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CELF Preschool-2

When your child reaches an age between 3 and 6, The CELF Preschool-2 test can be administered to determine any language difficulties. Written by Elisabeth Wiig, Wayne Secord, and Eleanor Semel, this is a well-respected and practical tool that helps clinicians target problematic areas, and determine services for preschool children with disabilities. This is not the only version available, CELF tests can be used for ages ranging from 5:00-21:00. In regards to language, there many different areas involved with these tests.

The main 9 concepts the CELF Preschool-2 tests are as followed:

1. Sentence Structure

2. Word Structure

3. Expressive Vocabulary

4. Concepts and Following Directions

5. Recalling Sentences

6. Basic Concepts

7. Word Classes

8. Recalling Sentences in Context

9. Phonological Awareness


These tests are paired with books that are child-friendly and filled with colorful visual stimuli to elicit the best results. Each of these sections plays an important role in the classification of language impairments in young children.

For Sentence Structure, the child may be asked to point to “The duck is walking towards the girl”. This is used to evaluate their capacity to interpret the sentence spoken to them. This is a skill that can be developed by a parent consistently speaking to their child about what is going on in their own environment!

Word Structure is used to determine the child’s ability to apply the rules of morphology and appropriately use pronouns.

The objective of the Expressive Vocabulary section is to determine the child’s ability to label pictures. For example, the child may be shown a picture of a girl riding her bike and asked, “What is this girl doing?” Acceptable answers include riding, biking, pedaling, and ride a bike.

Concepts and Following Directions can be a difficult task for some children, but this will get easier as a child gets older and continues to learn! In this section your child will be instructed, “When I point to the a tiger, you point to a giraffe. Go.” If the child follows these instructions, then they have done it correctly.

Next is Recalling Sentences, or the ability to imitate sentence without changing the meaning. This is a prime example of how normal and abnormal language development can be distinguished.

Basic Concepts is a section in which your child will be shown three pictures: a hot dog, an ice cream cone, and a piece of cake. Then the child will be told to point to the one that is cold. This is a skill that you can practice with your child at home!

The objective of the section Word Classes is to evaluate your child’s understanding of how words relate to each other. For example “How do the words slide and swing go together?”

Recalling Sentences in Context evaluates your child’s ability to repeat a phrase that is spoken to them.

Phonological Awareness is the final section and it evaluates your child’s awareness of sound structures of language and their ability to manipulate those sounds. (CELF Preschool 2 Australian)

Following these tests, two checklists must be completed by the clinician, parent, or other caregiver. The first is the Pre-Literacy Rating Scale; the objective is to identify pre-literacy skills that may influence the child’s development of reading and writing skills. Next is the Descriptive Pragmatics Profile, which is used to identity nonverbal and verbal pragmatic deficits that may negatively influence social and academic communication in context. (CELF Preschool 2 Australian)

In Australia and New Zealand 342 children were assessed for the CELF Preschool-2 and they ranged in age from 3:00-6:11. Half of the children were boys and the other have were girls. This project was conducted at Macquarie University, Sydney by Dr Jane Carstairs and Dr Rosemarie Lloyd, with the assistance of Ms. Lauren Krause to determine the appropriate standardization.

So how do you know this test is valid? The CELF Preschool-2 Australian test’s validity comes from a study conducted in the United States. There were 62 males and 58 females, and they were all tested on two separate occasions, these results were compared. Stability was calculated using Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient. The result found to be excellent across all ages for Recalling Sentence and Expressive Vocabulary. Good for Word Structure, Concepts and Following Direction, Basic Concepts, and Word Classes. And found to be adequate for the sections Recalling Sentences in Context, Phonological Awareness, Pre-Literacy Rating Scale, and Descriptive Pragmatics Profile.

Getting your child formally tested can be difficult, but Jenny has found much success with getting kids to complete their work and stay motivated, while having fun doing so! It is important to have your child’s strengths and weaknesses assessed in order to better prepare them for their future!



-Molly Cagle




Wiig, Elisabeth, Wayne Secord, and Eleanor Semel. CELF Preschool 2 Australian. 2nd ed. St. Marrickville: Harcourt Assessment, 2006. Print.


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