Posted by: Jason | April 17, 2011

Skimming and Scanning Part 2

Last week, we talked about scanning and skimming.  These are two very useful tools for finding information quickly when you’re reading.  I thought we could talk about some more strategies for both this week.

Let’s start with skimming.  When you skim something, you aren’t trying to get any of the details.  You just want to get a general overview of whatever you are reading.  Quite often when we read the newspaper, we do this.  We read the headline, maybe the first paragraph and then move on to the next story.   Usually we do this because we’re not sure if we really want to read the news story or not.  We’re trying to find out if we’re interested in what the story has to say.  So, we skim.

How we skim something will depend a lot on what kind of thing we’re reading.  A newspaper story, for example, puts all the important information in the headline and the first paragraph.  So, if we’re skimming a newspaper article then it makes the most sense to start with the headline and the first paragraph.  On the other hand, if we’re reading an essay about some topic, then the order that information is presented differently.  In an essay, the first and last paragraphs are the most important.  The first paragraph should introduce the topic and give an outline of the rest of the essay, while the last paragraph will summarize all the information in the article including the conclusions.  So, if we’re skimming an essay, it might be best to start at the end since all the main points should be nicely stated in the last paragraph.

There is no reason, after all, that we have to read something in order.  There is nothing wrong with starting at the end and working backwards.  Depending on what you are reading, this might be the best strategy.

However, for this week, we’ll stick to a newspaper article.  Here is an article from the Asahi Shimbun talking about a possible tax hike to help pay for the damage caused by the tsunami. Skim the article and try to answer the following questions:

1. How much is the tax rise expected to be?
2. How much money would the tax rise bring in?
3. How is the opposition Liberal party reacting to the possible increase?

Go back and reread the article and see if you got your answers right.

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