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Girl studying
Author: Isabelle Bridger-Eames, EAL specialist

What is a cloze procedure?

Cloze procedures are tasks where learners fill in the blanks in a text from which entire words have been omitted. Learners decide on the most appropriate words to fill the gaps from a bank of provided words. The word 'cloze' (close) is derived from the word 'closure', whereby participants complete a not quite finished pattern or text by inserting or choosing words to give the text closure (Walter, 1974).

Officially, the cloze procedure is 70 years old. It was formally introduced in a journalistic periodical by Wilson Taylor in 1953. By 1962, the cloze procedure was being utilised in the classroom. Cloze procedures are widely used as both a research tool and as a testing and teaching device (Sadeghi, 2008).

How can a cloze procedure benefit our EAL learners?

Cloze procedures can be used for teaching or testing. In this article, we focus on the use of cloze procedures as a tool for teaching EAL pupils reading skills.

According to Raymond, the cloze procedure can be used by EAL teachers to teach reading skills because it goes beyond the demands of normal reading. It helps readers recognise the interrelationship between words and develop an awareness of sequence, both of which could help prediction (Raymond, 1988). Upskilling EAL pupils in prediction is especially important, as it provides practice in guessing meaning from context. This is a vital reading strategy for EAL learners, because for these pupils, there will be many more new vocabulary items to contend with when reading a text than for their native-English-speaking counterparts. Thus, training in guessing meaning from context becomes even more important.

In essence, for EAL readers, all 'natural' texts resemble cloze texts, because the unknown vocabulary words represent blanks for them. For EAL pupils, the skills necessary to 'close' a text are therefore comparable to those required for reading. Teaching cloze strategies is, in effect, teaching reading strategies for EAL pupils (Raymond, 1988).

Factors to consider when planning a cloze procedure activity

When planning a cloze activity, it is important to consider the readability of the text and the reading ability of the learner. If the text is beyond the independent reading level of the learner, it will only lead to frustration. For this reason, the use of the cloze procedure to teach reading is recommended for intermediate-proficiency EAL pupils (Raymond, 1988).

Choosing a passage that interests the pupils - a passage that they would want to discuss - is of high importance. Other important factors in preparing the passage are: the position of word deletion, the frequency of deletion, and the length of the available context to assist learners with their choices. All of these are factors that can make the activity more (or less) difficult.

To determine the ease of reading a piece of text, as measured by the frequency of the words used, you can manually consult a High Frequency Word list. For those of you using the Learning Village, our Word Frequency Tool makes this simpler by automatically analysing the different word types in a text at the press of a button. You can then use our Text Builder Tool to create a cloze procedure. (The 'developer' tool in Microsoft Word will allow you to do this manually if you're not signed up to the Learning Village.)


As we have seen, cloze procedures can be important when teaching EAL pupils - in effect, teaching fundamental reading strategies to EAL learners. Cloze procedures can be used, for example, to build up the familiarity of a certain piece of text, to focus on specific words, or even as a writing frame to scaffold a pupil's attempts at writing.

Using the button at the top and bottom of this article you can download a cloze procedure with associated flashcards based on World Laughter Day, which occurs on 3rd May 2021.

Further learning - Blog

Bilingual world
Created: Wed 20th May 2020

If you have the opportunity to use a bilingual support partner to help families who have learners working from home, it may be useful to prepare a list of questions for this staff member to ask. Bilingual support is extremely useful when making contact with parents who speak little or no English.

Created: Tue 30th Dec 2014

Whilst reading a book on reclaiming childhood ('Their name is today' by Johann Christoph Arnold) the chapter on 'learning differences and how to cater for them' triggered thoughts on teaching differences. At the end of the October article it was mentioned that EAL teaching should be evaluated in a different way due to the very nature of the subject and I shall try to clarify why.

Created: Tue 12th Apr 2016

As educational pedagogies continue to move cyclically, with new strategies moving in and out of favour, the battle of reading approaches continues to rage on between the 3 main approaches: Synthetic Phonics, Analytical Phonics and Whole Language methods. They are often viewed on a continuum, with the Whole Language approach (Top Down method) being the least skills based and the Synthetic Phonics approach (Bottom Up method) being the most (see figure 1).