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FIRST NATIONS
DIALECTS SURVEY

With Eliza Jane Schneider
and the character Acting Academy

Tuesdays, January 18 - February 22, 2022
7:00-9:00 pm PST

A six week course reconnecting actors
of North American Indigenous descent
with tribal accents of spoken English.

Photo by Alex Zeng
Photo by Alex Zeng

“I am a biracial Shoshone voice actor. As directors have put emphasis on authenticity, many Indigenous Americans are feeling lost in the acting world as we try to recreate accents and dialects of our heritage. I searched for Indigenous dialect classes to improve my auditions, but there were no classes to be found to learn our tribal and regional dialects, and many of our assimilated elders no longer speak the language for us to learn. It is well known that our languages are dying. I reached out to the best dialect instructor I know of to seek advice. 

Eliza Jane has an unmatched love of language, not to mention she grew up on a Chippewa reservation. She truly understood what I was feeling and introduced the idea of creating a class. We have collaborated to ensure this class is true to who we are and where we come from. By connecting students from different tribal nations with Eliza Jane’s extensive dialect and language experience, our goal is to empower Indigenous American actors to audition confidently, while also offering authentic knowledge and solutions to harmful stereotypes.”

~ Stephanie Novak, Student Assistant

About your instructor

Eliza Jane Schneider

Hi, I’m Eliza Jane Schneider, your Dialect Coach.

I was raised near the Leech Lake reservation in Northern Minnesota, where my dad was a math teacher at the Bug-O-Nay-Gee-Shig high school and my mom was a legal aid attorney for the Anishinaabe Ojibwe (aka Chippewa) tribe, specializing in what was called “Indian Law” in the 1970’s. I was little, and just learning how to be a person.  I was pretty oblivious to the fact that I was the only white kid in my daycare.   

When I was seven, we moved to New York, and I started studying the Suzuki ear-training method at the Eastman School of Music.  This method has been foundational for my entire career as a character actor, researcher, dialect coach, musician, and voice actor for the past 30 years.  For me, music, languages, and dialects all spring from the same fascination with sound.  I got my degree in World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, and started working on TV as an on-camera actor.  

Concurrently, I founded the “Eliza Doolittle Dialects” school, named for the principal from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion that a person could change their socio-economic status by changing the way they speak.  Since then, I have traveled the world, recording over 7,000 interviews with native speakers of various dialects and accents of spoken English, on a mission to document and map the ways English is spoken around the world in order to help actors, including myself, more authentically portray their characters, as well as to help international lawyers, leaders, and other speakers of English around the world leverage the power of their voices in order to succeed on a world stage in the age of Zoom.  

I am thrilled to be sharing my First Nations and Indigenous North American accents research with actors of Native American descent, and look forward to taking this journey with you.

Overview

We will start at the Northernmost tip of North America, with samples and character studies from my research in Barrow, Alaska, comparing Inupiak accents from Barrow to General American English (GAE).

We will then listen to Athabascan, Yup’ik, and a few other regional Alaskan native accents to discover the similarities and differences.  Why start in Alaska?  Because Alaska is a fossilized melting pot of the origin of many Indigenous sounds.

Once we’ve established a baseline for recognizably Indigenous sounds & melodies, we will migrate down through my hometown in Northern Minnesota, noting regional distinctions as we go. 

We will end up in the Southwest with a Zuni study, provided by Stephanie Novak, our class TA, and the woman responsible for making this course possible and available to you.  

Photo by Bruce Warrington
Photo by Bruce Warrington

Empower Yourself With The 3-Prong Method


As you know, there are hundreds of native languages and tribes on this continent, and of course there is no way to cover them all in six weeks.  
However, I will teach you my 3-Prong Method: Auditory. Visual and Kinesthetic.  Once you master the method, you will have the skills to learn or lose any dialect or accent!  

Then, during this 6-week course, you’ll also have the opportunity to research and study at least one accent or dialect of your own individual tribal ancestry, with live mic time and feedback from me.

In this course, you will learn: 

  • How to do your own dialect research for a role
  • How to break down a recording of a Native Speaker to uncover the distinctive qualities of their accent of spoken English
  • The Schneider Looping Method, an ear-training system specifically designed for voice actors to use their DAW to significantly reduce accent acquisition and perfection time
  • An introduction to The International Phonetic Alphabet
  • How to Map Your Idiolect – or, how to analyze and identify your individual “Point A” in order to succeed at any given character’s “Point B”
  • How the IPA symbolizes kinesthetic vocal postures, and a few other systems of notating or “scoring” your material, sides, and scripts with the correct sound substitutions, relative to your idiolect, or General American English (GAE)
  • How to identify the musical qualities of a given dialect
  • With that foundation, how to forget all the technical stuff and flow with your new dialect in improvisation, auditions and scenework
  • BONUS:  How to approach “period” pieces and dialects of previous generations 

Sign Up Now for the First Nations Dialects Survey!

Reserve your spot now. Space is limited. 

Full enrollment

Includes live class participation, access to recorded class replays and live feedback from Eliza Jane

 $595 

Auditor access 

Includes auditing permission
and access to recorded class replays

$350

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