I’m sure you’ve all heard how watching films and TV series can help you improve your general English – and hopefully you’ve resorted to this method yourself. But has it occurred to you that watching vids can be a great tool to boost your Aviation English as well? I encourage you to start doing that immediately. After all, there is no other way to learn a language than by delving into authentic content. And – it’s also fun.
I’ve made a list of Youtube channels I find most relevant for the cause. And I’ll share it with you in a minute. But first I’d like to offer some tips for you to take the most out of this simple and enjoyable practice.
- Only watch the vids you’re genuinely interested in. Don’t try to force yourself into anything that seems boring or overly difficult just because you ‘have to’. Your natural curiosity and eagerness to find out more about the subject you love (which is aviation in this case) are the best motivation for learning – use it!
- Trust that you’re learning while you watch, even without any additional efforts. If you need a scientific justification – that’s called implicit learning. Just practice as much as you can – and watch the progress in your comprehension skills. For progress tracking purposes always assess your understanding in per cent. By the way, you may notice how this figure changes depending on different factors.
- Choose short videos – preferably, between 3 and 10 minutes. You’ll surely be able to concentrate this long without getting tired or frustrated with unfamiliar words. Also, you’ll be able to watch the vid again – and third time, if necessary. Finally, you won’t be sorry to drop off in the middle if you don’t like the vid for whatever reason.
- First view is for general comprehension only. Understand the situation – not the words. After the first view, take an ‘inside look’ at the new information you now have in your mind, that wasn’t there before. Is everything clear to you – or you have some questions?
- Watch again to clarify what you didn’t catch the first time. So basically to answer the questions you had. Listen out specifically for figures – e.g. flight levels, the number of passengers, runway designator and so on.
- If you want to brush up your grammar, listen out to the structures being used in the vid.
- Practice pronunciation by repeating after the speaker, if there’s a narrator in the vid.
- Ask yourself – what is your takeaway from this vid? Maybe an interesting collocation, a new idiom, new vocabulary?
- Use subtitles only after watching without them the first time. Subtitles may be helpful, but don’t rely on them 100%. Only use them to check your own understanding.
- Reading comments may be useful in terms of picking up some jargon. But actually, some aviation vids raise sensible comments, which may be interesting or educational.
Bottomline – enjoy what you’re doing, take pleasure in the fact that you can use your English to understand the material you need – not vice versa.
Now that we are done with recommendations on how to use YouTube avaition videos to advance your language skills, let’s go on to the list of my own personal favorite channels for the cause. It has taken me virtually hundreds of hours of searching and roaming through oceans of content, so please make sure you put this selection of more than 30 best Youtube channels to good use! And keep adding new channels to the list.
Who can better present aviation equipment – be it aircraft, engine or a new capability – than OEMs themselves! Be inspired by aircraft commercials, take advantage of visualized explanations of how turbofan engines work – and more.
Watching and listening how pilots managed communications in actual non-routine situations in flight gives you a lot of insight into how it works in real life. Visualizations show you all relevant information and come with actual ATC recordings and their transcripts. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it!
Air Traffic Visualized
AIRLINES & AIRPORTS
To be honest, these guys hardly ever upload anything educational, but the rare exceptions are must-see. Don’t miss them out.
KLM (Cockpit Tales Series)
London City Airport
News reports on aviation incidents is a great source of vocabulary for you. Just search for virtually any non-routine situation you can think of – chances are, it has happened before. And if it has, rest assured some US broadcasting company has reported on it. Won’t give you any links here, except two dedicated aviation publications, which offer tons of top-notch content – including test-flights of new aircraft.
Aviation Week (Commercial aviation)
FLYING Magazine (GA mostly)
Arguably the best way to understand basic aviation concepts is watching these simple and well visualized tutorials.
ERAU Special VFR
AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT PROVIDERS
Everything you ever wanted to know about air traffic control and the amazing people who are doing this job is there for you.
There’s no need to introduce these people – they do a great job at introducing themselves, and telling you how aviation works, first-hand.
When it comes to aviation, there’s always some science backing up anything you point your finger at. These channels delve into scientific concepts in aviation, and do it in a fun, clear and educating way.
SPARK (Britain’s Busiest Airport playlist)
These are videos addressed specifically at flight crews to raise their awareness of flight safety issues, be it runway incursion or CRM or dealing with unruly passengers.
Flight Crew Guide (collection)
Sadly and surprisingly, there’s not so much to share in this category. Fluent Pilot remains virtually the only alive and updated Aviation English channel with original content and true value for the entire Level 4-and-beyond-challenged community. Subscribe and learn!
What’s been left out, but is nevertheless good for you, are fragmented episodes of TV shows, such as Mayday, Air Crash Investigations, Aviators, PBS City in the Sky, Short Final, Worst Place to Be a Pilot etc. For understandable reasons, I cannot name channels, where you can find these. Try search.