Our Projects

Recognizing the enormity of the challenges our society faces, Child Language Africa is dedicated to making a lasting impact through our projects. Our current projects focus mainly on child development in the languages of Southern Africa


Communicative Development Inventories

Development of CDIs for all South African languages

One of our major projects is the collaborative development of Communicative Development Inventories (CDIs) for all South African languages. We have involved organisations across South Africa, including: University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, Sefako Makgato Medical Sciences University, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, and ECD NGOs.

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.