Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (MAIN)

The Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (MAIN) is part of the LITMUS (Language Impairment Testing in Multilingual Settings) community. LITMUS includes a battery of tests that were developed in connection with the COST Action IS0804 Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society: Linguistic Patterns and the Road to Assessment (2009-2013). Since then, the MAIN network has expanded beyond the LITMUS community of researchers and practitioners. Interdisciplinary teams of theoretical linguists, psycholinguists, psychologists, clinicians, educators, health workers and information technologists are engaged in the MAIN network across countries and continents.

MAIN was first published in 2012/2013. Several years of theory development and material construction preceded this launch. First, models of story organization were evaluated and revised; then the core group of MAIN developers created a multi-dimensional model of story organization. This model was translated into child-appropriate real-life plots, which are also cross-culturally and cross-linguistically robust. The plots were visualized as picture stories and piloted for 15 languages. This entire process was accompanied by the development of elicitation procedures, assessment protocols, scoring guidelines, etc. All this work led to the birth of MAIN, as documented in the Manual, published in ZASPiL 56 in 2012, together with 26 language versions of MAIN.

Three years later, in 2015, first results for 17 languages and 14 different language pairs were published in the volume Assessing Multilingual Children (Multilingual Matters). In 2016, a Special Issue of Applied Psycholinguistics “Narrative abilities in bilingual children” with 7 original research articles presented new results for MAIN.

In 2019, the Revised version in English (as a base for all language adaptations) was published in ZASPiL 63, together with revised versions in German, Russian, Swedish, and Turkish for the bilingual Turkish-Swedish population in Sweden. These revisions were the result of intensive collaboration between Ute Bohnacker’s research group in Uppsala and the Leibniz-ZAS Research Area 2, led by Natalia Gagarina. They worked through 2,500 transcribed oral narrative texts and more than 24,000 responses to MAIN comprehension questions of monolinguals and bilinguals in Sweden, Germany and Russia, in order to improve the guidelines, elicitation and scoring procedures.

In 2020, new language versions and further revised language versions have been launched.

Since MAIN was launched, speech-language therapists, other clinicians and educators have been working intensively with the instrument. Recently, MAIN has received recognition by the UNESCO Chair on Language Policies for Multilingualism, by policy makers and by the Senate Health Administration of the Federal State of Berlin, Germany.


Links to publications:

2012ZASPiL 56: Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives
2015Assessing multilingual children: Disentangling bilingualism from language impairment (Multilingual Matters): Chapter 9 ”Assessment of narrative abilities in bilingual children”
2016Applied Psycholinguistics 37: Narrative abilities in bilingual children
2019ZASPiL 63: MAIN: Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives – Revised
2020ZASPiL 64: New language versions of MAIN: Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives - Revised


If you want to use MAIN, you must take note and accept the license, citation and copyright rules and register as a user. After that you can download the materials.

→   Download