The resources on this list are my personal recommendations of products and services that I love, trust, and use every day in my accent training business. I currently use these resources or have researched and tested them before adding them to this list.
To save you time and prevent overwhelm, this list only contains my best recommendations to help you get your business started ASAP and with as little stress as possible.
*Some (not all) of these links are affiliate links, which means I may get a commission if you purchase. However, no fees of any of these resources have been increased to compensate me. Instead, many of these links will get you special discounts on these products or services.
The Tools You Need To Get Started
Teacher Training Resources
Accent Reduction Books:
A great book packed with effective exercises to use with your students, including lots of exercises that target stress and intonation. This book also has a useful and well-researched section on the sound substitutions of many common accents.
This book is old school. And the accent that is encouraged as the goal accent is really out of date. No one speaks this way any more. BUT, it’s still a great book with wonderful information and practical exercises. And it’s a classic. Every Accent Instructor should own this book.
This is a Paul Meier project and one of the best resources for Accent Instructors. It's a completely free database of about 1500 samples of English accents and dialects. Each sample has a full transcription, background information about the speaker, and notes from accent and dialect professionals. So incredibly useful. Even if you don't plan to teach accents and dialects (other than the Standard American Accent) this is great ear training and practice for identifying the sound phonemic inventories of different accents.
Paul Meier’s monthly podcast, In A Manner Of Speaking, is incredible.
There is a new podcast monthly, so it’s not an overwhelming amount of information, but so much of it is SO USEFUL. Although the topics focus more on dialects than accent modification, there are lots of great lessons to be learned about listening and correcting, code switching, how accents develop and the psychological factors behind the way we speak.
I listen each month and always find tidbits to use in my sessions. I also get great ideas for my free lessons for my blog and my YouTube channel.
Teacher Training Programs
Getting Started As An Accent Instructor: With Jessica Kijowski, MS, CCC-SLP
Full Disclosure: This is my course so of course I think it is great! But in all honesty, I developed this course specifically to help new accent instructors start working with students as quickly as possible. I also wanted to address all the areas of accent training that I felt were lacking in other programs.
This is a program for new teachers who want to learn how to find students, how to do an dynamic informal accent assessment, and how to design a lesson plans and programs for non-native speakers who want to learn the American Accent.
It's a great mix of knowledge, teaching techniques, and marketing.
If you are looking to learn how to do a formal, structured assessment, and gain knowledge on all the sounds of the IPA, this course will give you all of that.
Where I felt it was lacking was the marketing aspect and didn't really offer many practical tips for implementing an accent training program. I learned a lot, but didn't know how to use what I learned. There was also not much discussion about stress, rhythm, and intonation, which I feel, is one of the most important concepts of accent work.
But if you are already working with students and want to deepen your knowledge of accents and English pronunciation, this course will teach you much that you didn't know.
I have not taken this training so I can't personally recommend it, but I included it here because I feel that you should know about it as an option.
I have spoken to many Speech-Pathologists that I trust, who say it is a great program with very practical homework assignments.
Website with Blog:
Wordpress.org is a great place to begin when you are ready to start posting your lessons online. On the wordpress.org website, you can find information about setting up your website with blog and finding a web host.
Here is a great article to help you get started:
If wordpress is too overwhelming, go with Weebly. Set-up is quick an easy, design is drag and drop, and you can upgrade to more services as your business grows.
Go Daddy is another website hosting platform option. So you can build your website here, or you can just purchase and register your website domain name (example: theaccentchannel.com) and build the website somewhere else.
Email Service Provider:
Mailchimp is free and easy to use. It allows you to build an email list and segment that list into smaller lists. For example: Current students, past students, potential students. You can also use Mailchimp to set up a “landing page” where people can opt-in (give you their name and email) to join your email list. Mailchimp makes it easy to continue to build a relationship with your current and potential students and contact them consistently with valuable information
For Conducting Sessions
Video conferencing platform to meet with your students:
I love Zoom for a lot of reasons: it’s secure, it’s easy to use, and you only need the free plan to start.
You can actually schedule a session in your student’s time zone and Zoom will add the meeting to your calendar in YOUR time zone. When you work with people all over the world, adjusting for time zones is a big deal and it can cause a lot of confusion so this seems like a simple feature but it has been a life saver for me. You can send the meeting link to your student ahead of time, so there are no excuses for messing up the time or missing a session due to scheduling confusion.
There is a waiting room feature that allows you to admit your student when you are ready to begin, so you are in total control of starting and ending the session. There is a screen share option to share materials, a chat option for re-writing things phonetically, and a “touch up my appearance” option to tone down those dark circles and wrinkles. Yes, I’m serious and yes, it really works!
On top of all of this, Zoom lets you easily record each session and share it with your student later, which is a huge value-add to your sessions. The fact that you send a recording of the entire session is a big plus to most students so if you do this, and I suggest that you do, be sure to make it clear that you offer this extra service in any marketing materials or descriptions of your sessions. Not everyone allows private sessions to be recorded, but I say…why not? It’s a huge perk that makes your sessions more valuable, it’s almost no extra work for you, and it’s great for your students to be able to review previous lessons between sessions.
As I said earlier, Zoom is free to use for one-on-one meetings. When you start adding more people to the meeting they limit the time to 45 minutes so if you decide to do groups, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan, but for private, one-on-one sessions, the free plan is all you need. It’s a really great option.
The only downside to Zoom is that the student must download software to attend the meetings. But the process is quick and easy and only needs to be done once.
There are tons of other options out there. Sometimes I use Skype or even FaceTime as a back up, if Zoom is having issues (rare) or if the student prefers something more simple, but these don’t have all the features and don’t look as professional, so I recommend that you check out Zoom if you are not familiar with it yet.
Yes. I wear a headset for all my sessions. Not super-fashionable, I know, but it is so much easier to hear my students, they hear me better, and if my 4-year-old daughter is running away from her nannies (my mom and dad) or screaming and yelling across the hall from my home office, my students can't hear her and I can keep the session going. I quickly learned that ending a session early due to a crying baby and losing money because of it was not a great way to run a business...so I got a headset and I use this one:
It's not the most attractive option. There are headsets that won't mess up your hair. They go around the back of your head and not over your entire ear but this model is COMFORTABLE for all-day wear. And the sound clarity is great.
I use the Blue Snowball microphone + Garage Band on my Mac to record all the audio for my online lessons, as well as the audio files that I create for my students to practice. Great quality sound.
Webcam for sessions and video lessons:
The Logitech c920 webcam is inexpensive and has such a great picture! I use it for sessions and to record video lessons. Even on days when I have had no sleep and look terrible, somehow, this camera makes me look good. My only complaint is that the focus is a bit slow, so if you are moving around a lot (or if you move your hands a lot when you speak like I tend to do) the picture goes fuzzy and then takes a moment to clear. But speech sessions and video lessons don't require much movement so this works perfectly.
Online Scheduling Software:
You want to make it as easy as possible for students to schedule. Again, you have options but I like Acuity. And the free plan offers so much.
You are able to set the hours that you will be available for a free assessment or paid session (you set these up as separate products so the student can choose), then share the link or embed the scheduler on your website or blog.
In the “Appointment Types” tab, you can choose blocks of time out of your week that you are available to meet with your students, so Acuity only lets them select times that you have chosen to be available.
This ease of scheduling sessions makes it super convenient and easy for your students to set up appointments. Remember: MAKE IT AS EASY AS POSSIBLE FOR SOMEONE TO SCHEDULE A SESSION WITH YOU!
Miranda (It’s a time zone adjustment app)
Although Zoom and Acuity will let you adjust for time zones, if a student is in a city where you don’t know the exact time zone, things get tricky. That's when I head over to Miranda!
Miranda allows you to search for time zones based on the city name. And it includes smaller cities too (I haven’t found one yet that it didn’t know.) The app easily converts your time zone to your student's time zone.
Miranda is only available on smartphones so you can find it in the app store.
And while we are on the subject of time zones, here is a hot tip: You should ALWAYS be in charge of doing the time zone adjustment when scheduling, not your student.
Don’t let it be their responsibility. Don't let schedule confusion ruin the relationship between you and your students. Always do scheduling in the student's time zone. That way, there is no confusion. And if you do mess up, there is no awkward blaming. You take the blame. It’s your fault. Yes, you'll lose a session and the session payment, but you'll keep your student and your good reputation for treating your students like celebrities.
This is a great way to communicate with your students between sessions. You can easily create a link to add the SpeakPipe Voice Recorder to a page on your website.
Students can leave voice messages and you are notified by email when they do. You can listen to the message and respond without any extra downloads or other recording equipment.
I have also used SpeakPipe as way to offer an Accent Assessment on my website without having to meet in realtime. Potential students read a script, record and send through SpeakPipe. I listen and respond with my findings. This is a great way to attract potential students.
The only downside is that recordings are limited to 5 minutes max. Check it out at https://www.speakpipe.com
All-In-One Solution/What I Use
I have been using Kajabi for 5 years and honestly, I don't know how I would run my accent training business without it. With Kajabi, I am able to handle all the tech aspects of my business myself, without having to hire a web developer, a programmer, or other tech professionals to help.
Now Kajabi is expensive. Very expensive when you are just starting out. But in my experience, it is worth every penny. It truly is an all-in-one platform for your online business.
I do everything through Kajabi: my website, my blog, my email service provider, my payment processor, my store, my shopping cart, my marketing, my online courses…I don’t pay for any other services at this point. And the customer support that they offer is truly stellar.
But keep in mind, that much of my business is focused on online courses, and that is where I feel that Kajabi really shines. So before you give it a try, I do recommend that you sit down and think about your long and short term goals for your business. If you just plan to see students for private sessions, then Kajabi may not be worth the money for you.
However, if you have any desire to create any type of online course or workshop, or to create an online library of video lessons for your students, Kajabi is definitely the way to go.
So many possibilities and so simple to use even for someone like me with absolutely no tech or software background. I just love it.
If you want to try it out for yourself, use this link to get a free 28-day trial AND be a part of Kajabi's 28 day challenge. This info-packed crash course (good idiom!) teaches you all about the platform, includes some marketing lessons, and will have you ready to launch your first online course in just 28 days.
When you have to speak all day long, this tea is a lifesaver. It is so soothing when your throat is irritated and loosens up any mucus (sorry, but mucus can be an issue when you speak all day!) so your voice sounds strong and clear.
I usually have at least 2 cups a day when I am teaching. And somehow it is naturally sweet so you don’t need to add sugar. You have to try it to believe it.