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.

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 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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