About us

Dr Duncan Markham, Principal Consultant

  • Filosofie doctor in Psycholinguistics and Phonetics, Lund University, Sweden
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Germanic Languages and Linguistics, Australian National University, Canberra
  • former Research Fellow , Dept of Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences, University College London
  • former Lecturer in Linguistics, Deakin University, Melbourne

Ear & Speak was created by me, Dr Duncan Markham, in 2002, after many years of international teaching and research. As Principal Consultant of the business I am responsible for most of the core activities.

I provide services to individuals and businesses in many areas, helping people improve their language skills and self-confidence. I also have trusted colleagues who sometimes help my clients in certain language skills.

My areas of expertise are talent and aptitude in language learning, and the characteristics of real-life spoken communication. I have many years’ experience teaching phonetics (the science of the sounds of speech), and researching the nature of accents and accent change. I speak German and Swedish to a very high standard, and have some knowledge of a large number of other languages, including Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Before establishing Ear & Speak in 2002, I was a full time researcher at University College London, working on the intelligibility of different people’s voices, and how voices can be enhanced to improve intelligibility. I have previously held a position as Lecturer in Linguistics at Deakin University, Melbourne, where I established a speech analysis laboratory.

I’m an Associate of The Presentation Group, which provides a range of communication training services, and from 2006 to 2010 I was also Senior Communication Consultant for a career management company focused on the needs of immigrant graduates and professionals. I have held training seminars on behalf of the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT), and I also participate in public debate about the English language (ABC radio broadcast, Perspective).

Please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss your needs. If I’m unable to help you, then I might know other people in speech and language training who could.


Debbie Loakes

Dr Debbie Loakes is the trainer for Saturday appointments for Ear & Speak's clients.

My area of expertise is spoken language, and, like Duncan, I am interested in how people speak in real life (not how other people think you “should” sound). From 2007 to 2009 I worked with Duncan as a Communication Consultant for a career management company focused on the needs of immigrant graduates and professionals, and since then have been working as a language researcher at The University of Melbourne.

I have lectured various courses including phonetics (the science of the speech sounds) and phonology (the way in which people think about sounds in language), and I have focused on these subjects in my research career. I am particularly interested in how and why sounds and accents change. I work mostly on languages in Australia: Australian English, as well as Indigenous Australian languages. I also have a good understanding of child language development.

I regularly present my work at national and international conferences (for example Sydney in April and December 2012, and Munich in May 2012,), and publish my work in leading journals. My most recent contribution is in the The Oxford Handbook of the History of Linguistics (ch.6).

A little more about me: I have a PhD in phonetics from The University of Melbourne, and a BA (Hons) in linguistics from Monash University, and have been working as a lecturer and researcher since 2006. I am also currently studying an Advanced Diploma in Management.