listening comprehension

  • Description: As safety-minded pilots we need to make conservative decisions for the best chance of a positive outcome. In this case study, we share lessons drawn from this pilot's unfortunate decisions during a vacuum pump failure in instrument meteorological conditions. Take this opportunity to boost your awareness of critical and proper decision making in an emergency.

  • Description: One of the great advances in general aviation in recent years has been the widespread availability of datalink weather. Like any technology, though, it can be used improperly. Come along as we examine a tragic accident that highlights an important and often-overlooked limitation of datalink radar.

    Excerpt from video transcript:
    It’s just before ten o’clock on the night of December 19, 2011. In a house near Bryan, Texas, the gentle patter of light rain is suddenly interrupted by a sound like an explosion—loud and violent—but not like thunder. Outside, in what has now become a deluge, the source of the noise soon becomes apparent. A short distance away—strung out and shattered into a dozen pieces, lie the barely recognizable remains of a light aircraft—it’s five occupants beyond help. Soon, emergency responders are on site documenting the scene, doing what has to be done. There’s one simple question on everyone’s mind: What went wrong? Watch the video to learn more!

  • Learning advice from Aviation English Asia.  Article written by Michael Egerton

    Why did you fail to score ICAO level 4 in comprehension?

    There are a number of factors affecting listening comprehension, and in this article I'm going to explain exactly what you should do to improve your proficiency to achieve at least an ICAO level 4 (most AEA students are trained to achieve level 5).  But first of all, some good news - even though you failed it's not necessarily your fault.  You might have been given bad advice by someone that doesn't really understand the process of communication, the test used might be inappropriate, or your assessor might just be plain wrong. 

    radiotelephony panel

    In a previous article, http://aviationenglish.com/learning-advice/improve-your-listening-comprehension-of-pilot-atc-dialogues I explained that difficulties with listening comprehension in ICAO English tests tend to fall into one of these categories:

    1. Lack of familiarity with radiotelephony / standard phraseology
    2. Lack of aviation-related vocabulary - aileron, backtrack, laminar flow
    3. Lack of proficiency in identifying non-technical vocabulary - which significantly changes the meaning of a sentence
    4. Lack of proficiency in identify the grammatical structure of a sentence - which significantly changes the meaning of a sentence
    5. Lack of proficiency in identifying sounds - leading to confusion of "similar" sounding words

    How to achieve ICAO level 4 or higher in comprehension

    In order to achieve ICAO level 4 or higher, the first thing you should do is attend a course with Aviation English Asia Ltd.  Founded in 2009, Aviation English Asia Ltd is the only genuine provider of Aviation English in Hong Kong.  100% percent of our teaching staff are suitably qualified and experienced with externally validated teaching qualifications.  Please be cautious with other training providers and make sure that they are members of the Aviation English Organisation and conform to the standards of the AEROSTA Framework.  

    Every learner starts at a different level of English proficiency and with a different level of exposure to aviation, so it is important to have a consultation with Aviation English Asia Ltd before you attend a course.  If you have a CPL/ATPL we will probably recommend 30-100 units of the ICAO Aviation English for Commercial Pilots course.  If you are ab initio, or have from 0-250 flying hours we will probably recommend the ICAO Aviation English for Cadet Entry Pilots course, and optionally Radiotelephony 101 if you need to become more familiar with radiotelephony / standard phraseology.  These courses will address lack of familiarity with radiotelephony and aviation-related vocabulary but most importantly help you identify sounds and the grammatical structure of a sentence.

    Misbeliefs about listening comprehension

    Now that you know how to enrol on a proper Aviation English course, it's time to address some misbeliefs that you might have about listening.

    1. Listening can't be taught in a classroom, it is best for self-study - this is not true.  In fact there are many things that AEA teachers do to help learners listen more effectively.  A suitably qualified Aviation English teacher can expose you to appropriate listening material which will be followed by practice activities which give further opportunity to listen successfully and build confidence by taking risks in your listening.  AEA teachers can teach strategies which can guide you to effective listening comprehension.  And the truth is, the vast majority of that audio from liveatc.net is either meaningless or unintelligible.  If you are a regular listener to our student radio station - Aviation English Radio you will know that all of the audio and listening activities are properly graded as suitable for ICAO level 4-5.

    2. Listening is a passive skill - listening is not at all passive.  During classes AEA students do a lot of listening activities which involve guessing, predicting, inferring meaning, criticising, building situational awareness and communicating critical information.  It is far more accurate to say that listening is a receptive skill rather than a passive skill.  Attend a class with AEA and you will see how misguided your previous preparation was.

    3. Understanding non-native speakers of English is easier than understanding native speakers - there are many factors such as tempo of speech and the amount of exposure to the target language.  Other factors include how vowel sounds are pronounced and other idiosyncrasies of non-native speakers, and the way that grammatical structures are pronounced with reduced sounds.  We will teach you this in AEA classes.

    4. Listening to L1 and L2 involves the same skills - it's more a matter of how those skills are applied.  It's a well known fact that many candidates who are non-native speakers perform better in an ICAO English test than native speakers.  This is probably due to listening without fully concentrating on the message, as we do it without being conscious of listening.  AEA will teach you how to apply these skills properly and at the right time.

    5. Learners should understand every word while listening - this is a very complex matter - a lot of speech consists of words which are not important.  Spoken language includes a lot of filler and signpost words which while they can be eliminated do make listening easier because these structures allow us to focus on the important words.  But it is really important to understand that it is critical that learners have a strong command of basic structures (these are listed in the AEROSTA Framework), before they can decide which words are significant and which can be ignored.

    6. Learners should read the transcripts of recordings -when learners watch videos on youtube (often of very loose phraseology from FAA based towers), they often spend more time focusing on the written words than the oral form.  These learners think they are improving their listening, but actually they are practicing pronunciation.  There are some advantages to seeing the difference between written and spoken forms of English, and seeing which sounds are swallowed, but this should be done at the final stage after you have listened to the audio at least twice.  Join a class with AEA and you can practice a more effective method of listening comprehension.

    7. The best way to practice listening is to practice listening - it might seem unusual, but the best way to improve your listening comprehension is not to practice listening.  It's often a matter of improving your pronunciation and basic grammar.  The AEROSTA Framework clearly defines what these elements of pronunciation and basic structures are, so if you improve those then you are likely to improve your listening at the same time.

    Misbeliefs can happen for many other reasons too, and a lot of them can be spread culturally and socially, but as I said at the start of this article - it's not necessarily your fault.  Even though you failed an ICAO test, it's not the end of the world and this target level is easily achievable.  Many students who come to Aviation English Asia Ltd after failing an ICAO English test think that it is the best thing that ever happened to them.

    You can arrange your consultation by calling +852 81799295 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

    This article is copyright protected and many not be modified or reproduced without express permission of Aviation English Asia Ltd. 

  • Do you know what to say before keying the mic? The AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Safety Tip: Four Ws of Communication will help jog your mind. Whether you’re flying at a nontowered field or communicating with ATC, concise communication improves safety.

  • Air traffic control specialist Sarah Patten gives practical advice for pilots who are worried ATC will speak too quickly for comprehension.

    Ask ATC is produced in partnership with NATCA and the FAA.

  • Should I bother calling for flight following services if ATC is busy?

  • Flight following and airspace

  • IFR Practice Approaches

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  • Pilots often assume that all air traffic controllers have weather radar, but that’s not the case. In this Ask ATC segment, air traffic controllers Beverly Cook, Mel Davis, and AnnMarie Taggio share tips for how pilots can better communicate their knowledge of the weather ahead to help ATC find a safe solution.

    To learn more, check out our Radio Communication and ATC safety spotlight at www.airsafetyinstitute.org/spotlight/radiocommandatc.

    The AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Ask ATC video series was made possible by generous donations to the AOPA Foundation by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).

    Please visit the AOPA Foundation at www.aopafoundation.org/donate to learn how you can participate in funding future safety programs by the Air Safety Institute.

    Watch the entire Ask ATC series at http://bit.ly/AskATCplaylist

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  • In this Ask ATC segment, air traffic controllers Leanne Martin and Matt Sullivan clarify the differences between VFR flight plans and flight following services to help pilots fly safely to their destination.

    To learn more, check out our Flight Planning and Preflight safety spotlight at www.airsafetyinstitute.org/spotlight/planningandpreflight.

    The AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Ask ATC video series was made possible by generous donations to the AOPA Foundation by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).

    Please visit the AOPA Foundation at www.aopafoundation.org/donate to learn how you can participate in funding future safety programs by the Air Safety Institute.

    Watch the entire Ask ATC series at http://bit.ly/AskATCplaylist

  • In this Ask ATC segment, air traffic controller Leanne Martin talks about the importance of requesting flight following in advance before taxiing in order to help ATC process your request and provide the services you need in a timely manner.

    To learn more, check out our Radio Communication and ATC safety spotlight at www.airsafetyinstitute.org/spotlight/radiocommandatc.

    The AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Ask ATC video series was made possible by generous donations to the AOPA Foundation by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).

    Please visit the AOPA Foundation at www.aopafoundation.org/donate to learn how you can participate in funding future safety programs by the Air Safety Institute.

    Watch the entire Ask ATC series at http://bit.ly/AskATCplaylist

    Video transcript:
    The best place to communicate with air traffic control your intentions is always on the ground when you’re not moving. That way we can get all of the specific information that we need. Then at that point in time, we as controllers can pass that information on. It does not help controllers for you to tell us information at the last second. When you’re on Ground Control or Clearance Delivery, and you let the controller know what you’d like to do, we write down all that information. That information is passed to the Local Controller. The Local Controller then knows which direction to turn you. From, after you depart, then that information is now passed to the Approach Controller, and the Approach Controller then will know what requested altitude you would like and what direction of flight that you’d like.


  • Datalink weather ranks as one of GA’s great technological advances. But clear information about datalink service options can be hard to find, and there’s sometimes confusion about the 2020 ADS-B mandate (which does not require pilots to use ADS-B In/FIS-B weather). This video takes a detailed look at the two providers—SiriusXM and ADS-B In/FIS-B—comparing modes of delivery, weather products, and other pros and cons to help pilots of all aircraft types decide which best fits their needs.

  • By bringing up-to-the-minute weather into the cockpit, datalink has increased the utility of our aircraft while making weather flying safer and easier. In this video, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the “datalink revolution” as told by the people who made it happen.

  • Hear from a weather expert on the dangers of flight into "known icing" conditions and what you can do to escape those conditions with your life.

  • Early detection of ice accumulation is critical to the safe outcome of a flight—even for pilots flying in aircraft equipped with de-icing equipment. In this video, Tom Horne talks about what to look for, and where, to determine if your aircraft is starting to pick up ice.

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  • Under what circumstances would a controller say "pass your message" and how would you respond?  

    Transcript

    When flying cross-country VFR pilots often elect to contact an air traffic control service unit in order to request one of the UK's flight information services, for example a traffic service. On first contact with the air traffic service unit the pilot should stipulate the type of service he requires in the initial call -
     

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