Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Helen Blake

Proposed title

Enhancing proficiency, intelligibility and participation of multilingual speakers in Australia.

Summary

Proficiency in the language of the country of residence has implications for an individual's level of education, employability, income and social integration. In Australia 23.2% of the population reported speaking a language other than English at home. Moreover, 13% of these individuals reported speaking English 'not well' or 'not at all' (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015). Intelligibility is the extent to which a native speaker understands a speaker's message (Derwing & Munro, 1997). It is a perceptual judgement made by the listener and is influenced not only by speech patterns (accent), but also by message content, the listener's linguistic experience, communication cues available and context in which the communication takes place (Bernthal & Bankson, 2004). This mixed methods research will examine the extent to which intelligibility in English impacts multilingual speakers' ability to participate in Australian society. Using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (World Health Organization, 2001) as a framework, the study will investigate this population's ability to participate in education, employment and leisure activities as well as examine their  attitudes to and experiences of enhancing their intelligibility in English.

Why I chose CSU

I chose CSU primarily for my supervisor. I met Professor Sharynne McLeod when I presented the results of my honours thesis at a conference in 2011.  At that time she asked if I wanted to be her PhD student and 3 years later I contacted her to see if she would seriously consider my proposal. I wanted to undertake research regarding enhancing the intelligibility of multilingual speakers. I was impressed by her energy and enthusiasm and hoped that since her research interests include multilingual speech development as well as teaching and learning in higher education, she might be interested in working with me. Since we met, I had established the Speech Intelligibility Clinic at Newcastle University where I have been working for the past few years providing intelligibility enhancement to university staff and students who are multilingual speakers. Although I initially came to CSU for Professor McLeod, I now believe that this university allows me a unique opportunity through networks such as SPAN to conduct meaningful research that may make a positive difference in this population.

Engagement and memberships

Invited member of the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children's Speech

Member of Speech Pathology Australia

Member of National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, United States.

Founding committee member of The University of Newcastle Speech Pathology Alumni Chapter

Publications

JOURNAL ARTICLES

  1. Blake, H. L., Bennetts Kneebone, L. & McLeod, S. (2017 in press). The effect of oral English proficiency on humanitarian migrants' experiences of settling in Australia. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. doi:10.1080/13670050.2017.1294557​
  2. Blake, H. L., McLeod, S., Verdon, S. & Fuller, G. (2016 in press). The relationship between spoken English proficiency and participation in higher education, employment, and income from two Australian censuses. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. doi:10.1080/17549507.2016.1229031
  3. Blake, H. L., Hewat, S. L., & Spencer, E. L. (2011). Native speaker and non-native speaker communication during job interviews. Asia Pacific Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing, 14 (3), 171-178. doi:10.1179/jslh.2011.14.3.171

EDITORIAL

  1. Verdon, S., Blake, H. L., Hopf, S. C., Phạm, B., & McLeod, S. (2016). Cultural and linguistic diversity in speech-language pathology. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 18(2), 109-110. doi:10.3109/17549507.2015.1122838

CLINICAL GUIDELINE AND POSITION PAPER

  1. Speech Pathology Australia (Verdon, S., Armstrong, H., Basso, R., Blake, H., Crowe, K., Heine, C., Hopf, S., Huang, A., McLeod, S., Phạm, B., Walker-Smith, K., & Webster, K.). (2016). Clinical guideline: Working in a culturally and linguistically diverse society. Melbourne, Australia: Speech Pathology Association of Australia.
  2. Speech Pathology Australia (Verdon, S., Armstrong, H., Basso, R., Blake, H., Crowe, K., Heine, C., Hopf, S., Huang, A., McLeod, S., Phạm, B., Walker-Smith, K., & Webster, K.) (2016). Position paper: Working in a culturally and linguistically diverse society. Melbourne, Australia: Speech Pathology Association of Australia.

CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

  1. Blake, H. L., Bennetts Kneebone, L., & McLeod, S. (2016, July). Humanitarian migrants' English language proficiency and integration: "All is well and good but the problem is language". Paper presented at the Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne, Australia.
  2. Blake, H. L., McLeod, S., Verdon, S., & Fuller, G. (2016, June). Multilingual speakers' participation in an English-dominant society. Paper presented at the International Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
  3. Blake, H. L., McLeod, S., Fuller, G. & Verdon, S. (2016, May). Participation in education and employment by culturally and linguistically diverse Australians. Poster presented at the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, Perth, Australia.
  4. Blake, H. L., Hewat, S. L., & Spencer, E. L. (2011, June). Native speaker and non-native speaker communication during job interviews. Poster presented at the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, Darwin, Australia.
  5. Blake, H. L., Hewat, S. L., & Spencer, E. L. (2011, January). Native speaker and non-native speaker communication during job interviews. Paper presented at the Asia Pacific Conference on Speech, Language and Hearing Christchurch, New Zealand.