ICAO Level 4 Pronunciation: Stress, Rhythm and Intonation

Pronunciation is particularly susceptible to the influence of a first language or regional variations and plays a very important role in the intelligibility of messages. – ICAO Doc 9835

Pronunciation is the core of learning English. It is HOW you pronounce, not what you say. It allows you to express yourself and be understood by other speakers of the same language. The nature of the language helps us to communicate. If we fail to understand or our intentions are mistakenly interpreted, it may lead to the miscommunication, which, in aviation, is very dangerous and lots of people died in a plane crash, where the misinterpretation was one of the main factors that caused a tragedy.

Let’s take a closer look at stress, rhythm, and intonation – the main features of pronunciation:


Stress, rhythm, intonation 1


Stress, rhythm, intonation 2


Stress, rhythm, intonation 3

Operational 4: Pronunciation, stress, rhythm and intonation are influenced by the first language or regional variation, but only sometimes interfere with ease of understanding.


– Your pronunciation can be influenced by your native language BUT only occasionally it may affect the quality of your message;
– If pronunciation, stress, rhythm or intonation frequently are influenced so that it is difficult or impossible to understand you, there’s a high possibility of scoring Pre-Operational Level 3.

ICAO pronunication

What are the most common errors?

– Be aware of the words that sound almost identical in your and English language. Take a look at one of my favorite and most popular examples: ‘passenger’ which has a German equivalent – ‘Passagier’ or Polish ‘pasażer’. Make sure you know the ENGLISH pronunciation of these words because you may be naturally tempted to use the native version;
– Use English rules regarding stress, rhythm, intonation, and pronunciation. Never imply the rules from your native language into English.

How to improve your pronunciation?

– Find a trusted partner to speak to in English and ask her/ him to tell you what kind of mistakes you made and if there are any problematic areas that you can improve. Don’t feel embarrassed or intimidated when you hear criticism. Treat it as a good exercise to revise and eliminate the errors that you got used to it that you don’t even realize you’ve made it;
– On the other hand, listen to others! Be an active listener and expose yourself to the authentic accents and language. You can always switch LiveATC on. You think you don’t have enough time to learn English? Find out how to get more for learning! Oh, and make sure you’re on my newsletter list that provides free resources concerning preparation for the ICAO exam.


Do you understand the differences between pronunciation, rhythm, intonation, and stress? Please let me know in the comments below if everything is clear for you. I can always edit this post or write a new one if something needs clarification. I’m here to help you pass the ICAO exam 🙂 Remember: the higher you aim, the more you achieve! If you find this article useful, please send the link to it to 3 friends who may need some help in studying English for aviation. Thank you in advance!

The higher you aim, the more you achieve