Pronunciation and Aeronautical English: Brazilians’ difficulties and possible routes to intelligibility




Pronunciation, Aeronautical English, Brazilians, Pilot-ATCO Communication.


Communications between pilot and air traffic controller (ATCO) are carried out via radiotelephony, without visual contact between the interlocutors. ICAO, a specialized agency of the United Nations, is responsible for the security of international civil aviation. ICAO’s official documents (ICAO, 2004, 2009, 2010) mention the importance of English pronunciation in the intelligibility of pilot-ATCO communication. In 2017, Brazilian researchers analyzed the extent to which two international Aeronautical English (AE) textbooks, used in an ATCO training course in Brazil, address the pronunciation difficulties considered typical among Brazilians (CRISTÓFARO-SILVA, 2012). The analysis, based on the concepts of intelligibility, English as a Lingua Franca and the ‘Lingua Franca Core’ (JENKINS, 2000, 2002, 2005), showed that the analyzed books do not portray several of these difficulties. In this article, we first point out international air accidents and incidents in which pronunciation was one of the contributing factors, then, based on the Lingua Franca Core, we discuss the causes of some Brazilian pronunciation difficulties, aiming to increase teachers’ and students’ awareness and to contribute to pronunciation teaching in the field of AE. In addition, we problematize the non-critical use of textbooks by teachers and the inadequate training in English Language Phonology.


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Author Biographies

Carlos Alberto Babboni, Escola de Especialistas de Aeronáutica, Guaratinguetá, SP, Brasil. EEAR

Carlos Alberto Babboni holds a Master's Degree in Applied Linguistics from University of Taubaté (2017), a Lato Sensu diploma in English from the same University (2009), and a CELTA certificate from ITTC in Bournemouth, England (1999). Since 2010, has been a teacher at Escola de Especialistas de Aeronáutica, teaching ESP to air traffic controllers, aircraft mechanics (etc) and developing teaching materials. Member of Grupo de Estudos em Inglês Aeronáutico (GEIA) at Instituto do Controle do Espaço Aéreo (ICEA). Researches about English pronunciation in the Aviation context.

Karin Quast, Universidade de Taubaté, Taubaté - SP

Karin Quast holds a PhD in Education from Unicamp (2009) and a Master’s Degree in Applied Linguistics from University of Taubaté (Unitau). Has taught English for over 30 years at language institutes, large companies and undergraduate courses. Since 2001, has taught Phonology of the English language, at the Lato Sensu Course in English Language at Unitau. Since 2015, has worked at the Master's Program in Applied Linguistics at Unitau, as a professor and adviser for research in teaching/learning foreign languages, storytelling, games and gamification.


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How to Cite

Babboni, C. A., & Quast, K. (2020). Pronunciation and Aeronautical English: Brazilians’ difficulties and possible routes to intelligibility. The ESPecialist, 41(4).