What exactly is in your accent downloads?
What if I’m getting an error code and can’t open the files?
Why didn’t I get a download email?
Is my credit card info safe?
What if I don’t download it in the time allowed?
What is a ZIP file? an MP3 file? a PDF file?
Where’s your legal mumbo-jumbo?

What exactly is in your accent downloads?

Our dialect training downloads contain a document (.pdf file) and a number of sound files (.mp3 files). The document describes how to do the accent. Each one is divided into separate sections under the headings:

I. History and Social Context, II. Sound Placement, III. Intonation Pattern, IV. Helpful Hints, V. Sound Substitutions, VI. Alternate Pronunciations, and VII. Additional Practice Material. The “additional material” includes listings of plays that require the accent and a list of films, TV shows and other recordings that might serve as additional listening samples.

There is also a listing of all of the sound files included in the download. The first six sound files are recordings of one of our professional dialect coaches leading you through the written information. The largest portion of this will lead you through the specific sound changes required to speak with that accent, leaving you time to repeat after the coach saying key words and practice sentences containing each sound. The rest of the sound files are recordings of real people—native speakers of the accent you’re studying. You’ll hear a list of words and a paragraph that all of them read (this is included in the text), and then the next sound file will be that person in casual conversation. The number of sound files will vary from one dialect to the next, but each download will have at least three recordings of native speakers. Some may include more than 20 tracks. All editions have a transcription of all of the conversations with native speakers.

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Why did I get an error code or can’t open or play the files?

There are two main issues that can come up:

Occasionally customers get an error message that says something like: ERROR or FILE CORRUPT or COMPRESSED (ZIPPED) FOLDER IS INVALID OR CORRUPT. This almost always occurs when a customer has a “dial-up” or other similar slower connection to the internet (wireless in a coffee shop, for example). What has happened is that the connection is slow enough that occasionally the server perceives that there is NO connection. Some tiny hint of data may not make it onto your computer, so your computer sends you this error message. Simply send us an email (admin@accenthelp.com), and we’ll create a direct link to the file that you need, and send it to you as soon as possible.

On occasion a user whose computer is running VISTA for Windows runs into a similar issue: The file names will change when they are “unzipped” on your computer, adding a period and an underline ( ._ ) to the beginning of the filenames, making them unreadable on your computer. You will probably get an error message such as “Unable to Recognize File Format.” (Basically your computer thinks the file type is ” _ ” instead of “mp3” so your computer is confused.) The problem is that you need to run updates on VISTA—you’re dealing with an “old version” of VISTA. (Occasionally this can even happen with XP, though this is rare.) This could even be happening if your computer is brand new! You want to make sure you’ve got your computer set up to do automatic updates: Whether you use Windows Update or Microsoft Update, just go to Windows Update Control Panel and make sure that automatic updating is checked. To view or change your settings, you can also click the Start button, click All Programs, click Windows Update, and then click Change Settings.

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Why didn’t I get a download email?

Actually, it was sent, but it didn’t arrive. First of all, I’ll bet you have Hotmail or AOL if you’re looking at this… They’re the worst for blocking these kinds of emails from companies, and the bizarre thing is that they often won’t even appear in your Spam folder! On rare occasions this happens with other providers such as Yahoo & MSN, but 70% of the time, it’s Hotmail or AOL. Just let us know, and we’ll send you another download link—but let us know that you have Hotmail or AOL so we can deal with that. (Step Two for you is to switch to another email provider like Gmail, which has the fewest problems of the free email providers.) If you don’t have time to wait but have another email address, you can even go ahead and purchase the download again and have it sent to your other address – then just let us know and we’ll refund the first purchase. No worries.

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Is my credit card info safe?

We work directly through a credit processor. They NEVER give us payment information, such as credit card or bank account numbers. But we do have keys to your house… 

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What if I don’t download it in the time allowed?

No worries! Just send us an email at admin@accenthelp.com, and we’ll send you a new link.

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What is a ZIP file? an MP3 file? a PDF file?

The ZIP file format is one of the most popular forms of compressing data. (ZIP files end with the extension .zip, much like how many documents end with the extension .doc and many sound files end with .mp3. This extension or designation helps your computer to recognize what kind of file it is.) A ZIP file holds one or more files that have been grouped and compressed to reduce their overall size and to bunch them for simpler distribution. It is common for a computer to have a ZIP software program already installed which will automatically open (or “un-zip”) the ZIP files you will download from this website. You can read further about ZIP files on the Wikipedia website. When you download the ZIP file from the AccentHelp website, it is a good idea to choose to SAVE the file to your desktop (rather than choosing to OPEN the file). (Sometimes it’s also faster to “right-click” on the link we send you and to choose “Save As” if your computer is downloading slowly.) Once the entire ZIP file is downloaded, you should be able to simply double-click on the ZIP download, and your computer will automatically “un-zip” the files enclosed. If it doesn’t, you most likely do not have a ZIP program loaded on your computer. If you do not already have a ZIP program, some of the most popular ones to download include WinZip for PCs or YemuZip for Macs. You can find free downloads of these and other ZIP programs by searching for ZIP on any search engine (such as Google).

Unfortunately, ZIP files will not open on an iPhone or iPad! But if you follow up with an email, I can send you a special link to download the files in an already unzipped format.  Sorry about the hassle... I've talked with Apple and they just ain't workin' with me here...

The MP3 file format is a very common format for sound files. You probably have other MP3 files on your computer, which means that you’ll see .mp3 at the end of a file name (much like how many documents end with the extension .doc or .pdf.) This extension or designation helps your computer to recognize what kind of file it is. There are lots of different formats for sound, but we chose to go with MP3 formatting because it is easily readable by many different programs and computers, and it maintains decent sound quality with smaller files. Some people might not choose to save their music in MP3 format because it wouldn’t be the highest quality sound files, but the price they pay for higher quality sound is larger sound files. Since one of our concerns was ease of downloading groupings of up to 30 sound files, some of the sound quality had to be sacrificed. In general, though, you shouldn’t notice big problems with the sound quality of these files due to their formatting. A much more difficult challenge with these recordings is getting quality sound considering the recording limitations that are the nature of collecting dialect recordings… You can read further about MP3 files on the Wikipedia website. Odds are that you already have the necessary program on your computer for reading and playing these files. They’re compatible with almost all portable music players, and they can be burned to CD for playing elsewhere. If you do not already have a program that plays MP3 files, we recommend a free download of iTunes, which works on PCs and Macs.

The PDF file format is a very common format for written computer files. You probably have other PDF files on your computer, which means that you’ll see .pdf at the end of a file name (much like how many documents end with the extension .doc and many sound files end with .mp3.) This extension or designation helps your computer to recognize what kind of file it is. PDF stands for “Portable Document Format” and was created by the software firm Adobe. PDF files are generally used to protect the information and to make it readable on any computer. PDF documents can’t be edited in the same way that .doc files can be opened and altered, so it helps to prevent copyright violation. The main reason, though, is to make the file readable on any computer. Documents at Accent Help usually contain a lot of phonetic symbols. If your computer doesn’t contain that specific font, it will come out looking something like: [#,.+^)^,.:0_||]. I don’t want to read that either… You can read further about PDF files on theWikipedia website. Odds are that you already have the necessary Adobe program on your computer for reading these files. If you do not already have this program, you can find a free download of the Adobe Reader program at the Adobe website.

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Where’s your legal mumbo-jumbo?

Here’s the junk our lawyer said has to be on the site, even though we don’t really understand what all it’s saying: User Agreement & Privacy Policy. Basically, I think they’re saying, “We’re trying to be nice, and you should try to be nice, too.”

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Any problems or questions that aren’t answered here? Contact us at: admin@accenthelp.com


Jim Johnson

Jim is a tenured Full Professor of voice and dialects at the University of Houston, and he's an artistic associate with the Prague Shakespeare Company. He coaches dialects professionally at a variety of theatres, and has worked with the Prague Shakespeare Company, Houston Grand Opera, Alley Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, First Folio Shakespeare, Houston Shakespeare Festival, Stages Repertory, and Defiant Theatre. He also coached accents for the SXSW live event for the release of the final season of Game of Thrones.

Jim formerly served on the faculty of The Theatre School of DePaul University and taught at the Audition Studio in Chicago, Illinois. Jim got his MFA in Acting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework.

In addition to coaching and teaching, Jim works professionally as an actor and voiceover artist and is the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Head of BFA Acting at the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance where he teaches voice and accents.

You can reach him via email at Jim@AccentHelp.com. He regularly coaches actors for dialects online via Skype and by recording their lines in dialect for auditions and performances on camera and on stage.  You can arrange coaching with him in person or via Skype by checking out our Private Coaching options here on the site, or you can arrange for Jim to Record Your Script in whatever accent you need.

Kate DeVore

Kate DeVore, MA, CCC-SLP, is a voice, speech, and accent trainer, a speech pathologist specializing in professional voice, and author. She operates Total Voice Inc. in Chicago, where she coaches professional voice users ranging from actors to executives. Kate has coached voice/dialects at numerous theatres, including the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Lyric Opera Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Drury Lane Theatre, and A Red Orchid Theatre. She also teaches at the School at Steppenwolf, Columbia College Chicago, the Summer Vocology Institute at the National Center for Voice and Speech, Acting Studio Chicago, and teaches nationally and abroad.

Kate has served on the board of directors and as director of conferences for VASTA (Voice and Speech Trainers Association), and is a founding member and inaugural board member for PAVA (Pan American Vocology Association), where she sits on the advisory board. She is co-author of The Voice Book: Caring For, Protecting, and Improving Your Voice (2nd ed.), and creator the self-study eBook, Accent Modification: Neutral American Dialect, available on Apple and Google platforms. You can reach her at kate@totalvoice.net.

Michelle Lopez-Rios

Michelle Lopez-Rios is a teatrista, teacher and activist. She is an associate teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework and a member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association. Voice and dialect coaching credits include: Steppenwolf, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Goodman Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Houston Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Bad Soviet Habits, Stages Repertory Theatre, Jersey Productions, Unhinged Productions, and Unity Theatre.

She is a co-founder of the Royal Mexican Players with Alvaro Saar Rios and together they have offered workshops, devised community productions, and produced original works around the U.S. She is an Associate Professor and Artistic Director of Chicago Playworks at The Theatre School at DePaul.

Find out more at michellelopezrios.com. For information on private coaching, in person or by phone, e-mail her at michelle.lopez.rios@gmail.com.

Carolyn Johnson

Carolyn is a dialect coach, actress and singer. She has coached regional productions of Wolf HallCuttin’ Up, Oliver!, No Child, Awake and Sing, and Red Light Winter among others. Carolyn is an Equity actress, and she has performed for years, including leading roles in Othello, End of the RainbowA Picasso, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Johnny Guitar: the Musical, This, Translations, Mr. Pim Passes By, Talley’s Folly, Enchanted April, a year-long run of The Great American Trailer Park Musical, and three years with Chicago’s production of Flanagan’s Wake.  She also works as a director, including productions of Boeing Boeing, The Philadelphia Story and Last Train to Nibroc.

The Houston Chronicle named Carolyn the “Ultimate Funny Girl” of Houston in 2006, and in 2008, Chronicle readers voted her the “Ultimate Stage Actress” of Houston.