Random Example MAIN Illustration

What is MAIN?

The MAIN (Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives) is an instrument for assessing narrative skills in children who acquire one or more languages from birth or from early age, developed as part of the LITMUS battery of tests (see Background for more details). MAIN exists for many different languages. It contains four parallel stories, each with a carefully designed six-picture sequence based on a multidimensional model of story organization. The stories are controlled for cognitive and linguistic complexity, parallelism in macrostructure and microstructure, as well as for cultural appropriateness and robustness.

MAIN allows for the assessment of comprehension and production of narratives in several languages in the same child and in different elicitation modes: Model Story, Retelling, and Telling. It can be used for evaluation, intervention, and research purposes.

If you want to use MAIN

MAIN has developed into sustainable infrastructure. Its interdisciplinary network consists of researchers from over 60 countries working with 92 languages. As of Sep 2022, MAIN is used by over 3200 researchers worldwide. Our Worldwide Network of researchers and practitioners is constantly growing.

Before using MAIN, please see the chapter »Background on MAIN Revised, how to use it and adapt it to other languages«.

If you want to use MAIN, you have to accept copyright and license agreements; after that you can download the pictures and guidelines/​protocols in different languages.

More information is available under MAIN materials.



MAIN is part of LITMUS (Language Impairment Testing in Multilingual Settings). LITMUS is a battery of tests that is being developed as a result of COST Action IS0804 Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society: Linguistic Patterns and the Road to Assessment. Financial support by COST is hereby gratefully acknowledged.

The 2012 version of MAIN was designed on the basis of extensive piloting with more than 500 monolingual and bilingual children aged 3 to 10, for 15 different languages and language combinations. Later on, MAIN has also been used successfully with older children, adolescents and adults.

The present 2019 English version has been revised on the basis of over 2,500 transcribed MAIN narratives as well as ca 24,000 responses to MAIN comprehension questions, collected from around 700 monolingual and bilingual children in Germany, Russia and Sweden between 2013–2019.

Call to MAIN users

If you have interesting news, suggestions, publications, and other information on MAIN related activities, please share them with us. We will post a selection on this website.
Please also contact us if you are interested in presenting your research at our online Text & Tea meetings.
Contact e-mail: costmain@leibniz-zas.de