Archive for July, 2010

Advice for improving your English and passing the ICAO English test from Aviation English Asia.

Article written by Michael Egerton

There are many different types of ICAO English test.  Some ICAO tests are created by independent testing institutions eg RELTA, VAET, TEA and EALTA whereas others are created and administered by airlines themselves.  Some ICAO tests focus on your ability to use technical vocabulary, and what you would say in a particular situation during flight, others are more focused on plain English and your ability to talk about unexpected situations.  We’ve even heard of some ICAO tests being purely conversational.  With so many different types of ICAO test it’s difficult to know how you should prepare for the test.

We don’t recommend that you try and memorise expected answers to a test, but you can predict the kind of question that could be asked – particularly those that relate to giving personal information.  In this article I will provide some sample test questions that you could realistically be expected to answer – not just for the ICAO English test but at many stages throughout your career.

Sample ICAO test questions

  1. What’s your name and date of birth?
  2. What do you like about your job?
  3. How do your family feel about your job?
  4. What aircraft would you most like to fly?
  5. What is the best thing about being a pilot?
  6. Did you ever have any doubts about becoming a pilot?
  7. How did you become interested in aviation?
  8. What do you do to maintain your health?
  9. What is the most difficult part of your job?
  10. What happened during your first solo?

Of course, your answers will be different from your colleagues so memorisation isn’t going to help.  And yes, some people (not our students) really do try to memorise answers!  You are going to need to be able to answer questions for yourself and in the correct tense, with suitable articles, prepositions and clauses.

You will also need sufficient plain English vocabulary to answer common questions.  In short, your assessor will be able to find out a lot about your level of English by how you answer simple questions.  So let’s practice grammar by looking at the questions above – consider which are about the past, which are about the present, and which are about the future?  How would you answer them?

ICAO English test answers

These are some answers to questions asked in an ICAO English test. What do you think the questions were?  The answers don’t necessarily relate to the questions above.

  • June 25th
  • Definitely the F14 Tomcat because of the swing wings
  • Being able to visit many different locations around the world.
  • I experienced some unexpected weather conditions.
  • They are very supportive but it requires a lot of hard work to maintain relationships.
  • As part of military service.
  • Ever since I was a child.
  • I used to collect model aircraft when I was a boy and I became fascinated about how they work.
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Air Asia

Practice paraphrasing

There is more than one possible question to match each answer above, and also more than one way to ask a question.  Practice paraphrasing by asking the questions you came up with in a different way.  For example:

  • When were you born? / What is your date of birth?
  • What is your motivation for becoming a pilot? / Why did you want to become a pilot?

What to 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, aerospace 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.

Of course, feel free to leave a comment or even a suggestion for a future article.  We value all of your feedback.

Word of the Week from Aviation English Asia.

Decision Altitude / Height (noun)

Definition:   A specified altitude/height in a precision approach at which a missed approach must be initiated if the required visual reference to continue the approach to land has not been established.

For more Aviation English  learning advice please visit http://aviationenglish.com or visit our Facebook Page

Advice for learning English from Aviation English Asia.

Article written by Michael Egerton

One of the most complicated areas of English is the correct use of articles.  In English there are two articles – a/an and the. In this article you can learn some simple rules that will help you use articles correctly. But first of all, look at the sentences below. Can you explain how and why the articles are used?

  • 1. I had a baguette and a cup of coffee for lunch.
  • 2. The baguette was good but the coffee was awful.
  • 1. My brother is a pilot.
  • 2. He is the captain of a Boeing 737.
  • 1. I saw a security officer holding a machine gun.
  • 2. Airport security officers are allowed to carry guns.
  • 1. I feel cold. Can you pass me a blanket.
  • 2. I feel cold. Can you pass me the blanket

The Airbus A380 is the biggest passenger aircraft

The definite article – the

Here are four rules to explain the use the definite article the. After reading match each rule with one of the examples below.

Rule 1: the – used where there is only one.  For example, “I saw the nice lady from HR.” Here, we’re talking about a specific noun.  There is probably only one nice lady from the HR department.

Rule 2: the – used before geographical nouns eg seas, rivers, hotels, pubs, museums and newspapers.

  • names of rivers, oceans and seas: the Nile, the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Black Sea
  • points on the globe: the Equator, the North Pole
  • geographical areas: the Middle East, the Northern Hemisphere
  • deserts, forests, gulfs, and peninsulas: the Sahara, the Persian Gulf, the Forest of Dean,

Rule 3: the – used with superlative adjectives.  For example, the Cadet Pilot Programme is the easiest way for local people to start an aviation career.

Rule 4: the – used when both the speaker and listener already know the thing, design or idea being talked about.  For example,  “The car was blue.”   Here, we’re talking about a specific car, the car that hit my Cessna. The definitive article is also used to talk about aircraft when describing or comparing their features, eg the Airbus A380, the Boeing 747.

Examples – which of the above rules do they demonstrate?

  • We have a cat and a dog. The cat is white and the dog is black.
  • The Atlantic Ocean, the Sun, the River Nile, the Black Swan
  • The WOMBAT test was really easy
  • Have you checked the fuel?
  • The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger airliner. Concorde was the fastest passenger aircraft.
  • The Air Traffic Controller’s daughter is really pretty.
  • I passed the ICAO English test

The indefinite article – a/an

Here are four rules explaining the use of the indefinite article a/an

Rule 1: a/an – used with professions.  For example, “I’m a lawyer“.

Rule 2: a/an – used with some expressions of quantity. For example, “I need a bottle of water”.

Rule 3: a/an used in expressions with “what + countable noun”.  For example, “What a beautiful day for flying!”

Rule 4: a/an used to refer to a thing or idea for the first time. For example, “I met a nice girl last night.”

Examples – which of the above rules do they demonstrate?

  • I’m an accountant. My brother is a pilot.
  • What an incredible landing!
  • The passengers will board in a few minutes.
  • A couple of landing cards please.
  • I practice English 3 times a week.
  • I’m reading a good book. The author is Peter Nock.

No article required

There are four rules explaining the use of no article.

Rule 1: no article used before some forms of transport.

Rule 2: no article used with exclamations with “what + uncountable noun”

Rule 3: no article used before some geographical nouns, languages, meals, airports, mountains and stations. For example,

  • names of most countries/territories: Australia, China, Canada; however you do need to use the before countries that are a collection of states eg, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, the United States
  • names of cities, towns, or states:London, Singapore, Vancouver
  • names of streets: Scenic View Road, Oxford St.
  • names of lakes and bays: Lake Michigan, except with a group of lakes like the Great Lakes
  • names of mountains: Mount Everest, Mount Fuji except with ranges of mountains like the Andes or the Himalayas
  • names of continents (Asia, Europe)
  • names of islands (Hong Kong Island, Lantau, Lamma) except groups of islands like the Philippines, or the Canary Islands

Rule 4: no article used before plural and uncountable nouns to refer to things in general.

Examples – which of the above rules do they demonstrate?

  • What amazing weather!
  • I had dinner with the captain.
  • I bought “Pronunciation for Pilots” online.
  • Mt Fuji is in Japan.
  • I go to work by train.
  • What noisy passengers!
  • She can speak Portuguese.
  • I like girls.
  • Police officers in Hong Kong carry guns.
  • Peanuts can be dangerous during flight.

Activity – Newspaper headlines

Newspaper headlines rarely use complete sentences. Look at the list of headlines below and see if you can write them as a complete sentence using verbs in the correct tense and articles as appropriate.  You can find the answers on our Facebook Discussion forum.

Example:

  • Headline – FAA to announce new taxi instructions
  • Full sentence – The FAA is going to announce some new taxi instructions.

Global Airline Traffic Surpasses Pre Recession Level

Heroic Flight Attendant Lands Plane

FAA Slow to Require Action On Cockpit Fires

Passengers Stranded On Desert Island

Pilot Loses Certificate For Buzzing Beach

Fuel Dump By FedEx Plane Most Likely Cause of Mysterious Crop Damage

Early 787 Simulation Raises Concerns

Magnificent Man and His Homebuilt Flying Machine Go For Record at Age of 94

6 Year Old OHIO Girl Placed on FAA Watch List

Tiny Turtle Returns Plane to Gate

What to 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, aerospace 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.

Of course, feel free to leave a comment or even a suggestion for a future article.  We value all of your feedback.

Word of the Week from Aviation English Asia.

Holding Point (noun)

Definition: An abbreviation used in radiotelephony phraseology having the same meaning as Taxiway Holding Position.

For more Aviation English learning advice please visit http://aviationenglish.com or visit our Facebook Page

Word of the Week from Aviation English Asia.

Trim tab (noun)

Definition:  A secondary control surface, usually mounted to primary control surface such as aileron, elevator, rudder, or stabilizer, that controls the position of the primary control surface, and is controlled by the an operator or an autopilot;

Symbols: delta sub T; Typical Units: rad, deg

For more Aviation English  learning advice please visit http://aviationenglish.com or visit our Facebook Page

Word of the Week from Aviation English Asia.

Known Traffic (noun)

Definition:  known traffic, the current flight details and intentions of which are known to the controller concerned, through direct communication or co-ordination.

For more Aviation English  learning advice please visit http://aviationenglish.com or visit our Facebook Page

Making use of free Aviation English Resources

Advice for learning English from Aviation English Asia.

Article written by Michael Egerton

We’ve had a lot of interest from readers looking for free online courses for improving their Aviation English.  In this article I’m going to share with you my recommendations for free Aviation English resources.  Of course, this blog will continue to give you some free Aviation English lessons, but the best possible resource is our mailing list.

The best way to get free ICAO Aviation English exercises

Visit our website http://aviationenglish.com and subscribe to get:

  • FREE instant access to 4 demo units of ICAO Aviation English Online
  • FREE advice about learning English
  • FREE downloads and study guides
  • News about courses in your country
  • Special offers and promotions

The first of these is very special – the ICAO Aviation English Online course has 4 levels, each of 12 units.  Each unit is about 8-12 hours of English practice.  Subscribers can try 4 of these demo units from each of the four levels before you buy the course.

The content of the course is also very interesting for pilots and controllers because it covers important information that you will need in your career, not just for the ICAO test.  It’s also the only conplete Aviation English course, offering courses from ICAO levels 2-4.  If you are preparing for an ICAO English test I strongly recommend that you join our mailing list and try out these free Aviation English lessons.

What do you get in the free demos?

Over 30 hours of Aviation English exercises including.. listening and reading comprehension, true or false questions, gap fill exercises, multiple choice, vocabulary practice and the opportunity to practice radiotelephony.  If your grammar and listening skills are weak I recommend that you try the lower level courses which give you more grammar and listening practice.  The ICAO Level 3 Upper level course is more focused on technical vocabulary, so don’t worry about trying out the low level units.  There is plenty of good practice material there for you.  After trying the demo units, I’m sure that you will want to buy the complete course.

Looking for more free ICAO English exercises?

One of the most important skills that you can develop easily is reading.  There are thousands of aviation articles on the internet but only a handful are suitable as learning material.  Such is the skill of an aviation English teacher who can carefully select suitable articles for use in the classroom.  Keep an eye on our blog and Facebook Page for these articles.

You can also read technical websites like http://www.skybrary.aero which is a wiki created by a number of flight safety and training organisations.  It makes fascinating reading and you can learn something new each time you visit.

For listening practice try listening to a favourite airport on http://liveatc.net.  Always listen for the key information in each transmission and you will soon become familiar with different accents.  Be careful though, listening to air traffic control can become addictive.  There is now an iphone application available which makes listening in, even more convenient.

Our YouTube channel features a selection of videos, some even with ATC transcripts.  If you have any interesting videos to share, please let us know.

Interact with Aviation English Asia

If you want to improve your English, talk to us!  We have a wide range of methods that you can use to engage in a conversation.  If you have a question, ask it on our Facebook Discussion forum, you can also make contact with other Aviation English learners having similar experiences.

Our team of pilots, Subject Matter Experts and Aviation English teachers will be happy to talk with you.  We will post a discussion question each week.  If you have friends and colleagues, suggest that they “like” our page too.

You can find us here:

Please suggest to your friends

Disadvantages of free Aviation English resources

It is always good to practice English at every opportunity, and make good use of free resources on the internet.  But if there is so much free material out there, then why pay for a course?  As aviation English teachers we want you to be independent learners so doing as much self-study as you can is a good thing.  The difficulty is when you get information overload and don’t know where to direct your attention.  With self-study you also lack the feedback and guidance of a teacher, who could perhaps show you your errors or teach you an easier way of practising a skill.

Another difficulty on the internet is that it is easy to become distracted by advertisements and other things like msn messenger.  It can be very easy to lose track of time and study is not always productive.   ICAO Aviation English Online is more effective as it has a Learning Management System that tracks your progress and time spent on the course.  As well as showing you your mistakes, if you miss too many study sessions, or fall behind in your study we can give you a reminder.  When you have a consistent study rhythm it’s relatively easy to achieve a half-ICAO level within 12 weeks.

It’s also easy to take the things that you learn online into the real world as it’s also designed for blended learning in a classroom.  So you can practice and expand everything that you learn online with a teacher and other learners in a classroom.  At the end of the day it’s all about being able to communicate effectively with real people.

What to 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, aerospace 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.

Of course, feel free to leave a comment or even a suggestion for a future article.  We value all of your feedback.