The politics of pronunciation – talk by Helen Ashton

Collins in partnership with British Council India invites you to a talk on The Politics of Pronunciation by Helen Ashton.


Helen Ashton trained at The Central School of Speech and Drama, graduating with Distinction from the MA in Voice. She specialises in speech and accent work, which she teaches at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), in London. She has coached actors in many different accents for Stage and Screen appearances. Helen is co-author of the pronunciation guide Collins’ Work On Your Accent which was published in 2012, and teaches English pronunciation to speakers of all languages. Helen also holds an MA with First Class Honours in History from The University of Edinburgh.


Dialect coach, Helen Ashton believes that accents reflect our identities, and no one way of speaking is inherently better than another. However, this doesn’t mean that pronunciation teaching should be abandoned altogether. There is a middle ground: there is a difference between training people to talk like Received Pronunciation drones, and helping them to speak in a way that is expressive and clear to anyone listening. Although individual accents should be respected, there comes a point where pronunciation habits can be a limitation to fluency.

In this presentation, Helen will argue that pronunciation teaching should be flexible, and tailored to students’ individual goals. She will include examples from the Indian context and consider one of the key issues here that gets teachers arguing: should our children be taught English models of pronunciation or is it acceptable in this global world – for them to speak with Indian accents? She will also present key skills and concepts that are useful for teaching different pronunciation models.

There is space for both sensitivity and rigour within pronunciation teaching in India, and without either one of them, we are letting our students down. Read more here


Collins is one of the world’s leading dictionary, schools, reference and language publishers. Founded in 1819 on the principle of “creating knowledge for all”, Collins continues to offer an exceptionally wide choice for all language needs.

With almost 200 years of dictionary publishing experience, Collins is one of the world’s most authoritative education and language publishers. By pioneering new approaches to publishing Collins will always provide people with the most up-to-date and accessible dictionaries and language learning products available.

Collins is best known in India for its dictionaries, language reference books and course books for international schools. In a major new initiative Collins has now launched skills books for phonics, spelling, ELT, mathematics and reading for children in Indian schools in grades 1 to 8, and will shortly be publishing course books covering ELT, mathematics, science and computer science also for grades 1 to 8 focusing initially on the requirements of the CBSE board.

Globally Collins publishing continues to grow, with over 60 eBooks and hundreds of apps now available.

You can follow some of the discussions on Twitter @inBritish and @TeachEngIndia with #Pronunciation

Share via email

2 thoughts on “The politics of pronunciation – talk by Helen Ashton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>