Using a cloze exercise activity for reading comprehension

Paul Howl, Asia University


Quick Guide

  • Key words: Vocabulary, reading text, close exercise, listening, and writing.
  • Learner English level: High beginner and above
  • Learner maturity level: Junior high school and above
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Activity time: Variable
  • Materials: Reading text handouts

Comprehension is an essential reading skill. It allows students to get a complete picture of a text from beginning to end. Teaching reading comprehension can be done in many ways. A typical way is to write questions that relate to the text and have students answer them. While this is useful and helpful, it is not very creative or unique. Students dutifully write down the information and promptly forget it the next day.

The following student-centered activity is designed to improve reading comprehension skills. By using a cloze exercise connected to the reading, students are able to collaboratively practice comprehension and vocabulary acquisition. The exercise is best done after you have provided the students with a complete vocabulary list with definitions, discussed any pre-reading ideas, and have read through the entire text together once.


Step 1: Choose a text (See Appendix for an example).

Step 2: Type the text double-spaced, using a size 14 font.

Step 3: Split the text evenly in half and type Partner A at the top of the first half and Partner B at the top of the second half.

Step 4: Randomly choose 20 interesting words from the first half of the text and make those words bold. Do the same with the second half.

Step 5: Copy and paste Partner A and Partner B’s text and create identical texts to make the cloze exercises.

Step 6: Change Partner A above the first half of the cloze exercise to Partner B. Change Partner B above the second half of the cloze exercise to Partner A.

Step 7: One by one, replace each bold word with a blank line.

Step 8: Print out an A and B text and cloze copy for each pair in your class.


Step 1: Put the students into pairs.

Step 2: Give the corresponding A text and A cloze exercise to all A students. Do the same for all B students.

Step 3: Partner A reads their portion of the text to partner B.

Step 4: Partner B writes the words they hear on the blank lines.

Step 5: Reverse the roles and repeat steps 3 and 4.

Step 6: When the partners have finished, have them exchange papers and check their work. If there is a mistake, each student crosses out the misspelled word and writes the correct word above it. Each partner writes a total number correct on the top left corner of the handout.

Step 7: Students hand in their cloze exercises.


If the students have practiced the text and vocabulary, this exercise should not be too difficult. The challenge lies in the fact that students have a tendency to make spelling mistakes or will need to ask their partner to repeat a word or a sentence many times. Emphasize that spelling errors can be learned later, and tell students to avoid repetitive asking as it devalues the learning experience. Move through the class and gently remind the students to listen and stay focused on the task. This exercise is very beneficial because the students can take charge of their learning and gain vocabulary reading and comprehension experience.

Appendix: Available below