Posts Tagged ‘CX ICAO English test’

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 Aviation English and passing an ICAO English test from Aviation English Asia.

Article written by Michael James Egerton

In this article we are going to look at past tenses, and how they can be used to indicate the sequence of events.  We will then look at an example of how they can be used to report an aviation incident, followed by some Aviation English exercises. Using past tenses correctly (and intelligibly so that people understand what you mean) is very important when working with checklists and when reporting information.  You will also find this exercise to be very useful if you have to report information about a video or recording as part of an ICAO English test.

Learn English as it is used in an aviation context

Learn English as it is used in an aviation context

Take a look at the following sentences:

  1. The captain told him to pull out the quick reference handbook and run the checklist.
  2. The aircraft had just leveled off at its cruise altitude of 35,000 ft. when the master caution lit up.
  3. The first officer did so and the flight proceeded uneventfully.
  4. The first officer canceled the warning, scanned the overhead panel, and said, “We have a bleed failure.”

Emergency and abnormal situations such as these occur onboard aircraft every day. They range from life- threatening and highly time-critical to mundane and relatively trivial. Sometimes these situations can be anticipated so pilots have checklists to help them.

Aviation English Exercise 1:

  • What tenses are used in each of the sentences?
  • What is the correct order of the sentences?
  • What clues are in each sentence to help you find the correct order?
  • What other “time phrases” are used?

Structure

There are two tenses used in the sentences above – past simple and past perfect. Here is a description of the function of each:

Past simple is used to talk about

  • actions that are complete in the past – eg The first officer cancelled the warning
  • a specific time in the past (possibly at the same time as another event) – eg The aircraft was at 35,00 ft when the master caution lit up.
  • a sequence of events – eg He canceled the warning, scanned the overhead panel, and said, “We have a bleed failure.”

Past perfect is used to talk about

  • completed action in the earlier past – eg The aircraft had just levelled off at its cruise altitude of 35,000 ft. when the master caution lit up.
  • duration before something in the past

Aviation English Exercise 2:

Think about the procedures you would follow if there was a fire on board the aircraft.  Then consider how such an event could be reported.  Look at the following sentences and reorganise them into the correct order.  The correct answers will be posted on our Facebook Page Discussion Forum.

  1. Thick, black smoke billowed everywhere.
  2. Despite the reduced visibility in the cockpit and the loss of the displays and systems, the crew completed a successful emergency landing and all passengers were evacuated without injury.
  3. The long flight had been uneventful until the aircraft was 240 miles from its destination—then everything seemed to go wrong at once.
  4. Electrical systems began to fail and the glass cockpit displays flickered off and on randomly for over two minutes before going completely black.
  5. A small fire in the front galley could not be extinguished.

Aviation English Vocabulary

Make sure you are familiar with the following words:

billowed  visibility   evacuated   uneventful   flickered   extinguished

You should be able to guess their meaning from context, but if not you can also find their synonyms on the Facebook Page Discussion Forum.

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

Article written/adapted by Michael Egerton

We’ve had a few requests for advice on how to develop listening skills for ICAO tests recently. One of the easiest ways to build your comprehension skills for an ICAO English test is to read a lot and become familiar with the subject matter.  Of course, you still need to know how to recognise the oral form of new vocabulary. In this article you can practice listening comprehension by playing the audio file below.  But first of all, can you explain what happened in this picture (from a different event)?

Damaged landing gear

Describe this picture

Practice listening for an ICAO test

File unavailable due to excessive downloads

Reading comprehension

Now read through the article and try to answer the comprehension questions. You can answer the questions by adding a comment to the article and we will give you some feedback.

The article:

A JetBlue Airways airliner that blew out its main landing gear tyres after making a hard landing at Sacramento International Airport on Aug. 26 had its parking brake on, according to the National Transportation Safety Board in a preliminary finding.

The airplane’s Flight Data Recorder indicated that the parking brake became engaged during the landing and remained engaged throughout the landing. The NTSB said neither pilot recalled any abnormal indications or warnings associated with the braking system prior to landing.

The first officer was flying the plane during the landing and the captain took over when the problem occurred. The airplane began a rapid deceleration and the first officer told the captain it felt like a main landing gear tyre blew out. Around the same time, air traffic control tower personnel reported observing sparks and smoke around the main landing gear.

Eighty six passengers and five crew members were evacuated. According to the report seven passengers received minor injuries. Neither of the two pilots nor the three flight attendants were hurt.

Besides blowing out the main landing gear tyres, a minor tyre-related fire erupted.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspection revealed that damage was limited to four deflated main landing gear tyres and the wheel rims, which were ground down. Damage to the tyres showed evidence of being locked on touchdown.

Damage to the runway was limited to “minor grazing” of its surface.

Comprehension questions

▪ Which airline was involved in the incident?
▪ Where did it happen?
▪ What do the NTSB think caused the incident?
▪ How did the pilots discover there was a problem?
▪ How did the ATCs become aware of the problem?
▪ What other damage was caused and how did it happen?

When you look back at the picture do you have more vocabulary to describe the picture now?

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

Article written/adapted by Michael Egerton

The ability to form and ask questions is very important in Aviation English.  In this article you can watch a video of an interview with a Boeing 747 test pilot talking about his life and career.  He talks about his motivation for becoming a pilot and also his career path.  Watch the video and then answer the comprehension questions below.

Comprehension questions

  1. Is it true that Mark wanted to be a paperboy when he was a boy?
  2. Where did he learn to fly?
  3. Why does he spend as much time in the simulator as he does in the cockpit?
  4. According to Mark, what makes a good test pilot?
  5. In what ways is a test pilot different from a normal pilot?
  6. Name some differences between the old 747-400 and new model 747
  7. Where did Mark fly to recently?
  8. Who does he credit for being able to release the parking brake?

What questions would you like to ask a Boeing 747 test pilot? Write your answers as a comment below and we will give you some feedback on your structure.

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

Article written by Michael Egerton

People often look for advice about how to pass an ICAO English test, but don’t very often think about how they could fail it. Strictly speaking you can’t “fail” an ICAO test but you might not meet the required standard, which is for all intents and purposes … not good.  In this article I am going to point out some of the reasons you might under-perform in an ICAO English test. There are many different types of ICAO test and I’m not talking about any particular one but my advice applies to all of them.

Reason One: Not realising the importance of English in aviation

Although you might think that time spent in the aviation English classroom can’t be as exciting as time in an aircraft – it’s not necessarily true. Aviation English is a valid and essential part of flight training for many non native speakers, regardless of their age and experience. Your future career prospects could depend on your proficiency in English. You might scrape through an english test with ICAO level 4 but remember that is the bare minimum requirement.  What level of English do you need to really advance in your career? What level of English do you need for truly safe flight operations?  Many tragic air disasters have been attributed to communication difficulties.  If you want to perform well in an ICAO English test a good first step is realising just how important quality Aviation English training is.

Reason Two: Not giving yourself sufficient time to prepare for an ICAO test

Learning English takes time and the more time you allow for yourself the more likely you are to perform well in the test. Cramming might work for preparing for an exam that tests knowledge but learning a language is different.  You need time to internalise the language, pronunciation is a muscular skill that takes time to develop.  There are some academic theories supporting intensive courses but in my experience intensive courses are only beneficial to those at a very early or very advanced stage. If you are at an intermediate level of English I recommend that you take your time over a course. You will probably enjoy learning English more if you don’t have time pressure.

Reason Three: Doing the wrong type of English course

This is quite tragic as we have heard stories about people who have enrolled on 18 month courses (paid in advance) with brand name English schools who fail to improve at all. It’s even more tragic as their English often gets worse because of the environment they learn in. If you are serious about an aviation career you need Aviation English. Other types of courses and coffee shop English tutors might be cheaper but they will ultimately waste your time and money because they do not effectively address your needs. General English has its place in Aviation English – it’s an essential part but should be practiced within a meaningful context.  This is true whether you are a commercial pilot or ab initio. And when you have the exciting world of aviation, where there are developments and dramas every day, why would you waste time on anything else?

Reason Four: Teachers using inappropriate learning materials

Creating authentic Aviation English learning materials takes a lot of time, specialist knowledge and skill from the Aviation English teacher. There are very few Aviation English learning materials available commercially so Aviation English teachers need to hand craft them to suit your needs. General English course books are designed to appeal to as many people as possible and then mass produced and shipped all over the world. They serve a purpose in that they make General English teachers’ lives easier because they can recycle the lessons with many different students – putting the teacher’s comfort ahead of your learning needs.  Regardless of whether you are in ground school or an experienced pilot you should be using English that is relevant to your life and an experienced Aviation English teacher will be able to create interesting lessons that allow for sufficient practice of that type of language.

Reason Five: Starting an English course at the wrong level

As pilots you may feel pressure to keep up with your colleagues who might have had different experiences in learning English. The truth is that you won’t lose face by starting at a lower level – just accept that you have had different experiences and have different strengths, English proficiency being one of them.  So, if you take a Placement Test and find that you are at a lower level than your friends or colleagues don’t feel any shame in starting a course at a lower level.  Similarly if you have a higher ability than your colleagues you shouldn’t hold yourself back – the result of starting a course at the wrong level is that you will find it too easy and get bored, or find it too difficult and get frustrated – then lose motivation.

Also be aware that franchised schools often try to sell courses that are longer than you really need.  Even worse is when a school gives you a ten minute computer placement test and then tells you your starting level without any assessment from a native English teacher. Instead a consultant who knows nothing about learning English (or how to speak it) tells you your starting level and then how to improve. It’s the blind leading the blind. Usually the student finds a course difficult and struggles consistently and the teacher doesn’t have the heart to tell them that they are at the wrong level, so the student quickly loses motivation.

Get it right: How to perform well in an ICAO Aviation English Test

Motivation is a very important factor in learning English. The genre of aviation is also incredibly motivating for most people so don’t let your passion be affected by making one of the mistakes listed above. Aviation English Asia teachers are skilled in ensuring that learners are keen, motivated and developing good study habits.  Take advantage of our enthusiasm and arrange a free consultation.  We’ll introduce you to an effective course and study plan that is right for you.

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.

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.

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 McBride

In this article I am going to focus on a typical ICAO recommended Aviation English test, with emphasis mainly on Level 4 operational standard.  Of course, airlines have implemented the ICAO guidelines in different ways and each test is different but the aims are the same.  We will examine the different requirements from ICAO, the typical structure of the test and you will be able to practise with some exercises.  It is important to know what you will eventually face when training so you have a target and it can help focus on your strengths and weaknesses.

ICAO Level 4 requirements – an overview
  • Pronunciation – You will not be expected to ‘sound like a native (English) speaker’ but your local accent/dialect must only “sometimes interfere with ease of understanding”, the core sounds of words should most of the time be clear.
  • Structure – You should demonstrate at least basic English grammar (verbs, word order etc) competency without making mistakes, but for “unusual circumstances” small errors can be made, but it must be understandable to overall meaning.
  • Vocabulary – Ability to communicate in Aviation context, if in doubt of words you must be able to “paraphrase successfully” using communication strategies e.g. “container for animals” instead of “cage.”
  • Fluency – Good speed of communication should be made, although when changing from phraseology to plain English there may on small occasions be a pause or a small mistake made.  “Fillers are not distracting”, which means words like “you know” and “like” do not interrupt flow of interaction.
  • Comprehension – You should for the most part understand what is spoken to you and then for you to respond or take action.  However, if there is a non-routine situation you should be able to get around it by a system of checking, confirming and clarifying.
  • Interactions – There should be “immediate and informative” interaction between yourself and pilot/controller, you must never stop communicating in any type of interaction (routine or non-routine).  If there are “misunderstandings”, you must be aware of this and check, confirm and clarify.

ICAO 9835 Document

ICAO English Test introduction

A typical Aviation English test is usually around 35 minutes, your assessor will be a subject matter expert in the aviation industry and the test is communicative.  This means that you will not be expected to write a report/essay or complete a reading assessment.  Reading and writing are still important but are not the main skills assessed here.

You will be assessed on your ability to use both phraseology and plain English to describe and analyse both routine and non-routine situations.  Your training at Aviation English Asia will focus on listening and speaking rather than a lot of reading and writing.

Test format

Your test may include the following components: –

  • Picture description
  • 2 role plays, enroute or during taxi, for example
  • Writing brief but relevant notes on paper, maybe ATIS or landing instructions

Picture description

You will most likely be given a number of pictures to describe and analyse.  You will have to say what it is and/or what is happening, but it is not enough to just list different things.  You must also look at why the main element of the picture happened, what happened before, what will happen next?  Having some knowledge of future and past verb forms would be key here.  It is your chance to show off any extra language skills you may have without major time constraints that you would face in a flight deck role-play.

Role plays

You usually will have two video role-plays to work through, testing your ability to change from routine to non-routine communication.  Something will happen to test you, usually two things.  An example may be animals walking over the taxiway before takeoff.  You will be listening to multiple transmissions, for example chatter, ATC/pilots but the key is something will be non-routine.  You will be expected to make notes quickly about what unusual or unexpected event you hear, which you will then report about and answer questions.

Practice Tasks

1.  Click on the following link and practise standard phraseology and prepare checklists for gate arrival.  Then anticipate what potential problems could occur on paper, what action and communication would you take?

Taxi to gate (swedflyer – credit)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duTAXcCRj2g

2.  How would you communicate the following problem, can you use standard phraseology only, or would plain English also play a part?  Again, anticipate another problem, maybe the cockpit window smashes or something enters the runway.  What action would you take and what would you say to the controller/pilot?

Engine fire on landing short (kukovrein- credit)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M88XrxmtS6s

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