This study explored the relationships existing between the socio-ethnic status of 7 year-old boys and the nature of the utterances spoken to them by student teachers. The utterances were considered to reflect the student teacher's attribution of linguistic competence in use to the boys.
Eighteen final-year student teachers undertaking the Primary Course were used as the sample. The student teachers generated and told stories to photographs of boys of differing socio- ethnic status. The utterances of the student teachers were analysed to identify differences in the student teachers' attributed competence in use as a function of the socio- ethnic status of the boys.
It was hypothesized that the linguistic competence in use at tributed to Middle Class Caucasian boys would be greater than that attributed to Lower Class Caucasian boys. It was hypothesized; further, that the linguistic competence in use attributed Lower Class Caucasian boys would be gr eater than that attributed Lower Class Aboriginal boys.
The data yielded support for the research hypotheses on measures of syntactic complexity. Support for the research hypotheses was not found using lexical and syntactic elaboration measures.