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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Disappearing definition and vanishing cloze

These strategies are useful for noticing correct grammar and for modelling texts. They are best used with key definitions or key ideas that are essential to the unit of work being studied.

Disappearing definition

Write an important piece of text or definition on the white board. The teacher reads the definition to the students. The students chorus the text back. The teacher rubs out every seventh word and a student reads out the text including the missing word. The teacher rubs out every seventh word and a student reads out the entire text. The teacher continues rubbing out until there is no text on the board. The students then write the text into their books from memory.


  • Always use an important piece of text or definition for this activity.
  • The classroom context will determine how the teacher chooses the students who are to read. Even if the teacher chooses students systematically around the classroom, the students will all be focused with their answer ready.

Vanishing cloze

  • Construct a story of five to seven sentences on the board with the students. Base the story on a topic they are currently studying. The story must be grammatically correct and use known vocabulary correctly.
  • Students read the whole text aloud from the board, then you rub out every fifth word.
  • The students read again and say the missing words.
  • Rub out every fifth word again and have students read and supply the missing words.
  • Continue in this way until the whole text has been rubbed out and the students can recite it or until they are unable to supply any more words.

Watch the following video, where primary students use disappearing definition


Teaching and learning sequence planning examples

Primary level:

Secondary level:

Published on: 18 Dec 2017