When we began teaching English to pilots, ATCOs and aircraft engineers way back in 2009 we were already familiar with e-learning as we had previously been working within organisations that heavily relied on the internet for course delivery. But despite the apparently amazing technology, there were many barriers to online learning.
Some of the difficulties learners expressed included:
- flash-based software that became obsolete
- rigid course syllabus that didn't reflect all learners needs
- "unique" speech recognition software that is less accurate than Siri
- online courses that left learners feeling abandoned to study on their own
- test focused courses that exploited pilots urgent need to pass an ICAO test
- mindless left clicking through pages of courses that were little more than talking textbooks
If you work for an airline you may recognise the last one from your CRM training, and it's really a problem of the software developers promising technologies that didn't yet deal with the needs of language learners. And that's the key, we are dealing with language learners wanting language practice not learners of fact and information.
If 2020 brought anything good, it's the adoption of video messaging services that made learners more comfortable with remote learning. But some organisations haven't understood what is and isn't possible to conduct online yet - which again is a result of not acknowledging that language learners are not the same as learners of fact and information.
The technology still isn't perfect, and some organisations still have a pretty unrealistic idea of what is possible in online classes (30-80 mixed-level learners in a 3 hour lecture??!?) but it is better - and Aviation English Asia Ltd is upfront about what is and isn't beneficial to learners.
So how has learning aviation English online changed in 2021?
Looking at some of the barriers to learning listed above, the most important development is that Aviation English teachers now have a stronger understanding of what should and shouldn't be included in a course syllabus. All good aviation English teachers now recognise that replicating and reciting tests is harmful for learners. Following on from that, there are now a lot more high quality learning materials available suitable for a variety of levels and aviation experience. And following on from that, more and more tests are aligning to the AEROSTA Framework which measures their conformity to the aims of ICAO 9835 and Circular 323.
But many organisations are far behind Aviation English Asia Ltd with regard to learner support and managing their expectations. Why is Aviation English Asia Ltd so good? Mostly because we recognise that each learner is different and can't be shoe-horned into a specific course. Courses are just tools to help facilitate language proficiency, not the end result or desired qualification. With that in mind, you as a learner can trust our judgment about which course materials are right for you. With the exception of excellent software like PlaneEnglish AR Sim, we recommend that learners with a pronunciation problem abandon speech recognition in favour of getting feedback from a qualified aviation English teacher in an Online Tutorial. Repeating individual words to a computer is not as useful as being able to pronounce words in a meaningful sentence intelligibly.
So if you are not able to attend a course with us in Hong Kong, the next best option may be to attend some of our Online Tutorials. We will choose the best tools available for the job and advise you as best we can.
There are still some barriers to learning, for example we still can't guarantee if your class will be with a Subject Matter Expert rather than aviation familiar Language Expert. We can't guarantee a stable internet connection but this is a relatively minor inconvenience. We can't guarantee that an environment be free from background noise although this is rare. We can't guarantee that other learners won't try to speak at the same time or be subject to delays.
Aviation English Asia Ltd can guarantee
- Online Tutorials are one-to-one or with an appropriate number of other learners of similar experience
- our teachers can give you sufficient attention regardless of the class size
- our teachers can give you feedback after each class and pass on that feedback to our other teachers
- learning materials and language tasks are suitable for the experience and proficiency of the learner
- we can offer classes in most time zones
- we will reschedule the class if the internet connection fails
- our teachers are suitably qualified and experienced
- value for money
- an enjoyable and beneficial course
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