This one is a cinch. You take a computer, a student or two and a cloze test and what do you get? A spelling activity of course. But not just any old spelling activity, it’s one of those stimulating ones that blends the spelling process into language learning. I’m already all in favour of it.

How it works

One of the limitations of the computer is that it only accepts correct spelling. Just today I googled “interent” and I somehow don’t suppose that I was the first person ever to do that. Clever old marketeer that dreamt up that name. It may be  a limitation in everyday life but in the EFL classroom it can also be a strength – why not use the computer as a spelling test machine? Give the students an exercise online and make them type out the answers: only correct spelling will be accepted.

Making it really work

This is an appropriately dull idea for the Really Boring Blog. Is it possible to sex it up at all so that students might quite enjoy the torture? Just perhaps. Here’s one possible solution:

  1. offer the students a series of texts to choose from to read online (this is why God created the BBC to create Words in the News)
  2. let them talk to each other about what they have read
  3. they can look up words they don’t know (Macmillan do a nice line in online dictionaries)
  4. copy paste and go to this online cloze maker
  5. sit back and watch the fun

Why it works

In fact, what happens in practice is that the students get confused about why their word doesn’t fit. What do they do? Go back and look at the text again. That’s brilliant. They’re reading – closely and in a way that rarely happens with a book in class. Better than that for the spelling they are looking at words – magical, as that’s they way you learn to spell.


Curiously, the spellchecker doesn’t really work that well as a spelling activity. There are various limitations but the most serious is that you need to be able to spell the first 3/4 letters of the word right in the first place . Read Johanna Sterling on this. (Did I just misspell her name?)

3 Comments so far

  1.    Johanna Stirling on January 13, 2010 9:50 am      

    Ha ha, yes, Dominique, you did misspell my name! Thanks for linking to my spell checker post though.

    I like that cloze maker – really simple but effective. Thanks for that.

    And, having seen yours, I may have to go get myself a Voki.

  2.    Emma on June 23, 2011 9:01 am      

    I remember doing something similar back in high school. We didn’t have computers then so the teacher made cut-outs of the words and we would then paste them into the board.

    Good times!

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