Helen L Blake is a lecturer in speech pathology at UTS. A certified practicing speech pathologist, she is a member of the working party that developed Speech Pathology Australia’s national position paper and clinical guidelines "working in a culturally and linguistically diverse society" and a member of the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech.
Helen completed her PhD at Charles Sturt University researching English proficiency, intelligibility, and participation of multilingual speakers in Australia. Helen has previously lead the Speech Intelligibility Clinic, University of Newcastle. Helen’s work in Intelligibility Enhancement in multilingual speakers is informed by her previous role as a standardisation officer in Air Traffic Control.
- Finalist in Charles Sturt University’s Three Minute Thesis Competition (2017)
- Short-listed for Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Research Scholarship in the Allied Health Sciences (2016)
- Australian Postgraduate Award ($25,849 per annum for 3 years = $77,547) (2015)
- Newcastle University Medal (2010)
- Faculty Medal – Education and Arts (2010)
- Speech Pathology Australia Student Award (complimentary upgrade to full membership) (2010)
- Hunter Area Speech Pathologists’ Student Award (2010)
- Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Honours Scholarship ($1000 and a laptop computer) (2009)
- Pearson Education Australia Award for Academic Excellence ($125 book voucher) (2008)
- Member: International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics
- Invited member: International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech
- Member: National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, United States
- Founding committee member: The University of Newcastle Speech Pathology Alumni Chapter
- Member: Speech Pathology Australia
- International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
- The International Review of Applied Economics
- Speech, Language and Hearing
- Journal of Refugee Studies
- Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica
- World Englishes
- Speech Communication
- Reviewer: Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, Darwin, Australia (2020)
- Reviewer and chair: Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, Brisbane, Australia (2019)
- Reviewer: Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, Adelaide, Australia (2018)
- Reviewer and chair: Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, Sydney, Australia (2017)
- Invited member: Cultural and Linguistic Issues Topic Committee, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, Los Angeles, USA (2017)
- Reviewer and chair: Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, Perth, Australia (2016)
- Intelligibility Enhancement
- English proficiency and intelligibility in multilingual speakers; university students, and humanitarian migrants
- International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) (World Health Organization)
- Clinical education in speech-language pathology
- Speech sound disorders
- Linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, etc.
- Clinical education/placements
Blake, HL & McLeod, S 2019, 'Speech-language pathologists' support for multilingual speakers' English intelligibility and participation informed by the ICF.', Journal of Communication Disorders, vol. 77, pp. 56-70.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
PURPOSE:To use the ICF to classify characteristics and aspirations of multilingual university students and faculty who seek speech-language pathologists' support for intelligibility in English and to identify activities, facilitators, and barriers that impact participation in society. METHOD:A retrospective record review was conducted on files of 175 clients attending a university clinic for intelligibility enhancement (accent modification). Participants came from 35 countries and spoke 28 different home languages. RESULTS:Assessment and intervention for intelligibility enhancement involved consideration of ICF components of Body Functions and Structures (e.g., articulating phonemes, rate, prosody), Environmental Factors (e.g., support), and Personal Factors (e.g., motivation). Consonant substitutions and deletions were common, although participants were often unaware of these. For example, only 25.6% of participants reported English dental fricatives (/θ/ and /ð/) were difficult to pronounce; however, 94.9% substituted them with other phonemes such as [t] and [d]. The combination of substitutions/deletions, fast speech rate, low speaking volume, and differences in word stress exacerbated poor intelligibility. More time conversing in English was associated with greater confidence and less difficulty communicating in English, although more time knowing English was not. Difficult communication situations were reported to be conversing over the phone, talking to strangers, and communicating in English on professional fieldwork placements. Participants were motivated to seek intelligibility enhancement for academic, employment, and social reasons. CONCLUSIONS:To ensure multilingual speakers are able to participate fully in society, intelligibility enhancement requires a multi-pronged approach where speech and environmental characteristics interweave.
Blake, HL, Kneebone, LB & McLeod, S 2019, 'The impact of oral English proficiency on humanitarian migrants' experiences of settling in Australia', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND BILINGUALISM, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 689-705.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Blake, HL, McLeod, S & Verdon, S 2019, 'Intelligibility Enhancement Assessment and Intervention: a single-case experimental design with two multilingual university students', Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) may be approached by multilingual speakers wishing to improve their intelligibility in English. Intelligibility is an essential element of spoken language proficiency and is particularly important for multilingual international students given their need to express complex ideas in an additional language. Intelligibility Enhancement aims to improve the intelligibility and acceptability of consonants, vowels and prosody with multilingual speakers who are learning to speak English. This study aimed to describe the Intelligibility Enhancement Assessment and Intervention Protocols and determine whether the intervention changed multilingual university students' English intelligibility. A multiple-baseline single-case experimental design was applied with direct inter-subject replication across two female participants whose home languages were Vietnamese and Putonghua (Mandarin). English intelligibility was assessed at multiple intervals pre, post and during intervention. The intervention protocol consisted of 11 weekly 1-h sessions with an SLP targeting English consonants, vowels and prosody. Following intervention, both participants displayed increased performance across most measures. For example, the Vietnamese participant's percentage of consonants correct (PCC) increased from 62.5% to 85.0% in probe keywords. Effect sizes, when comparing baseline and withdrawal phases, were 5.5 for PCC, 4.6 for final consonants, 2.3 for consonant clusters and 1.6 for syllables indicating improvements in all variables measured. Her speech rate reduced, word stress increased in accuracy and she perceived less difficulty communicating in English. These promising results suggest further testing of the Intelligibility Enhancement Protocols is warranted to determine effectiveness as an intervention for multilingual speakers.
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Multilingual speakers' ability to communicate effectively and intelligibly in the language of their country of residence is crucial to their participation. This study explored multilingual speakers' motivations for improving their intelligibility in English and their perceptions of potential barriers and facilitators to enhancing intelligibility. Participants were multilingual students and staff at 14 Australian universities. Extended response data from 137 survey responses were combined with seven semi-structured interviews, thematically analyzed using the World Health Organization's International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health as a conceptual framework, and coded using NVivo software. Three overarching themes were: motivations, barriers, and facilitators. Themes that emerged under motivations were meeting their own and others' expectations and career aspirations. Themes that emerged under barriers to intelligibility were lack of self-awareness of reduced English intelligibility, use of ineffective strategies (e.g., fast speech rate to disguise pronunciation difficulties), language differences, lack of opportunity to practise English, participants' perceptions of others' negative attitudes to their English skills, and challenging conversational partners. Facilitators to intelligibility were emotional support from others, beneficial strategies (e.g., confirming listener understanding), and opportunities to practice. The results highlight the importance of supporting multilingual speakers' efforts to improve their English intelligibility. An environment with barriers such as lack of opportunity to practise English may restrict an individuals' performance and participation, while facilitators such as support from others may increase participation. This study will inform the understanding of speech-language pathologists engaged in intelligibility enhancement, as well as SLP...
Blake, HL & McLeod, S 2018, 'The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health: Considering Individuals From a Perspective of Health and Wellness', Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, vol. 3, no. 17, pp. 69-69.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Blake, HL, Mcleod, S, Verdon, S & Fuller, G 2018, 'The relationship between spoken English proficiency and participation in higher education, employment and income from two Australian censuses', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 202-215.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Verdon, S, Blake, HL, Hopf, SC, Pham, B & McLeod, S 2016, 'Cultural and linguistic diversity in speech-language pathology', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 109-110.View/Download from: Publisher's site