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Cabin Crew English: Making offers of service

English learning advice from Aviation English Asia. A look at grammar and beyond to help communicate with the English-speaking passenger Written by Michael McBride In this article, specifically for cabin crew, you will learn different ways to communicate offers of service to passengers (food/drinks etc), dealing with formality/informality and different verb uses.  Also, you will be able to practice using video/image excerpts and advice for your future cabin crew English training.

Grammar focus – form and register

Although regarded by some people as a difficult area, grammar forms the building blocks of any language and once you have got a range of good grammatical phrases/expressions you can be confident in your job.  Hopefully what you learn in this article will be developed with further training, as learning English is an on going process.  Now looking at the words above in the subtitle... Form relates to how something is constructed, for example we form regular past tense verbs using verb + ed, or modal verbs using modal (can/could etc) + verb infinitive.  Obviously connected with this should be meaning, otherwise why bother saying it? Register refers to how formal or informal something is.  This can be expressed using different forms, and context (where something is said) plays a major part of this.  It can include the usual polite exchanges, such as please and thank you, but even this has different registers: “thanks” vs. “thank you very much.”  You can also change register with verbs, which is the main focus of this section. Grammar and offering service on-board As a member of cabin crew, you have to make passengers feel comfortable and provide a service, from offering drinks and food to helping them with their bags or opening an overhead compartment.  These expressions might include: -

  • Can I help you with your bags?
  • Do you want me to do that for you?
  • Can I get you a drink?  Here you go, thanks.

The above offers of service are clear and direct English, but to add a higher register and feeling of added politeness you could change the above with the following. Could (modal) + verb infinitive Would + Like instead of Do You Thank You Sir/Madam (especially in business class and on flagship airlines e.g. Cathay Pacific.) How would you change those offers of service? ----------------------------------------------- You should have something similar to this: -

  • Could I help/assist you with your bags, sir/madam?
  • Would you like me to help you with that?
  • Could I offer you a drink, sir/madam?  Here you go/are, thank you.

Credit www.ibtstw.org Modal verbs (can, could, would, should etc) will be very useful for your cabin language repertoire and they are easy to use because the form is always modal + verb infinitive.  You can change them to suit context and register and the degree of something, for example, “should” is a stronger suggestive modal than “could”. Also notice that the verb infinitive can also be made more formal and courteous, for example, get -> offer.  It would be useful to have a range of both register forms depending on your airline’s needs.  Your instructor at Aviation English Asia will help you develop and understand these verb forms further.

Put it into practice

Visual exercise Now you have the opportunity to role-play cabin crew scenarios using a range of media.  With the picture below answer the following questions: -

  1. What is happening?
  2. What part of the flight could it be?
  3. What do you think the cabin attendant is saying?
  4. What do you think the passenger is saying before and afterwards?
  5. Who else could be involved in the communication?

Credit http://flightglobal.com Do the same checklist of questions for the following scenarios: -

  • A passenger is having difficulty storing their bag in the overhead compartment
  • In the first class cabin, the passenger is trying to open up their flatbed.
  • A child passenger has just vomited in their seat

Video exercise The following video link should act as a further role-play situation.  Pretend you are the cabin attendant and passenger, write down a list of questions and answers you expect.  What polite register language would you use?  You could also predict unusual actions for example, the passenger drops the glass of juice, what ‘offer of service’ language could you use? [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb6qj1P80p4] Serving drinks Credit – “primaseason”

Advice for training and practice

For further training you need to first evaluate your English skills.  However, if you can understand a lot of this article you are probably an intermediate user so “In-Flight English” with Aviation English Asia is a good choice for you.  The course allows you to improve your English while at the same time exploring and debating incidents that can affect cabin crew members.  You will go beyond grammar forms by putting language into context and practicing the English skills needed to become a cabin attendant.  There are also options for you to gain certification for your language ability from Cambridge ESOL, which will help you gain new positions or enhance your current position.

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 special offers and details of courses in your area.

English for Cabin Crew: Dealing with difficult passengers

English learning advice from Aviation English Asia. A look at different passenger profiles and language functions to resolve problems on-board. Written by Michael McBride In this article,  we will focus on problematic situations that can occur during flight.  This could involve dealing with intoxicated passengers or uncooperative people in the air.  We will look at different questions to consider when faced with a difficult situation, suitable grammar forms and you will also have the chance to practise using visual examples.

Passengers – a diverse mixture

As a member of cabin crew on a commercial airline you will come across a large mix of people from all backgrounds and cultures.  Although there are many stereotypes in society, it may be useful to be aware of them for quick and efficient handling of passengers.

  • A stereotype is a cultural and social expectation that may not be wholly true and accurate but exists in society and we cannot avoid them.

Would you provide the same service to an elderly man the same way you would treat a 20 year old man heading on holiday?  What language and service would you provide someone with full religious garb, or a pregnant woman finding it difficult to enjoy the flight?  Or simply, how would you treat an angry passenger compared to a co-operative and peaceful passenger? Of course your airline will tell you to treat everyone with the same high-class service, but you must have some awareness of different people so the language you use can be adapted for each situation.  The wrong form of service language could make a situation worse.  Let’s now consider this with grammar and context. Passengers - a diverse mixture Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk Describing appearance and emotions – grammar and context It is useful to ask yourself questions when you have to deal with a problem passenger and keep in mind these questions need to be answered within a few seconds: -

  • Who are they?
  • Why do you think they are complaining or not co-operating?
  • How will you resolve the situation?
  • What language will you use?

With your trainer at Aviation English Asia you will work on adapting language to specific contexts and types of passenger, but now let’s focus on grammar and vocabulary in a more general approach for difficult passengers. After considering the problem at hand e.g. a passenger is complaining about their meal, and evaluating the situation consider your language.  It is advisable to not use overly direct and plain language.  Using formal verbs like “reject” and “decline” could create more tension and escalate the problem.   Use of apologetic language may soften the situation, look at the following and consider which is more effective?

  • “I’m sorry, sir, but your card hasn’t been accepted.”
  • “Sir, your card has been declined.”

The first example may use more words but projects politeness and calm.  Notice also the use of contractions is vital, for instance, “hasn’t” as opposed to “has not.”  Contractions are made for spoken English but long forms are also used, but they show more emphasis and authority, which is not effective when trying to calm down a passenger. Politeness and consideration should always be used.  This can also be reinforced by modal verbs that are not strong but still project advice, suggestion and recommendation.  For example: -

  • Sir, you may like to try this meal instead.
  • Madam, would you like to try this option?
  • You could try this meal instead, sir.

Escalated problems, in other words situations you probably cannot handle on your own need to be directed to your senior colleague.  With this it will also bring a new set of language tools if your senior only speaks in English. Basic description language includes: -

  • Use of adjectives and nouns e.g. angry passenger
  • Keep it simple and use the present simple or progressive tenses e.g. he is not moving from his seat.
  • Using stronger tone and stress will show your English speaking supervisor the situation is more important compared to if you use a lighter tone.  Think of the importance of the problem.

Practice – context and language.

Situation 1 In-flight English for cabin crew Credit: http://www.sfballetblog.org

  1. Context.  What type of passengers?
  2. Predict.  What could be potential problems?
  3. Communicate.  What language will you use?

This picture shows a group of young travellers, maybe college students heading for Spring Break.  There is a possibility they may be noisy and even over-bearing towards other passengers. Situation 2 Credit: Sky News

  1. Context.  What type of passengers?
  2. Predict.  What could be potential problems?
  3. Communicate.  What language will you use?

Looking at the body language and gesturing of the male passenger there could be a problem with his meal.  Did he order it?  Is there a problem with what is on the plate?  Also consider his age and background. Situation 3 Credit: unknown 1      Context.  What type of passengers? 2      Predict.  What could be potential problems? 3      Communicate.  What language will you use? A number of situations could be predicated here, from complaining to even an argument between passengers.  How would you handle the situation, would you need more help from a supervisor? Exercise: Think of some more situations and consider what you would say.

Checklist

  • Be aware of your passengers and who they are
  • Ask yourself a series of questions to evaluate the situation
  • What could happen next, will you need a supervisor?  How would you speak to the supervisor, how would you describe the passenger?

What to do next

For feedback and more information about Aviation English Asia’s cabin crew courses please visit http://aviationenglish.com

English for Cabin Crew: Giving advice and information

English learning advice from Aviation English Asia. A look at grammar and beyond to help flight attendants communicate with English-speaking passengers. Written by Michael McBride In this article, focussed on cabin crew English, we will examine language for making suggestions and advice to passengers on board.  A flight attendant will be expected to have information about the origin and destination and to give information clearly and thoughtfully.  We will look at grammar, examples, vocabulary and you will be able to practise with a visual scenario and a quiz at the end.

Giving advice – grammar for cabin crew

It is important to keep advice simple and clear.  Modal verbs will be particularly useful.

  • You should/must/have to + base of verb
  • You should visit the Tower of London.

However, be careful with the meaning.  To offer a general suggestion use “should”, to be more emphatic (stronger emphasis) use “must” or “have to”.   This is if you have a strong knowledge and experience of the place in question.  Usually "must" and "have to" are used to talk about an obligation or necessity.  "Must" and "have to" are slightly different - must is used to talk about an obligation where you have authority, whereas "have to" is use to talk about an obligation where the authority is coming from an external source, eg

  • I must go home now I'm tired (it's the speaker's decision)
  • I have to be at work at 8am (the obligation is from the employer)

You can use these phrases to exaggerate (make bigger) the importance of something, eg

  • You must visit Harrod's department store.  It's an essential destination for every visitor to London.

You can also use regular verbs to offer information.

  • I recommend/suggest verb-ing
  • I suggest visiting the Empire State Building.”

These verb constructions possibly give more authority and formality, particularly with business passengers.  Suggest and recommend are again slightly different - recommend is only used when you have had personal experience of something. Remember you will probably be busy and have other important tasks, so keep it simple and clear.  To offer more information use the linker because plus it is + adjective/phrases.

  • ….because it is beautiful and well known.

If you do have time, you could ask short closed questions to show interest with the passenger and to make them feel more comfortable.

  • “Have you been before?” /  “Is this your first time in x ?”

Other communication techniques

Giving advice to passengers after they have asked you a question requires a friendly, approachable attitude.  Even if you are busy you need to show you are happy to speak to the passenger with good body language and posturing.

  • If you have nothing in your hand keep hands open and if the passenger is seated try and make full eye contact.  You may consider changing your posture, eg bending downwards so they are not looking directly up at you.
  • Gesturing involves your hands while you speak.  When giving information it shows more confidence if you keep hands apart and move them from time to time.
  • When asking the passenger a question to show interest remember to use rising intonation towards the end of the question.  “Do you go there often?”

Vocabulary for cabin crew – how to remember and what to remember

When learning any new vocabulary you need to learn in groups or categories, for example:

  • Parts of the aircraft
  • Food and drink
  • Safety procedures
  • Tourist information

Also you should be realistic, for every lesson or day of study, only expect to learn and remember 5 -10 new words.  You must decide what is the most important for your job. The topic of this article is about giving information to passengers, and in particular this includes tourist attractions, so that is one vocabulary group.   Now consider word families:

  • a tourist / tourism / tour
  • a sightseer / sightseeing / sightsee
  • explore / exploration / explorer (e.g. Christopher Columbus)

Which part of speech are  the above words, eg verbs, nouns or adjectives?  When you learn new vocabulary it is helpful to write (n), (adj) or (adv) after each word to help you remember how they should be used.  In time you will be able to recognise patterns between words.  Also study the English words for the major tourist attractions in the country/city you are flying to.  If you fly to Europe, for example, equip yourself with a little bit of knowledge of the top 10 tourist attractions, for example: - The Eiffel Tower, River Seine, Louvre (Paris) Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square (London)

English for cabin crew - practice activity

Picture scenario Now look at the picture below, imagine the passenger is asking the flight attendant for information about what to do in London.

  1. What questions do you think the passenger will ask?
  2. Work out the answers to the questions as a cabin crew member.  (Remember, grammar, intonation and body language)
  3. What do you think will happen next?

[caption id="attachment_181" align="aligncenter" width="270" caption="How would you answer her questions in English?"]In-flight English for cabin crew[/caption] Now study the picture and describe everything you see including: - (a) What are the names of the objects? (b) What expressions (use adjectives) can you see on their faces? (c) What body language and gestures are being used? What to do next For feedback and more information about Aviation English Asia’s cabin crew 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 for Flight Attendants - Handling aggressive passengers

Advice about improving your English for flight attendants from Aviation English Asia . Article written by Michael James Egerton

Strong English communication skills are important for flight attendants, regardless of their native language and the stage of their career. Unfortunately many airlines offer very little ongoing English training for their staff.  Greater proficiency in English, together with cultural sensitivity can help prevent difficult (and potentially dangerous) situations.  In this article we are going to look at some of the language that can be used when dealing with drunk and abusive passengers.

[caption id="attachment_589" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Drunk and aggressive passengers?"][/caption] Reading comprehension

Hysteria erupted when a drunk Canadian, heading home after visiting Cuba, threatened to shoot flight attendants with a handgun after they stopped serving him drinks. Police said the man started causing trouble about midway between Varadero, Cuba and Windsor.  A flight attendant told the inebriated passenger he wasn’t allowed to have any more booze. “He was cut off from further alcohol consumption as a result of his behaviour, which essentially catapulted him in terms of his aggression. The police sergeant said the man became “unruly” and made derogatory sexual comments to flight attendants. He then made a threat to one of the stewardesses with respect to shooting them with a 9 mm handgun. The pilot, co-pilot and in-flight services manager were informed of the situation.  The pilot radioed ahead for police aid. When the plane landed at 6:50 p.m., officers were waiting for him. The 58-year-old man is now facing a charge of uttering death threats.

Comprehension questions

  • Where was the problematic passenger from?
  • Where had he been?
  • What caused his behaviour?
  • What did he say to cabin crew?
  • What happened when the plane landed?

Vocabulary Find synonyms for the following words in the article above: alcoholic drinks  / offensive   /   assistance   /   violence   /   intoxicated   /   disorderly   /   chaos You should be able to guess their meaning from context, but if not you can also find the answers 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.

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