Learning to Inflect English

Biks and Gutches is an easy-to-administer-and-score task. It looks too simple to be very useful but with it we can easily predict which young children need extra help with learning English. Giving this assessment to individual children will help the teacher become a better judge of how a child’s oral language is changing.

  • The items can be used to evaluate whether a new teaching programme is having any effect. Change can be captured over two points in time.
  • If the school has introduced some new or special instruction, Biks and Gutches can be used to evaluate its effectiveness. Results could point to the rate and kind of change that has occurred as a result of special attention.
  • For children who speak a dialect of English the test can answer questions like this: Has the children’s control over the rules for inflections of the standard dialect increased?

Children usually learn and use both school and ‘home’ versions of English and they know when to use either version. Sometimes the nonstandard usage dominates, and this can have consequences for school assessments in standard English. Compare the test and retest scores to see the rates of change and any persistent problems.

The items in Biks and Gutches were designed for the five- to seven-year-old age group but have been used successfully in research with children up to ten years old.

 

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