Teaching & Learning Portal


Michael Ashby


Michael Ashby, Speech Hearing and Phonetic Sciences

Internationally recognised as a major scholar in the field of phonetics teaching, Michael is committed to finding ways of simultaneously preserving and renewing the original spirit of UCL phonetics teaching, which has been renowned worldwide for more than a century in the modern context of an ever-expanding transdisciplinary field. 

He is also committed to balancing the demands of widening participation, growing student numbers and the expectations of and pressures on students. He is committed to empowering students and helping them to become autonomous learners, often through teaching and assessment innovations. He developed the first ever e-learning distance course in Phonetics, PHONLINE – now available as a going concern, capable of generating revenue and with a proven international market. He also embeds work on audio interactivity in e-learning courses, and he is passionate about designing diagrams and embedding them in his teaching materials. In short, he has radically changed how phonetics teaching is delivered.  

International students are given the opportunity to act as language consultants, with their classmates (under Michael’s guidance) eliciting and analysing samples of their speech. The ethical issues are addressed, and then, once release forms have been signed, recordings are made and immediately shared as part of the teaching material. Among many other benefits, this helps build international awareness of, and respect for, language variation, minority languages and non-standard varieties.

Michael has published extremely widely and has spoken all over the world, often to large audiences of teachers or teachers of teachers. His Introducing Phonetic Science is a best-selling textbook, adopted around the world, and amongst his other major activities he has been the Phonetics Editor of the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (OALD), which is the world's largest-selling dictionary for learners of English. In other words, Michael Ashby is a byword for excellence and innovation in the teaching of phonetics.