Dr Melissa Wright

Senior Lecturer in Clinical Linguistics
Department of Speech and Language Therapy
Birmingham City University

0121 202 4229

melissa.wright at bcu.ac.uk

Education - Research - Teaching - Publications - Confidence & Communication Coaching


  • PhD, 2005, University of York. Thesis title: Studies of the phonetics-interaction interface: clicks and interactional structures in English conversation
  • In my thesis, I examined the phonetic and interactional organisation of naturally-occurring British and American English conversation. I showed that there are complex and systematic mappings between clicks and interactional structures in talk, a finding which is striking given that clicks have so far been regarded by linguists as functioning only paralinguistically.

    You can download my thesis using the following links (please do email me if you'd like any further information):
    Title page to Chapter Three , Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six, Appendices, References

  • Co-Active Coach, The Coaches Training Institute
  • I trained to be a Co-Active (Life) Coach from 2011-2014 with the prestigious world leaders in the Industry - The Coaches Training Institute. I have completed all their coaching courses: Fundamentals, Core Curriculum and Certification.

  • MA in Phonetics and Phonology (with Distinction), 2001, University of York. Dissertation title: Conversational phonetics: the case of 'and'
  • In my MA dissertation, I examined the phonetic properties of 'and' and 'but' in naturally-occurring talk. My key finding was that when 'and-uhm' is produced with a specific cluster of phonetic properties in a particular sequential location, it can undertake the interactional task of returning to a previously mentioned topic.

  • BA (Hons) in Linguistic Science, 1999, University of Reading, Dissertation Title: The Effects of Task Type and Planning Time on Second Language Learners' Accuracy, Complexity and Fluency.
  • Certification in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA), 1998, International House: Prague.

  • Research

    My main research interest is the relationship between the phonetic-linguistic details of everyday talk and the interactional structures within which (and through which) that talk is produced. In order to explore the phonetics-interaction interface, I use the methodology of Conversation Analysis combined with phonetic analysis techniques. Recent investigations include the organisation of call closings and word searches, and the functions of 'non-linguistic' items such as clicks and the particle 'uh/m'.

    In addition, I have also undertaken some research with Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, in which I explored the phonetic properties of the speech of children with autistic spectrum disorders and typically developing children.

    I am a member of the following groups and associations:


  • 2006 - present, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Linguistics, Birmingham City University, Department of Speech and Language Therapy.
  • Teaching: Phonetics, Phonology, Sociolinguistics, Grammar, Conversation Analysis, Qualitative Research Methods, Interactional (Clinical) Linguistics. Responsibilities: Final year research module, Disability Tutor Confidence and Communication Coach: Coaching Speech and Language Therapy Students from all years

  • 2002-2006, Lecturer/Tutorial Leader, University of York, Department of Language and Linguistics
  • As a postgraduate student, I provided lectures and tutorials in phonetics, phonology, syntax, sociolinguistics, semantics and study skills.

  • 2004, Lecturer, Wetherby Young Offenders' (WYO) Institution, North Yorkshire
  • I taught a range of subjects in WYO, including English, maths and life skills.

  • 1998-2006, English Language Teacher, UK/Italy
  • Since obtaining my Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) from International House (Prague) in 1998, I have taught English to a wide variety of students in a range of settings (both abroad and in the UK). Places of work include the University of York, the University of Reading, St. Giles College in Brighton and Oxford Institutes in Lecce (Italy).


    Wright, M. (2012). Scientific American . Just a click away. (Article published about my research).

    Wright, M. (2011). The phonetics-interaction interface in the initiation of closings in everyday English telephone calls.Journal of Pragmatics. Vol. 4, pp. 1080-1099.

    Wright, M. (2011). On clicks in English talk-in-interaction. Journal of the International Phonetic Association. Vol. 41, (2), pp. 207-229.

    Wright, M. (2007). Clicks as markers of new sequences in English conversation. Proceedings of the 16th International Congress in Phonetic Sciences, Saarbrucken, Germany. pp. 1069-1072.

    Wright, M. (2007). Movements into call closure in British-English telephone interaction. York Papers in Linguistics, Issue 7, pp. 89-117.

    Wright, M. (2007). An exploration of the phonetics-interaction interface: on clicks in English conversation. Bangor University Gregynog Colloquium, Invited talk: March 17.

    Wright, M. (2004). Exploring the phonetics-interaction interface of telephone call closings. University of Sheffield, Invited Talk: June 23.

    Wright, M. (2004). The phonetic properties of multi-unit first closing turns in British-English telephone call closing sequences. Colloquium of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, Cambridge, UK. March 24-26. Download the abstract and handout.

    Wright, M. (2003). Accounting for variability in the production of 'and' and 'but' in spontaneous speech. This paper was prepared for the Proceedings of the 15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences but unfortunately I had to withdraw. Download the abstract and paper.

    Wright, M. (2002). A sequential account of 'I mean'. EURESCO Conference on Interactional Linguistics , Helsinki, Finland. September 6-11. Download the abstract and handout.

    Wright, M. (2002). Conversational phonetics: the case of 'and' and 'but'. Colloquium of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians , Newcastle, UK. March 25-27. Download the handout.

    Confidence & Communication Coaching

  • Confidence and Communication Coach: Birmingham City University - I provide Confidence and Communication coaching internally to students in the Department of Speech and Language Therapy at Birmingham City University Department of Speech and Language Therapy.
  • Here are some reviews of my coaching, written by students at Birmingham City University

    Student A
    I decided to have some coaching because I was lacking a lot of confidence after my second year placement and had some personal difficulties. I basically wanted to get back on track and bring some more joy into my life. Melissa was a very supportive and enthusiastic coach. The sessions were fun, enjoyable as well as challenging and I always felt very positive after each session. Melissa helped me to accept and value myself more by getting me to acknowledge my personal qualities and strengths. She also helped me to rediscover my imagination and helped me approach problems in a creative way. As a result of the coaching I feel better about who I am and have more confidence. I also think I have more resilience, getting less stressed when things don't work out.

    Student B
    One of the main reasons I decided to do coaching sessions with Melissa was to increase my confidence. After receiving my report from second year placement, one of the areas that prevented me from getting into a higher band was my confidence to express ideas and the confidence to use my own initiative. From attending these sessions with Melissa I now feel a lot more confident in myself and feel that I am now more willing to put forward my ideas without worrying what others think and not having the fear of being wrong or judged. The coaching sessions have also helped me discover values that I consider to be important in my life that help towards shaping the person that I am.’

    Student C
    I came to coaching as I had a very negative outlook on life and wanted to try and change that. I felt that coaching was the right path for me as it helped me look at life from many different perspectives.  Melissa saw me every week which I thought was fantastic because it was consistent, she is such an amazing person to work with and I always felt positive before, during and after her sessions.  People might not think that coaching is for them, but it is different for every person and the whole session is centred around you. Coaching has been such a positive experience for me and has really changed my outlook on life, I have skills and strategies for life that I can use myself and to help others who may need it.'

    Student D
    Being coached by Melissa, I get a sense of security, safety and it is a very, very positive experience. It is a very calming environment for me, which is great. Melissa makes it all about me and how I feel - she really digs deep into what I have, want and what I feel. She has something about her that really makes me think deep. Melissa is fantastic at what she does. She is honest, calming and has a therapeutic nature. She has brought something out in me that I never thought I had but that will stay with me forever and only get bigger and stronger. I cannot thank Melissa enough - her work is beautiful.

    Student E
    Melissa challenges me and takes me out of my comfort zone. I felt very comfortable and safe in the sessions so I was able to take more risks and try new things. I felt very positive and motivated after a session. Melissa has real presence and brings so much positivity, energy and creativity. Her coaching boosts my confidence and is very creative. It is probably not what you would expect!

    Student F
    Melissa gives me unconditional support, based on my personal needs and challenges me to be really honest with myself, something which is really good for me! She helps me build my confidence by helping me to find my own way to do things, particularly on this course but also in life in general. She encourages me to believe in my own thoughts and decisions and somethings challenge old ways of thinking that are not serving my 'true self'. It can be a tough and emotional process at times, but it is worthwhile and rewarding.

    The Sunshine Doctor: Confidence and Communication Coach

    (external to University) - worldwide using Skype. You can find out more here.

    Here is a video I recently produced on British English Vowels

    You can find out more about my Private Confidence and Communication training here .

    Last updated 24 July 2014