Skimming and scanning are two very useful speed-reading techniques that enable you to read through material quickly.

Skimming is used to quickly identify the main ideas of a text and get a general overview of the content. It is done at a speed three to four times faster than normal reading.

Scanning is used when you are looking for specific information. In most cases you know what you are looking for. It involves moving your eyes quickly down the page to locate the specific words, numbers, or data you are looking for.


Task One

What would you do in the following situations, skim or scan? Select your answer by clicking on the box next to it.

Task Two

Below is a collection of steps for both skimming and scanning, but they are mixed up. Sort them by dragging them under the correct heading.

Task Three – Skimming

Quickly skim the article on Teamwork Skills to get a general idea of what each paragraph is about. Then in the boxes write headings which express the key ideas of the paragraphs immediately below.


Project work is a major focus of many undergraduate courses in Hong Kong and as such students often have to work on tasks together in groups. In order to work together effectively, students need to develop their teamwork skills. The ability to function together as a team is also an important life skill. It helps people to get jobs, companies to succeed, charity organizations to help people in need, movies to be created, football teams to win, etc.

So what precisely are teamwork skills? You probably think you know several of them already, but how much opportunity have you had until now to actually develop these skills and to become an effective team member?

  1. It is a fact of life that working with other people is not always easy and, therefore, you need to develop your teamwork skills to avoid potential conflicts. The ability to listen to one another is perhaps the most difficult skill of all, but by doing this effectively conflict and confusion can often be avoided. It is very difficult for people to admit that they are not good at listening to others, but it is actually something that many people do badly. Listening well also helps you to understand other people’s ideas, perspectives, attitudes and motivations better. If you really understand why one of your group members does not agree with you or why someone does not want to do something you would like him/her to do, then this will enhance the understanding and strength of the group. So it is essential to try to get on with your team-mates and to develop a feeling of trust and fun within the group. If everyone feels relaxed with each other, it is much easier to say what you want and much easier to accept any kind of criticism of your ideas. At all times criticism should remain constructive. This means that you should try to say what you like about someone’s ideas, not just what you do not like. And when you say what you do not like, you should give clear reasons to support your opinion. All team members need to realize that it is only the ideas that are being criticised, not the person who suggests them. So it is important to be considerate and at the same time open to receiving constructive criticism.

  2. Accepting team members’ differences and perspectives not only helps to avoid conflict, but the diversity is a rich source of creative ideas. If you consciously work at supporting your team members by valuing their ideas, opinions and contributions, they will feel encouraged to contribute more and work harder for the benefit of the team. Make sure that you include all your team in all the decisions you make. Encourage everyone to participate actively and acknowledge the effort that you all make to help each other.

  3. A team cannot work effectively without some kind of leadership. This does not mean the same person always has to take this role. Leadership skills consist of such things as the ability to organize and to facilitate meetings and discussions, the ability to motivate your team members, to take the initiative at appropriate moments, to take responsibility for making sure that tasks are completed and to encourage cooperation. Anyone in a team can practise these skills at any time, although you may choose, for example, to rotate the role of leader at different stages of your project.

  4. One possible problem/frustration

    Hide answer.

    During the semester, during the rest of your time at University and, in particular, in your life after university, you are likely to encounter problems while working in a team that you will have to try to solve. An occasional but major problem is when you feel that one person in the group is not doing much work. If this happens, you need to discuss the issue together as a whole group with the person concerned. It is important that you tell that team member why you think they are not pulling their weight and to find out your team-mate’s own reasons. You also need to make him/her aware of what effect this is having on your team. Let your team-mate know what positive contributions they have made so far and that you want this to continue.

  5. When a team is given a task, a common error is to immediately divide the work up between the team members, who then go away and complete their tasks individually. This is not teamwork and it is likely to lead to a disjointed collection of individual work rather than a logically interconnected and well-developed cohesive whole.

    Effective teamwork involves working together as much as possible, particularly at the beginning to establish goals, to decide how you’re going to work together on different tasks, to set deadlines and to brainstorm ideas. You may decide to work alone on some tasks, but the team should always check, evaluate and provide feedback on any work done in preparation for redrafting.

  6. Working together as a team can be an extremely fulfilling, productive and fun experience if teams take the vital step to establish ground rules and guidelines at the very beginning such as the following:
    • Decide together whether you will make decisions by a majority vote or whether everyone must agree.
    • Assign roles of responsibility to each member, e.g. someone to plan and lead meetings, someone to collect all the ideas you have, someone to write down all the decisions you make, someone to make sure that you stay on track towards your goals, etc.
    • Identify all the different parts or steps involved in a task.
    • Keep your audience in mind and work towards a final product that will appeal to them.
    • Develop a work plan and set deadlines for the different stages of your project.
    • Decide how you will complete the different tasks: as an entire group, in pairs, individually and then as a group, or in some other way.

  7. Finally, working on projects as a team is an opportunity to learn from and to teach each other. Be supportive in helping each other to improve both your English and your teamwork skills.

Task Four - Scanning

Questions below refer to Task 3 Teamwork Skills Reading
  1. Which questions below ask you to scan for information (S) and which ask you to scan and read for a detailed understanding (S+RD)?
  2. Answer the questions.

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