The Grammar and Phonology Screen ‘GAPS’ Assessment

GAPS, the grammar and phonology screen, is a ten minute test enabling professionals in education, health and social care, to establish whether their children have or are at risk of  the challenge of  language disorders –Called GAPS (Grammar and Phonology Screening) the test was the brainchild of leading British language expert Professor Heather van der Lely who invested years of research to develop an early warning system capable of detecting the first signs of language disorder.  The test  used existing knowledge of Developmental Language Disorders (Specific Language Impairment) to devise a test for three and a half to six and half year olds which would evaluate their basic grammatical ability across sentences and word forms – something that is crucial if they are to understand  instructions and learn to speak and write sentences.  Those who show difficulty at this level can go onto further assessment from education and speech language therapists to see where support might be needed.

The GAPS Assessment is now available to download free of charge for anyone to use - just click the button below:

GAPS Literature

History of the GAPS

Le GAPS (Gardner et al., 2006) a été créé à l'initiative de Heather K. J. van der Lely, Professeur, University College London, UK. Plusieurs personnes ont participé à la création de ce test : Karen Froud, Professeur Associée, Columbia University, USA ; Hilary P. Gardner, Professeur, University of Sheffield, UK ; Chloe Marshall, Professeur, University College London, UK et Alastair McClelland, Professeur, University College London, UK.

Le GAPS a ensuite été intégré à un programme de recherche d'étendue européenne ayant pour but le développement d'outils diagnostiques et thérapeutiques : le projet CLAD (Crosslinguistic Language Diagnosis 1). Six pays partenaires ont collaboré autour de différentes études : l'Allemagne, l'Autriche, la Belgique, l'Italie, la Lituanie et la Roumanie. Chaque groupe de recherche a été chargé d'adapter dans sa langue le test initialement en anglais, afin d'en développer une version pour son pays.

La version francophone du test GAPS a été adaptée par Heather K. J. van der Lely, Franck Ramus, Directeur de recherches (CNRS) et Professeur (École Normale Supérieure de Paris, France) et Emmanuel Dupoux, Directeur d'études (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales de Paris, France).  La validation et normalisation ont été initiées sous la direction de Marie-Anne Schelstraete, Professeur (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique) et finalisées par Sandrine Mejias et Lucie Macchi, Maîtres de conférences (Université de Lille, France).

1 Ce projet (n°135295-LLP-1-2007-1-UK-KA1-KA1SCR) a été financé avec le soutien de la Commission Européenne.

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The GAPS (Gardner et al., 2006) was created on the initiative of Heather K. J. van der Lely, Professor, University College London, UK. Several people participated in the creation of this test: Karen Froud, Associate Professor, Columbia University, USA; Hilary P. Gardner, Professor, University of Sheffield, UK; Chloe Marshall, Professor, University College London, UK and Alastair McClelland, Professor, University College London, UK.

The GAPS was then integrated into a European-wide research program aimed at developing diagnostic and therapeutic tools: the CLAD project (Crosslinguistic Language Diagnosis1). Six partner countries have collaborated on different studies: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Lithuania and Romania. Each research group was responsible for adapting the test, initially in English, to their own language, in order to develop a version for their country.

The French version of the GAPS test was adapted by Heather KJ van der Lely, Franck Ramus, Director of Research (CNRS) and Professor (École Normale Supérieure de Paris, France) and Emmanuel Dupoux, Director of Studies (École des Hautes Études en Social Sciences of Paris, France). Validation and standardization were initiated under the direction of Marie-Anne Schelstraete, Professor (Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium) and finalized by Sandrine Mejias and Lucie Macchi, Lecturers (University of Lille, France).

1 This project (n ° 135295-LLP-1-2007-1-UK-KA1-KA1SCR) has been funded with support from the European Commission.

Further Reading

  • Development of the Grammar and Phonology Screening (GAPS) test to assess key markers of specific language and literacy difficulties in young children. Gardner H, Froud K, McClelland A, van der Lely HK.  Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2006 Sep-Oct;41(5):513-40.
  • An investigation to validate the grammar and phonology screening (GAPS) test to identify children with specific language impairment (2011).  van der Lely HK, Payne E, McClelland A. PLoS One. 2011; 6(7):e22432.

The GAPS test itself is available from the HVDL Foundation Trust on application for both research and practical use. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

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The Heather van der Lely Foundation Trust is a UK registered charity, number: 1168658.

Postal address: PO box 194 Knaresborough HG5 5BS.