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
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