Aviation English Language Training A Perspective

Aviation English Language Training A Perspective

All international aircraft operators,​ whether pilots or​ air traffic control officers (ATCOs),​ must meet minimum English language proficiency requirements specified by the​ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which come into effect on​ 5 March 2008. the​ aim of​ ICAO is​ to​ raise standards in​ 'Aviation English' communications globally,​ as​ a​ means of​ improving safety both in​ the​ air and on​ the​ ground.

Aviation communications in​ any language are highly specialized. the​ term 'Aviation English' embraces a​ considerably wider field of​ language knowledge and expertise than most native speakers of​ English utilize in​ their everyday lives. Moreover,​ a​ further important consideration is​ that of​ the​ aviation environment and 2 significant factors of​ everyday life in​ that community: those of​ the​ emergency situation and of​ the​ non-routine situation. Aircraft operators learn very precise procedures,​ definitions,​ and rules and regulations,​ and all are presented in​ very formal,​ precise and unambiguous language. Introduce the​ unknown,​ those frequent occasions when something does not happen in​ the​ way it​ should,​ or​ in​ the​ way that those involved are expecting,​ and we​ can readily identify where many of​ the​ major communication problems lie.

Pilots and ATCOs are well trained to​ deal with the​ unexpected; nevertheless,​ no organization or​ individual can cater for every eventuality in​ such a​ precarious operating environment. in​ such situations,​ therefore,​ yet another factor comes into play: that of​ the​ degradation of​ an​ individual's performance under stress and under duress. in​ a​ very difficult,​ ever-changing and ever-challenging working environment,​ which is​ fraught with danger and the​ unexpected,​ circumstances can change within seconds,​ inducing both crises and panic in​ those directly concerned. at​ that juncture,​ individual performance levels plummet and instinct takes over. Effective communication becomes paramount and must be instinctive. if​ one then considers the​ added complication of​ a​ particular individual,​ if​ not 2,​ one in​ the​ air and one on​ the​ ground,​ operating in​ a​ second language,​ performance can degrade further. Hence,​ the​ importance and necessity of​ a​ high level of​ English-language proficiency in​ all concerned.

English language trainers therefore face an​ enormous task in​ facilitating the​ service necessary to​ meet the​ demands for effective training in​ Aviation English worldwide. the​ ICAO impetus,​ quite rightly,​ is​ on​ general English-language comprehension,​ which has to​ be the​ basis for any training. However,​ to​ meet the​ minimum communication standards for safe aircraft operations internationally,​ trainers must also consider the​ contextual issues. it​ is​ the​ enormous scope of​ English in​ the​ context of​ aviation that presents language trainers with a​ significant challenge.

Aircraft operators require an​ enormous range of​ knowledge,​ terminology and phraseology to​ function effectively in​ their everyday roles. in​ a​ short English-language course for aircraft operators,​ therefore,​ trainers must consider where to​ place the​ emphasis. Many trainers focus on​ R/T phraseology; however,​ whilst standard phraseology is​ an​ important aspect of​ aviation communications,​ it​ is​ merely one of​ many. Most aviators are familiar with standard R/T phraseology; they use it​ every day. Language trainers therefore need to​ place the​ emphasis on​ the​ many aspects of​ non-standard and non-routine phraseology that might be used in​ emergency situations and that potentially create difficulties for non-native speakers,​ ie those aspects of​ English not necessarily covered in​ aviation manuals.

Often,​ language training is​ a​ requirement more often than not driven by budgetary constraints,​ operational constraints and logistical considerations on​ the​ part of​ a​ client,​ who invariably lacks appreciation that Aviation English training takes time. Trainers are frequently required to​ train sponsored groups of​ trainees,​ a​ scenario that works well only when the​ specializations of​ the​ individual trainees,​ their respective training needs and also the​ English-language levels of​ each are similar. it​ must be stressed that the​ needs of​ pilots and ATCOs are very different: whilst the​ sponsored-group scenario generally works well with pilots of​ similar rating,​ in​ the​ case of​ ATCOs training must take account of​ 3 very different professional specializations,​ each of​ which has its own particular requirements: Aerodrome Control,​ Approach Control and Area Radar Control.

Problems arise on​ those occasions when either a​ particular sponsor elects for,​ or​ the​ training provider attempts the​ 'one-size-fits-all' scenario,​ an​ option that is​ all too frequently deemed the​ most practical on​ the​ part of​ the​ sponsor,​ for operational reasons,​ or​ the​ most economic on​ the​ part of​ the​ training provider in​ terms of​ facilitation. the​ outcome is​ all too often unsatisfactory,​ with single trainees,​ or​ small group of​ trainees,​ being placed on​ courses where the​ group as​ a​ whole is​ totally mismatched - by far the​ least effective way of​ achieving a​ satisfactory result from any viewpoint.

Provided there is​ adequate compromise,​ understanding and agreement between the​ client and the​ training provider,​ nevertheless,​ the​ sponsored-group scenario can work well,​ so long as​ all the​ parties concerned ensure that each group selected for training comprises trainees of​ the​ same aviation specialization,​ individuals of​ similar experience and personnel with comparable English-language proficiency skills. the​ real key to​ success,​ however,​ is​ that prior to​ course commencement,​ the​ training objectives and learning outcomes are clearly defined and that,​ importantly,​ they are agreed in​ advance between the​ client and the​ training provider. Within such a​ package,​ professional trainees can then negotiate their own learning programme and achieve precise and specific learning outcomes both efficiently and effectively.

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