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English - Collective Nouns and Cloze Spelling

Collective Nouns

Write the appropriate collective noun, from the word bank, in the given space

Swimming in the water was a ______________ of salmon.

A ___________ of sheep was grazing happily in the field.


This is a vocabulary question. The question type is not related to anything much else - it's simply a good way of finding out how familiar your child is with the English language. I wouldn't spend a lot of time learning the whole selection of collective nouns as it's a very dry and tedious thing to study for a ten-year-old; what you need to do is ensure you constantly refer to such things in your own speech and question your children regularly. If you see a kitten, ask whether they know what a group of kittens is called. If you're at the zoo, set a quiz amongst yourselves to come up with the most appropriate name for a collection of particular animals. Then check up later to see if anyone got it right and award points for an inventive suggestion. Make the learning fun!

If you encounter this type of question and cannot solve it straight away, look at the options and rule out the ones which clearly 'feel' wrong. A 'shoal of sheep' would obviously be completely unheard-of and incorrect. A 'gaggle of salmon' again, sounds peculiar. If salmon are found in the water and you've heard of a 'shoal of fish', apply it to salmon and see if it trips off the tongue. It's obviously correct but can be reached by ruling out others that seem to refer to land animals.

Cloze Spelling

The concept of 'cloze' is fairly well-known in modern teaching. It's really about putting something in a gap in a sentence or, in this case, a word. We can see this set out in all sorts of ways - let's look at a couple to get the idea and familiarise your child with how it may appear on a test paper.

Look at the following sentence and fill in the gaps with the correct letters.

Cloze tests r[ ]qui[ ]e the ability to understand co[ ]te[ ]t and vocabulary in order to i[ ]ent[ ]fy the correct words or t[ ]pe of words that belong in the d[ ]leted pass[ ]ges of a text.

There isn't a great deal to say about the actual spelling - your child should be able to spell the words and if they can't, speak to their teachers to check that they are getting the help required from school. The point here is to show how the test paper may appear. Compare it with this example:

Cloze tests 1. r[ ]qui[ ]e the ability to understand 2. co[ ]te[ ]t and vocabulary in order to 3. i[ ]ent[ ]fy the correct words or 4. t[ ]pe of words that belong in the 5. d[ ]leted 6. pass[ ]ges of a text.

Presented this way, the expectation is that you will be writing the missing letters on a separate answer paper. Simply keep your child concentrating on which question they are doing - there will be too little time to miss out one question, write the next answer in the wrong place, only to have to go back and re-write all the answers in the correct place!

Finally, the passage could be presented like this:

Cloze tests r_qui_e the ability to understand co_te_t and vocabulary in order to i_ent_fy the correct words or t_pe of words that belong in the d_leted pass_ges of a text.

Ensure your child reads the rubric (the accompanying instructions with a test) to know whether they must write the letters in the spaces, tick off the correct ones in a multiple choice grid or write them on an answer paper in a numbered order. This is an increasingly common element of the English examination and will be seen as a fairer way of testing spelling and literacy without disadvantaging dyslexic pupils so obviously. Look out for any different ways that this can be presented as there are bound to be multiple other ways of doing so.

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