Welcome to SA-CDI

Transforming our knowledge of language and communication development in children in the multilingual South African context

A collaborative development of Communicative Development Inventories for all South African languages

The SA Communicative Development Inventories (SA-CDIs) are a set of questionnaires for each official South African language that parents complete to tell us about their child’s language and communication.

The SA-CDI project will establish:
  • the first comprehensive overview of South African children’s first stages in language development
  • the first word-learning norms for children aged 8 to 30 months across the whole of South Africa
  • a free-to-use, anonymised online child language base, in collaboration with SADiLaR
  • a quick, easy and inexpensive checklist that can be used by professionals to assess children’s language

This project is collaborative research between Stellenbosch University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, North-West University, University of Limpopo, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, UNISA, University of Mpumalanga, University of the Western Cape and University of Cape Town, as well as ECD centres and NGOs. We are funded from a range of sources, including the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) supported by the Department of Science and Innovation, the National Research Foundation (NRF), the Newton Fund, and Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT).

Why is the SA-CDI project important?

There is a lack of valid and reliable tools to measure typical development and diagnose language delays in African languages. These cannot be developed without establishing the stages of language acquisition. Creating a locally relevant set of tools requires more than just translation of existing English tools.

It is essential that we establish norms for language development in early childhood. CDIs are parent report instruments that ask parents/caregivers to report on a child’s use of gestures, words and sentences. CDIs can measure language development from 8 months to 30 months. They are reliable and valid overall indicators of communicative development.

​There are CDIs for over 100 languages worldwide. These are used to identify stages in language development and establish national norms. Data from the CDI have formed the basis for developing linguistic and cognitive assessment and diagnostic tools in many countries.

Tools such as CDIs are suitable for contexts in which children are not used to clinical testing. Data are elicited in a culturally appropriate manner using information from parents/caregivers.

​Collecting information about children involves going out to different communities and working with local ECD practitioners and their children’s caregivers to gather information on language development.

Collaborators in the SA-CDI development:

This project is supported by funding from: