Noise has the potential to impair cognitive performance. For nonnative speakers, the effect of noise on performance is more severe than their native counterparts. What remains unknown is the effectiveness of countermeasures such as noise attenuating devices in such circumstances. Therefore, the main aim of the present research was to examine the effectiveness of active noise attenuating countermeasures in the presence of simulated aircraft noise for both native and nonnative English speakers. Thirty-two participants, half native English speakers and half native German speakers completed four recognition (cued) recall tasks presented in English under four different audio conditions, all in the presence of simulated aircraft noise. The results of the research indicated that in simulated aircraft noise at 65 dB(A), performance of nonnative English speakers was poorer than for native English speakers. The beneficial effects of noise cancelling headphones in improving the signal to noise ratio led to an improved performance for nonnative speakers. These results have particular importance for organizations operating in a safety-critical environment such as aviation.