Posts Tagged ‘Cadet Pilot Programme’

Advice about how to prepare for an ICAO English test from Aviation English Asia.

Article written by Michael Egerton

In this article I’m going to give you advice about how to prepare for the new CX ICAO English test. The test changed recently and for a very good reason – the old test was frankly… not very good.

So the changes to the CX ICAO test are a very good thing. We support all those who have helped implement these changes to bring credibility to the test.

In this article I will answer the following questions.

  1. What is the format of the new CX ICAO English Test ?
  2. Are there any past papers?
  3. What can I do to prepare?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: We haven’t posted on our blog much recently because a number of dishonest people have copied our articles and used them on their own forums and blogs without our permission. If you want to use our articles just ask and we will consider your request. This is our commercial property, it took time and effort to write and research. Therefore we will prosecute people who steal our material.

FORMAT OF THE NEW CX ICAO ELT -

CATHAY PACIFIC ICAO ENGLISH TEST

Expect the following:

1. Some personal questions
2. Some listening comprehension in an aviation context
3. Describe a picture
4. Answer questions about a video
5. Some more questions about aviation.

If you think that the above isn’t very specific you are right. The old test had specific answers and didn’t vary very much so candidates were able to memorise the answers. Now you have to actually have genuine proficiency in Aviation English. Luckily the possible content of the test is very well covered in our Aviation English courses.

Are there any past papers?

No this is a speaking and listening test. It’s not supposed to be assessed the way that tests like IELTS are assessed. But there is an example of the test in development. So here’s our advice…

Forget about the test and focus on improving your Aviation English – DO A COURSE WITH US!!

This is a much more effective use of your time.

Past papers and mock tests are pointless apart from to settle your nerves. Past questions encourage many candidates to focus on remembering specific answers. The truth is, the answer to a question is not that important, it’s how well you answer it. It’s your pronunciation, use of correct grammatical structure, range of vocabulary, fluency and lack of hesitation and appropriateness of your answers too. We can show you an example of the test but really you shouldn’t focus on the test. The new test is dynamic and the assessor will ask you questions based on your previous answers so you will need to respond appropriately too.

For a rough idea some questions are like the activities on our Facebook page http://Facebook.com/aviationenglish

If you are not a fan already, become a fan and also select subscribe to updates so that you can get some free exercises in your news feed. Remember to interact and post on our page too, as we can give feedback to your answers.

If you are not a fan already, become a fan and also select subscribe to updates so that you can get some free exercises in your news feed. Remember to interact and post on our page too, as we can give feedback to your answers.

Expect many different versions of the test so asking your mate for the answers won’t help, but attending AVIATION ENGLISH ASIA COURSES WILL HELP.

What should I do to prepare for the new CX ICAO ENGLISH TEST?

The old test was riddled with problems because there was no real standard that had to be achieved. There was very little content that was related to flight operations and Cathay provided candidates no information about how to prepare for the test – Luckily many smart candidates followed our advice and ignored preparing for the previous test completely.

Free Resources to help you prepare for the ICAO English Test

Aviation English Asia Ltd has created some excellent free resources to help candidates prepare for the ICAO English test.

There are some excellent articles on this blog Aviation English Asia Blog,

There are some interesting news stories on the Learning Zone section of our main website Aviation English Learning Zone  and there are many opportunities to interact with other learners on the Aviation English Facebook Page

These free resources are all packed with great information about how to prepare for the new CX ICAO English test. But most candidates will need professional help to prepare for the test.

Here is our Top Ten ways to prepare for the New CX ICAO English Language Test

  1. You should improve your Aviation English. Aviation English (also known as English for Aviation Purposes) comprises of 3 parts, 1. radiotelephony, 2. technical vocabulary and  most importantly 3. the plain English that is used in an aviation context. We can tell you which areas you most need to focus on.
  2. You should focus on expanding your proficiency in talking intelligently and concisely about aviation. For example try and interact with other pilots using the activities on the Aviation English Facebook Page or ideally our current students.
  3. You should learn how to describe a picture – then contact us to get feedback because its the feedback that is most important if you want to improve. If you practice without reflection and feedback you are not actually learning.
  4. You should be realistic about your expectations. Preparing far in advance is good. You should expect to need between 3-6 months to get from mid ICAO level 3 to low ICAO level 4. And to be honest ICAO level 4 isn’t very good – really you should aim for ICAO level 5 or above. Treat learning English as a lifelong activity. Learn English for the job, not for the test.
  5. You should also get professional advice and feedback from Aviation English Asia teachers.  Value your time and invest in yourself by talking with aviation English professionals rather than candidates who don’t value language skills enough to pay for professional instruction.  Free study groups and chatting with your friends may be effective as a supplementary activity – but really most candidates will need professional instruction. Practice doesn’t make perfect – perfect practice makes perfect.
  6. You should contact us for a free consultation before starting a training programme.
  7. You should watch tv series like Air Crash Investigations and listen to LiveATC.net regularly in order to become familiar with what actually happens during flight operations.
  8. You should talk to aviation professionals – like our students. Our students have varied backgrounds and are happy to share experiences. Make friends with them and practice giving personal information. You can find some tips in this article.
  9. You should do an Aviation English course with Aviation English Asia. We are the only credible Aviation English training organisation in Hong Kong. We are also an ethical organisation and are members of the College of Teachers. Our teaching staff includes  a senior captain with Cathay Pacific and we are friends with a lot of  reputable Aviation English teachers worldwide. We have a reputation for high standards.
  10. Although we need to assess each candidates suitability first, most candidates in Hong Kong will benefit from attending this course http://www.aviationenglish.com/english-for-pilots-and-atcos/icao-level-5-for-cadets.html as it’s graded specifically for candidates in Hong Kong and it is proven to be effective. There is no magic pill for learning English but this course offers you what you need and is great value.

In the new format test, knowing the questions isn't necessarily enough because you need to be able to interact and answer questions about those topics, not just remember vocabulary.

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, 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 special offers and details of courses in your area.

Advice about improving your English and passing an ICAO English test from Aviation English Asia.

Article written/adapted by Michael Egerton

As a pilot or controller, you are no doubt expecting a number of routine exchanges as part of your ICAO English test, but have you considered how you would respond if an unusual situation occurs?  They don’t get more unusual than this incident which occurred in August 2010.  Read the article and then answer the questions.

Crocodile causes panic among passengers and crew

It has been reported that a small airplane crashed in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 24th August 2010, killing all but one of the passengers.  The cause of the accident was an escaped crocodile which created panic among the passengers and crew.

The propeller driven plane was approaching its destination when a crocodile hidden in the smuggler’s hand luggage escaped and caused distress. Passengers stampeded to one side of the tiny plane, causing it to be thrown off-balance.

The original cause of the crash was originally thought to be a lack of fuel but the anonymous sole survivor has revealed their story to the magazine Jeune Afrique.  The crocodile also survived the crash, but was later killed with a machete by authorities.

The reptile was being smuggled by a passenger who had plans to sell it illegally. The sole survivor told authorities that the crocodile escaped as the plane was on its final approach. “The terrified flight attendant hurried towards the cockpit, followed by the passengers.”

The pilots, 62-year-old Belgian Danny Philemotte, who was also owner of the tiny airline, Filair. Philemotte and his first officer, 39-year-old Briton Chris Wilson, were unable to maintain control of the Czech-made L-410 Turbolet once it became unbalanced.  The twin-engine plane crashed into a house just short of the regional airport at Bandundu killing the pilots and 18 passengers on board. The flight had originated in the capital city of Kinshasa.

Experts say that such a crash would be rare. “It’s possible. It’s remote,” John Cox, a former airline captain and now airplane safety consultant, said to ABC News. “You could run the centre of gravity forward where it wouldn’t be controllable. Twenty people at 200 pounds each, it’s possible.”

Comprehension questions

  • When did the incident occur?
  • Where did the incident happen?
  • During which stage of flight did the crocodile escape?
  • How did passengers and crew react?
  • Do you believe that passengers running from one side of the aircraft to another could cause the plane to crash?

Although this kind of incident appears far-fetched- incidents with animals frequently create difficulties for pilots.  To perform well in an ICAO English test (and for aviation safety) you are going to need to be able to describe this kind of situation clearly in plain English.  With professional training from Aviation English Asia you will be able to understand a wide range of unexpected situations that can occur in flight, organise your thoughts and report them clearly and without hesitation. You will also be able to report the routine stuff AND reinforce your aviation knowledge.

Vocabulary

Find synonyms (words that mean the same) for the following words in the article above.

  • member of cabin-crew
  • cleaver
  • fuel-depletion
  • nameless
  • loose
  • began
  • carry-on bags

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.

Advice for improving your English and passing an airline’s English test from Aviation English Asia.

Article written by Michael Egerton

Prepare for an airline interview or prepare for your career?

Whether you are applying for a job as a pilot, member of ground staff or a member of cabin crew one of the assessments in which you are required to perform well in is the airline’s English assessment test.  For prospective airline pilots this is likely to be one of various types of ICAO English test taken at a particular stage of the selection process.  For cabin crew and ground staff the airline is likely to have it’s own in-house English assessment, which could be either a specific test which you need to pass in order to proceed which your application, or alternatively your English language proficiency could be assessed during your HR interviews.

In this article I’m going to point out three common mistakes made by many prospective pilots and flight attendants when faced with an airline English proficiency test, and show you how you can avoid making that mistake.  But first of all let’s look at why airlines have English tests in the first place.

Learn English as it is used in an aviation context

Learn English as it is used in an aviation context

Why do airlines have English proficiency tests as part of their selection process?

Airline careers are highly desirable for many young people. Airlines are large organisations that offer great benefits like housing allowance, health insurance and frequent travel to their employees.  Some airlines are national flag carriers so it’s not surprising that airline jobs attract thousands of candidates each year.

In each recruitment drive, the airline has to select the most appropriate candidates for employment, as they will make a significant investment in that candidate’s training and development.  Airline English tests are a valid and very appropriate means to filter out unsuitable (or not yet suitable) candidates.  English is a world language, and a high standard of English will also highlight a candidate’s manners and social behaviour, ie is this candidate a person who is polite enough to deal with our customers, is this a person who we would like to sit next to on the flight deck.  In addition to the aptitude and ability to perform the basic duties of the position, the airline will want to ensure that you have:

  • sufficient language proficiency to meet the requirements of the job.
  • sufficient potential to successfully be trained for the things that you don’t yet know how to do.

So, in plain English, the airline wants to know that you can speak English well enough to do the job properly, and you can understand enough English to be able to learn how to do the things that you can’t.

Depending upon your experience and the position you are applying for the airline will probably not expect you to know everything about handling a big jet, or the procedures needed to carry out an evacuation but they do expect you to have a reasonable level of English.  Airlines are after all, judged on the conduct and performance of their front-line employees.

If you have failed an airline’s English test it’s probably because you haven’t prepared sufficiently for the test, or you have prepared for the test in the wrong way.

The biggest mistakes made by candidates in preparing for airline English tests

Mistake number one – focusing only on the test

It’s a common mistake, and an understandable one.  You have an English test coming up as part of your interview and you might want to get some practice by having a mock test, perhaps by asking a friend to ask you the questions that they were asked last time.  Perhaps if you could remember the answers it will be easier…

If (like us) you live in Hong Kong you will have been bombarded by advertisements for “star tutors” that offer courses focused on passing English tests, eg IELTS, HKCEE etc.  You might be able to pass a written exam by following their methods but if you think that you can pass an airline English test, which will almost certainly be oral you are wildly mistaken.

Speaking English doesn’t work like that.  It takes time to develop a full command of the language, and consistent practice in developing the strength needed to pronounce certain words.  Listening to and understanding different accents is a skill that takes time to develop.  Furthermore, the assessor’s aren’t that stupid – it’s easy to see if someone is trying to remember an answer.  When assessing language it’s not just a matter of what information you give, but how you give it.

Of course, it’s natural to want to practice things like mock interviews with friends or perhaps a tutor, but to be honest it’s not enough.  What you need is a thorough and wide range of proficiency in English and particularly English as it is used within an aviation context – and that is our goal.

Mistake number two – doing the wrong type of course

ICAO recommend that pilots and controllers take aviation-specific English courses.  Some people try to cut corners and settle for a general English course.  The result is often that they get bored or find that it doesn’t suit their needs.  This is also often the case with people who tried studying at large franchised language centres, particularly those that have “secret study methods”.  These courses are designed to appeal to as many people as possible, with the lowest skill level of teacher possible (the “secret” is that they withhold any actual teaching, you have to figure it out for yourself) so don’t be surprised that learners who settle for this type of course make very slow progress.  That type of language school doesn’t have the capability or resources to give aviation students the kind of language training they need.

When you learn English it is important that you focus on practicing the right skills, and as most language schools try to cater to as many people as possible it’s often difficult to practice the skills that you really need. For a pilot, ATC or member of cabin crew the most important skills are speaking and listening.  Many people unfortunately focus only on academic performance in English and neglect to build their English comprehension skills.  Aviation English Asia courses give you sufficient practice of the skills that you need, as recommended in ICAO Document 9835.

Mistake number three – not starting a course early enough

If we could give one piece of advice to potential airline employees it would be to take a placement test to assess your current level of English and then see how much you need to improve.  We can then give you an estimation of how long you should expect before you reach that level, and how often you should practice.  These tests are done independently by a third party so you can be sure that you won’t be buying courses that you don’t need.  The placement tests offered by Aviation English Asia are consistent with the results of assessors within major airlines.

Trust me – I’ve trained a lot of prospective and current airline employees. I strongly recommend that you take a placement test and expect to practice English consistently for at least 3 months per level.

The BEST WAY to prepare for an airline English test

In this article you have learned that you should avoid crash courses, avoid only focusing on the test, and avoid unsuitable courses and tutors.  Now I will show you what you should do to pass an airline’s English assessment.

Learn and practice English as it is used in the context of aviation, over a 12 week period (at least)

Aviation English Asia courses feature all of the grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, comprehension and fluency practice of general English courses, with the added advantage of being directly related to your career.  You will be more motivated and enjoy learning English more when you have a clear objective.  If you think you know everything about aviation and are familiar with aviation terminology, you should still learn how to express it clearly in English – so Aviation English Asia courses are equally suitable for experienced commercial pilots.  It’s exactly the same for cabin crew, whether your are a prospective employee or experienced crew members – practice English as it relates to your everyday life.

One of the biggest advantages of an Aviation English course is that you will develop a wide vocabulary and become confident in dealing with unexpected situations.  You will still get thorough practice of all the language skills needed to pass an airline’s English test, and personal focus on the skills that you most need to develop.  Of course, you can supplement this with additional General English if you want extra practice but it is no substitute for a core Aviation English course.

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.

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.

English learning advice from Aviation English Asia.

Article written by Michael Egerton

In this article you are going to learn techniques to describe pictures in ICAO English tests.  As mentioned in a previous article, The ICAO English test – guidance and advice, describing a picture is a common part of many ICAO English tests.

What language skills are required?

Quite often the pictures will be of unusual or unexpected events such as damage to an aircraft, a crash/collision or a malfunctioning piece of the aircraft’s equipment.  You will need to develop your vocabulary so that you can easily explain these situations without being lost for words.  As a pilot or controller you will need vocabulary to describe

  1. each part of an aircraft,
  2. weather and time of day,
  3. the physical layout of an airfield and
  4. various types of damage that can occur.

You will also need a good command of verb tenses so that you can describe:

  • what is happening now
  • what has happened before
  • what is likely to happen in the future

You should also learn the language skills needed to explain why these events have occurred.  This will involve (among others) modal verbs of possibility/probability, conjunctions and infinitives of purpose.

You should also use prepositions to describe the physical location, or path of movement of the various objects in the picture.

Phrases for describing pictures

Start by giving a brief description of each picture.

  • The picture/photo shows …
  • This is a picture of …
  • In this picture I can see …
  • This is an incident that happened …

There are different phrases you can refer to parts of each pictures. For example:

  • on the left / on the right (hand side)
  • in the background / in the foreground
  • behind  x / in front of x

Depending on the picture you will need to use appropriate tenses.  For example:

  • an aircraft is trying to land (present continuous because it is something happening at the moment the photo was taken)
  • the aircraft in this picture has collided with a ground vehicle (present perfect because it is something that happened in the recent past with a result in the present)
  • a ground vehicle is about to make a wrong turn that will surely cause a problem for aircraft that are landing.

The assessor might also ask you to give your opinion about the picture.

  • In my opinion …
  • I think that …
  • It looks like …
  • x seems to be …

Exercise

  1. Take a look at the following picture for 30 seconds.
  2. Describe it in as much detail as possible for 90 seconds
  3. Explain how you think the situation occurred for 30 seconds.
  4. Post your description as a comment on our blog.  We will review it and give you feedback.

Five tips for describing pictures in the ICAO English test

1.  Keep it simple
Try to avoid complicated expressions or grammatical structures if you are not sure how to use them.   Don’t waffle (speak unnecessarily about a topic), and if you have nothing to say it’s better to wait for the assessor to prompt you.

2.  Ask the assessor for an explanation if you don’t understand the task
If you don’t understand what you are supposed to do, ask the assessor to explain. For example, you could say:

  • Could you repeat the question, please?
  • I’m sorry, could you explain what the word …. means ?
  • Could you please ask the question in another way?

3.  Use full sentences
Avoid answers which are single words or answers that sound like a list of bullet points.  Demonstrate that you know how to form sentences correctly  and can use a range of structures to express yourself.

4.  Be aware of the time limits
When you are asked to describe a photo and explain why something has happened, make sure that you leave some time for explaining your own opinion if that is a required part of the task.  You should also avoid rushing, as speaking slowly and clearly is an essential skill in aeronautical communications.  You will have better pronunciation if you slow down and don’t swallow your words.

5.  Practice
Before the ICAO English test, practice describing pictures with a colleague (if you already know someone who will also be taking the speaking test, ask him/her to practice with you).  Students at Aviation English Asia are a friendly bunch who really make the effort to help each other.  Of course, all our English courses for ICAO compliance offer thorough practice of these skills in each unit.

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, 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 McBride

In this article I am going to focus on accuracy and making errors in Aviation English communication.  As ICAO state, “errors may occur” at ICAO Level 4.  This article will examine what kind of errors you can reasonably make and what you need to do to be as accurate as possible.   To be accurate is also to be realistic, you cannot expect to be correct in what you say all of the time, so what ‘errors’ are important and what aren’t to be ICAO operational?

What is an error and what is a mistake?

The basic difference is that an “error” is something you do not know the answer to, maybe through a lack of knowledge or skills.  A “mistake” is when you forget the answer to something you previously knew.

So we must look further into the first term – error.  This is where problems can arise and what you need to target in getting your message across even without being 100% accurate and using other words and communication strategies.  Let’s look at the term in more detail by separating it into the following: -

  • Global error – something is said incorrectly and it affects the meaning entirely
  • Local error – some parts of what is said is wrong but overall it doesn’t change the meaning, it is understood to a good extent.

As you probably would guess ICAO will tolerate local errors more, as they state the candidate “rarely makes global errors…and some local errors.”  In other words you must avoid making global errors as much as possible and understand that local errors could still guarantee ICAO level 4 as long as it is not frequent.  Which do you think is local and global from the following: -

#1 “My job is check first the aircraft status.”

#2 “My jos is first the aircraft status.”

#1 is not grammatically correct, but the meaning is clear = local

#2 could be interpreted correctly but it is unclear and when in a pilot-controller situation (as one example) is there enough time to try to understand what is spoken? It totally interferes with the interaction = global

Advice and information on how to reduce errors

Do you think mis-communicating “he speak” rather than “he speaks” on the radio will be seen as a major problem in the eyes of ICAO requirements?  Is it really crucial to meaning?  Well, the simple answer is that it is a local error and if all you need is Level 4 it is not a serious issue, it depends how far you want to go, ICAO level wise.

I must stress that ICAO is more interested in appropriacy and intelligibility than correctness all the time, which means not everything has to be correct but it must be understood overall.

As I have mentioned in previous articles, you need to practice communication strategies to reduce errors and increase accuracy which can be helped by practising the following: -

  • Synonyms – use words of similar/same meaning if you forget your first thought
  • Word families – practice the different forms of words eg. extend, extension, extended, which one is used when?
  • ‘Invent’ new words rather than struggling to remember the correct word for something e.g. “animal container” instead of “cage”

Furthermore you must always be able to check and clarify certain uncertain interactions, which ICAO state as “using clarification strategies” when communication problems arise.  Do not give up, you might not be accurate with a message first time around, so adopt the 3 Cs rule.  Clarify, Check and Confirm.  Which “C” do you think applies to the following: -

  • “Is the altimeter 1014”?
  • “Affirm”
  • “What is the altimeter setting?”

The 3Cs provide a way to make less mistakes in interactions and carrying out a full procedure in the air or on the ground.

Answers – Check, confirm, clarify

An error is only an error if it is not understandable to the vast majority of speakers/listeners.  You must focus on working on the core sounds of words to become more accurate in terms of pronunciation (previous article) and the above strategies in terms of vocabulary and understanding.

In conclusion, remember that your training time might be limited with  due to your schedule, so do not worry too much about local errors like missing out the/a/an and “s” in 3rd person verbs, your instructor will probably not focus too much on correcting this.  Of course this depends on what level you need and your current English ability.

Next steps

Practice and interact in English with colleagues, Aviation personnel and friends using Aviation related topics, such as discussions and even arguments.  Your Aviation English course will be communicative, which means that you must talk, make mistakes and not give up to gain fully from the course.  After all, the ICAO recommended testing system is communicative, which I will focus on in the coming weeks.

Test

Re-write the following sentences, which ones do you think would be acceptable for ICAO Level 4?

  • Avion Air 734, has things in the air flying around, need you
  • Something in the cabin, possibly fighting
  • It seem to coming out of cargo hold
  • He have problem with baby out now

Checklist

  • Some local errors are acceptable, meaning and intelligibility is more important than full and complete accuracy.
  • Communication and clarification strategies should be practiced
  • It is good to make mistakes in your training, keep at it, and don’t give up.  Continually focus on communication of Aviation related topics in and out of the classroom.  Errors and mistakes should reduce the more you practice and communicate (speaking and listening).

What to do next

For 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 instant access to free demonstration units of the ICAO Aviation English Online course, special offers and details of courses in your area.

Do you say /lunway/ instead of /runway/? Is this a problem? A guide to pronunciation in Aviation English.

English learning advice from Aviation English Asia.

Written by Michael McBride

In this article I am going to focus on pronunciation in Aviation English, the different characteristics and ICAO requirements. As the ICAO advises, “pronunciation must be given high priority.” It must be stressed that your Aviation English training requires you to practice both listening and speaking, which form the main part of the ICAO tests, so pronunciation is essential.

General components of pronunciation

Pronunciation is of course a fundamental part of language learning and allows the speaker to express themselves coherently and accurately. You will have experienced the feeling of knowing the meaning of a word but if you cannot pronounce it properly you are left with feelings of inadequacy. If you can pronounce words how they should be you are given the confidence to keep on improving your language skills. Included in the general pronunciation umbrella are the following: -

  • Stress – The emphasis of words or parts of words (syllables), but also can include weak sounds
  • Rhythm – The speed of communication, including when to pause and when to speed up
  • Intonation – The high, middle and low levels of speech, especially noted in asking questions

In your General English training you should have knowledge and practice of these pronunciation areas, for example vowel and consonant sounds, knowing when to emphasise sounds/words and how to question by raising your voice higher or lower.

ICAO Aviation English pronunciation requirements

According to the ICAO, level 4 candidates must “use a dialect or accent which is intelligible to the community,” in other words, pronunciatAviation English Pronunciationion is crucial. Let’s look at the word “intelligibility” as it a key part of Aviation English. This term is linked to how someone is understood and not necessarily that person being 100% correct all the time with how/what they say. Please do not mistake intelligibility with accuracy, although similar they are separate terms. This is especially relevant to ICAO Level 4. The other person must be able to understand you but you do have the space to make a few mistakes. As ICAO state:

“Pronunciation, stress, rhythm and intonation….sometimes interfere with ease of understanding.” (ICAO 9835)

So to be more positive this means although pronunciation is “high priority” (ICAO) to get to operational level there is room to make some errors. If your voice is unclear, the words are not understandable and too many (instead of a few) mistakes are made how can the controller/pilot communicate with you effectively in the sky and on the ground?

Advice on how to improve pronunciation

To improve your pronunciation is all about being aware of your mouth and what sounds it produces within the English language. What sounds do your front mouth/lips make as opposed to the back of your throat? You may find it harder to pronounce ‘back of the throat’ sounds like “k” or “q”, through knowing what are your weaknesses you can then focus on repeating these sounds until practice makes perfect.

In order to be intelligible over the radio be aware that omitting key vowel and particularly consonant sounds can decrease all understanding. Not saying consonant sounds at the end of words is a particular problem with some learners. Do you say “requ vect” when it should be “request vectors?” Looking at the word “vectors” consider the following: -

  • “Vec-ors” – is this recognisable?
  • “Ve-tors” – how about this?

Linking to ICAO requirements it may be all right to accidentally omit consonants in the middle of words, but be careful and try to self-correct whenever possible. Strategies to self-correct and practice problem pronunciation will be taught in greater detail with your instructor at Aviation English Asia. You should have the ability to correct yourself, but don’t expect to be perfect or fluent at ICAO level 4. Further advice

It is certainly advisable to listen to a range of accents and dialects, linked again to the ICAO requirements about being understood in an intelligible way of speaking. It is not enough to role model and listen to your teacher’s accent alone. What accents are must difficult for you to understand, what is your developing accent going to be? What works for you?

  • British English – this tends to include stronger pronunciation of consonants like “t”, for example “often” is usually pronounced “offt-un”
  • American English – in comparison consonant sounds tend to sound weaker, “often” sounds like “off-un.”

You certainly need to be aware of different accents and practice listening to them so you eventually are able to work out what the word is quickly and efficiently. Listen to authentic recordings on www.liveatc.net and our youtube channel.  Select an audio recording. Is every consonant sound like “t” and “l” pronounced? Why or why not? Listen to the speed of interaction. What differences can you hear with native and non-native English speakers?

Checklist

  • Intelligibility, intelligibility, and intelligibility.
  • Try to be as accurate as possible but being understood is key
  • Listen to a variety of accents from real ATC recordings. What sounds do you find difficult to both speak and listen?
  • What to do next

    For 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 instant access to free demonstration units of the ICAO Aviation English Online course, special offers and details of courses in your area.

    A focus on unusual and strange occurrences during flight operations

    English learning advice from Aviation English Asia.

    Article written by Michael McBride.

    How would you communicate the following situation to the controller?

    In this article I’m going to explain the different components of Aviation English, and explain why English is important and essential for communication in unexpected situations.

    Summary of Aviation English language

    Aviation English (AE) is split into three key areas;

    • Phraseology,
    • Plain English and
    • General English.

    All three areas work side by side to create language ‘moments’ in the sky and on the ground.  Phraseology is the scripted communication that every pilot and controller has been trained to use.  Plain English is a way to communicate simply without use of over-complex language. It may help to aid understanding and deliver the meaning of something and indeed save lives in certain situations.  General English is not a specific part of many Aviation English courses but it is integrated and assumed.  You need General English as the foundation before you add the building blocks to create your dream home.

    The main rule is that you cannot have one linguistic area without the other.  It is a fair assumption that some people discredit or rather devalue the use of ‘plain’ and General English in Aviation English, but the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) completely disagree.  ICAO state that pilots/controllers at level 4 standard can “handle successfully with relative ease the linguistic challenges presented by a complication or unexpected turn of events.”  After all, unforeseen events in the sky may not be as predictable as a holding pattern around London Heathrow.

    Phraseology will not get you out of every situation

    The official phraseology used by aviation personnel is highly specific and fine-tuned, it will form the basis of all flights, and is indeed a ‘special’ feature of Aviation English.  Phraseology is the result of decades of expert knowledge due to accidents, incidents and logic.  The framework needed to get from A to B safely.  However, it is not enough and you need Plain and General English to get you out of strange and unpredictable problems.  English is one of the most important aspects of ICAO level 4 and above language testing.  For example, what if there are animals loose in the aircraft?  What if there is a piece of luggage blocking the taxiway?  How would you explain this to a controller in English?

    Professional Aviation English training with Aviation English Asia will help you integrate all 3 aspects of Aviation English language.  This is done by training you to use a wide range of language skills to get you out of those ‘sticky situations’ when you need to explain an unusual situation.  The  ICAO level 4 requirements state, “(this person) can often paraphrase successfully when lacking in vocabulary for unexpected circumstances.”  This requirement means that you do not need to know every word in aviation or general English, but you do need to know how to get around not knowing certain vocabulary.

    Advice on how to communicate in unusual situations

    It is essential for any uncertain communication that you maintain a connection with the pilot or controller, “checking and maintaining exchanges in unexpected turn of events” (ICAO).  Aviation English training can help you to build solid communication strategies to solve these communication difficulties and ‘fly out of danger.’   In the classroom or online course you will get plenty of practice on using these language skills.  Relevant grammatical structures include include stock phrases such as:

    • [subject] is similar to…
    • [subject] is like…
    • [subject] looks like…
    • [subject] appears to be…
    • [subject] seems to be…

    and stock phrases/expressions to help you describe unusual situations.  You will also be trained to create and change words to combine both simplicity and clarity in your exchange over the radio.  You cannot use a dictionary in your ICAO test and you cannot search for one in your cockpit!  A wide vocabulary is very important in aviation as you might be communicating with another non-native speaker that doesn’t recognise the words that you used.  You will need to learn how to paraphrase so you can use alternative words.

    You will learn aviation-related words as part of your pilot/controller training and also in Aviation English training.  It is advisable to learn words in groups, such as technology, mechanical parts, weather related etc.  It is much easier for you to learn when you can see a pattern.  It is also good for your wider English knowledge to study word families – receive, reception, receiving…etc.  And it is a good additional communication strategy to find words with the same meaning, these are called ‘synonyms’, eg, fire, blaze, explosion etc.  Maybe you will remember one word more than others.

    For more practical study, try creating situations and imagine how you would communicate it.  For example, animals escaping into the terminal, damage to aircraft by animals.  Then think of the connected vocabulary – containers, cages, hinges…  What information is key when listening?  And if the person you are speaking to doesn’t know what a “cage” is, how could you communicate this?

    How would you communicate these problems?

    1. A lot of cargo + gate
    2. Animal + in terminal
    3. Rain + window

    For feedback on your answers please email exercise@aviationenglish.asia

    Checklist

    • Phraseology is vital but is also not enough
    • Communication strategies
    • Structured learning of words, phrases etc

    What to do next

    For more information about Aviation English Asia’s courses please visit aviationenglish.com

    Aviation English Asia has a strong record in helping students succeed in aviation careers.  In this article we will explain the level of English proficiency needed to pass the ICAO English test.

    So, when it comes to Aviation English most people will tell you ICAO Level 4, but what does that really mean?

    In layman’s terms, at ICAO Level 4 you should be able to listen to, read and discuss the main ideas, technical vocabulary and details in most professional material. At this level, you are able to participate in a more sophisticated or professional conversation regarding your specialized area of expertise. You can generally handle predictable and unexpected topics of communication.

    You need to show competence in 6 skills of the ICAO Language Proficiency Rating scale.

    • Pronunciation
    • Structure
    • Comprehension
    • Vocabulary
    • Fluency
    • Interaction

    Let’s examine what is required for each of those skills at ICAO Level 4:

    Pronunciation

    Pronunciation, stress, rhythm, and intonation are influenced by the first language or regional variation but only sometimes interfere with ease of understanding.

    This means that you have to speak in a way which is intelligible to the aeronautical community -  International English rather than British or American English.  It is acceptable that your pronunciation and accent are affected by your first language, eg Chinese and you are not expected to be a perfect speaker of English.  It is still expected that you will make some pronunciation errors, eg stressing the wrong part of the word or speaking in a broken rhythm but it’s acceptable as long as it only sometimes interferes with understanding.

    Structure

    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.  You should be able to express yourself with a variety of alternative structures and again, it is expected that you will make some grammatical errors.  This descriptor highlights that such errors could occur in non-routine situations, but the meaning is generally understood.

    Vocabulary

    Vocabulary range and accuracy are usually sufficient to communicate effectively on common, concrete, and work- related topics. Can often paraphrase successfully when lacking vocabulary in unusual or unexpected circumstances.

    The key words here are common, concrete and work related topics.  You will need to know both general and aviation related vocabulary which could include everything from basic things like parts of an aircraft and weather conditions to health and physiology.  You should also have sufficient ability to paraphrase (eg explain using different words) in non-routine situations.

    Fluency

    Produces stretches of language at an appropriate tempo. There may be occasional loss of fluency on transition from rehearsed or formulaic speech to spontaneous interaction, but this does not prevent effective communication. Can make limited use of discourse markers or connectors. Fillers are not distracting.

    Fluency is your ability to express yourself clearly without pausing too much.  You should also be able to use appropriate conjunctions.  It is acceptable to pause when changing from routine speech eg phraseology to spontaneous (instinctive) speech in interactions.  You shouldn’t “um” and “ah” too much when thinking about what to say.

    Comprehension

    Comprehension is mostly accurate on common, concrete, and work- related topics when the accent or variety used is sufficiently intelligible for an international community of users. When the speaker is confronted with a linguistic or situational complication or an unexpected turn of events, comprehension may be slower or require clarification strategies.

    Comprehension of different accents or variety of speech is a very important skill and needs to be “mostly accurate” on common, concrete and work-related topics.  It is expected that your understanding will be slower in non-routine situations. Comprehension refers to listening comprehension rather than reading.

    Interactions

    Responses are usually immediate, appropriate, and informative. Initiates and maintains exchanges even when dealing with an unexpected turn of events. Deals adequately with apparent misunderstandings by checking, confirming, or clarifying.

    Another valuable skill is the ability to be able to ask questions to check that information is correct.  The responses should be appropriate and give the relevant information.  The speed of response should usually be immediate, even in non-routine situations.

    How does an ICAO level relate to other tests like IELTS, TOEFL or TOEIC?

    Good question.  If you you have an A grade in an English exam you’d probably be surprised if you failed an ICAO English test.  But that’s exactly what happens to many applicants, who have all the skills ‘on paper’ but have great difficulty in communicating effectively in English – particularly in speaking and listening.

    Many school systems puts too much emphasis on performance in exams, and not enough on actual functional ability – so most English courses and language centres will not give you sufficient preparation for the ICAO English test. We’ve seen people with IELTS band 8 scores get ICAO level 3 scores in an ICAO assessment.  It’s very difficult to compare other tests to ICAO.  Unlike other tests, ICAO scores are based on the lowest level that you achieve.  You could get a score of 5 for Pronunciation, Structure, Vocabulary, Comprehension and Interactions but if you only score 3 for Fluency then ICAO Level 3 is your final grade.

    The best way to pass an ICAO English test

    The ICAO Aviation English Online course is different because it focuses exactly on the skills that you need to perform well in the ICAO test.  But you won’t just train to pass the test, you’ll be able to function in an aviation environment with greater safety and knowledge.  As you improve your English, you can also learn about aviation and improve your technical knowledge.

    Each level contains 12 units of between 8 and 12 hours each that will give you intensive practice of the skills you need to pass the ICAO test.  ICAO Aviation English Online is industry grade courseware that has been used by major airlines.  We recommend this course to anyone who is a non-native English speaker starting a course of aviation training.

    What should I do now?

    Just visit ICAO Aviation English Online and make payment for the Aviation English Placement Test. You will receive an accurate level assessment and a recommendation for the best course to begin studying.

    Aviation English Asia Ltd

    http://www.aviationenglish.com

    English learning tips from Aviation English Asia

    In this article I’m going to give some proven advice on language learning, and I’ll even give you my Top Five Tips for Developing Good English Learning Habits, so you can be successful in an airline career.

    If you are reading this article, chances are that you are preparing to either take or re-take an ICAO English test.  If you are not taking this test (it’s for pilots and air traffic controllers) then you will still find this advice very useful, no matter what your intended career.  If you follow my advice, you can save a lot of time and money in learning English.

    Let me start this article by telling you a few things about me, that maybe you don’t know.  The first time I learned a foreign language was in high school, back in the UK – I was supposed to learn French.  I was actually quite good at French because I was good at mimicking (copying) sounds.   My teacher didn’t see it that way though, in fact my teacher never saw or heard me speak French at all.  There were too many other students (about 30 in a class) and they were all of mixed levels.  The teacher never gave us any opportunity to practice speaking in French to each other, we just watched her write on the board and occasionally copied her in choral repetition (repeating words as a group).  I only learned French for two years, and I was glad to drop the subject.  I didn’t particularly hate learning French, but I just didn’t feel motivated to learn it, or didn’t feel any great need to learn it.

    I didn’t learn another foreign language again for a long time.  I chose to learn Mandarin in evening classes at my university.   I learned Mandarin for 2 hours per week, for 8 months.  There were about 15 people in the class and they all became great friends.  Naturally a few people dropped out, because they were busy with their careers but most of us managed to stick together as a group and help each other.  Of course, this was in London so there wasn’t much opportunity to practice speaking in Mandarin day to day.

    In each class we were told to memorise a list of words both in pin yin (romanised) and as hanzi (Chinese characters).  Within weeks we were told to not use the romanised characters, just remember the Chinese characters.  In each lesson we would often have to memorise 20 or more hanzi and be able to read and pronounce them correctly.  Very few of us managed to do this and we forgot a lot of them, probably because they were words that we would never use (eg. planned socialist economy).  It was painful having to look up the Chinese characters in a dictionary so I could pronounce them correctly.

    When I moved to Hong Kong I started learning Cantonese instead. By this time I had a lot of experience in language teaching so I could recognise the techniques that the teacher was using. My Cantonese teacher spoke to me in 100% Cantonese (or not at all) so I used the target language all of the time. I learned vocabulary from pictures not a dictionary – only later did I learn to write the word in chinese characters or pin yum. I studied Cantonese with my teacher 6 hours a day, five days a week, for 6 weeks – then I went out and practised some more.

    Which language do you think that I can speak better?

    My Cantonese is much better than my Mandarin, and my French is now non-existent. So what is the difference that made the difference?

    The main difference is not the length of time studying, or the environment I studied in, but the teaching method. In language teaching there are two distinct families:
    1. Grammar Translation
    2. Communicative Method

    In school, most people learn through Grammar Translation. It does have some advantages, but it’s a very slow method. Schools often use this style of teaching when they are teaching a “foreign” language or when there are a lot of students in a very large class. Grammar Translation teaches you to remember many different grammar rules, and learn vocabulary by memorisation. In these classes the success of the method is judged by how you perform in the exam. This often means that learners can read and write – but not speak and hear very well. Just like my French class, it’s not fun.

    In Communicative Method the emphasis is on meaning rather than the more traditional approach that emphasizes structural/grammatical competence. The learner gets to practice using the language in a way that is meaningful to them. So how can knowing this help you pass the ICAO English test?

    The most important reason is that it can help you realise that not everything your high school teacher told you was correct. There are better ways of learning, and a good teacher will help you discover them. Your teacher in high school might have told you to memorise vocabulary lists, read newspapers and complete gap-fill exercises but that isn’t exactly best teaching practice in the 21st century. I don’t mean that your previous teachers were necessarily bad teachers, but they might have been forced to use a teaching method that was the only method they had particularly big classes.

    So what I’m trying to say, is that I understand what it is like to learn a foreign language, and that my teachers weren’t always right either. If you have ever found it difficult to make progress in English, or achieve that breakthrough I have some great advice for you.

    So here are my Top Five Tips for Developing Good English Learning Habits

    1. Use the target language – that means just use English, not your native language. Avoid translation unless you really need help. Some words might not have an equivalent “concept” in your native language so in this situation translation would be pointless. When you use the target language you are training your brain to make connections that will help you remember words more easily.
    2. COW – Concept, Oral Form, Written Form – when you learn new vocabulary try to understand the meaning (the way the word is being used in a real situation) before learning the pronunciation or the written form. If you know what a word means, then the pronunciation will be much easier. The last thing you should be concerned about is the written form. Don’t worry about spelling until you have mastered the pronunciation of the oral form of the word.
    3. Don’t focus on grammar too much – a good communicative teacher will present grammar structures in context so you can learn them naturally. The most important thing is that you can communicate. You can work on your accuracy later.
    4. Have clear goals – know what your current level is and how long it will take you to reach your target level of English proficiency. This will help you be realistic about what you can achieve – a complete ICAO level in 3 weeks isn’t going to be possible so don’t rush through your English course. Take regular English Assessment Tests to find out if you are on track to reach your goal.
    5. Make learning English a regular habit. Don’t just practice English with your teacher, make sure you practice English with other students, and at every opportunity you can. If practicing English is a regular part of your life your brain it will become easier and more enjoyable.

    I’d also like to share with you one more great piece of advice about developing a good attitude towards learning. This one is really important.

    You should practice English because you enjoy communicating with other English speakers, not just because you need it for your job. If you only learn English so you can pass the ICAO English test, or pass an airline’s interview procedure you are giving yourself a lot of additional pressure. Be nice to yourself, and enjoy learning English. Improving your English is an investment that will always pay off, no matter what your career.

    For more information about Aviation English Asia’s courses please visit http://aviationenglish.asia
    If you haven’t already, please sign up to our newsletter using the course enquiry form on the right hand side. You can then receive updates and course information from Aviation English Asia as soon as they are available.





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