UK-CDI Frequently Asked Questions

A checklist of words, gestures and sentences that a child can say or understand. We have completed our checklists for 8-18 months and are due to start work on checklists for 16 months to 3 years as soon as we can.

The UK-CDI will help us to establish norms and answer the following questions:

  • What can UK children understand and say at different ages?
  • What words do children in the UK learn first?
  • How does this compare within the UK and with other countries and languages?
  • Do girls really learn language faster than boys?
  • Do social and economic differences affect language development?

Similar to growth curves that you find in all baby health booklets, the CDI language norms can tell us if a child’s language is in the lowest 10%, medium range or top 10% of word knowledge for their age.  Once the CDIs are ready, parents can fill in the CDI and their child’s language scores could then, if necessary, be interpreted by a health professional.

If you or a parent have worries about a child’s language and communication development, then until now there was no quick way to work out if a child’s language (especially with a young infant) was really slower than other children their age.  Specialist testing by a speech and language therapist can be slow (especially with waiting times) and children may not cooperate; and checklists used previously have not been created with UK children in mind so can be very inaccurate. Our new UK-CDI can help you compare the child you are worried about to a representative sample of UK children the same age.

About 10 -19% of children suffer language delay. Only about half of these are late talkers who catch up and have no problems later on. The other half needs specific intervention as their language delay will not go away by itself.

The earlier children can be diagnosed, the earlier they can receive support, and the better their chances of improving their language skills.

However, to be able to assess children early, we need to know what their word knowledge is from as early as possible as they will understand some words (e.g. Mummy, Daddy) even as young as 8 months of age. Until now, no such data existed for the UK and we did not know which words children understand and say at what age.

We are now creating such a database for the UK that provides this information and can help professionals with quick and easy assessment of children’s language skills. Our preliminary norms are ready to use and can be downloaded from this website. You will also need a password which you can get by emailing [email protected]

Accurate knowledge about language development is crucial for:

  • Clinical practice (e.g. speech therapy)
  • Education staff (SEN teachers, nursery nurses)
  • Policy makers (local & national government)
  • Scientists / researchers working in child development.

Apart from taking part in cutting-edge research, you would gain:

  • A word cloud of your child’s CDI to keep as a lasting memory of their early language
  • Free access to our anonymous database of over 1600 children’s words, so you can see how many other children know the same words as your child
  • Free access to language growth curves
  • Newsletters updating you about our research, with summaries of our most exciting findings.

We ask parents to fill in a questionnaire – on paper or online – about the words your child knows, and the gestures or sentences they use. We may ask some parents to take part in a focus group – in person or online – where they can discuss with other parents the words that their child knows, and help us to create our new questionnaires.

If you live near one of our sites we may ask you if you would be interested in talking in focus groups in person to help us choose words you really use, or bring in your baby to play some games, where we study their language in greater detail.

We need families from all over the UK, but most families will take part by post or online.

If you need to contact the UK-CDI team, please email them on [email protected]