How to skim English articles to get a big picture of them quickly

G’day mate. How are you doing? Today, I am going to talk about how to skim English articles to get a big picture of them quickly. Some people might think, oh…that’s a piece of piss mate. Just read them quickly, right? No no absolutely not correct. Even if you read them quickly, what you probably get appears to be too much details, but no theme to get a big picture. You don’t need to read all of them at this stage. Let’s expatiate upon what I reckon English learners are advised to follow.

First up, just flick through the heading of the article you want to read in order to grasp the gist or theme of the article

First and foremost, you need to quickly read the heading of the article you’re about to read. You don’t need to read any body paragraphs at this stage, otherwise you’re going to be having a full of details without understanding a big picture of what the article is about, which often impedes your overall understanding. And it might somehow take a toll on your English learning.

So, please make sure that you just focus on the heading first, and as you probably know, the heading usually omits articles, Be verbs, some punctuations and always consistently present tense. For instance, please have a look at this article:

As it can be seen, there is no article, no punctuation and always present tense, right? This is a typical heading style. Keeping in mind that you don’t misunderstand whether the article is a present or past event, depending upon the contents themselves.

Next up, read any subheading of the article you’re reading in order to grapple with the author’s overall ideas and key arguments

After having read the heading of the article, what you should focus on is any subheading. You’ve already garnered a big picture of what the article is about, and then now you’re trying to catch the main point of the author’s thinking and argument in order to understand the article in more details. Please have a look at the below article, for instance:

As it can be seen, there are more information about what the article is about, right? Even if you’ve read and fully understood the heading, you probably reckon not enough information to be able to catch the details of this article. However, you still don’t need to read any body paragraphs. So, as you can see, the subheading contains main punctuations, Be verbs, the theme’s tense as well as key arguments of what the author wanted to say. Like in this article, the author apparently wanted to say is there’s no clear solution that fits everyone, right? If you understand this, then you’ve already caught the principal point.

Finally, read quickly through other subheadings and extra information such as bold words to gather more details of what the article is about

After having read the heading and subheading, if there are still some subheadings or other extra information, please read them quickly through to get more details, such as key facts, graphs or statistics. Here is an example:

At this stage, I reckon you’ve already understood approximately 75% of the entire article without having a look at body paragraphs. Usually, good English articles written in a professional writing way tend to be easy to follow and understand. From this point of view, reading a classical novel is not recommendable for the beginners of the English language. Newspapers and semi-academic journals are so much better. This is simply because that classical novels normally comprise a great number of archaic expressions and ideas, so that’s super high level of English. If you don’t have any difficulty in reading and comprehending newspapers’ articles and academic journals, then please go ahead! You can enter a more sophisticated English world.

That’s all for today! Thanks for reading.

Have a good one mate!

Published by Masato Kawaguchi

I am an English entrepreneur here in Australia. I've been teaching the PTE exam for the last 2 years or so, now mainly general English online.

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