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How to use Moodle’s Embedded answers (Cloze) quizzes in Second Language Teaching

Embedded answers (Cloze) questions in Moodle are great tools, but you need to know how to set them up. You will have to add short passages of text in Moodle format to make them work, but once you have figured out what to do there is no reason not to use them.

What’s so great about Embedded answers (Cloze) questions in language teaching?

The reason why I prefer Cloze questions over many other question types is that the choice can be embedded into the sentence. This means the question does not break up the flow of the sentence, but is an organic part of it. Making a correct decision about a grammatical form or choosing the best lexical option is always dependent on the context.

An example:

Have you seen that girl over there? [Her/His] mother is a really successful business woman.

Without the word ‘girl’ in the first sentence, you would not be able to determine whether ‘his’ or ‘her’ is the correct option in the second sentence. When speaking or writing naturally, you are in the middle of a logical flow and have a meaningful context to base your decision upon. In my opinion, exercises should try to simulate this situation as most as possible.

Now imagine the exercise is set up differently:

Have you seen that girl over there? _____ mother is a really successful business woman.

Select the correct answer: (a) His, (b) Her

The correct answers are no longer embedded in the sentence and are to be found elsewhere in the exercise. While maybe not really difficult to solve, there are more elegant ways to set up this kind of questions. This is why I prefer drop-down Cloze solutions in-line in the text.

How do I set up a Cloze question?

Let’s take the above sentence, which is a very simple example. Here I would prefer a solution with the two alternatives (his/her) embedded into the sentence as a drop-down menu.

So I need to add the following text:

Have you seen that girl over there? {1:MC:=Her#OK~His#Wrong} mother is a really successful business woman.

The brackets contain the answer options – the actual Cloze subquestion. The number defines a grade/point. MC: defines the type and the design of the question (in this case, Multiple Choice). separates answer options; = designates the correct answers and # marks the feedback. (You can see other examples and explanations here.)

The result is a drop-down menu in-line in the text, where the student can choose between ‘His’ and ‘Her’.

This is what the quiz question looks like when answered and checked by the student:


When is the use of Embedded answers (Cloze) questions recommended in Second Language Teaching?

I recommend drop-down Cloze questions for exercises where the student’s decision is context related.

This will very often be the case in grammar or vocabulary exercises where the student has to draw upon the rest of the information given in the sentence. In these cases, drop-down options are the least distracting setup and make it possible to try out different solutions while viewing the sentence as a whole.

Ruth Horak

Ruth Horak

Based in Denmark since 1998, Ruth is an Innovation & Educational Technology Consultant and has been a teacher of Danish as a 2nd Language at Københavns Sprogcenter (although she is a native German speaker, and also proficient in English and Norwegian). Her specialties and areas of interest include alternative pathways of learning, method development, adult education, ICT, Moodle (of course!), gamification, teaching, design & development of teaching material, project development & management.

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