CHILDES Clinical English ENNI Corpus

Phyllis Schneider

University of Alberta


Participants: 77 impaired, 300 control
Type of Study: stories from pictures
Media Type: not available
Location: Canada
DOI: doi:10.21415/T51G7V

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Citation information

Please cite the following in publications and presentations of work that used the ENNI. Contact information for the authors is available on the website.

In accordance with TalkBank rules, any use of data from this corpus must be accompanied by at least one of the above references.

Project Description

The Edmonton Narrative Norms Instrument (ENNI) database was collected to develop measures and norms for storytelling using stimuli designed for the purpose. We used the ENNI to collect local norms from children in the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. More information is available at the ENNI website .

1. Description of the Normative Study

Participants. The ENNI sample consisted of two subgroups within every age group: a wide range of typically developing children and children previously identified as having a language impairment. Because the norms will be particularly useful for professionals interested in language impairment, special care was taken to include a representative sample of children previously identified as having a specific language impairment. However, since we did not obtain IQ test information for the children, the group is best described as having language impairment.

Sample size for the group with typically developing language was 50 children per age group (one-year intervals), with equal numbers of boys and girls. The group with language impairment varies from 10 to 17 children per age group. Gender was left to vary in this group; as expected, there were more boys than girls (48 of 77 – 62%) in the group with language impairments. Stories were collected from children ages 4 through 9;11, for a total of 377 children.

Age GroupLanguage GroupTotal NN BoysMean AgeAge SD Age Range

Schools, preschools and daycares were randomly selected from areas all across Edmonton to assure a sample that was representative of the Edmonton population. In all, 34 elementary schools and 13 daycares, preschools and independent Kindergarten programs were visited to collect the data. Socioeconomic and ethnic characteristics of the sample are reported in the ENNI manual.

2. Materials

The materials for ENNI can be found in this folder. Six original picture stories with animal characters were used to elicit stories, organized into two sets with 3 levels of complexity each. The stories were controlled in pairs and systematically varied across levels for number of pictures, amount of story information, and number and gender of characters. The table below provides a summary of the characteristics of the story sets. The pictures for each story were placed in page protectors in a binder, each story in its own binder. Information about the development of the pictures is available on the ENNI website manual, as are the pictures themselves.

Gems are marked by A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3 for the six picture sets.

Story#EpisodesSetting#CharactersCharacter Description#Pages
A11Swimming pool2young female elephant, young male giraffe5
A22same3same as A1 plus adult male elephant lifeguard8
A33same4same as A2 plus adult female elephant13
B11Park2young male rabbit, young female dog5
B22same3same as B1 plus adult female rabbit doctor8
B33same4same as B2 plus adult male rabbit balloon-seller13

3. Procedure

Each child was seen individually in the child's school, preschool, or daycare. The child was first given a training story, which was similar to the simple stories in the two story sets in terms of length (5 pictures, 1 episode) and number of characters (2). The purpose of the training story was to familiarize the child with the procedure and to allow the examiner to give more explicit prompts if the child was having difficulty with the task. For the sets A and B stories, the examiner was restricted to less explicit assistance such as general encouragement, repetition of the child’s previous utterance, or if the child did not say anything, a request to tell what was happening in the story.

After the training story, the child then viewed the pictures for each story in turn and was asked to tell the story to the examiner. When presenting the stories, the examiner held the binder in such a way that she could not see the pictures as the child told the story, which meant that the child needed to use language rather than pointing or gesturing if the examiner was to understand the story. The instructions emphasized that the examiner would not be able to see the pictures, so the child would have to tell a really good story so the examiner could understand it.

The examiner first went through all the pages so that the child could preview the story, after which the examiner turned the pages again as the child told the story. Administration of the story sets was counterbalanced.

Note that this task is story generation from pictures, not a retell task. The child was not told a story by the examiner.

Children's story retellings were audiotaped and later transcribed orthographically in full. The transcripts were divided into communication units (C-units), each of which consisted either of one independent clause plus any dependent clauses associated with it or of a sentence fragment. Contractions were spelled out using parentheses, for example, he (i)s for he's. No attempt was made to transcribe speech errors accurately. Children's names do not appear in the transcripts. More information on transcription is available on the website.

Transcripts were checked against the recordings by the primary investigator before being analysed. A research assistant transcribed 5% of the stories for reliability purposes; word-by-word reliability was calculated to be 97%.

4. Measures

Measures were developed to assess story information included in children's tellings (Story Grammar), introduction of referents (First Mentions), and syntactic complexity (Complexity Index). Story Grammar is scored using two stories, A1 and A3; the other scores are based on all 6 stories. Although CLAN was used to code these measures, the codes are not included in the files donated to CHILDES. There are norms for these measures as well as for Mean Length of Communication Unit, Total Number of Words, and Number of Different Words. These measures and norms are available at the website.

5. File information

File information. The first number of each file indicates age (e.g., 4xx indicates age 4). Each file contains a header with information about the child's age, gender, and group (TD = typically development, SLI = language impairment). Stories and sets are separated by 'gem' codes; for example:

@BGSetAbeginning of Set A stories
@BG:A1beginning of story A1
@EG: A1end of story A1


The data collection was funded by Children's Health Foundation of Northern Alberta.

Usage restrictions

The authors ask that researchers who use the date send copies of publications based on the data.