In an international communication setting, and when I say international, I'm referring to English being used a medium of communication where at least one participant is not a native English speaker<sub>1</sub>, there is a chance that the participants will have to accommodate to each others' accent. In many circumstances the interaction goes forward with little problem but on occasion, a speaker's accent may be so strong it will be necessary to tune one's ear to it. This is fine if you're taking part in a low-stakes interaction such as booking a hotel room or ordering a meal in a restaurant. Air Traffic Controllers and Pilots in a time and safety-critical environment don't have the luxury of tuning their ear to an unfamiliar accent.
Is there a solution?
Research shows, and indeed common sense will prevail and tell you, that it is possible to familiarise oneself to a particular accent (citations).
I have created a course in order to help both native and non-native English speaking aviation professionals get used to hearing accents of speakers from different parts of the world. You can enrol on the course for free by clicking here.
1 The issue of the definition of the native speaker is complex and outside the scope of this article, so, I will refer to the 'common sense' view of the native and non-native speaker. (see Davies, Jenkins, Sedlhofer for a deeper discussion on those issues).