ClozeFox: Gap Exercise Generator with Scalable Intelligence for Mozilla Firefox

01 Dec

ClozeFox: Gap Exercise Generator with Scalable Intelligence for Mozilla Firefox


We propose a Firefox extension for language learning purposes which will generate fill-in and multiple choice exercises (cloze tests) from authentic pages on the Web. Any language learner worldwide will be able to turn any authentic text into an interactive exercise on the fly by clicking the ClozeFox Extension Button. Language teachers will be able to simply direct their students to a web page and students will have the authentic web page rendered as a fill in exercise thanks to this Firefox extension.


ClozeFox first checks the page on the amount of usable and useful text, text structure and language ID based on page info or on trigrammes. It then makes a frequency list of the words in the text.

The ClozeFox generator hides words on the basis of a routine with scalable intelligence: as a simple random routine would not be interesting from a linguistic-didactic point of view, ClozeFox will select gaps according to frequency level, word category, and later on semantic field, contrastive-linguistic aspect in order to turn the exercise into a rich learning experience.

ClozeFox generates fill-in exercises (for complete words or word-parts on morphological level such as word endings) and multiple-choice exercises (with other words in the text as generated distractors).

The ClozeFox options menu (with ‘remembered’ options) will include:

  • Number of gaps
  • Min/max length of gap
  • Per word category: nouns, prepositions, verbs ?
  • Exercise type: written (with option whole word / partial word)
    and multiple choice (with option number of distractors)
  • Time limitation
  • Send exercise to … (completed to show to parents/teachers what
    you have done as a learner; or ’empty’ to send it as a teacher to your
    student or as a students to your co-students)

ClozeFox as an application is highly scalable on the following levels:

  • The complexity of the routine for selecting gaps.
  • The intuitive intelligence of the system to adapt to the user
    based on learner behavior, performance and errors.
  • The possibility to add a refined morphological analyzer and parser later on.
  • The possibility to ask for pronunciation (through sound
    synthesis) or translation of the word to fill in or any word in
  • Turn ClozeFox into a real collaborative Web 2.0 social exercise generator:
    • Students will become able to exchange self-made exercises,
      store them in social collaborative repositories, teachers can
      ask them to do so and monitor progress.
    • Language teachers worldwide are expected to encourage to
      use Mozilla Firefox in order to enrich their own learning
      environment with a powerful tool for autonomous and/or
      collaborative learning.

ClozeFox can be seen as a first product in a series of tools for enhancing the (language) learning experience.


Below are the sample screens to give an idea about our Firefox extension. Please click on the images to view them in their original sizes.

– A mockup of basic plug-in settings. Each of them will have reasonable defaults so that users don’t have to think about setting them by themselves at the beggining.



– Our extension in action, creating a fill in exercice on an authentic actual text. This one uses pull-down style.

fill in, pull-down style

fill in, pull-down style

– Our extension in action, same text. A close-up showing the pull-down with a few distractors. Of course, in the final product distractors will be based upon the word categories.

fill in, pull-down style with distractors

fill in, pull-down style with distractors

– Our extension in action again, creating a fill in exercice on an actual New York Times article. This time, underlined fill in exercise style.

fill in, underline style

fill in, underline style

– Our extension in action again, creating a fill in exercice on the same New York Times article. This time, using pull-down style.

fill in, pull-down style

fill in, pull-down style

About the team

Prof. Dr. Jozef Colpaert is professor of Instructional Design and vice-chairman of the Institute for Education and Information Sciences (IOIW) at the University of Antwerp (Belgium). He is also director Research and Development at the Language Institute LINGUAPOLIS of the University of Antwerp, and editor-in-chief of Computer Assisted Language Learning, an International Journal (Taylor and Francis). For the last three years, he has been an active member of the executive committee of CALICO, the US organization for Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). He has been designing and developing CALL programs for the last 23 years and organizes the biennial International Antwerp CALL conferences (XIIIth edition). He is currently working on Distributed Language Learning, a methodological and conceptual framework for designing effective language learning environments and for determining the role of technology.

Emre Sevinc is an experienced software developer who designed and coded various web platforms for the last 10 years. Prior to joining the University of Antwerp in Belgium, he was involved with the design and development of the first online MBA e-learning system in Turkey. His current research areas are primarily computer aided language learning (CALL), natural language processing, and data mining. Previously he published scientific articles about e-learning, natural language processing, multi-agent systems, cognitive science and automatic recommendation systems. Besides his professional roles, he is also an open source developer who likes to create projects for machine learning, web programming and user task automation.

Linguapolis is the Language Institute of the University of Antwerp (Belgium). The institute (almost 100 teachers and researchers) organizes language courses and carries out R&D projects related to language learning, teaching and testing.


Posted by on December 1, 2009 in General, jetpack4l


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3 responses to “ClozeFox: Gap Exercise Generator with Scalable Intelligence for Mozilla Firefox

  1. Michael Butler

    December 2, 2009 at 06:31

    This is absolutely brilliant. Will the distractors be generated automatically? I assume so but you didn’t mention this above. The key, in part, to making this work on a continuing basis is the ability to find “good” distractors that didn’t follow a pattern that students could intuit over time.

    Finally this would be an even more revolutionary project if you could analyze each page as to the percentage fit to various levels of publicly available frequency lists. That simple statistic would help teachers like me QUICKLY evaluate the usefulness of certain pages.

  2. Emre Sevinc

    December 2, 2009 at 09:20


    Yes, in a sense, everything will be automated as much as possible. And thank you very much for the feedback on using the publicly available frequency lists. Maybe we’ll be able to put a little indicator that shows how suitable the current page is for automatically converting it to a cloze test.

    Now we’re waiting for the preliminary results to be announced on 4th of December. If we are elected we’ll start to work on this tool.


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