Dr Graeme Couper

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Senior lecturer (Above the Bar)

Phone: +64 9 921 9999 ext 6048

Email: graeme.couper@aut.ac.nz


  • PhD, University of New England, Armidale, NSW
  • Master of Applied Linguistics, Macquarie University, NSW
  • RSA Diploma (Teaching English for Specific Purposes), Cambridge University, UK
  • Introduction to Language Teaching, Instituto Cultural Mexicano Norteamericano, Guadalajara
  • BCA (Bachelor of Commerce and Administration), Victoria University, Wellington.

Memberships and Affiliations:

  • AKTESOL Member
  • ALANZ Member

Teaching Areas:

  • Postgraduate supervision
  • Masters papers: MPLS: Contemporary Approaches and Issues, Language Analysis, The Language Learner
  • Reflective Practice Project.MPLS: The Language Learner
  • M Phil: Thesis second supervisor
  • Undergraduate: Applied Linguistics, especially Phonology and Pronunciation.

Research Areas:

  • Second language learning and teaching
  • Pronunciation learning and teaching
  • Teacher cognition of pronunciation teaching
  • Classroom-based research
  • Cognitive phonology applied to the classroom
  • Classroom implications of usage based theories of language
  • New migrant issues.

Research Summary:

Graeme completed his Masters thesis investigating how ESOL students fared once they left AUT with a view to better meeting student' needs in the future. This led to a particular interest in the teaching of pronunciation and the completion of a PhD in this area. Using a cognitive phonology framework he found that socially constructed metalanguage and critical listening were two key variables in successful learning.

Since then he has continued to undertake research to further test these findings, focusing on the teaching of syllable codas, word stress and sentence stress. He has also investigated the teaching of pragmatics and intends to explore how one can teach prosody in relation to pragmatics.

His research in pronunciation learning and teaching is internationally recognised and often cited for the significant contribution it has made to the field. This has led to unsolicited invitations to write book chapters and articles as well as to present a keynote speech at a recent pronunciation symposium in Canberra.

Current Research Projects:

Having completed a significant amount of research into what makes pronunciation teaching effective Dr Graeme Couper has now turned his attention to teachers’ beliefs, attitudes and practices (teacher cognition) regarding pronunciation teaching. He believes that in order for researchers to undertake research which will have an impact on classroom practice they must first understand the current state of teacher cognition.

He is looking at this in two different contexts: English language teachers in Uruguay and in New Zealand. The motivation for this research is based on several classroom-based studies of pronunciation teaching and a desire to find out how other practitioners are dealing with this facet of teaching in order to better inform teachers, teacher educators and others with an interest in language teaching.

He also sees this approach as providing a relevant agenda for himself and other researchers in order to advance knowledge of pronunciation learning and teaching and provide learners with more successful pronunciation outcomes.


  • Couper, G. (In Press). Teacher cognition of pronunciation teaching amongst English language teachers in Uruguay. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation.
  • Couper, G. (In Press). Phonology Applied: Developing oral communication skills in multi-cultural settings. In Murphy J. (Ed.). Teaching the pronunciation of English: Illustrations of whole courses. University of Michigan Press.
  • Couper, G. (2015). Applying theories of language and learning to teaching pronunciation. In M. Reed, & J. Levis (Eds.), The handbook of English pronunciation (pp. 413-432). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. doi:10.1002/9781118346952.ch23
  • Lear, E., & Carey, M., & Couper, G. (2015). Introduction to special issue: New directions in pronunciation theory and practice. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 9(1), E-1-E-3.
  • Couper, G. F., Denny, H., & Watkins, A. (2015). Teaching the sociocultural norms of an undergraduate community of practice. TESOL Journal, Early view, 36 pages. doi:10.1002/tesj.187
  • Denny, H., Couper, G., Healy, J., Macdonald, F., Sachtleben, A., & Watkins, A. (2014). Teaching pragmatics: An action research journey. English Australia, 30(1), 3-22.
  • Couper, G. F. (2014). Teaching concepts of pronunciation: Syllables, stress and drunk snails. Speak Out!, (50), 46-50.
  • Couper, G. F. (2013). Talking about pronunciation: Socially constructing metalanguage. English Australia Journal, 29(1), 3-18. Retrieved from englishaustralia.com.au
  • Couper, G. F. (2012). First steps to helping learners with pronunciation. Password Teachers Centrepage, 36(4), 1 page.
  • Couper, G. F. (2012). Teaching word stress: Learning from learners' perceptions. Tesol in Context, S3, 15 pages. Retrieved from tesol.org.au
  • Couper, G. (2011). What makes pronunciation teaching work? Testing for the effect of two variables: Socially Constructed Metalanguage and Critical Listening. Language Awareness, 20(3), 159-182. doi:10.1080/09658416.2011.570347
  • Couper, G. (2011). Investigations into pronunciation teaching. Speak Out!, (44), 9-13.
  • Couper, G. (2011). English phonology and pronunciation teaching [Book Review] [online]. New Zealand Studies in Applied Linguistics, 17(2), 130-132.
  • Couper, G. (2009). Teaching and learning L2 pronunciation: Understanding the effectiveness of Socially Constructed Metalanguage and Critical Listening in terms of a Cognitive Phonology framework. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of New England, Armidale, NSW.
  • Couper, G. (2006). The short and long-term effects of pronunciation instruction. Prospect 21(1), 46-66.
  • Couper, G. (2003). The value of an explicit pronunciation syllabus in ESOL teaching. Prospect 18(3), 53-70.
  • Couper, G. (2002). ESOL course evaluation through a survey of post-course experiences. TESOLANZ Journal, 10, 36-51.
  • Couper, G. (2000). The role of ESOL courses in migrant settlement: A tracer study to analyse learner needs retrospectively. Unpublished Masters, Macquarie University.


  • 2014 Faculty Research Grant
  • 2012 Faculty Research Grant
  • 2005 Research Associate with the Centre for Communication Research, AUT.
  • 2005 Research Fellowship with the Centre for Communication Research, AUT
  • 2005 Resources to Enhance Learning and Teaching Grant, jointly with Annette Sachtleben.
  • 2004 Faculty of Arts Learning and Teaching Grant, jointly with Annette Sachtleben.
  • 2003 Faculty of Arts Contestable Research Grant
  • 2002 School of Languages Research Grant
  • 2001 School of languages, Grant for the development of independent learning materials.
  • 2000 AUT Innovative Teaching Grant.