Archive for April, 2010

English learning advice from Aviation English Asia.

A look at different passenger profiles and language functions to resolve problems on-board.

Written by Michael McBride

In this article,  we will focus on problematic situations that can occur during flight.  This could involve dealing with intoxicated passengers or uncooperative people in the air.  We will look at different questions to consider when faced with a difficult situation, suitable grammar forms and you will also have the chance to practise using visual examples.

Passengers – a diverse mixture

As a member of cabin crew on a commercial airline you will come across a large mix of people from all backgrounds and cultures.  Although there are many stereotypes in society, it may be useful to be aware of them for quick and efficient handling of passengers.

  • A stereotype is a cultural and social expectation that may not be wholly true and accurate but exists in society and we cannot avoid them.

Would you provide the same service to an elderly man the same way you would treat a 20 year old man heading on holiday?  What language and service would you provide someone with full religious garb, or a pregnant woman finding it difficult to enjoy the flight?  Or simply, how would you treat an angry passenger compared to a co-operative and peaceful passenger?

Of course your airline will tell you to treat everyone with the same high-class service, but you must have some awareness of different people so the language you use can be adapted for each situation.  The wrong form of service language could make a situation worse.  Let’s now consider this with grammar and context.

Passengers - a diverse mixture

Credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Describing appearance and emotions – grammar and context

It is useful to ask yourself questions when you have to deal with a problem passenger and keep in mind these questions need to be answered within a few seconds: –

  • Who are they?
  • Why do you think they are complaining or not co-operating?
  • How will you resolve the situation?
  • What language will you use?

With your trainer at Aviation English Asia you will work on adapting language to specific contexts and types of passenger, but now let’s focus on grammar and vocabulary in a more general approach for difficult passengers.

After considering the problem at hand e.g. a passenger is complaining about their meal, and evaluating the situation consider your language.  It is advisable to not use overly direct and plain language.  Using formal verbs like “reject” and “decline” could create more tension and escalate the problem.   Use of apologetic language may soften the situation, look at the following and consider which is more effective?

  • “I’m sorry, sir, but your card hasn’t been accepted.”
  • “Sir, your card has been declined.”

The first example may use more words but projects politeness and calm.  Notice also the use of contractions is vital, for instance, “hasn’t” as opposed to “has not.”  Contractions are made for spoken English but long forms are also used, but they show more emphasis and authority, which is not effective when trying to calm down a passenger.

Politeness and consideration should always be used.  This can also be reinforced by modal verbs that are not strong but still project advice, suggestion and recommendation.  For example: –

  • Sir, you may like to try this meal instead.
  • Madam, would you like to try this option?
  • You could try this meal instead, sir.

Escalated problems, in other words situations you probably cannot handle on your own need to be directed to your senior colleague.  With this it will also bring a new set of language tools if your senior only speaks in English.

Basic description language includes: –

  • Use of adjectives and nouns e.g. angry passenger
  • Keep it simple and use the present simple or progressive tenses e.g. he is not moving from his seat.
  • Using stronger tone and stress will show your English speaking supervisor the situation is more important compared to if you use a lighter tone.  Think of the importance of the problem.

Practice – context and language.

Situation 1

In-flight English for cabin crew

Credit: http://www.sfballetblog.org

  1. Context.  What type of passengers?
  2. Predict.  What could be potential problems?
  3. Communicate.  What language will you use?

This picture shows a group of young travellers, maybe college students heading for Spring Break.  There is a possibility they may be noisy and even over-bearing towards other passengers.

Situation 2

Credit: Sky News

  1. Context.  What type of passengers?
  2. Predict.  What could be potential problems?
  3. Communicate.  What language will you use?

Looking at the body language and gesturing of the male passenger there could be a problem with his meal.  Did he order it?  Is there a problem with what is on the plate?  Also consider his age and background.

Situation 3

Credit: unknown

1      Context.  What type of passengers?

2      Predict.  What could be potential problems?

3      Communicate.  What language will you use?

A number of situations could be predicated here, from complaining to even an argument between passengers.  How would you handle the situation, would you need more help from a supervisor?

Exercise:

Think of some more situations and consider what you would say.

Checklist

  • Be aware of your passengers and who they are
  • Ask yourself a series of questions to evaluate the situation
  • What could happen next, will you need a supervisor?  How would you speak to the supervisor, how would you describe the passenger?

What to do next

For feedback and more information about Aviation English Asia’s cabin crew courses please visit http://aviationenglish.com

English learning advice from Aviation English Asia.

Article written by Michael Egerton

In this article we are going to explore the use of past tenses in English, by examining an incident that  happened unexpectedly during flight.  Tenses are an essential part of plain English, as you can use tenses to indicate the time and sequence that something happened.  At ICAO level 4 the requirements for structure are that:

Basic grammatical structures and sentence patterns are used creatively and are usually well controlled. Errors may occur, particularly in unusual or unexpected circumstances, but rarely interfere with meaning.

Relevant grammatical structures are determined by language functions appropriate to the task.  This means that you need to be proficient in grammatical structures that are used in flight operations.  It is expected that you will make some grammatical errors eg such errors that could occur in non-routine situations, but the meaning is generally understood.

This article includes short exercises for comprehension, structure, vocabulary and pronunciation.  The tenses examined include:

  • Past simple
  • Past continuous
  • Past perfect
  • Past perfect continuous

Activity

Credit: HouieLouy

Watch the above video then answer the following questions.

Comprehension questions

Are the following statements true or false?

  1. The incident happened in the USA.
  2. There was a problem with the pilot’s microphone.
  3. The controller declared an emergency.
  4. The pilot was slurring his speech because he was drunk.
  5. The pilot requested vectors for Cincinatti.
  6. The pilot was suffering from hypoxia
  7. The pilot couldn’t control the altitude, speed or heading.
  8. The aircraft crashed in Athens, Greece in 2005.

You can email your answers to exercise@aviationenglish.asia and we’ll give you some feedback.  Now let’s take a look at some of the structures used in an account of the incident.

Structure – past simple and past perfect

Past simple is used to talk about complete actions in the past.  Past perfect is used to talk about an earlier past (except when it is part of a logical sequence).  Read the following text and answer the questions.

Flight KFS-66 was enroute at approximately FL320 and had just checked-in with Cleveland’s Air Route Traffic Control Centre, when the controller noticed the microphone of KFS-66 was continuously keyed.

  • Which of the above words are verbs, adjectives and adverbs?
  • Which of the above phrases describe “short actions”?
  • Which of the above phrases describe states or conditions?
  • In what order did the above events occur?

Structure – past continuous and past simple

Past continuous is used to talk about a long action at a specific time in the past or an action at a specific time in the past that gets interrupted by something.

While the primary controller was trying (with the aid of a second pilot in another aircraft) to understand what the crew were reporting, his colleague Stephanie Bevins tuned the radio frequency and recognised that the crew were suffering from severe hypoxia.

  • Which of the above are long actions and which are short actions?
  • Draw a timeline to show the sequence of events.
  • What is the difference between using while and when?

Structure – past simple and past perfect continuous

Past perfect continuous is used to talk about (a) something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past, or (b) the cause of something in the past.

The airplane descended to 11000 feet, where the crew of the Learjet recovered and began to respond normally again.  They subsequently confirmed that they had been suffering from hypoxia.  The airplane continued to Detroit’s Willow Run Airport, where it landed safely.

  • Are all the events in the above paragraph related in chronological order?
  • Why does the paragraph use had been suffering instead of were suffering?

Vocabulary

  • report
  • suffer
  • recover
  • descend
  • recognise
  • key
  • confirm
  • en route
  • check-in
  • hypoxia

Which of the above words mean:

  • a deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues
  • an act of reporting one’s presence
  • to return to a normal state
  • during the course of a journey
  • to state that something said previously is correct
  • to move downwards
  • to give a spoken or written account of something
  • to enter or operate
  • to experience something unpleasant
  • to acknowledge the existence of something

Pronunciation

How do you say the following verbs in their past simple form?

  • report
  • suffer
  • recover
  • descend
  • recognise
  • key
  • confirm
  • check-in

What sound do the verbs end in – /d/ /t/ or /id/ ?

What you should do next

For feedback and more information about Aviation English Asia’s courses please visit http://aviationenglish.com. We can help you improve your English whether you are an experienced pilot, a cadet entry pilot, a controller, engineer or flight attendant, with custom courses designed specifically for your needs.  If you haven’t already please join the Aviation English mailing list for instant access to free demonstration units of the ICAO Aviation English Online course, special offers and details of courses in your area.

English learning advice from Aviation English Asia.

Article written by Michael Egerton

In this article I’m going to show you how you can improve your ability to paraphrase.  Paraphrasing is the ability to express someone else’s ideas in your own words.  It is an essential skill for pilots and controllers, as there may be times when you need to communicate with other non-native speakers who don’t know (or can’t recognise) the words that you are trying to use.

Therefore you should improve not just your own vocabulary, but learn how to communicate information clearly using other words and structures.  It’s an effective way of checking, confirming and clarifying information.  Communication strategies like this will contribute to making aviation safer.

aviation english paraphrasing

Paraphrasing for pilots and controllers

Paraphrasing requires several skills:

  • Good listening comprehension
  • the ability to understand the main points of a message
  • the ability to understand  why the speaker/writer expressed himself this way
  • the ability to express the same ideas in more concise terms without changing the meaning

This means that you need to develop the ability to use the context to understand the new vocabulary that you hear, while ignoring the parts that are not relevant to the main points. Pay attention to key words/phrases, tense and factual information.

You can practice paraphrasing/summarising by picking out the key words/phrases in the text and expressing the way they are related to each other.

Practice paraphrasing while reading

In aviation you will probably be more concerned with improving your listening rather than reading, but nevertheless you can improve your paraphrasing skills by reading a varied range of text.

When you read an article first skim read it to understand what the article is about and what the writer is trying to say.  You should be able to guess the meaning of words that you don’t know from the context.  Then consider:

  • What are the main points?
  • What is the key information?
  • What information is not useful?
  • What questions does the article answer or raise?

You can then change the structure of the article to be clearer and easier to understand.  If there are uncommon words you can describe them using different words.  If the word represents something physical, eg a foreign object left on the runway, you can consider it’s shape, size and dimensions or even the material it is made of.  If the word represents something abstract eg “aerodynamics”, consider the situations in which the idea occurs.

Exercise:

Paraphrase the following passage:

As mankind advanced further and further, throughout history there were lots of trials and designs for flying machines.    In order to establish flying, mankind looked at the only available example of flying: namely birds.  Thus, everyone was trying to copy the designs of the birds to design a flying machine that paralleled their development: The Ornithopter.  In essence, an ornithopter was a machine that had birdlike wings and a place for the operator to be attached.  The operator would flap his arms and the wings of the ornithopter would be flapped also.  In essence, mankind would fly by simulating the flapping of the bird’s wings.  However, since the principles of aerodynamics were not yet discovered, no one was aware of the ratio of the wing to muscle power and thus all of these projects and attempts were doomed to fail.

It should be easy to state the important information within a few sentences.  It’s easy to see which information can be discarded.

Exercise:

  • Explain what an ornihopter is without using the word “birds”.
  • Explain why ornihopters were not successful without using the words “aerodynamics”, “flapping” or “power”.

Practice paraphrasing in aviation

Watch the following video.

  • Do you think that the controllers were surprised to hear of that object on the taxiway?
  • How do you think it got there?
  • What other words sound similar or could easily be misheard?
  • How would you describe that object if you weren’t able to communicate clearly on the radio due to interference?

What to do next

For feedback and more information about Aviation English Asia’s courses please visit http://aviationenglish.com. If you haven’t already please join the Aviation English mailing list for special offers and details of courses in your area.