Suggestions for Using Cloze Texts

• Like other types of “reading puzzle” — jumbled texts or “switched-word” texts, for example — cloze texts are a useful supplement for standard reading practice; and because they are relatively easy to construct, they are perhaps more practical than other techniques. Certainly, because they focus attention on the meaning of individual words, both in and out of context, cloze tests are an excellent method for developing and reinforcing vocabulary. Moreover, because the basic fill-in-the-blanks idea is so straightforward and so familiar, cloze texts require a minimun of explanation by teachers and demand a minimum of sophistication from students. They are useful, therefore, both in a teacher-centered classroom and in student-centered contexts as well.

teacher-directed use:
Cloze texts can be assigned as individual work to be done in class or as homework. Students can be given a key for self correction, or the exercise can be corrected by the teacher.

It is probably be more useful, however, to use the texts as group work; there should be three or four students in each group. If possible, the exercise should be done without dictionaries. This will encourage discussion and thought. If dictionaries are used, then only one should be given to each group. If all the students have a dictionary, then there is a danger that conversation will soon come to an end.

The time spent on the exercise should probably be limited to twenty minutes — or half an hour at the most. Then a copy of the key can be given to each group. In order to ensure that speaking and listening practice continues, it is best if one student reads from the key while others listen. This method avoids the danger of conversation stopping while everyone struggles to see the key.

The group approach can be extended by limiting the original discussion to a short period, say ten minutes, and then having a ‘messenger’ from each group go to another group. The messengers will look at the answers of the group they’re visiting, make criticisms, and give suggestions. This step can be repeated until one of the groups is sure it has put the right word in all the blanks, but if that approach is used, it’s a good idea to time each step carefully and limit the whole activity to thirty-five or forty minutes.

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