What do we do when we listen and read?

In the previous step we talked about how reading and listening to different things affects the way we read or listen. These different ways of reading and listening require different reading and listening skills. In the world of English language teaching, there are specific terms for each of these different skills. Look at the descriptions below – do they match the ideas that you had? After you’ve read about the different skills, look at the Quizlet activity to see how much you remember.

Reading and listening skills

General understanding

You can read or listen for general understanding. This is what you do when you read through an article quickly to see what it’s about. For reading, this is called skimming. It’s also sometimes called reading or listening for gist.
Specific information

Sometimes you might read or listen to find specific information. For example, maybe you are looking through an article about teaching abroad. You have a particular country you know you would like to work in, and you want to find out exactly where to find a job and how to apply. In this case you’ll read only the information in the text about that country. You wouldn’t read everything as you would if you were reading or listening for general understanding. This is reading for specific information.
Scanning

This is a bit like looking for specific information but is used only for reading, and is about finding particular bits of a text. For example, looking at a website for jobs, you might look through for a particular word or phrase. This could be a specific word, for example a qualification, or a specific number, such as the pay or the number of posts.

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