DIY Gapfill

Levels: elementary to advanced.
Ages: kids; teens; adults.
Type: gapfill.
Skills: primarily reading, though also speaking and listening.
Language focus: revising vocabulary; grammar – textual cohesion.

Note: this idea comes from Humanising Your Coursebook, by Mario Rinvolucri. It is used here with permission.

Preparation: spare black ballpoint pens and photocopies of a reading passage from your students’ coursebook. I find it useful to enlarge the copies to about 110%.


  1. After students have practised reading for (gist and) detail, put them in pairs and give out copies of the reading text they have just looked at, and be prepared to give out any black ballpoint pens as needed.
  2. Ask each pair to delete ten words from different places in the text – if necessary, explain that they will give their texts to another pair to try and put the words back in. Make sure students know they should choose which words to delete and that they must keep a record of the words they’ve deleted on another piece of paper, which they will keep.
  3. Show the students that it’s OK to make holes in the paper, as long as their deleted words can’t be read at all, even under direct light.
  4. When each pair have finished deleting their words, ask them to pass their paper to the pair next to them.
  5. Set a time limit, or ask the first pair to finish to shout “stop!” when they have done so, and ask each pair to try and put the words back in.
  6. After the time limit has been reached, or the first pair have shouted “stop!”, pairs split up, or make groups of four: one student comes to mark a student from another pair’s work and reveal the correct words.
  7. Get general feedback from the class: did they enjoy it? What were the hardest words to put back? Who got the most correct? etc.