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July 2008

Introduction to this edition of our newsletter

A Flexible Approach to Teaching Aviation English to Air Traffic Controllers - Phil Hawks

AES hosts three groups of English Second Language (ESL) controllers in New Zealand for a three-week, classroom-based Aviation English language training program.

Speaking the Same Language - Linda Werfelman

We acknowledge our thanks to Flight Safety Foundation for allowing us to publish this article from the November 2007 edition of Aerosafety World

Social, Safety and Economic Impacts of Global Language Testing in Aviation - Philip Shawcross, President ICAEA

The Value of Content-based Language Training for the Aviation Industry  -  Elizabeth Mathews Aviation English Services

AES Associates

  


Introduction to this edition of the newsletter 


Thank you for taking the time to read this edition of the Aviation English Services newsletter.

In this edition we hear from one of our aviation English teachers, Phil Hawks, who has been delivering the English for Aviation Safety training programme to several groups of overseas air traffic controllers and assisting them in achieving the Level 4 requirement.    

In case you missed the November 2007 issue of Aerosafety World, published by Flight Safety Foundation, we have included their article “Speaking the Same Language”. 

AES principal, Elizabeth Mathews comments on the need for industry standardisation and accreditation of language training and testing providers.  Organisations cannot underestimate the need for quality language training and testing, or ignore other commercial factors such as reducing insurance costs or meeting ICAO audit requirements. 

As the leader of the PRICE study group which developed the aviation English language proficiency requirements for ICAO, Elizabeth Mathews is well placed to comment on language training best practice.  Her article, "The Value of Content-Based Language Training" describes the approach to language learning and training that is best suited to the aviation environment and to the ICAO language proficiency requirements. 

Content-based language learning involves material and activities that are relevant to the aduience and that engage learners in tasks such as those they will perform in "the real world".  In an aviation environment, this means engaging students in content and tasks that help them to become more proficient at pilot - controller conversations.  From a content-based language learning perspective, a topic such as "The Four Forces of Flight" might be of interest to beginning flight or ATC students, but will not prepare experienced pilots or controllers, in a focused way, for conversations they will encounter in their work envrionment.  More appropriate for this audience are safety-related topics that hold students' interest and will engage them in tasks that are relevant to their work.

The third article in this newsletter is written by Philip Shawcross, an AES director and President of the International Civil Aviation English Association (ICAEA).  Philip’s article explores the impact of language and communication in aviation. and it highlights the role of communication in aviation safety.   

We welcome your feedback on our articles as well as possible contributions.

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A Flexible Approach to Teaching Aviation English to Air Traffic Controllers  - Phil Hawks

Recently AES hosted three groups of English Second Language (ESL) controllers in New Zealand for a three-week, classroom-based Aviation English language training program. The program was designed to complement 150 hours of AES internet-based training completed in their home country prior to coming to New Zealand.

The controllers had all received some previous overseas training, both in ATC procedures and in general English. This training had been provided over a number of years in a number of different countries, predominantly in English.
Before beginning the AES program in New Zealand, the controllers’ ICAO aviation English proficiency levels were determined by a telephonic OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) delivered and rated by AES-certifed tester/raters. This process enabled the AES instructor to customize the level of language instruction to suit the students. After the students completed the AES program, they underwent a second telephonic OPI, which allowed the students and the instructor to see what progress they have achieved.
 
Most of the controllers were experienced professionals who had completed the majority of their English study many years ago; and while they were skilled at using standard phraseology, any situation that deviated from standard phraseology could cause great difficulties for many of them. This is often the case with non-native English speaking pilots and controllers.
Because of operational and rostering constraints, the controllers’ levels of English proficiency in the different groups varied significantly, with some students minimally demonstrating ICAO Elementary Level 3 proficiency and others demonstrating nearly ICAO Extended Level 5 proficiency. In addition, due to the same operational and rostering constraints mentioned above, the students had completed only a portion of the AES internet-based training prior to arrival.

In response to these conditions, the AES program content was customized during the early stages to include general English review in order to complement the operational focus of the aviation English modules. And to enable the students to catch up on the internet-based training, they worked on these modules for 1.5 hours at the start of each day, then participated in instructor-led training activities for the rest of the day.

Most controllers in this program have shown improvement across the ICAO rating scale skills that were tested (vocabulary, structure, fluency etc). Many of the controllers showed a marked increase in their confidence levels as well, particularly the lower level learners.

Furthermore, the controllers who have completed the program thus far seem to be very happy with it, and it has fulfilled its basic objectives. After returning to their home country, the controllers will continue to progress through the internet-based training modules to build on what they have learned thus far on the course.

AES looks forward to hosting more groups of these controllers in the future for Aviation English training.

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Speaking the Same Language - Linda Werfelman

We acknowledge our thanks to Flight Safety Foundation for allowing us to publish this article from the November 2007 edition of Aerosafety World

 

Responding to warnings that some states will miss the 2008 deadline for compliance with English language proficiency requirements for pilots and air traffic controllers, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has approved a resolution to allow more time for learning while pressing authorities to spell out their training and testing plans.

The ICAO resolution, adopted in late September during the 36th session of the ICAO Assembly in Montreal, also calls for establishment of globally harmonized language testing criteria.

Under previously existing requirements, approved in 2003, ICAO formally designated English as the language of international pilot-controller communications and established a March 5, 2008, deadline for completion of initial testing of pilots and controllers to ensure that they complied with English language proficiency requirements. Aeronautical station operators also must comply.

Click this link to read the full article

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Social, Safety and Economic Impacts of Global Language Testing in Aviation -
Philip Shawcross, President ICAEA

Language and communication in aviation

A Chinese pilot flying from Beijing to Paris may cross ten national boundaries and speak to more than two dozen air traffic controllers, each with a different first-language background, speaking different regional varieties of English at varying levels of proficiency. According to international regulations, while pilots may use the language of the country they are flying over, pilots and controllers must be able to communicate in the common language of aviation: English.

Safe flights depend on successful pilot and controller communications. In fact, between 1970 and 1995, accident investigators determined that more than 1,500 passengers and flight crew lost their lives in accidents in which inadequate English language proficiency on the part of controllers and or pilots had been a contributing factor.

In 1996, a mid-air collision over India resulted in the loss of 312 lives. In this accident, as in others previously, the investigation showed that inadequate spoken English had been a contributing factor.

Most pilot-controller communications employ what is called “standard ICAO phraseology”, i.e. internationally recognized formulaic expressions which are used unfailingly to address routine and foreseeable abnormal situations.

Click this link to read the full article

 

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The Value of Content-based Language Training for the Aviation Industry -  Elizabeth Mathews, Aviation English Services

The shift in the requirements for English training in the aviation industry necessitates a significant investment of time and financial resources, for individuals, airlines, air traffic service providers, training organizations, and national economies. The safety and economic impact of the ICAO language Standards obligate aviation English training providers to provide the most economical, efficient, and effective programs possible.

The ICAO Document 9835: Manual on the Implementation of ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements recommends Content-based language training as a way to economize and to maximize the effectiveness of an aviation English program.

A Changed Landscape for Aviation English

While the ICAO Language Standards apply to all languages used for radio - telephony communications, the greatest training challenge falls on the teaching of English. The most significant change in how English must be taught stems from the establishment of clear training targets, described in the ICAO Language Proficiency Rating Scale, for speaking and listening proficiency.

The requirement for speaking and listening proficiency means that aviation English testing must comprise proficiency  tests, and not “pen-and-paper, grammar focused, or indirect tests of knowledge about English.” Rather, Proficiency tests assess a candidate’s ability to use the language, in other words, their communicative competence. Testing for compliance with the ICAO Language Proficiency Standards must include direct tests of speaking and listening proficiency.

This is important because test methods affect training design, a phenomenon called test washback. Test washback refers to the effect a test has on training, or how the test method ‘washes back’ into the training. Typically, perhaps naturally, people want to see a direct correlation between training and testing; we want to learn what we will be tested on. In some fields, the correlation is obvious: in knowledge-based learning —history, mathematics, English literature, ground school for flight training—a direct teach/test correlation may be possible, and may, in fact, be a principle of good curriculum design.

Click this link to read the full article


 

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AES Associates

AES is very pleased to be working with the following Associates:

Queen Noor civil Aviation Technical College www.qnac.edu.jo

ALAS de America www.alasdeamerica.com.mx

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University www.erau.edu

G-TELP www.gtelp.co.kr

Z-wings www.pilot-license.net.nz

Aviation Management College Malaysia www.aviationtraining.com.my

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology www.nmit.ac.nz

Jetway Aeronautics www.jetwayaero.com

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