According to Gestalt theory, when faced with an incomplete picture people try to fill in the missing parts to create a whole image. For example, if you look at this picture, what do you see?
Now, step back a bit and look a the whole picture. Can you see something in the center of the picture now?
You can probably see the shape of a dog better now. In fact, when faced with a CLOZE test, our students may focus on just the gaps, or the gaps and the word before and after. Without seeing the text as a whole, it becomes very difficult for the students to 'see the big picture' and therefore impossible to fill in the gaps with appropriate words. Basically, they can't see the forest for the trees.
In order to help our students develop this ability to see the big picture and develop more critical abilities in determining the likely words that go in an open CLOZE test, we can give them more practice. Read on for some ways that were suggested in the workshop this week.
First, find a text which will interest them or is more fun.
The standard texts may be dry and boring to many students. Motivating them to read and understand the text will encourage them to get the gist of the text before they attempt to fill in the gaps.
Current affairs can be a good source of interesting texts. There are some sites that provide simplified news stores:
Here are some sources, which provide simplified versions:
- BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/wordsinthenews/
- CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/studentnews/
- VOA: http://learningenglish.voanews.com/
- Times in Plain English: http://www.thetimesinplainenglish.com/wp/
- News in Levels: http://www.newsinlevels.com/
profilers, such as the ones in Lextutor: see http://lextutor.ca/vp/bnl for a profiler that is especially aimed at the most frequently used words in English.
Second, choose the type of CLOZE to make
As we saw in the workshop, there are three main types of CLOZE - the 'fixed ratio' CLOZE - every seventh word is gapped; the 'rational' CLOZE - words to be gapped are chosen not picked at random; the C-test - the last half of every second word is gapped.
In our context at METU, we discovered that the 'rational' CLOZE method is used. When we analyzed several CLOZE tests from previous proficiency tests, we found that words to be gapped are generally functional - articles, prepositions, common phrases, forming verbs, linkers, relative pronouns etc. Out of ten gaps in any text, perhaps one or two words are 'content' words.
Using WORD to make the METU-style 'rational' CLOZE test
Here are five simple steps you can follow to make a CLOZE test very quickly in WORD.
- Leave the first sentence or part of it complete to set the context.
- Bold the words you could gap, based primarily on the functional words we identified above.
- In the end, you should aim to have about 10 words in bold in a text of 250 words or so.
- Remember that the gaps should not be too close together.
- To make the gaps roughly of equal length, add 'non-breaking' spaces at the end of each word in bold. Place your cursor at the end of short words and press CTRL+SHIFT+SPACE to add these.
- Once you have the ten words in bold with the extra spaces for short words, RIGHT-CLICK on one of these words.
- In the pop-up box, choose STYLES > SELECT STYLES WITH SIMILAR FORMATTING
- Then go to the FONT options, set the text colour to WHITE, turn on UNDERLINE and make the underline colour BLACK.
- The words in bold will all 'disappear' and there will be blanks in their place. However, the actual words are still there, and in class you can highlight and change the colour to reveal as a simple way to give feedback.
Online CLOZE test generators
There are many sites will make a CLOZE for you. You can choose certain types of words and there are options to PRINT or use these as INTERACTIVE WEB PAGES.
- Very simple and easy to use. http://l.georges.online.fr/tools/cloze.html - Thanks to Lucy Georges!
- A bit more complex but some of the options (such as automatic multiple choice optiions) may be interesting for variety. http://www.lextutor.ca/cloze/n_word/ Thanks to Tom Cobb!
- Even more complex, but in this version Tom Cobb allows you to choose CONTENT words to gap based on frequency.http://www.lextutor.ca/cloze/vp/ Note that METU tends to use the AWL (Academic Word List) as the basis for its content word selection.
Student centered CLOZE tests
Students could make their own clozes for each other. They could make online ones and put these on the class EDMODO page or FaceBook group. This analysis and awareness might help them to be more successful.
If you want to experiment with c-Tests, there are some simple online tools that can be used.
- Again, thanks to Lucy Georges, you can create paper-based or interactive web page c-Tests by simply copying and pasting your text, and then clicking a button. http://l.georges.online.fr/tools/ctest.htm
- Tom Cobb also offers a c-Test option in his CLOZE builder at http://www.lextutor.ca/cloze/n_word/ In fact, you can create a 'rational' c-Test by choosing the words to gap, and then turning on the c-Test option.
If you try any of these techniques, please share your experiences by adding a comment to this post. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, you can leave a comments as well.