Reading Comprehension Skills – Scanning

Scanning is used to discover required information to complete a given task such as making a decision about what to watch on TV, or which museum to visit while visiting a foreign city. Ask students NOT to read the excerpt before they begin the exercise, but rather, to focus on completing the task based on what the question requires. It is probably a good idea to do some awareness raising of the various types of reading skills that they use naturally in their own mother tongue (i.e. extensive, intensive, skimming, scanning) before beginning this exercise.

Aim: Reading practice focusing on scanning

Activity: Comprehension questions used as cues for scanning a TV schedule



  • Do a short awareness raising session by asking students how they go about making decisions based on schedules, short articles etc. Focus on whether they read every word and if the read in strict order when making such a decision in their own mother tongue.
  • Remind them that this process is the same in English and does not require that they understand every word perfectly.
  • Distribute comprehension questions and TV schedule to students.
  • Make a special point of asking students to complete the exercise by first reading the question and then scanning for the appropriate answer.
  • Ask students to use the TV schedule to answer the questions. To increase difficulty add a timing element (this should help students who insist on understanding every word to not do so).
  • Correct activity as a class.
  • Extend activity by bringing in a number of magazines concerning travel, entertainment or a similar activity and asking students to complete a given task – for example finding a destination they would like to visit or choosing a film they would like to see. Once again, ask students to do the exercise by scanning and not reading each word.

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