English for Aviation

Aviation English

Gilles Belanger




International Civil Aviation  Organization - ICAO has been founded in 1947. This United Nations agency, based in Montreal, has for mission to establish standards and recommended practices for international civil aviation.



The obvious need for communication standards made ICAO choose a common language; therefore, English was a natural choice since it has been the language of most companies involved in aeronautics. Besides, international businesses were  increasingly using English.


Following inquiries on many incidents and accidents, it’s been stated that miscommunication was a safety issue due to misinterpretation of instructions and information. As a result ICAO adopted a resolution in 1998 regarding English language proficiency level among aviation professionals. One year earlier, the US Federal Aviation Administration had asked ICAO to put in place English language proficiency standards. In the early 2000s, ICAO established English language proficiency requirements (LPRs) for all pilots operating on international routes, and all air traffic controllers who communicate with foreign pilots. These standards require pilots and air traffic controllers to be able to communicate proficiently using both ICAO phraseology and plain English.


Each contracting members enforce ICAO English language proficiency requirements at their own discretion. Besides, in the early 2000’s, non English-speaking aviation operators struggled to properly train their employees and to adjust their hiring policies to the point that they had to rely on professionals from English-speaking countries to occupy many airlines positions. ICAO may conduct review in order to have more standard  levels of English language assessments conducted by ICAO members.


I have met Ms. Lucia Marguglio, manager at Montreal-based Comunicatus, a language services provider which is involved in teaching Aviation English to ICAO compliance. Comunicatus offers English training to aviation personnel. The courses are based on the English proficiency requirements for pilots and air traffic controllers of Transport Canada and ICAO. A Concordia University graduate in the field of Psychology, Ms. Marguglio has extensive experience in management as well as English teaching. She’s been in charge of the English language training of Chinese student-pilots at Cargair Flight Training School for airlines from Asia. According to Ms. Marguglio, there is an increasing need for English training and testing in aviation worldwide.

ICAO Member States are responsible for the application of the English language standards adopted by the organization. In Canada, Transport Canada is in charge of English proficiency testing of aviation professionals. Elsewhere in the world, government agencies or private schools conduct training and/or testing in order to meet ICAO’s standards. For example, Australia provides RELTA certification, England produces T.E.A.certification, while Eurocontrol administers ELPAC. All those certifications meet the ICAO language proficiency requirements.


Approved linguistic operational competencies are identified as being ICAO English Language Levels 4 to 6. Air traffic controllers and pilots who are assessed at Level 4 (Operational), which is the minimum required level, are; therefore, considered able to work in international operations. However, such individuals will have to undergo a review of their English language competencies periodically. At the other end of the spectrum is the highest certification known as Level 6 (Expert). Anyone certified as a Level 6 speaker usually keeps that certification for life regardless of being a native English-speaker or not.


As ICAO Member States all have their own personnel training and assessment methods, we face a challenge of harmonization of evaluation principles leading to ICAO standard certifications. A review of English testing in aviation should be expected.

Who can teach ESP (English for Special Purpose) Aviation? Ideally, teachers and trainers in Aviation English should have an adequate university degree and/or have a TESOL or CELTA ESL certification. Perhaps even more importantly, they should have knowledge in the fields of both aviation and the English language.


In the USA and UK a few schools are specialized in TEA (Teaching English for Aviation) offering ESP Aviation teacher training programs to English teachers who don’t have any experience in aviation. Mayflower College is one of the schools offering  teachers without aviation background the chance to acquire knowledge and skills  to teach and assess pilots and ATC personnel.


From post-war decision to elect English as the Aviation language to the present  implementation of language and communication criteria, English as a universal language in aviation became an important safety criteria. Further improvements to training and assessment in this field should be a priority in the years to come for the sake of air safety and efficiency.

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How to write a good argumentative essay.

Gilles Belanger



This is my personal view on how to write an essay


A minimal 5 parts structure (an introduction, a three parts main body, a conclusion)
Intro section
1- a paragraph presenting the thesis - an actual position that we are defending throughout the essay - (the last sentence should be the conclusion of the essay)
Main body section
1- main argument-the main thesis of the essay (express three premises)
    note that a paragraph needs one topic sentence, supporting sentences and one conclusion sentence
   (it is topic + your position/opinion)
    1.1- premise one and two
    1.2- respond to the main counter argument
    1.2.1- presenting the conter argument then opposing to it
    1.2.2- details and/or examples that oppose that counter argument (if necessary)
    1.3- premise three
2- conter argument-the strongest objection assuming that our main argument is bad,
    expressing the scepticals' point of view
3- reply to the objection-defend your argument
    3.1.1- facts agains the conter argument
    3.1.2- a few examples against the conter argument
    3.1.3- examples in favour of our main argument
Concluding section
Summerize the thesis while the last sentence should express the thesis