Using Cloze Activities in the ESL and ELL Classroom

Using Cloze Activities in the ESL and ELL Classroom

Stacy Zeiger
by Stacy Zeiger 45,458 views

Whether you're testing reading comprehension, helping students learn new vocabulary words, or improving listening skills, cloze activities may help. These fill-in-the-blank passages work for students at multiple levels. The reading level of the passage and the difficulty of the vocabulary words you choose help determine the difficulty of the activity.


What are Cloze Activities?

Cloze actvities are activities where students fill in the blanks in a short reading passage. To test their comprehension and understanding of a text, students must fill in the missing words. Cloze activities can be created using virtually any text, including poems, songs, and non-fiction pieces. Some cloze activities only have a few blanks, while more difficult cloze activities may have many blanks. In fact, a teacher can create multiple cloze activities from the same text. For example, a teacher may remove 5-6 words from the text on one worksheet, and then give students the same text with 10-12 words removed.


Why Use Cloze Activities?

The object of cloze reading passages is to have students predict the words that go into the blanks. Cloze activities work best when key words are removed from the passage. For example, a science teacher may remove all of the vocabulary words related to a particular unit from the passage and have students fill them in. Reading teachers may remove articles from the passage and have students determine which article should go in each blank. When created with specific learning goals in mind, cloze activities can help reinforce key knowledge for students.


How to Create Close Activities

To create a cloze activity, first you must start with a passage. The passage should only be 1-2 paragraphs in length. You may choose a piece of fiction or nonfiction, a song, or a poem. The piece that you choose should fit the reading level of your students. A passage that is too low will be too easy for students to complete while a passage that is too high will be too difficult.


Once you have selected the passage, you must decide which words to remove from the passage. If your students are new to cloze passages or are working at a lower level, start by only removing a few words. You can do this by typing out the passage and leaving a blank ________________ in place of the word or by whiting out the words, and then copying the passage using a copier. Make sure the space where a missing word was remains so that students know to fill it in.


A few types of words to consider removing in cloze activities:

  • sight words
  • words to complete idioms or cliches
  • subject-specific vocabulary words
  • words that represent a particular part of speech
  • words that play a key role in a song or story

Specific Cloze Activities

A few ways to incorporate cloze activities in the ESL or ELL classroom include:


Dictation Passages

Give students a cloze passage, and then read the passage aloud. As students hear the missing words, they can write them in the blanks.


Completing Songs

Similar to a dictation activity, give students the lyrics to a popular song with key words missing. Have students fill in the key words as they listen to the song.


Textbook Passages

Make reading the textbook more interesting by copying a couple paragraphs from the textbook, and then removing key words. Students can fill in the key words as they read through the passage.


Memorizing a Passage

If you want students to memorize a passage, such as Bible verse or quote, you can give them a copy of it with key words removed. Start with removing a couple words and have students fill them in. Then remove more words and have students fill them in. Finally, have students write the passage or quote from memory.


Learning Parts of Speech

To help students learn a particular part of speech, take a passage and remove all instances of that part of speech. Then challenge students to fill in the passage with the misisng words. This works especially well for pronouns, conjunctions, and verbs.


Silly Passages

Of course, you can also turn a cloze activity into a silly activity by having students fill in the blanks with random words, and then share their silly rewrites with one another. This is also a way to improve speaking skills.


Using _____________ activities with students can be a great way to ________________ reading comprehension and draw students' __________________ to key vocabulary words. Search BusyTeacher for tons of cloze ________________ you can use with your students today.

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