Rhubarb exercises are often used for review of texts which students have already studied; doing the exercise helps the student to review the vocabulary and structures in the text, as well as its content. Reading skills such as prediction and inference from context are also practised.
How a Rhubarb Exercise Works
Rhubarb exercises are based on sentences with missing words, which the students have to guess. A typical exercise in an English course might contain a sentence such as:
- I **** my pen yesterday.
Here, the student can infer that a verb is missing (because of the position of the starred word), and that it should be in the past tense (because of the adverb "yesterday"). Students are also encouraged to notice and take account of words which they may gloss over when reading or tend to omit in writing. Articles, for example, cause problems for the vast majority of students of English as a Second Language, but in a sentence such as this...
- *** pen I lost was * new one.
...the student is encouraged to notice the articles, and must supply them before the exercise is complete. Students will soon realize that filling in the articles first of all can be very helpful; this in itself serves to show how many articles there are in an ordinary English text.
Browser-Based Rhubarb Exercises
The TexToys version of Rhubarb creates a web page which displays the text with most of the characters replaced by blanks. The student has to work out which words fit best into the spaces, by typing words into a "guess" area. If the word is present in the text, it is displayed in the appropriate position, so that the text gradually appears as the student makes correct guesses.
You can enter the source text for the exercise into the program directly, or by pasting from the clipboard.
Click here to see an example of a Web-Rhubarb exercise. Please note that exercises which are created using the TexToys v3 programs must be viewed in an up-to-date web browser - see the System Requirements page for details.