Dogs are often a problem at home. Many dogs are noisy and dirty. They may even be dangerous for small children.
Does this writer like dogs at home? No !.
You do not need to read all the sentences to learn this. You only have to read the words “problem”, “noisy”, dirty”, and “dangerous”. From those words you can tell the writer’s point of view. This writer is against dogs at home.
An apartment looks much nicer with some plants. The green leaves make it seem cooler in summer. The flowers give it a happy feeling.
Does this writer like plants in apartment?_______________
How do you know this? List the important words: ___________________________
Read these sentences very quickly. Ask youself. “Is the writer FOR or AGAINST the idea?”. Then make a check beside the answer. You should finish the page in less than 60 seconds. Time yourself.
1. Many people believe that meat is an important food to eat. It is not true. You do not need to eat meat at all. In fact, you may be more healthy if you do not eat meat.
2. Travel is not always fun. Often there are problems with transportation, language or hotels. It is also very tiring to travel, and you can easily get sick.
3. Today it is better not to have a camera when you travel. A camera is heavy and difficult to carry. It is also not necessary. You can buy a good picture postcards almost everywhere.
4. A Bicycle is the best way to see a country. It does not need gas. It is not expensive. And you also get some exercise at the same time you are traveling.
5. Bicycles can be very dangerous. You can hurt yourself by falling off the bicycle. You can also get seriously hurt if you are hit by a car.
6. Everyone should learn another language. A second language is very useful these days. It also may teach you something about other people and places.
7. It is not easy to move to another country. There may be problems with language or culture. It may be difficult to find a job or a place to live. And in another country, you do not have family or friends to help.
8. Music often makes you feel better about life. It can make you happy if you are sad. It can make you relax when you are nervous.
1.1.2 Skimming For Pattern Of Organization
Sometimes you need to find out quickly how a book or article is organized. You want to know its pattern. You do not need to know the details for this. You do not need to read all the words. You only do not need to read all the words. You only have to read the signals words and they will tell you about the pattern.
A whale eats a lot of ocean food every day. That is because it is a very large animal.
What is the pattern of organization for this passage? Make a check beside the best answer.
The pattern is cause-effect.
What is (are) the signal word (s)? : because
The book has a lot of information about Poland. First it tells about the history. It also explains how
to travel around the country, and finally, it lists some interesting places to visit.
What is the pattern of organization for this passage? Make a check beside the best answer.
The pattern is cause-effect.
What is (are) the signal word(s)? : First, also, And finally
Read these sentences quickly. Read only to find the pattern of organization. Make a check beside the best answer. Try to finish the page in less than 60 seconds. Time yourself.
1. A parakeet is a small bird that lives in southern forests. The parrot is similar to parakeet, but it is larger. Both birds sometimes can learn how to say words.
2. Some kinds of birds cannot fly. The penguin is one of these birds. It lives mostly in the very cold Antarctic climate. Another kind of bird that cannot fly is the ostrich. It lives in Africa.
3. Lisa plans to travel in Europe this summer. In June she will visit Sicily. Then in July, she will ride a bicycle in Northern Italy. In August she will travel through France. By September, she hopes to be in Paris.
4. Headaches are often the result of psychological causes. For example, worrying about something can cause a headache.
5. The clambake is a popular New England dinner. It usually included many different kinds of seafood. Clams are the most common kind of seafood at a clambake. There may also be lobster and mussels.
6. Many people do not like to use computer for writing. They prefer to use typewriters. They know computers are faster and more accurate. But they are more comfortable with the typewriters.
7. Gold was first found in California in about 1840. The next ten years in American history are called the California Gold Rush. Many people moved to the west during those years to look for gold. By 1850, there were many new “Gold Rush” towns in California.
8. Cola and ginger ale are both kinds of soft drinks. Both these drinks have a lot of sugar in them. But Cola has caffeine in it, and ginger ale does not.
1.1.3 Skimming For Ideas
You can also skim when you want to find out the general idea quickly. Speed is important for this kind of skimming, too. You should skim at least two times faster than you usually read.
But you can only do this if you change the way you read. You can not read every word or even every sentence. You have to leave out a lot. In fact, you should leave out everything except a few important words. These are the words that tell you the general idea.
Here are the steps for skimming a chapter from a book or an article from a magazine or newspaper:
1. Read the first few sentences at your usual speed. Ask yourself, “What is this about?”
2. Go to the next paragraph as soon as you can guess the general idea. Remember, you do not need to know the details. You only want to learn something very general about the chapter or article.
3. Read only a few words in each paragraph after that. You should look for the words that tell you more about the general idea. Often they are at the beginning of the paragraph. But they may also be at the end.
4. Always work quickly. Remember that details are not important.
Here is an example from a newspaper article. Most of the article is not there. You will only find a few sentences at the beginning and a few words in each paragraph. But you should still be able to learn the general ideas of the article. Read this article and try to answer the questions.
BIG MACS IN MEXICO
McDonald’s Hamburgers are coming to Mexico. McDonald’s is a world-famous company _______Started in
California________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________In Paris, Tokyo and ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________but not in Mexico.
Last year the Mexican government changed_______open some McDonald’s restaurants_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________--“Big Mac” the McDonald’s specialty.
Some Mexicans are not happy______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________eat only hamburgers and forget about Mexican food.
1. McDonald’s is a
a. Kind of Mexican food
b. Mexican company.
c. Restaurant company
d. Kind of hamburger
2. There were no McDonald’s in Mexico because
a. Mexicans do not like hamburgers
b. Mexicans only eat Mexican food
c. There were McDonald’s in other countries.
d. The Mexican government did not want them.
3. The “Big Mac” is a
b. Kind of hamburger
c. Kind of Mexican food.
d. Person who works for McDonald’s.
Skim this newspaper article. You should finish in less than 60 seconds. Then answer the questions.
A NEW DRUG FOR HEART ATTACKS
Doctors may now be able to stop many heart attacks. An important new study reports that doctors have a new drug. This drug is called TPA. It may be better than any other heart drug.
Many doctors now use a drug called Streptokinase. But this drug sometimes causes problems for patients. It can even cause bleeding in the brain. Some doctors do not use streptokinase. Streptokinase can save about 1/3 of the people with heart attacks. But TPA will save about 2/3. This means many people. About 1.5 million Americans have heart attacks every year.
One reason TPA can help more people is because of time. This new drug is easier and faster to use. It will give doctors more time in hospitals. Then they can study the problem well. People will heart problems can also keep some TPA at home. When a heart attack starts, they can take some TPA right away. Then they will have time to get to the hospital. This is important because about 860.000 people in the United States die before they get to the hospital.
There is another reason why TPA is good news for people with heart attacks. According to the study, it is much safer. It does not cause other problems like streptokinase. TPA works only on the heart. It does not have an effect on the blood or cause bleeding, like streptokinase.
Doctors plan to do more studies about TPA. They need to test this new drug on many more people with heart attacks. But in a few years, many doctors and hospitals will probably start using this exciting new drug.
1. The new drug is
a. The same as streptokinase.
b. Better than streptokinase.
c. Called streptokinase
d. Bad for people with heart attacks.
2. The study says that TPA
a. Is safer and faster than the old drug.
b. Is very dangerous.
c. Slower and harder to use than the old drug.
d. Causes many problems.
3. This new drug may mean
a. More people will die from heart attacks.
b. The same number of people will die from heart attacks.
c. Fewer people will die from heart attacks.
d. No one will die from heart attacks.
Skim this magazine article. You should finish in less than 60 seconds. Then answer the questions.
WOMEN IN CHINA TODAY
What kind of jobs do women have in China today? Well, here are a few examples: Zhao Changbai is a manager of one of China’s largest companies. Zou Hon is the manager of a larger restaurant company. Wan Shiren is an important scientist who works in China’s space program.
The list could go on. According to Zhang Guoying of the All China Women’s Federation, women are now important to the country. She says the government believes this too. China needs educated women to help make the country more modern.
This was not true 50 years ago. Then, there were few women in important jobs. Women worked mostly at home or in factories. But now there are more than 40 millions women working in China. That is 40% of all the people who work. These working women include many women who work in factories. But now there are also many women scientific and technical workers – almost two million. And about 7.000 of the women are professors, engineers, chemists, and biologists. Some women are also working in important government positions, as governors or ministers.
It was not easy for these women ,says Zhang Guoying. She believes that Chinese women have more difficulties than Chinese men. Women still have to take care of their families. That means they really have two jobs. One is at their office or factory and the other is at home. This is the same problem women have in many other parts of the world.
The government in China is trying to make life better for women. It is building more day care centers for the children of working mothers. It is helping women get a better education and find better jobs. According to Zhang Guoying, the future for women in China should even be better.
1. In China today,
a. More women are working
b. Most women do not work.
c. Fewer women are working
d. Women do not like to work
2. Chinese women now
a. Have jobs only in factories
b. Have few important jobs.
c. Have important jobs
d. Do not work for the government.
3. For a Chinese women
a. Life is now very easy
b. Work is now very easy
c. Life is still not easy
d. Families are not important.
Look at the following shopping list to find out if you remembered to order bread:
How many words did you read? Bread was the only word you needed to read. The other words were not important. This kind of reading is called scanning.
You usually scan:
a telephone book
an index in a textbook
a list of movies in the newspaper
the ads in a newspaper
the pages of a dictionary
You usually do not scan:
a mystery story
a textbook for an important course
important papers from a lawyer
a map for getting to a party
a question on a test
Scan the next page for the answers to these questions. Work as quickly as you can
How many chapters are there in the book?
Which is the chapter on the computer in the class room?
On what page can you read about games?
Which part of Chapter 3 is about having fun with computers?
Does this book have an index? On what page?
SCANNING EXERCISE 1
Scan this news story to find the answers to these questions. Work fast. Ask your teacher or another student to time you.
1. How many people died in the typhoon (storm)?______________
2. On what day did the typhoon begin?_____________________
3. How many people lost their homes (were homeless)_______________
4. What is the name of the island that was hit worst?________________
5. What is the name of the typhoon?_________________
6. How many people are missing?_______________
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Philippines Sends Aid For Typhoon Damage
Manila, Nov 10 (AP) – the Philippine Air Force ferried medical teams and relief supplies today in provinces ravaged by Typhoon Agnes. The authorities said 515 people had died in the typhoon and more than 400 were missing.
An air force spokesman said more than 163 tons of food, medicine and clothing had been sent to the Visayan region, 300 miles south of Manila and more aid was on the way.
The typhoon hit the region Monday. The spokesman said helicopter were rescuing people stranded by floods that remained chest-deep today in some areas of Panay island, which appeared to have been hit the worst. Most of the fatalities and missing were on the island, where 455,000 people were homeless.
The Philippine National Red Cross reported that 90 percent of the 86,000 houses in Capiz Province on Panay were destroyed. Many of the dead were children who drowned as 30-foot waves smashed into coastal villages.
SCANNING EXERCISE 2
Scan the two news stories to answer these questions. Work fast. Ask your teacher or another student to time you.
1. How many astronauts walked in space?_______________
2. On what date did this happen?_____________________
3. How much did the Palapa B-2 satellite weigh?_________________
4. How many miles above the earth were the astronauts?______________
5. Who held the satellite for more than 90 minutes?_______________
6. What is the commander’s name?_______________________
Finishing time __________________
If you know what a fluent reader looks like, it seems logical that you’d know the characteristics of a non-fluent reader. However, students who have reading problems with fluency aren’t necessarily the exact opposite of students who can read fluently. Just like fluent readers, non-fluent reading problems have uniquely identifying characteristics. A non-fluent reader:
• reads slowly and with difficulty, both orally and silently
. • doesn’t use expression and intonation when he reads out loud.
• is unable to see and process more than one word at a time.
• decodes words sound-by-sound rather than by phonemes or context. In other words, non-fluent readers frequently rely on phonics as their sole reading strategy
. • doesn’t always self-correct when something sounds wrong. Instead non-fluent readers often try to “Push Through” just to get done reading more quickly
. • needs to reread text to gain understanding or comprehension.
Considering above students’ reading problems, this book is the best solution to make easy for the students to have the Effective and Efficient Reading skills and activity. This book is designed in an easiest, systematical and effective form to achieve adequate reading theories and exercises. This book is designed specially for Intermediate-level-students in improving reading skills. I hope this book will be beneficial as the ladder for upgrading the students’ English academic reading competence.
Source: CHAPTER 1 EFFECTIVE & EFFECIENT READING BY FAIZAL RISDIANTO
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