Adjunct Associate Professor Helen Fraser

Adjunct Associate Professor - Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education; School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Helen Fraser


Helen Fraser studied phonetics and related subjects at Macquarie University and the University of Edinburgh. After working at several universities in the UK and Ireland, she settled in Armidale, where she taught in linguistics at the University of New England for 18 years. She now runs a small consultancy business, while continuing her research as an independent scholar, and as an Adjunct Associate Professor at UNE.

Her main theoretical interest is in Cognitive Phonetics, the study of how speech is represented, both internally, in the minds of speakers and listeners, and externally, via writing, transcription and metalinguistic description.

Using this theoretical background, Helen has been able to impact several important practical areas, notably:

  • facilitating spoken communication between native and non-native speakers of English;
  • improving the reliability of forensic transcription (interpretation of indistinct covert recordings used as evidence in criminal trials - see

She has also developed a web-based program called Rethink Speech, aiming to combat common misconceptions about the nature of speech and how it works.


Selected publications (forensic)

Fraser, H. 2019. Don't believe your ears: ‘Enhancing’ forensic audio can mislead juries in criminal trials. The Conversationlink

Fraser, H. 2019. ‘Enhancing’ forensic audio: What if all that really gets enhanced is the credibility of a misleading transcript? Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences.

Fraser, H. 2019. The role of native speakers in LADO: Are we missing a more important question. In Patrick, P. L., Schmid, M. S., & Zwaan, K. (Eds) Language Analysis for the Determination of Origin. Springer.

Fraser, H. 2018. Forensic transcription: How confident false beliefs about language and speech threaten the right to a fair trial in Australia. Australian Journal of Linguistics.50(2):129-139        

French, P., & Fraser, H. 2018. Why ‘ad hoc experts’ should not provide transcripts of indistinct forensic audio, and a proposal for a better approach. Criminal Law Journal 42(5): 298-302 link

Fraser, H. 2018. Covert recordings used as evidence in criminal trials: concerns of Australian linguists. Judicial Officers Bulletin, 30(6), 53–56.

Fraser, H. 2018. “Enhancing” forensic audio: False beliefs and their effect in criminal trials. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences. DOI: 10.1080/00450618.2018.1491115

Fraser, H. 2018. Thirty years is long enough: It’s time to create a process that ensures covert recordings used as evidence in court are interpreted reliably and fairly. Journal of Judicial Administration, 27(3), 95–104.

Fraser, H. 2018. Real forensic experts should pay more attention to the dangers posed by “ad hoc experts” (Guest Editorial). Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 50(2), 125–128.

Fraser, H. 2018. ‘Assisting’ listeners to hear words that aren’t there: Dangers in using police transcripts of indistinct covert recordings. Aust Jnl of Forensic Sciences, 50(2), 129-139.

Fraser, H. 2017. How interpretation of indistinct covert recordings can lead to wrongful conviction: A case study and recommendations for reform. In R. Levy, et al (Eds.), New directions for law in Australia. Canberra: ANU Press.

Fraser, H. 2014. Transcription of indistinct forensic recordings: Problems and solutions from the perspective of phonetic science. Language and Law/Linguagem e Direito. 1(2):15-21

Fraser, H. & Stevenson, B. 2014. The power and persistence of contextual priming: more risks in using police transcripts to aid jurors' perception of poor quality covert recordings. International Journal of Evidence and Proof. (18), 205–229.

Fraser, H., Stevenson, B., & Marks, A. 2011. Interpretation of a crisis call: The persistence of primed perception of speech. International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, 18(2), 261-292.

Fraser, H. 2003. Issues in Transcription: Factors affecting the reliability of transcripts as evidence in legal cases. International Journal of Speech Language and the Law 10:203-226.

Selected publications (Second language pronunciation and speaking skills)

Fraser, H. 2014. When teaching phonology isn't enough: Insights from mondegreens. Speak Out!, 50, 29–33.

Fraser, H. 2011. Spoken word recognition. In C. Chappelle (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics: Wiley-Darkwell.

Fraser, H. 2011. Speaking and listening in the multicultural university: A reflective case study. Journal of Academic Language & Learning, 5(1), A110-128.

Fraser, H. 2011. Speaking of speech: Developing metalanguage for effective communication about pronunciation. In A. Henderson (Ed.), Proceedings of the International Conference on English Pronunciation: Issues and Practices, (119-138). Chambéry: Université de Savoie.

Fraser, H. 2010. Cognitive Phonology as a tool for teaching pronunciation. In Fostering Language Teaching Efficiency through Cognitive Linguistics, ed. S De Knop, et al. Berlin: Mouton.

Fraser, H. 2007. Categories and Concepts in Phonology: Theory and Practice. In A. C. Schalley & D. Khlentzos (Eds.), Mental States. Vol.2: Language and Cognitive Structure. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Fraser, H. 2006. Phonological Concepts and Concept Formation. International Journal of English Studies, 6(2), 55–76.

Fraser, H. 2010. Teaching suprasegmentals like the stars. Speak Out!, 43, 8–12.

Fraser, H. 2009. Pronunciation as categorization: The role of contrast in teaching English /r/ and /l/. In Studies in Applied Linguistics and Language Learning, ed. A Mahboob and C Lipovsky. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Fraser, H. 2007. Categories and concepts in phonology: Theory and practice. In Mental States: Language and Cognitive Structure, ed. A Schalley & D Khlentzos. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Fraser, H. 2006. Helping teachers help students with pronunciation. Prospect: A journal of Australian TESOL 21:80-94.

Fraser, H. 2001. Teaching Pronunciation: A handbook for teachers and trainers. Sydney: TAFE NSW Access Division.

Fraser, H. 2000. Coordinating improvements in pronunciation teaching for adult learners of English as a second language. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Education Training and Youth Affairs.