English learning advice from Aviation English Asia.
Pronunciation is a fundamental part of language learning. ICAO advises that "pronunciation must be given high priority", therefore Aviation English Asia Ltd courses emphasise pronunciation. Research indicates that better pronunciation also leads to better listening comprehension.
Some elements of pronunciation relevant at ICAO level 4 are -
- Stress – The emphasis of words or parts of words (syllables), but can also include weak sounds
- Rhythm – The speed of communication, including when to pause and when to speed up
- Intonation – The high, middle and low levels of speech, especially when asking questions
- Vowel sounds - long and short vowels
- Consonant sounds, including consonant clusters but not /th/
- Accent / dialect - "use a dialect or accent which is intelligible to the aeronautical community."
The ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements state that at level 4, "Pronunciation, stress, rhythm, and intonation are influenced by the first language or regional variation but only sometimes interfere with ease of understanding." It's not so much a matter of accent, but more about intelligibility. Intelligibility means how understandable you are, and how much effort is required on the part of the listener in order to understand you.
It is beneficial to listen to a wide range of accents and dialects. As you listen, consider which accents are most difficult for you to understand.
- British English – this tends to include stronger pronunciation of consonants like "t", for example "often" is usually pronounced "offt-un"
- American English – in comparison consonant sounds tend to sound weaker, "often" sounds like "off-un."
You should be aware of different accents and practice listening to authentic recordings on Aviation English Radio and our YouTube channel at every opportunity. While listening, consider if every consonant sound like "t" and "l" is pronounced? Consider the speed of interaction. What differences can you hear with native and non-native English speakers?
Omitting vowel and particularly consonant sounds can decrease all intelligibility.
For example, would you say "requ vect" when it should be "request vectors?" Looking at the word "vectors" consider the following: -
- "Vec-ors" – is this recognisable?
- "Ve-tors" – how about this?
It may be acceptable to very occasionally omit consonants in the middle of words, but be careful and develop the ability to self-correct whenever possible. Strategies to self-correct and practice pronunciation will be taught in greater detail with your instructor at Aviation English Asia.
- Intelligibility, intelligibility, and intelligibility.
- Try to be as accurate as possible
- Listen to a variety of accents from real ATC recordings.
- Consider which sounds you find difficult to speak and hear
The best way to improve your pronunciation is with Aviation English Asia Ltd. Supplementary Classes focused on pronunciation are held each weekend.
For more information about Aviation English Asia Ltd’s courses please visit http://aviationenglish.com.