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Reading Lesson Plan

Skimming and Scanning

Teacher: Kazumi Kitagawa
Date of Presentation: November 7, 1996
Proficiency Level: Intermediate adults
Estimated Time of Lesson: 20-25 minutes




Review and warm-up

I will talk about magazines and ask the students why they read them and what kind of information they want to obtain from them (bullet listing). Then I will ask them if they have ever read "Agony Aunt," which I selected for the lesson. This article should be appropriate for intermediate students because it is easy to read, and the students will be able to relate to it.

Presentation in context

We will talk about the definitions and importance of skimming and scanning, and I will demonstrate these two techniques. Then I will ask the students when and why they need to use these techniques (brainstorming).

Skimming: Quickly running one's eyes across a whole text to get the gist. It gives readers the advantage of being able to predicate the purpose of the passage, the main topic.

Scanning: Quickly searching for some particular pieces of information in a text. Scanning exercises may ask students to look for names or dates, to find a definition of a key concept, or to list a certain number of supporting details. The purpose of it is to extract certain specific information without reading through the whole text.

Focused practice

I will show an overhead of the article from "Agony Aunt" to the students and ask them to skim the text for general knowledge as fast as they can (I will time them for a minute). After all of them finish skimming it, I will ask them questions about the article. Then I will have them scan the article again to find all the answers for these questions (Again I will time them for thirty seconds).

Communicative activity/Application

I will give a pair of students an article. Each pair receives a different article from the other pairs. They will skim through their article and write approximately three questions for another pair to answer. The pair leaves their questions on the top of their article. The pair rotates one place in a clockwise direction and then scans through the other pair's article to write the answers to that pair's questions. The pair returns to their original questions and checks the other pair's written answers. In this activity, I will not check the answers if they are right or wrong because the purpose of the activity is not to strictly get the answers right, but rather to practice skimming and scanning.


The students will find an article and practice skimming and scanning. They will turn their homework in the following day.

Contingency plan:

If the activity goes well, two pairs discuss any answers that they disagree with. If there is enough time left, the pairs will receive a different article and continue this activity with another pair. If the class is small, the students can do this activity individually instead in pairs. This lesson could be used for advanced learners. For them, articles on more technical or academic issues are used.


It is very difficult for me to evaluate my lesson because I did not actually teach the lesson but only explained what I would do. Some people in the group had a few questions about the lesson mainly because I neglected to explain every single detail. For example, in the presentation section, I said I would actually show the students how to skim and scan, but I did not explain how exactly I would do that (I will use an overhead). Also for the communicative activity, I did not mention if I would check the students' answers or not (I will not do that because the purpose of this activity is not necessarily to get the right answers). These questions helped me to realize that I should have paid more attention to details to avoid confusion. I incorporated some suggestions that group members made. For instance, I decided to time the students when they skim and scan. I use bullet listing for warm-up and brainstorming for presentation. The group liked the "Agony Aunt" articles because they are not too difficult for intermediate students to read, and they are also interesting. They also liked the communicative activity because by making up their own questions on an article, the students have a purpose for skimming. In addition, those questions are practically used for the another pair to scan.

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1997 © Dr. Lynn E. Henrichsen
Department of Linguistics
Brigham Young University
Last Updated: Saturday, June 7, 1997