Phonetic Alphabet

Forgive my naivety, I am now on the lookout for any good ways “FUN” to teach the phonetic alphabet. No one at my squadron have BADA yet. Does anyone have any ideas that would make my life easier. We are low in numbers so don’t really want to lecture them…would rather make it into a game. As all our staff are pretty much new…we have to start somewhere.

Hopefully after a wee while I could offer advice to people on here…But need advice to give first.

Thanks in advance


Make up some spelling games. Primary schools do them with normal letters, so you just adapt them to work with the NATO spelling alphabet. ie: spell your name, spell your dog’s name, ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’, etc…

Unless you’re talking about the International Phonetic Alphabet, of course. In which case I can’t help you and only God can help your cadets. :stuck_out_tongue:

PS: Bravo, alpha, delta, echo, romeo. As in Douglas.

the age old favourite (one the Cadets have gone through the alphabet A-Z) is hangman.

always best to have a selection of Radio based words to hand and go from there.

board of this game i used a word search last time. again relevant radio words to be found and spelt in a wordsearch

edt: use to help crete your wordsearch!

When I was a little-un I used to sit in the bay window at my Granny’s flat and watch the traffic go past. I’d call out the registrations in the phoenetic alphabet of each one.

Great for practice; not so good for teaching.

Hangman would be good I suppose. Decoding from phonetics and writing down the message probably helps too.

The MFL method (that’s me)…

On the white board write out the alfabet and then ask the cadets to call out the phonetic equivalent - write it down next to each letter.
If they are struggling give them a clue, eg E say there is an Echo in here. Hotel - where shall I stay on holiday. etc etc
Eventually you will fill up all the alfabet.

Then go round the class - start with the first cadet saying Alfa, the next says Bravo then so on. They might be reading it off the board - it doesn’t matter at this stage.

Then you write on the board…

My name is Smith I SPELL S-M-I-T-H Smith Initials -S-
Where they spell out their name using phonetics. Go round the class doing this.
So now they have learned their phonetics and a bit of radio procedure too.

If there is time in the session go round the alfabet again backwards.

Then tell them to read car numberplates as they are out and about using phonetics.

This method allows it to become natural - they have learned it through using it.

As incubus mentions, the other practical factor that must be practiced is the ability to hear sequences of phonetic alphabet and numbers, and to be able to accurately+calmly write it down. I notice that many Cadets (and Staff) can join squadrons with a ready-wrapped ability to speak’n’spell the phonetic alphabet, but have a scary inability to transcribe phonetics when it’s being spoken to them. So they’re a bit like schoolbook French tourists visiting Paris- they can parrot the phrases, but are almost ‘deaf on receive’.

And whilst I’m having a mini-rant, numbers. No, not of Cadets, numbers spoken by Cadets, phonetically. Cadets appear to be a bit shy or oblivious to the classic WUN-TOO-TREE pronunciations, or am I wrong?


ps This comment addressed to older classic communicator war-horses like me: who still remembers the official never-heard-ever formal/full NATO number phonetics, from way back in the day?? Beyond WUN-NINER?

Numerals are currently one of my biggest pet hates.

Even with the release of the new ACP 45 we’re still expected to teach cadets that old outdated system.
Whislt modern land tactical comms abandoned “TREE”, “FIFE”, “DAY-SEE-MAL” etc years ago (along with the idea of always giving figures digit by digit) we’re stuck in an age of procedures designed to make communication intelligable out of the crackle and static of old valve sets operated over long distances.

The modern British Army (with modern comms equipment) accepts that in good conditions it’s far easier and shorter (the whole goal of voice procedures being to make transmission clear and concise) to speak numbers in text as you would in normal speech.

I wish we could catch up too…

As mentioned earlier, beyond WUN and NINER have never used the phonetic numbers on any services net. ACP125 was drilled amongst those into our minds. I suppose they are valuable if the operator at the other end does not speak very good English.

A good training aid is to have a dummy radio conversation with an experienced cadet where you do everything wrong. (Say 10 problems) The cadets listening then have to pick up all the points.

Don’t forget what we are trying to achieve with our radio training, and don’t break out into a rash if the cadets get it wrong.

Even with the release of the new ACP 45 we’re still expected to teach cadets that old outdated system.
Whislt modern land tactical comms abandoned “TREE”, “FIFE”, “DAY-SEE-MAL” etc years ago (along with the idea of always giving figures digit by digit) we’re stuck in an age of procedures designed to make communication intelligable out of the crackle and static of old valve sets operated over long distances.[/quote]
Careful…bear in mind that we certainly should still be teaching Cadets the classic WUN-TOO-TREE as we continue to have (invaluable) access to HF, which does suffer the variable hiss and static of propagation. Whilst short-range solid FM comms on UNIFORM5 half-a-mile over the park is never going to result in much snap-crackle+pop, it’s never a good idea to totally forget the ultra-precise option for figures/numbers

Ah, but not only are they using VoIP PRRs on 2.4GHz and digi-mode BOWMAN tac VHF/HF, they (alongside the RAF) are also frequently using Airwave Tetra…which opens the Pandora’s box that is Prolingua Airwavespeak…


I’d keep a few paces back, personally (and I’m saying this from a very balanced perspective). ACO radio procedure is a well-intentioned blend of field tactical and commcen styles, but it could do with a strategic rework. Has that been done? I’m unfamilar with the revised version of ACP45. Any major changes??

Aha, mike-foxtrot-lima, I was actually referring back to the true full official ITU/NATO number pronounciation that (almost) no-one uses, ever!! Makes WUN-TOO-TREE sound understated by comparison!!



Yes, Roger, Affirm, Received.

Not really, no. It’s still basically the same as ACP44 was (and as ACP125 which itself is woefully outdated even at version ‘F’).

Oh I quite agree it should still be taught for that reason. But like abbreviated callsigns and abbreviated procedures I think the modern option to speak numbers normally under good conditions should be included.
The current Army procedures for numerals were brought in even before the reliablity and clarity of Bowman.

I personally think it’s time that “TREE”, “FIFE”, “TOU-SAND”, etc were replaced by their modern (and less retarded-sounding) equivalents:

“Th-Ree”, “Fie-Yiv”, “Thousand”, and “point” (although I’ve always preferred “decimal” to “point” personally; just not DAY-SEE-MAL).

To me it just seems a bit silly to teach them certain procedures that the military haven’t used in years. Particularly less helpful if they then go on to use radio in the forces.

I believe there’s also sense in teaching modern procedures because the army cadets are also using them. Some parity between cadet forces might not be a bad thing.

The army cadets have also picked up BATCO (which of course is rarely used by the Army in these days of encrypted nets) but which might be a far more intersting and reliable code system for us too in place of CODEX. That is not exactly the foremost example of cryptography. :stuck_out_tongue:

There is a clear argument for a layered stack of voice procedures dependant upon mode and circumstances. I’m not convinced that any service, military or civil, actually has that officially in place, regardless how logical it would be. The closest to such an ‘adaptive style’ is (ironically) civil aviation radiocomms voice procedures, which for reasons of major irony we in the ACO always seem to be a bit in denial about. Civil pilots and Ground stations can sometimes sound more casual than a chat at a bus-stop, then suddenly click into full formal procedure mid-sentence. Military pilots/controllers are somewhere on that curve too.

But I wouldn’t say that FIFE TOWSAND etc is dead+buried yet…

[video width=425 height=344 type=youtube]aTenUAFEQHU[/video]
[size=1](4235 is often clearer than the 5450, as is 11253)[/size]

CODEXs are admittedly less-secure than BATCO, but in our context that’s not the point (even so I do accept what you mean). They’ve got good utility for training purposes, though (CODEXs I mean).

And although Air Cadets are effectively taught the radiocomms equivalent of Latin (as opposed to the jive-talk of AirwaveSpeak or PRR rabble-rant), and need a bit of reprogramming prior to active service, I still think that learning the ACO procedures (being, as they are, a hybrid commcen/toy-tactical mixture) is actually quite a good starting-point.



Yes Yes Out

I’m not current in ‘modern forces procedures’, but the ‘old’ ACP44 is more or less as we were taught for ‘admin voice’. Tac voice slightly different.

Then again, we are training cadets in the basics and I’m sure that if they were to become regulars they would adapt to whatever new training they were given.

First two things taught…

  1. If you get tongue tied say ‘disregard out’ and start again.
  2. If you are called answer immediately then say ‘wait’ while you get organised. Don’t delay answering while you get organised.

I was taught BATCO as a cadet, very useful on exercises when you make up your own sheets and don’t tell the staff cackles