Free online interactive c-test generator

Free online interactive c-test generatorC-tests are a reliable, accurate method for assessing learners’ language proficiency at any level. I’ve decided to create a simplified version of my C-Test generator MILA (multimedia interactive learning application) and to make it publicly accessible so that learners everywhere can use it to help them with their reading, anywhere at any time.

What is a c-test?

The C-test was developed in the 1980s at the Universität Duisburg-Essen in Germany – based on theories of language redundancy relating to Gestalt theory. The Simtest, a computerised adaptive test of foreign language ability designed and developed at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) in Catalonia, Spain, uses c-tests extensively. Esmat Babaii and Hasan Ansary published a research paper at Shiraz University in Tehran on an objective evaluation of the c-test. Also see Linnemann Wilbert (2010). The C-test. A valid instrument for screening language skills and reading comprehension of children with learning problems? by Markus Linnemann & Jürgen Wilbert, 2010, in R. Grotjahn (Ed.), The C-Test: Contributions from Current Research (pp. 113 – 124). Frankfurt a.M.:Lang.

What does the free online c-test app do?

Learners can find any piece of electronic text that they can copy (Ctrl + c)  and paste (Ctrl + v) into the C-Test generator text window. It then generates an interactive c-test that they can complete online in order to test themselves or the suitability of a text for extensive or intensive reading.

What doesn’t it do?

Unlike the fully functioning licensed version for learning management systems, the simplified version doesn’t send or record any user data, e.g. name, course, time taken, number of attempts, the source text used, or number of words completed. Also, you cannot download the C-Test generator app and use it elsewhere: It only works on this website. If you want to license the fully functioning version of the C-Test MILA, you can find out more about what it does here and how to license it here.

How to set the language proficiency level

The selected text used to generate the test determines the proficiency level. For example, if a learner is at B1 (CEFR) / Intermediate, they should select a text that is at that level. There are a variety of ways of determining the reading proficiency of texts, all with their specific uses and pros and cons, which are beyond the scope of this article. See this Wikipedia.org page for more details.

Conversely, it’s also a quick and easy way for learners to check if a text is at a suitable reading proficiency level for them. They can copy a sample paragraph of text, generate a c-test, and see if they can complete enough words on it. For example, if they score 95% or higher the text is suitable for Extensive Reading and anywhere below that will be suitable for intensive reading. A score below 50% will more than likely mean that the text is unsuitable for that learner.

Something that you may notice is that learners often score quite differently on texts that are supposedly at the same level of reading proficiency. This is usually because most learners acquire language “unevenly” and have strengths and weaknesses in particular topic areas. Typically, learners tend to score quite low on topics that are not interesting to them or that they’ve had little prior exposure to. You can experience this phenomenon for yourself by finding a text on a highly specialised topic in your native language that you know very little about.

The C-Test generator app

Please note: Number characters, e.g. 0, 1, 2, 3, 14, 50, 10th, 1984, etc. are impossible to predict in a c-test and must be changed to literal numbers, zero, one, two, three, fourteen, fifty, tenth, nineteen eighty four, etc., and don’t hyphenate numbers, e.g. eighty-four.  The C-Test Generator app also ignores paragraphing and removes “ ” ‘ ’ special punctuation characters, number characters, i.e. 0-9, and the following; ( ) { } [ ] < > & + * _ # / so that the generated c-tests are “reasonably completable.” The copied text is immediately filtred and so you can see the changes and edit them appropriately before you click on “Make C-Test”.

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Click here for direct link to C-Test Generator app for full browser window.

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Are you using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch for your blog project?

Wordpress on iPad and iPhone If you’re considering running blog projects as part of your curriculum or even as a pilot project, here’s a quick article that outlines a particularly awkward pitfall with potentially disastrous consequences if you’re not prepared for it. If you expect that any of your learners or teachers may want to use their iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) to create multimedia content for their projects, read on…

The problem

Learners and teachers on blog projects usually use their own cameras, MP3/4 recorders, and phones to create multimedia content, otherwise known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). While most mobile devices (e.g. Android and Blackberry phones and tablets, MP3/4 players, digital cameras, and video cameras) function normally without issue, I’ve encountered some problems when learners have tried to use iOS devices; iPhones, iPads, and iPods to create content for their blog posts. The main issues are:

  • The Safari web browser doesn’t allow users to upload files: Users cannot upload images, graphics, photos, audio, video, or animations to embed in their blog posts.
  • Each iOS device can only exchange files with one specific computer via iTunes. Installing iTunes on another computer and attempting to “synchronise” with it will result in deleting all the media files on the device.
  • It isn’t possible to remove the flash memory cards from iOS devices and use a card reader transfer the media files that way.

In short, iOS devices do not support the normal methods that you would expect for uploading and sharing media. This came a great disappointment to learners who only had only brought iOS devices with them to their summer school.

WordPress for iOS“There’s an app for that”

Fortunately, the developers at WordPress.org have created a helpful solution to this problem. If teachers or learners have iPhones, iPads, or iPod Touches, before they attempt to create any media for their blogs, please ensure that they have installed the free WordPress for iOS app from iTunes, and that they can successfully connect and use the app to create blog posts.

Not suitable for longer form composing

Blogging involves a lot of writing, rewriting, editing, copying and pasting, embedding links and citing references, and lot of rapid switching between windows and applications. iOS devices are primarily designed for consuming media from iTunes and they can be useful for posting quick, short Facebook and Twitter updates. But for longer form writing, i.e. creative and/or expressive writing, not having a physical keyboard, and not being able to do the things we normally take for granted that require a keyboard and/or a mouse makes composing articles tedious and time consuming. You may find that learners write shorter articles with less care taken over content, composition and structure, and less revision and editing. It would probably be more convenient and productive for learners to simply use the WordPress for iOS app to create a short blog article with all their media files embedded and then, once they’re in the blog’s media library, login with a PC or Mac to do the actual composing, reviewing and revising, and editing.

Relevant links