Unidentified and unmet language needs have huge individual, social and economic consequences for society, according to research done in the UK, a country similar in size to SA, unmet and unidentified language needs across the life span will cost 330 million pounds per age cohort. The Child Language Development node of SADiLaR, hosted by the Department of General Linguistics at Stellenbosch University, works to advance knowledge about children’s language development in African languages.
The main function of this node is to promote research on child language development in all South African languages and the digitisation of child language development data so that it is freely available on the SADiLaR platform for all scientists working on language, cognition, child health and development, language learning and language disorders. Data on African languages can inform the development of valid diagnostic tools and interventions to promote language and cognitive development in South Africa’s children in health and educational settings.
Their flagship project is an inter-university collaboration focusing on development of Communicative Development Inventories (CDIs) for all South African languages. CDIs are parent report instruments that ask parents/caregivers to report on a child’s use of gestures, words and sentences. They can measure language development from 8 to 30 months and are good overall indicators of communicative development. There are CDIs for over 100 languages worldwide. These tools have been used to identify stages in language development and obtain norms for early language acquisition. These norms have formed the basis for developing linguistic and cognitive assessment and diagnostic tools in many countries. These CDIs will then be available through SADiLaR as well as the normative data generated by means of the CDIs.