Frequently Asked Questions

Girl playing with toy bricks

What is the CDI?
A words and gestures checklist for parents of infants aged 8-18 months.

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What questions can you help us answer?

  • Establishing norms: 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?

How is this useful for me as a parent?
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.

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Why is this research important?
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. Currently, no such data exist and we do not know which words children understand and say at what age.
At the end of our project, we will have a database for the UK that provides this information and can help professionals with quick and easy assessment of children’s language skills.

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Who else benefits from this research?
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.

What do you gain from it?
Apart from taking part in cutting-edge research, you would gain:

  1. A word cloud of your child’s CDI to keep as a lasting memory of their early language
  2. 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
  3. Free access to language growth curves
  4. Newsletters updating you about our research, with summaries of our most exciting findings.

What would I do if I take part?
We ask all parents to fill in a questionnaire – on paper or online – about the words your child understands and says, and the gestures they use.

If you live near one of our sites we may ask you if you would be interested in talking in focus groups 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.

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