German Communicative Development Inventory

An Adaptation of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory for Toddlers

by Gisela Szagun (Author) Barbara Stumper (Author) Satyam Antonio Schramm (Author)
©2014 Others 139 Pages


This research presents a German adaptation of the American MacArthur-Bates Commmunicative Inventory (CDI) for toddlers, with the addition of a detailed inflectional morphology scale. The name of the instrument is FRAKIS (Fragebogen zur frühkindlichen Sprachentwicklung). The research presents the first norm data of early language development for German-speaking children. Results of the study confirm the enormous variability in early language development found in other languages for German. There was also a strong relation between lexical and grammatical development, including between specific lexical and grammatical areas. The instrument FRAKIS is an excellent tool for assessing language level in young children, be it for research purposes or in clinical settings.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • 1 Normality and variability in language development
  • 1.1 Average child or variability?
  • 1.2 Parental questionnaire as a tool for assessing variability in early language development
  • 1.3 CDIs in different languages
  • 1.4 Lack of age norms for early language development in German and implications for clinicians
  • 2 Development of FRAKIS – a German adaptation of the toddler CDI
  • 2.1 Aims and preliminary studies
  • 2.2 Description of the instrument FRAKIS
  • Part 1: Vocabulary
  • Part 2: Grammar
  • Part 3: Basic Information Form
  • The norming study
  • 3 Description of sample
  • 3.1 Participants and Design
  • Recruiting the sample and data collection procedures
  • Design
  • The final sample and criteria for exclusion
  • 3.2 Demographic characteristics of the sample
  • Socioeconomic status of parents
  • Bilingualism
  • 4 Developmental trends and variability
  • 4.1 Vocabulary
  • 4.2 Grammar
  • 4.2.1 Inflectional morphology
  • Introductory questions about inflection
  • Main inflectional morphology scale (maximum value = 42)
  • Subscales of inflectional morphology
  • 4.2.2 Sentence complexity
  • Introductory questions about word combinations
  • Sentence complexity score (maximum value = 32)
  • 4.3 Summary
  • 5 Interrelations among language measures
  • 5.1 Relations between ratings and scale measures
  • 5.2 Relations between vocabulary and grammar
  • 5.2.1 Interrelations between vocabulary and grammar scales
  • 5.2.2 Development of grammar in dependence on vocabulary size
  • Main scales
  • Subscales
  • Noun plural inflectional score and noun plural vocabulary
  • Lexical verb inflectional score and lexical verb vocabulary
  • Article inflectional score and article and pronoun vocabulary
  • 5.3 Summary
  • 6 Effects of gender, socioeconomic status and birth order on variation in early language development
  • 6.1 Gender
  • 6.2 Socioeconomic status - mothers’ educational level
  • 6.3 Birth order
  • 6.4 Summary
  • 7 Reliability and validity of FRAKIS
  • 7.1 Reliability
  • Internal consistency of scales
  • Split-half reliability and Cronbach’s alpha
  • Test-retest reliability
  • 7.2 Validity
  • Concurrent validity
  • 7.3 Summary
  • 8 Stability of individual differences
  • Conclusion
  • 9 Discussion
  • 9.1 Developmental trends and variability
  • 9.2 CDI in different languages and specialities of the German adaptation
  • 9.3 Interrelations between scales
  • 9.4 Effects of gender, birth order and socioeconomic status
  • 9.5 Stability of individual differences
  • 9.6 Reliability and validity of parent report data
  • 10 Development of FRAKIS-K and norming study
  • 10.1 Why a short form version?
  • 10.2 Development and description of FRAKIS-K
  • Description of the instrument
  • 10.3 Design and participants of the empirical study
  • 10.4 Results
  • 10.5 Psychometric properties
  • Reliability
  • Concurrent validity
  • 10.6 Summary of results and discussion
  • 11 Use of FRAKIS and FRAKIS-K in research and clinical settings
  • 11.1 Use in research
  • 11.2 Use in for diagnostic purposes
  • 11.2.1 Late onset of language
  • 11.2.2 Monitoring early language development with FRAKIS-K and FRAKIS
  • At the age of 24 months:
  • At the age of 30 months:
  • At the age of 36 months:
  • Literature

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For some years children’s linguistic abilities have been a topic in German scientific, popular science and media publications. Unfortunately, most of the discussion tended to bemoan the lack of good linguistic abilities in young children. Statements about so-called language disturbance in young children dominate the discussion – with vastly exaggerated percentages of between 20% and 33% of preschool children suffering from “linguistic deficits”, “language delay” or “language disturbance”. Amongst two-year olds 20% are said to be at risk to develop subsequent language impairment. Demands for a general screening of two-year-olds have been voiced repeatedly. It seems that there is little conception of language development as a developmental phenomenon which is part of human behavioural development and, just like other developmental phenomena, displays a large amount of variation.

Faced with this situation and a lack of norms for early language development in German-speaking children we felt it was high time to create an instrument for measuring early language development in German and provide norm data. We carried out a research project which altogether ran over four years at the Carl-von-Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg. For a large scale study of early language development, parental questionnaire data are required. We adapted the American Communicative Development Instrument (CDI) Toddler Scale (Fenson, Dale, Reznick, Bates, Thal & Pethick, 1994, 1st edition) to German. The adaptation required some changes in vocabulary, and a rewriting of some sections. We added a detailed section on inflectional morphology covering basic paradigms of German inflectional morphology. Thus, the instrument differs in a language and culture specific way from the American CDI, while keeping the common aim, namely to assess the typical course and variability of young children’s language development as they make the transition from first words to grammar.

As a result of our cooperation with paediatricians’ practices we realised the urgent need for a short form instrument which could be used to assess children’s language level during a developmental check within the time limits of a paediatric consultation. In a second part of the study we therefore developed a short form version of our parental questionnaire.

Our CDI adaptation has the name FRAKIS which stands for “FRAgebogen zur frühKIndlichen Sprachentwicklung” – German for “questionnaire on early child language development”. The name of the short form version adds a K, FRAKIS-K, “k” meaning “kurz” – German for “short”. ← 9 | 10 →

The German version of FRAKIS, FRAKIS-K and the norming studies were published in 2009 as: Szagun, G., Stumper, B. & Schramm, S. A. (2009). Fragebogen zur frühkindlichen Sprachentwicklung (FRAKIS) und FRAKIS-K (Kurzform). Frankfurt: Pearson Assessment. www.pearsonassessment.de. Since then, we have been contacted frequently and asked, if an English version was available. Unfortunately, as our results had already been published in German, we were not able to publish an article about our research in a scientific journal. We therefore decided to publish them in the present form. This presentation does not include the questionnaires itself, the norm tables and the exact instruction how to use and the questionnaires and how to analyse the data. The publisher Pearson Assessment & Information GmbH, Frankfurt am Main retains the copyright for these parts.

Due to the detailed inflectional morphology section of our questionnaire, data interpretation allows more than just a summing up of crosses and checking the scores against the norm data. It is possible to draw a child’s linguistic profile which can render valuable insight into the child’s grammatical development. For the use of the questionnaire itself, the norm tables and instructions for interpretation it is necessary to obtain the German version.

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1 Normality and variability in language development


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (April)
child language acquisition variability in child language Spracherwerb frühkindliche Sprache
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 139 pp., 15 tables, 36 graphs

Biographical notes

Gisela Szagun (Author) Barbara Stumper (Author) Satyam Antonio Schramm (Author)

Gisela Szagun studied psychology at the London School of Economics. She was a lecturer at Technical University Berlin where she obtained her habilitation. She was professor of Developmental Psychology at Oldenburg University and is continuing her research as Emerita. Barbara Stumper qualified and worked as speech and language therapist, then studied psychology at the University of Oldenburg. She obtained her PhD at Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. She is currently Head of Therapeutic Services at Sprachheilzentrum Wilhelmshaven. Satyam Antonio Schramm studied psychology at the University of Oldenburg and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. He is assistant professor at the chair of Psychology for Special Needs Education at the University of Hannover.


Title: German Communicative Development Inventory