Shape Coding by Susan Ebbels ® logo

     Click here to view a short video about Shape Coding by Susan Ebbels®  

                                    Click here for slides used in the video      

Please note that we are currently the only providers of accredited Shape Coding resources. If you are offered any resources via other sources, they are not accredited and their quality and accuracy is uncertain. 

We accredit Shape Coding trainers to deliver Part 1 training. If you are offered Shape Coding training, please check the trainer has been on our "train the trainer" course and is accredited to deliver Shape Coding training. Otherwise the quality and accuracy is uncertain.  


Shape Coding with Susan Ebbels

The "Shape Coding by Susan Ebbels"® system is a resource used by Speech & Language Therapists at Moor House, across the UK and further afield. It was designed by Speech & Language Therapist Dr Susan Ebbels (pictured right) at Moor House to teach spoken and written grammar to school-aged children with SLI. It has been developed and progressed since 1999 primarily for children and young people with language disorders aged 7-20, but it has also been successfully used with younger children, children with hearing impairment, children with Down syndrome and adults with acquired aphasia. The system uses a visual coding system to show a child the rules for how words are put together in sentences, to develop the child’s understanding of spoken and written grammar and to develop their ability to use grammar successfully to express themselves.

The system includes use of colours (parts of speech), arrows (tense and aspect) and shapes (syntactic and argument structure). It has been used successfully to teach children the following aspects of grammar:

Parts of speech Questions Past vs present tense   Shape Coding
Noun-verb agreement Verb argument structure Passive vs active sentences  
Dative sentences Embedded structures Conjunctions  

For a chart showing all the shapes, please click here.

Resources, courses and support 
See our courses page for information on accredited courses on "Shape Coding by Susan Ebbels"® and please feel free to contact us to discuss your training needs on

For a written introduction to "Shape Coding by Susan Ebbels"® see: Ebbels, S.H. (2007). Teaching grammar to school-aged children with Specific Language Impairment using Shape Coding. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 23, 67-93. Link


CDs available to purchase
contains many useful Shape Coding resources for therapy sessions

Shape Coding by Susan Ebbels® CD containg PDF files

Postage is free within the UK

(Choose guest if no PayPal account)

* Verbs are coded blue and prepositions are coded yellow

Shape Coding by Susan Ebbels® CD containg word files 

Postage is free within the UK.

(Choose guest if no PayPal account)

*Verbs are coded blue and prepositions are coded yellow
Clinicans can amend & adapt Word worksheets

To purchase a CD and for prices for multiple orders, please email Magdalena Bamber: 

For any enquiries or suggestions about the content of the CDs, please contact Susan

*Please note that the current CDs use the latest colour coding where blue is now used for verbs and yellow for prepositions. The research publications use the old coding system (blue for prepositions and yellow for verbs). If you would prefer a CD using the old colour coding please ask for Shape Coding CD (yellow verbs), prices as above.

Shape Coding by Susan Ebbels® discussion forum
Anyone with an interest in "Shape Coding by Susan Ebbels"® is welcome to join the Yahoo discussion forum. The forum enables therapists and teachers to collaborate about "Shape Coding by Susan Ebbels"® methods and resources. To join email or join via the group website

Follow us on Twitter: @ShapeCoding #ShapeCoding

Evidence of effectiveness of "Shape Coding by Susan Ebbels"®
The findings of studies carried out by Dr Susan Ebbels and colleagues have been published in peer-reviewed journals and references are listed below.

Ebbels, S.H. (2007). Teaching grammar to school-aged children with Specific Language Impairment using Shape Coding. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 23, 67-93. Link

Ebbels, S. H. (2014). Effectiveness of intervention for grammar in school-aged children with primary language impairments: a review of the evidence.Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 30: 7-40. Link

Ebbels, S.H., van der Lely, H.K.J., and Dockrell, J.E. (2007). Intervention for verb argument structure in children with persistent SLI: a randomized control trial. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, 50, 1330-1349. Link

Ebbels, S. H., Maric, M., Murphy, A., & Turner, G. (2014).  Improving comprehension in adolescents with severe receptive language impairments: a randomised control trial of intervention for coordinating conjunctions. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 49: 30-48. Link

Kulkarni, A., Pring, T. & Ebbels, S.H. (2014). Evaluating the effectiveness of therapy based around Shape Coding to develop the use of regular past tense morphemes in two children with language impairments. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 30, 245-254 Link

Ebbels, S. and van der Lely, H. (2001). Meta-syntactic therapy using visual coding for children with severe persistent SLI. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders 36(supplement), 345-350. Submitted version  

Newton, C., Kirby, P., & Bruce, C. (2017). Getting into shape: the effect of Shape Coding on the spoken language production of two men with chronic aphasia. Aphasiology, 1-23. doi:10.1080/02687038.2017.1306639. Link