Activity 1: Targeted Cloze

This activity is a variation on the classic cloze exercise. To create a classic cloze exercise, you delete every 7th to 10th word in a text, and students fill in the missing words. For the targeted cloze exercise, you do not delete words randomly; instead, you focus on words or forms you’d like to review. The targeted cloze helps students see the connection between what they’ve learned in class and real-life English.

Create a Targeted Cloze Exercise in 3 Easy Steps:

 Step 1: Copy the song lyrics from the Internet, and delete words that are related in some way. For example, delete past-tense forms, prepositions, wh-words, articles, or rhyming words. The rule of thumb is that you should not delete more than 10% of the lyrics.

Step 2: Put the deleted words in a word bank on the page. It’s usually best to label each word with a letter so that students can use just that letter for their answer as they listen. That way you can avoid pausing the recording, as students need more time to write the whole word.

Step 3: Play the song for your class and have students write in the letters of the missing words as they listen.

Tip: Search “create cloze” for online sites that help you create a cloze exercise.

Unit 3 of More True Stories Behind the Songs features the Bill Withers song “Someone To Lean On.” Friendship is the theme of the unit, so the song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from the movie Toy Story is a good choice as a supplemental song. The popularity of this movie makes it likely that the song is familiar to many students, and the song has rhyming words that make it suited for a targeted cloze exercise.

 Example 1: Cloze Exercise targeting rhyming words in “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”

You’ve got a friend in me.
You’ve got a friend in me.
When the road looks rough ___,
And you’re miles and miles
From your nice warm ___,
You just remember what your old pal ___.
Boy, you’ve got a friend in me.
Yeah, you’ve got a friend in me…

a. said

b. ahead

c. bed

After students complete the cloze activity, practice the pronunciation of the rhyming words, pointing out the vowels and vowel combinations that can make the same sound in English.

For fun, you could conclude the activity by having students watch the opening credits to the movie Toy Story on YouTube.

A cloze exercise targeting rhyming words also works well as a pre-listening activity. Give students the lyrics to the song, retaining the first rhyming word (in boldface) but replacing the words that rhyme with it with lines for writing. (Note that the missing words are not in a word bank.) Before listening to the song, students try to predict what the rhyming words are. Then they listen to the song to see if their predictions were correct.

Thanks to: Gabriel D’az Maggioli, who posted this activity in the Ideas Cookbook at eslcafe.com.

 Example 2: Pre-Listening Cloze Exercise targeting rhyming words in “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”

You’ve got a friend in me.
You’ve got a friend in me.
When the road looks rough ahead,
And you’re miles and miles from your nice warm __________,
You just remember what your old pal _________.
Boy, you’ve got a friend in me.
Yeah, you’ve got a friend in me…

Unit 1 of More True Stories Behind the Songs tells the story behind “You’re Beautiful,” the autobiographical James Blunt song about seeing an old love on the London subway. Adele’s “Someone Like You,” another autobiographical song about finding a lost love, is thematically a perfect follow-up, and the song’s many irregular past-tense forms make it ideal for a targeted cloze exercise. After you delete the irregular past-tense forms, replace them with the infinitive form of the verbs, followed by a blank line.

Example 3: Cloze Exercise targeting irregular past-tense forms in “Someone Like You”

 I (hear) _______________ that you’re settled down
That you (find) _______________ a girl and you’re married now.
I heard that your dreams (come) _______________ true.
Guess she (give) _______________ you things I (don’t) _______________ give to you.

Before students listen to the song, have them fill in the blanks with the past-tense forms of the verbs in parentheses. (Note that in this case the missing words are not in a word bank.) When students are finished writing their answers, you can write the correct forms on the board so students can check their spelling. You can also review the pronunciation of the past-tense forms. Then students listen to the song. A nice culminating activity would be watching the official video, shot in black and white along the banks of the Seine.

Other songs for a targeted cloze exercise:

  • “And We Sang La Da” (Cynthia Chitko, 1996) This song uses 16 verbs in the simple past tense—6 regular and 10 irregular—to tell a story. (The irregular past-tense verbs are: were, couldn’t, caught, drove, fell, heard, said, saw, sang, and stood.) Below is a chart of the verb forms and a lyrics cloze exercise targeting the verbs. You can listen to the song at Reverbnation (click on “all songs”) and purchase it from iTunes.

And We Sang La Da, cloze.docx          And We Sang La Da, cloze.pdf

  • “Baby, I’m Yours” (Arctic Monkeys, 2006) This song has many adverb clauses beginning with the word until. The clauses are targeted in the exercise below. (Note: The lines until the end of time and until eternity are prepositional phrases, so those phrases are not targeted.)

Baby I’m Yours, cloze.docx          Baby I’m Yours, cloze.pdf

  • “Because You Loved Me” (Celine Dion, Singer; Diane Warren, Songwriter, 1996) If you’re looking for a song with lots of verbs in the simple past, it doesn’t get much better than this one. It has 19 past-tense verbs, 5 regular and 14 irregular. (The irregular verbs are: was, were, brought, could, found, gave, had, held, let, lost, made, said, saw, and stood.) Below is a chart of the verb forms and a lyrics cloze exercise targeting the verbs. The verbs are repeated throughout the song, so students will write the past-tense forms a total of 66 times.

because-you-loved-me-cloze.docx          because-you-loved-me-cloze.pdf

  • “Can’t Buy Me Love” (The Beatles) This song uses the simple future tense (will + a verb in the simple form) to make promises (I’ll buy you a diamond ringI’ll give you all I’ve got to give, etc.). The lyrics cloze exercise below focuses on this construction.

can’t buy me love, cloze.docx          can’t buy me love, cloze.pdf

  • “From a Distance” (Bette Midler) Target the verbs in the simple present.
  • “In My Life” (The Beatles) Target these four verb tenses: simple present, simple past, present perfect, and future.
  • “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” (Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, or Simon and Garfunkel) Target the regular verbs in the past tense.
  • “Lost Boy” (Ruth B., 2016) Target the 14 past-tense verbs, 5 regular and 5 irregular, in the lyrics cloze exercise below.

Lost Boy, cloze.docx          Lost Boy, cloze.pdf

  • “Make You Feel My Love” (Bob Dylan) The cloze exercise below targets the rhyming words.

make-you-feel-my-love-cloze.docx          make-you-feel-my-love-cloze.pdf

  • “My Guy” (Mary Wells) Target the rhyming words.
  • “This Town” (Niall Horan, 2016) The cloze exercise below targets the six past-tense verbs in the song, 1 regular and 5 irregular.

this-town-cloze.docx          this-town-cloze.pdf

  • “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (James Taylor) Target the verbs. For a ready-to-go teacher-created cloze exercise on this song’s lyrics, go to Chapter 2 at AzarGrammar.com.
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