Learning Advice

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.
 
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 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 offes 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

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 candidate for an airline's cadet pilot programme, a controller, aerospace engineer or flight attendant.

If you haven’t already please join the Aviation English mailing list for 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. 

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. 

A crocodile

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 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.

Hong Kong

Aviation English Asia has been offering part time and full time courses in Hong Kong since 2009.

All courses are available in Hong Kong. Check the schedule above for details.

Vietnam

Aviation English Asia has been offering part time courses in Vietnam since 2014.

All courses are available in Vietnam - typically every 8 weeks, or by special arrangement.

Taiwan

ICAO Aviation English, English for Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, Technicians and Mechanics, and English for Flight Attendants are available in Taipei, Tainan and Kaosiung.

Cambodia

Aviation English Asia has been offering part time and full time courses in Cambodia since July 2018

All courses are available in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Check the schedule for details.

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