Listening Comprehension with the Cloze Test

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Most language teachers are likely familiar with the Cloze Test – the omission of specific words in a written passage (every 5th or 9th word, for example) to assess students’ reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge. I have also found them to be extremely useful to teach listening skills.  

When creating your own Cloze Tests, the first step is to find a passage that is at the students’ language level or no more than —as Krashen would advise— i+1 (just ONE above the students’ comprehensible input). The first two sentences and last sentence in the passage should also be kept intact as they give students important background information about the text.

The following steps outline one possible way for instructors to incorporate the Close Test to help students hone their listening skills:

  1. Activate students’ prior knowledge by discussing the topic;
  2. Allow students to listen to the text without reading it;
  3. Introduce the written Cloze passage (no audio) for students to complete on their own;
  4. Double space the text so that students
    1. Write their guesses on the blank spaces;
    2. Have space above their guesses to later make corrections as needed;
  5. Group students to share their vocabulary choices;
  6. Play the recording a second time and ask students to compare their guesses with the audio;
    1. Students should do this on their own first
    2. Then, they should compare and share their answers in their groups;
  7. Play the audio again (twice if necessary) for students to do a final check;
  8. Share the list of correct words with students;
  9. Ask students to discuss their vocabulary choices, including
    1. Parts of speech
    2. Thought groups
    3. Spelling
    4. Pronunciation
    5. Errors and omissions
  10. Give students time to reflect and share with the whole class.

I have found that using the Cloze Test to enhance students’ listening skills gives them more opportunities to make connections between what they hear and what the written word. It also opens opportunities for sharing, practicing pronunciation, and learning from each other.

Can you think of other ways that the Cloze test could be used in the language classroom?

Hi, my name is Cecilia. I love taking part in good brain awakening discussions. Blogging, I find, lends itself for that. I also believe in sharing my skills through scholarly practice, which is why I write regularly and have presented at several conferences, including TESL Ontario, TESL Toronto, CALL, and at Seneca College. My M.A. in applied linguistics along with my skills and experience have led me to my current position at Centennial College, where I teach English and ESL in the School of Advancement. I'm truly passionate about what I do: teaching, writing, creative expression, and helping my students (both L1 and L2) gain agency and take control of their own learning. Thank you for your readership and I look forward to reading and answering your comments.

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