Scanning the chapter: the CLIL way

March 4, 2019


I already mentioned this specific activity called 'scanning the chapter' in my post on the use of word lists, but I wanted to have another look at this activity specifically in another way.

Everyone learns in a different way, right? Some people need general information, others need examples. In this post I will explain 'scan the chapter' in three different ways, so you can be sure you learn something here!

Estimated time to read this article: 6 minutes

Why scan the chapter?

Every teacher starts a new chapter, paragraph or section at some point in a series of lessons.

There are many great ways to do this, but one of my favorites is "Scan the chapter".

Mostly because it is a great example of a CLIL activity:

  • Students are engaged on an individual level and are held accountable for their answers
  • Students are exposed to language and produce language output

But that is not all.

It is also one of those activities that can be done without any preparation at all.

I like!

But seriously, using this activity you can make sure you start a new (part of the) chapter in a way language is involved, and students will definitely learn something.

Not just about difficult words, but they also see what is going to happen this chapter. 

It sets the expectations and allows students to know what is going to happen over the course of the next few lessons.

You can make this activity more 'advanced' in a few different ways, but more on that later.

Key Take Away

Scanning the chapter helps students identify new, difficult words and sets the expectations for this chapter.

Three different ways of approaching this activity

Before I explain the activity in more detail, let me clarify the three different ways of learning I identified when explaining something new.

Not just to teachers, but also students.

Just like the 5 levels of a CLIL teacher, this is something from personal experience.

So feel free to comment below if you have other ideas about this!

The three types of learners I defined are:

  1. 1
    Inspiration - learners
  2. 2
    Example - learners
  3. 3
    Ready to use activity - learners

Allow me to explain:

1. Teachers who just need inspiration

Some teachers are really creative.

All they need is an idea, of even just a thought, and their brains just turn on and start generating all kinds of associations.

And maybe more importantly:

Practical applications.

This type of teacher can read the general description of an activity and apply it to his or her own lesson without too much trouble.

This type of teacher prefers to work things out themselves to make sure it fits their lesson or situation best.

For this specific example, a 'type 1' explanation for scanning the chapter will look like this:

Students scan the chapter for difficult words and write these down.

Whenever the new words are discussed during lesson, they have to complete the word lists.

2. Teachers who need examples

Other teachers are okay with general descriptions, but also like to see how it works exactly.

In other words: these teachers need examples of the activity in order to be able to copy it.

This might be an application for their own subject, but that is not really necessary.

With 2 or 3 examples these teachers understand the activity well enough to be able to apply it to their own lesson.

Again: in this case that would mean:

At the beginning of the new chapter, you ask your students to scan the chapter for new words.

Their write down the words in a word list. Afterwards you discuss these words.

Make sure to keep an eye on new subject related words like "Industrial revolution", "precipitation", "emulsion" or "hypotenuse"

Notice some specific words are already mentioned and the instructions are bit more step-by-step. 

Yet, teachers will still have to think about how to apply this to their own lesson.

Which brings us to the next type of teacher

3. Teachers who need ready to use activities

Sometimes you don't want to be creative.

You just want to use materials provided, now.

This can be ready-to-use worksheets, activities that require no preparation or lesson ideas that are worked out for you.

This type of activity is always subject specific, because it focuses on the lesson and the topic.

With "scanning the chapter" it is a little harder to clarify this example, because it is primarily a language exercise.

The words you encounter will be different no matter what piece of text you use.

However, when it comes to follow-up activities for "scanning the chapter" ..

..or more 'advanced' ways of applying it.

I can definitely show you what this type of teacher is all about.

Key Take Away

There are three different ways to introduce a new activity

1. General instructions to inspire

2. Examples to help out

3. Ready to use activities to apply

3 activities that can be used in combination with "Scanning the chapter"

This activity can be combined with other activities to allow for more subject specific related activities, interesting follow ups or just more language involvement.

Here are a few ideas:

What words did you learn?

A simple variation on "What did we do this lesson?"

You ask your students to check their word lists and see if they have any words that have been discussed in a lesson or lesson series and ask them to complete it.

I do this frequently at the end of a chapter, just to see if they have completed their word lists.

One might even use a crossword with these words to see if students understand it.

Scrambled Word

Instead of asking students to find words on their own, you can apply a little bit of scaffolding by providing a list of words they have to find on their own.

By doing this, you make sure students all focus on the same words.

In my lesson, one list of scrambled words looked like this.

Think you can find them?

  1. agprh
  2. aielnr
  3. latbe
  4. mralfou
  5. aanbelc
  6. uioetanq
  7. ovsle
  8. ueltaclca
  9. natergee
  10. rllapale
  11. focanrit
  12. ebkrcta

Answers can be found here.

Finish the sentence (subject specific!)

I mentioned scanning the chapter is primarily a language activity, but it can be used for subject specific purposes as well.

For example: you can ask students to finish sentences like this:

"The most important formulas in this chapter are ..."

"Something I already know about this topic is ..."

"What I think this chapter is about is ..."

These answers allow for short discussions on the topic itself and triggers some thoughts about both prior knowledge and expectations.

In my experience, they are a great help for helping students focus.


In this post I mentioned the three different ways teachers might like instructions themselves. 

  1. 1
    Inspiration - learners
  2. 2
    Example - learners
  3. 3
    Ready to use activity - learners

I applied this different 'learning strategies' in this post by giving general instructions, examples and ready to use activities.

However, this does not mean you are always a certain type of learner.

For me personally, it depends for a great deal on the topic discussed which strategy works best for me.

In general, I am an 'example' learner. But I really don't mind some ready to use activities every now and then!

Let me know in the comments below what type of learner you are.

And if you'd like me to help you develop ready to use activities for your lesson, let me know below in the comments as well!

Ow, before I forget:

Answers to the scrambled word

  1. Graph
  2. Linear
  3. Table
  4. Formula
  5. Balance
  6. Equation
  7. Solve
  8. Calculate
  9. Generate
  10. Parallel
  11. Fraction
  12. Bracket
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}