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The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF-5 - UK)

  • The CELF-5 test is the fifth edition of an individually administered clinical tool for the identification, diagnosis and follow-up evaluation of language and communication disorders.
  • It has 18 different subtests that assess the child’s level of skill in a range of different receptive and expressive language tasks.
  • The test is standardised on a UK population and it’s possible to get standard scores, percentile ranks and age-equivalent scores. This means a child’s performance can be compared across the different subtests.

Age range

5–21 years

Who can use it?

Speech and language therapists and educational psychologists.

How is it used?

The manual provides detailed instructions on how to carry out the individual subtests. The test comes with two books containing various test stimuli that are used for some of the subtests. 

What can it tell us?

  • It can show the child’s ability on a range of different language tasks. Scores can be compared across subtests. Also, certain subtest scores can be combined to give a core language score, a receptive language score and expressive language score, a language content score, a language structure score and a language memory score. It also provides tools to help look at underlying behaviours such as phonological awareness and word associations.
  • The CELF-5 can be used to measure progress over time and so evaluate the effectiveness of any intervention programme.


  • A very wide range of subtests are available, making an in-depth assessment possible.
  • It’s well standardised.
  • The assessment is designed to help professionals think about what the results actually mean (the underlying clinical behaviours) and then evaluate language and communication in context.
  • The understanding spoken paragraphs subtest provides a very valuable measure of how well a child can understand a longer section of spoken language aimed at a child of their age. This reflects the type of understanding that they often need in the classroom and isn’t assessed by any other assessment in this document.
  • Can be administered by telepractice using remote audio/visual input (e.g. Skype) rather than face-to-face.
  • Resources for digital scoring and reporting are available at an extra cost.


  • Depending upon how many of the subtests are administered, it may take a long time.
  • Some of the subtests are not necessarily measuring the same skill in a deaf child as in the hearing standardisation sample. For example, the recalling sentences subtest is one of the expressive language tests. Hearing children generally repeat sentences back, but include errors in grammar that they would make if speaking. The perception of the stimulus is not an issue for hearing children. For deaf children, the perception of the stimulus can be a big problem and it can be this that limits their score, meaning that it’s often more depressed than their scores on other subtests. This emphasises the need for the test to be given in the best listening conditions for the child.

Is there a cost? 


Where can I access it?

You can access it on the Pearson Clinical website