Reading skills: Skimming vs Scanning

Most of you have became overwhelmed these days in order to finish your first PEC for this subject. As I have explained to you in many ocassions, there no need to read in detail each article shown in the bibliography suggested. You might be able to select the reading that you need and to do stright to the point or section that you need. Two main techniches are involved here: Scanning and skimming. Have a look at the video and share your opninion by replying to this post.

It could be interesting the reading of this article as well from a Spanish perspective of reading comprension at L2.

Argüelles Álvarez, Irina (2005) Comprensión lectora en IFE: las viejas propuestas en nuevos contextos. LFE. Revista de lenguas para fines específicos. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1993-.– ISSN 1133-1127.– n. 11-12, 2005-2006, p. 13


6 thoughts on “Reading skills: Skimming vs Scanning

  1. Obviously, it is very important to use these techniques when reading in a foreign language. It reflects something that we also do in our mother tongue, although I think we are not aware of it in this case. When we are learning, and using a foreign language, we have the impression that if we do not understand every single word, we are missing something really important, which is not the case when we are reading in our mother tongue. To use a language effectively, we have to be able to use the same techniques that we use when reading in our mother tongue. It is not always necessary to undertstand every single thing we reading, or even to read everything. We might not have enough time to do it, regardless of the language in which the text it is written.

    • The idea that we don’t have to understand everything we read or the amount of attention given to different kind of texts is something very simple but difficult to acquire by many students and language learners.

  2. Argüelles Álvarez leaves us a very enlightening quotable moment (p. 16): ‘[…] la lectura global permite a una persona saber si le interesa un libro, un manual de funcionamiento de un nuevo electrodoméstico se lee intensivamente y para buscar información concreta en un texto se saltan partes para llegar a la información relevante’. The spirit of the radical dissimilarities between the reading techniques of ‘skimming’ and ‘scanning’ are laid out in the author’s comment: where the overabundance of sources drives the reader to an inescapable state of information overload, there is no need to concentrate on every last word. Rather, one should grasp the meaning of every *other* word.
    Later in the same paper (p. 20) the author, commenting on her own experience with real students in a real second language learning classroom, makes a suggestion that would be very appropriate in the context of needs analysis and ESP/EAP: ‘Los alumnos de especialidad pueden sentirse más motivados a leer un texto concreto por estar el contenido de éste relacionado con sus estudios, pero no todos los textos, por el hecho de tratar sobre determinada materia tienen por qué ser del interés de los estudiantes’. In a nutshell, what is valid in one particular didactic environment may not be so in another.

  3. IMO it could be boiled down to this: skimming is highlighting the main ideas and scanning is looking for paritcular information that interests you.

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