Note: First familiarise yourself with this linguistic category by having a look at the respective level desriptors in the ICAO Language Proficiency Rating Scale.

This skill addresses the ability to recognize and understand speech. Development of this skill will result in decreasing difficulty when dealing with complex discourse, with unexpected or unfamiliar topics, unfamiliar accents or delivery styles and with unfavourable conditions of reception (due to background noise, etc.). Proficiency in comprehension can be characterized by the degree of detail and speed of understanding. The learning processes involved in the development of comprehension are:

a) mastery of other subskills;

b) progression from simplified to natural speech;

c) graduated listening tasks (word recognition, overall meaning, complex meanings, inferences).


Stage a)

Training of pronunciation, structure and vocabulary.


Stage b)

Try to recognize where plain language is used in the following movies.... In the sutations where ATC/ the pilot has to resort to plain English, why does standard phraseology not do the job anymore?

Movie 1: "United pilots confused on runway"


Movie 2: "A Cessna 172 having engine problems "



Stage c)

On Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab ( you find the following links:

Aviation English video Comprehension

Part 1


Part 2



Exercises for Listening Comprehension



For getting familiar with the different accents of speakers of English as a native, as a second or as a foreign language on an international level (International English) click here.