Aviation English Asia Ltd courses are renowned for their communicative method. In this section of Learning Zone you can learn about best practice in language acquisition and how you can adopt an effective method of learning English.
English learning advice from Aviation English Asia. Article written by Michael Egerton
In a previous article, Describing pictures in ICAO Aviation English tests we learned some techniques to describe pictures. One of the lexical sets we said was necessary was vocabulary to describe an aircraft. In this article we will focus on how to describe the physical structure of a fixed wing aircraft, and also cover some grammatical structures you can use to relate the information. Of course many pilots will already be familiar with these words but it is worth ensuring that you can use the words with correct grammar, eg prepositions.
Most aircraft have the following major components.
The fuselage is the central structure of an aircraft and includes the cabin, cockpit and area for storing cargo. When describing the fuselage also consider the materials it is made of, and how it is constructed. You should also know the following vocabulary:
truss, longeron, members, tubing, cross-brace, monococque, aluminium, skin, formers, bulkheads, airframe
Structure: You can also use the following verbs to describe the fuselage. Be aware of the form of the verb eg feature / features, and also if there are any necessary prepositions that go with the verb.
Wings are attached at either the top, middle, or lower part of the fuselage and are referred to as high-wing, mid-wing or low-wing.
You should know the following vocabulary:
bi-plane, mono-plane, external braces / wing struts, cantilever, semi-cantilever, spar, ribs, aileron, stringers, ailerons, wing flaps, trusses, I-beams, leading edge, trailing edge, fuel tanks, faring, airfoil/aerofoil, flush, port, starboard, inboard, outboard
Structure: In addition to being able to identify the above parts of an aircraft, you should be able to describe it's function. You can use the following structures:
The empennage includes the entire tail section, consisting of the vertical and horizontal stabiliser. Basic vocabulary to describe the tail section includes:
rudder, elevator, stabilator, trim tabs, antiservo , tail fin, inclining, forward swept/sweeping, livery, vertical, horizontal, leading edge, trailing edge,
Exercise: Describe the following picture using 5 of the words above.
Aircraft can have different types of landing gear eg wheels, skis or floats depending on whether the aircraft is used on land, water or snow. When describing landing gear consider what that particular type of landing gear is designed for. Essential vocabulary includes:
nose wheel, tail wheel, tyres, tricycle, floats, skis, undercarriage, fixed gear, retractable, extending, wheel well, shock absorbers, pontoons, skid, conventional "taildragger", tail strike, skid, tail bumper, spats, axle, wheel assembly, tracks, pivoting, steering,
Exercise: Describe the following pictures using 5 of the words listed above.
There is a lot of vocabulary listed in this article, some of which you may already be familiar with - but learning English is not just a matter of remembering vocabulary. In order to communicate effectively in English you must be able to use vocabulary with reasonably accurate grammar. Try to create sentences using the structures presented above, or compare pictures of different types of aircraft. There are a lot of interesting pictures on websites such as airliners.net that you can practice describing.
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.
Advice for improving your English and passing an airline's English test from Aviation English Asia. Article written by Michael Egerton
Whether you are applying for a job as a pilot, member of ground staff or a member of cabin crew one of the assessments in which you are required to perform well in is the airline's English assessment test. For prospective airline pilots this is likely to be one of various types of ICAO English test taken at a particular stage of the selection process. For cabin crew and ground staff the airline is likely to have it's own in-house English assessment, which could be either a specific test which you need to pass in order to proceed which your application, or alternatively your English language proficiency could be assessed during your HR interviews.
In this article I'm going to point out three common mistakes made by many prospective pilots and flight attendants when faced with an airline English proficiency test, and show you how you can avoid making that mistake. But first of all let's look at why airlines have English tests in the first place.
Airline careers are highly desirable for many young people. Airlines are large organisations that offer great benefits like housing allowance, health insurance and frequent travel to their employees. Some airlines are national flag carriers so it's not surprising that airline jobs attract thousands of candidates each year. In each recruitment drive, the airline has to select the most appropriate candidates for employment, as they will make a significant investment in that candidate's training and development. Airline English tests are a suitable way to filter out unsuitable (or not yet suitable) candidates. English is a world language, and a high standard of English will also highlight a candidate's manners and social behaviour, ie is this candidate a person polite enough to deal with our customers, is this a person we would like to sit next to on the flight deck. In addition to the aptitude and ability to perform the basic duties of the position, the airline will want to ensure that you have:
So, in plain English, the airline wants to know that you can speak English well enough to do the job properly, and you can understand enough English to be able to learn how to do the things that you can't. Depending upon your experience and the position you are applying for the airline will probably not expect you to know everything about handling a big jet, or the procedures needed to carry out an evacuation but they do expect you to have a reasonable level of English. Airlines are after all, judged on the conduct and performance of their front-line employees. If you have failed an airline's English test it's probably because you haven't prepared sufficiently for the test, or you have prepared for the test in the wrong way.
It's a common mistake, and an understandable one. You have an English test coming up as part of your interview and you might want to get some practice by having a mock test, perhaps by asking a friend to ask you the questions that they were asked last time. Perhaps if you could remember the answers it will be easier... If (like us) you live in Hong Kong you will have been bombarded by advertisements for "star tutors" that offer courses focused on passing English tests, eg IELTS, HKCEE etc. You might be able to pass a written exam by following their methods but if you think that you can pass an airline English test, which will almost certainly be oral you are wildly mistaken. Speaking English doesn't work like that. It takes time to develop a full command of the language, and consistent practice in developing the strength needed to pronounce certain words. Listening to and understanding different accents is a skill that takes time to develop. Furthermore, it's easy to see if someone is trying to remember an answer. When assessing language it's not just a matter of what information you give, but how you give it. Of course, it's natural to want to practice things like mock interviews with friends or perhaps a tutor, but to be honest it's not enough. What you need is a thorough and wide range of proficiency in English and particularly English as it is used within an aviation context - and that is our goal.
ICAO recommend that pilots and controllers take aviation-specific English courses. Some people try to cut corners and settle for a general English course. The result is often that they get bored or find that it doesn't suit their needs. This is also often the case with people who tried studying at large franchised language centres, particularly those that have "secret study methods". These courses are designed to appeal to as many people as possible, with the lowest skill level of teacher possible (the "secret" is that they withhold any actual teaching, you have to figure it out for yourself) so don't be surprised that learners who settle for this type of course make very slow progress. That type of language school doesn't have the capability or resources to give aviation students the kind of language training they need. When you learn English it is important that you focus on practicing the right skills, and as most language schools try to cater to as many people as possible it's often difficult to practice the skills that you really need. For a pilot, ATC or member of cabin crew the most important skills are speaking and listening. Many people unfortunately focus only on academic performance in English and neglect to build their English comprehension skills. Aviation English Asia courses give you sufficient practice of the skills that you need, as recommended in ICAO Document 9835.
If we could give one piece of advice to potential airline employees it would be to take a placement test to assess your current level of English and then see how much you need to improve. We can then give you an estimation of how long you should expect before you reach that level, and how often you should practice. These tests are done independently by a third party so you can be sure that you won't be buying courses that you don't need. The placement tests offered by Aviation English Asia are consistent with the results of assessors within major airlines. Trust me - I've trained a lot of prospective and current airline employees. I strongly recommend that you take a placement test and expect to practice English consistently for at least 3 months per level.
In this article you have learned that you should avoid crash courses, avoid only focusing on the test, and avoid unsuitable courses and tutors. Now I will show you what you should do to pass an airline's English assessment.
Learn and practice English as it is used in the context of aviation
Aviation English Asia is the only genuine provider of Aviation English in Hong Kong. Our Native English Teachers are aviation professionals with experience as senior captains, air traffic controllers and aircraft maintenance engineers. Our Native English Teachers are also qualified English teachers - not just "English speaking pilots doing a part time job". The course is designed and supervised by teachers with MA Applied Linguistics. Some of our teachers have worked as and trained assessors.
AEA courses feature all of the grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, comprehension and fluency practice of general English courses, with the added advantage of being directly related to your career. You will be more motivated and enjoy learning English more when you have a clear objective. If you think you know everything about aviation and are familiar with aviation terminology, you should still learn how to express it clearly in English - so Aviation English Asia courses are equally suitable for experienced commercial pilots. It's exactly the same for cabin crew, whether your are a prospective employee or experienced crew members - practice English as it relates to your everyday life. One of the biggest advantages of an Aviation English course is that you will develop a wide vocabulary and become confident in dealing with unexpected situations. You will still get thorough practice of all the language skills needed to pass an airline's English test, and personal focus on the skills that you most need to develop. Of course, you can supplement this with additional General English if you want extra practice but it is no substitute for a core Aviation English course.
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.
Advice about improving your English and passing an ICAO English test from Aviation English Asia.
Article written by Michael Egerton
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)?
File unavailable due to excessive downloads
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.
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.
▪ 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?
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.
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.
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.
ICAO Aviation English, English for Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, Technicians and Mechanics, and English for Flight Attendants are available in Taipei, Tainan and Kaosiung.