Cloze Procedure In L2 Reading and Writing


Jill Kerper Mora


A cloze procedure (CP) is implemented through a reading passage with systematic deletions of words as they appear randomly in the text that the reader then inserts based on his/her knowledge of linguistics of the language of the text and his/her meaning-making of the content or message of the text. The cloze procedure is useful for both instructional and assessment purposes.

Advantages of the Cloze Procedure

There are several applications and advantages in using the cloze procedure for instruction and assessment. CP is both a reading and a writing task. CP can be easily designed using any reading passage or text and doesn’t require a publisher version or formal test. CP assesses overall knowledge and proficiency in a language as well as specific vocabulary knowledge and use. CP is the a simple form of writing, which is appropriate for instruction with students for beginning levels of English proficiency, particularly when the instructor uses a modified CP that focuses on content area vocabulary. CP teaches reading strategies such as the use of context clues and linguistic clues for figuring out unfamiliar or challenging words.

Cloze Procedure Design

Usually no more than every ninth to eleventh word are omitted systematically in the passage. The greater number and frequency of omissions, the more difficult the CP becomes. Beginning, transition sentences and ending sentences are left intact as a “lead in” to the passage and to give context and coherence to the reading task. Linguistic Knowledge There are two types of knowledge and comprehension that readers use to make accurate or appropriate insertions in a cloze procedure: 

Syntactic insertions are when the reader makes insertions or re-insertions of words into the text based on his/her ability to “guess” (predict, anticipate) the appropriate part of speech based on knowledge of syntax and grammar. These insertions may be “glue words” that have a grammatical function to “hang the language together.” Syntactic insertions require knowledge of parts of speech and their forms, word order and grammar of the language of the text. For example, the reader must know that “she” signals the possessive form “her” in the sentence.

Syntactic insertions often require choices that are also semantic so that the form fits both grammatically and in meaning. Semantic insertions: The reader must understand the meaning of the passage to choose words that “fit” the content, meaning and flow of the phrase or sentence. Note that these insertions are restricted and limited by “what makes sense” in the sentence, as well as the part of speech. A noun is inserted for an omitted noun a verb with a verb, etc. Knowledge of formulaic phrases, expressions and idioms is often required for accurate insertions. An insertion can be meaningful and “make sense” while also not being the exact word used by the author. Duplicating the author’s exact choice of words requires knowledge of the author’s style and common usages.

Cloze Procedure and Reading Fluency

CP assesses the readers’ knowledge of the flow of language in reading and his/her ability to predict words before decoding according to context clues. CP allows the teachers to determine syntactic variations that may cause the reader to “stumble” or slow their pace during fluent reading. CP helps identify difficult and/or unfamiliar vocabulary that readers may encounter in a passage. Difficulty may arise because of challenges in decoding or because the concept conveyed by a word is unfamiliar.