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Aviation English as ESP?

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  • nealius
    Participant
    9 March, 2013 at 21:56
    • Total posts: 7

    Hi everyone,

    I am working on a Masters in ESL, which includes TEFL certification, and I would like to teach Aviation English but I can’t find any information about teaching Aviation English or any other ESP, and I am completely clueless on what requirements I need to get a job as an Aviation English instructor. I figure a private pilot license would help but that’s $7,000 and more studying on top of my graduate load…

    Does anyone know what kind of certification is needed to teach Aviation English or any other ESP overseas?

    dan
    Moderator
    16 March, 2013 at 22:27
    • Total posts: 768

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    It really depends on whether you want to specialise in and teach aviation English and only aviation English, or not.

    Teaching ESP doesn’t normally require any specialist qualification in addition to a TEFL certificate. This is because most language schools and therefore most teachers don’t specialise in one area. Teachers find themselves teaching a chemical engineer one day, a pharmacologist the next, and an air traffic controller the next. Specialist knowledge and/or experience in all these areas and more is just not practical. What teachers instead develop is a fair working knowledge of many areas and industries.

    In addition, the teacher’s role is not to teach the student how to do their job. It is to facilitate their doing this job effectively in English. So for example, with aviation English, your role is not to teach pilots how to fly, or air traffic controllers which instructions to give to pilots, but to give them the English they need to do this.

    Now, I’ve talked above about ESP in the context of a teacher in a language school teaching many different areas. If you decide to teach only one area of ESP, like aviation English, it’s a little different. By setting yourself up as an "Aviation English teacher" (or "Legal English teacher" or whatever) rather than as an "English teacher", you will be expected to have a higher level of knowledge and/or experience than a teacher who doesn’t specialise. This stands to reason – if a language school (or a client directly if you work freelance) chooses to recruit a specialist, they will of course need you to justify why you’ve called yourself an Aviation English teacher.

    But you don’t necessarily need to go overboard with this. I currently work with a legal English teacher who has a background as a lawyer. But she didn’t study law in order to become a legal English teacher – she changed careers and found her background useful in order to specialise in legal English. By the same token, I wouldn’t necessarily invest in the huge expense of a private pilot’s licence. If you were a pilot before and then changed careers, great – your licence would come in handy, but I think getting this especially to become an aviation English teacher might be considered overkill.

    I know a teacher who works directly for the civil aviation authority here, teaching their air traffic controllers. She doesn’t have any background training in aviation or aviation English. What she does have is many years of experience teaching air traffic controllers when the civil aviation authority sent their controllers to the language school where I work (and where she used to work). What she did have to do is find out all about the ICAO required language competencies for controllers and make sure that she knew this material inside out herself.

    So, if you choose to set yourself up as as Aviation English teacher, most importantly you’re going to need to know very clearly the ins and outs of ICAO requirements for pilots and air traffic controllers – this will be expected. I just did a search for "ICAO English" and came up with this ICAO document – Guidelines for Aviation English Training Programmes:

    http://www.icao.int/Meetings/lpr13/Documents/323_en.pdf

    That would be a good place to start.

    You’ll need some good material in order to teach these requirements – here are a few on Amazon:

    Aviation English
    English for Aviation
    Flight Path

    There are also specialised methodology courses for teaching Aviation English – here’s one for example, which costs just under 500 GBP:

    http://www.anglo-continental.com/en/uk/.-.-.achers.htm

    This might be a route you want to go down, especially as you’re starting out in the speciality – it might give you a competitive edge. But it could also be worth seeing how far ICAO knowledge that you can acquire on your own gets you – as I said above, qualifications (like this aviation methodology course or like being a lawyer for my legal English friend) are great, but expert self-acquired knowledge worked equally well for the teacher working for the civil aviation authority here.

    Hope this helps and good luck.

    Dan

    nealius
    Participant
    16 March, 2013 at 23:29
    • Total posts: 7

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    Thanks for the help. I’ve been almost everywhere, and even contacted one person who is an Aviation English instructor as well as an aviation academy looking for ESL teachers and never received any replies.

    I have had my eye on the ICAO information for a while, and although the previously mentioned Aviation English instructor didn’t respond to my emails I did learn from his profile that he has both a private pilot license as well as ICAO Level 6 English proficiency, so I figured that at the least I would need the same, but it appears that ICAO English testing is not available in English-speaking countries–or at least not in the United States.

    I’m really undecided on just teaching English or going the "specialist" route: aviation has been a passion of mine since childhood and I would like to teach English in that specific area if those jobs are available.

    dan
    Moderator
    17 March, 2013 at 12:52
    • Total posts: 768

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    My suggestion would be to start off teaching English generally, get a couple of years experience under your belt and then think about specialising. That general experience will be very valuable in itself, but it’ll also give you time to put out some feelers into aviation English, make some contacts, etc. if you commit to an ESP specialisation straight away, you might find the number of jobs available too limited without any experience of any kind behind you…

    nealius
    Participant
    17 March, 2013 at 20:04
    • Total posts: 7

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    Limited availability of jobs is the thing I’m most worried about. I know I would start out teaching general English however I work better in specialized areas, especially ones I have an interest in. Thinking about working somewhere outside of my interests is depressing in a way.

    undertheradar
    Participant
    5 October, 2013 at 6:09
    • Total posts: 1

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    I am also looking to specialise in aviation English and actually my advice would be to go straight in and qualify to teach for a specific area you are interested in. General EFL teaching is horribly badly paid and can be a miserable existence if you are not fully committed to it, whereas teaching something you are passionate about is much more fun. If you have a specialised background you will find work easily enough – I trained as a lawyer and did my CELTA on purpose to work as a teacher of legal English and have employers falling over themselves to employ me.

    I’m intending to start up my own business teaching for the ELPAC exam as soon as I have done the training! I’ll be looking for an additional teacher!

    nealius
    Participant
    7 October, 2013 at 16:12
    • Total posts: 7

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    I have found that at least some entry-level Aviation English jobs do not require any aviation background, but that a Private Pilot License greatly helps. Unfortunately I am not in a financial situation to drop $7,000 on flight training, though it is something I want to do.

    Another interesting fact is that Aviation English itself is not ICAO Phraseology, but is "plain" English used within the aviation realm: emergencies, communicating with the ground crew, and other agencies involved at the airport and in the flight planning process. In order to teach ICAO Phraseology you must be a qualified instructor–my guess is either a CFI or a ground school instructor.

    Iflyamooney
    Participant
    21 February, 2014 at 1:35
    • Total posts: 1

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    Hi
    I hate to burst your bubble but finding a job teaching aviation English is like finding a needle in a haystack. I have been teaching ESL for 5 years and as well I am a pilot. I found a job at an airline overseas and it was like finding the Holy Grail.

    I think that you do need an aviation background to teach in this field or at least take a course in teaching aviation English. You will be working with pilots or ATC staff and they will all be preparing for mandatory English tests. ICAO provides the holistic descriptors but does not create or endorse tests.

    While preparing pilots for these tests, you will naturally have to go over aviation related scenarios. Aviation is a specialized language and an aviation teacher needs to speak and understand the language to be effective. Generally, the tests do not test their technical knowledge but while you are tutoring, you will get many questions. For instance, say you are practising clarification, confirmation and checking. The pilot you are working with is mucking up the standard aviation phraseology and you need to recognize that and be able to correct and help the pilot get it straight.

    If you are very keen, take a look at FlightPath, published by Cambridge. Go through the sample unit online and test yourself on some of the language. How would you explain what a runway incursion/excursion is? Or a microburst?
    Would you be able to explain with confidence any of the terms or occurrences used in the unit?

    Aviation has been a hobby of mine since 1999 and I have spent that time in the aviation world. At my fingertips, I could provide real world samples of the above occurrences and be able to create an interactive lesson around these topics.

    The reality is that there are few airlines with the resources to hire aviation English teachers and those that they do hire will generally require a strong aviation background. There are many places where you can get training as an aviation English teacher and there are resources like Macmillan’s Aviation English – really great book accompanied by a great Teacher’s book that explains aviation to teachers without an aviation background.

    If you are lucky enough to find a posting, it is likely that some years teaching English will be necessary.

    There are many places where you can get a certification: Mayflower and Emery Roberts in the UK and Anglo-international. This will cost you less than becoming a pilot, which can cost up to $10,000 in the US.

    Lastly, before you spend a lot of money, go online and see what the demand is for aviation English teachers and if you find one, see what the requirements are for the job.

    I have just finished my contract and I have not found one posting and if I do, I’ll be on it in a heart beat!

    Good luck!

    Cherokeeflyer
    Participant
    6 March, 2014 at 15:17
    • Total posts: 2

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    This really annoys me a bit. You cannot walk into a position like this with mere teaching or academic qualifications behind you. You need experience, both as a pilot and, ideally, engineering.
    Aviation English is unique, in that it frequently goes against the grain when talking about operational contexts (grammar and pronunciation), yet demands far higher levels of vocabulary, grammar, fluency etc, when addressing unusual or emergency situations.
    You cannot just learn this. You must have experience. This matter has indeed been highlighted by ICAO, who are deeply concerned at the lack of expertise among aviation English teachers. A good language teacher is not the answer, as indeed a pilot (current or lapsed) does not necessarily make a good teacher.
    A good comparison would be medical English. Without prior experience, how on earth can a language teacher develop the correct vocabulary to non-native students in contextualized scenarios? It would be impossible.
    The same goes for aviation. You cannot teach something you do not know, as all you will be doing doing is teaching "what", not "why". Only knowledge of the trade, through hands-on experience, will give you that.
    And before you ask, yes I am a pilot of 20 years with an engineering background and qualified as a language teacher a few years ago.

    Sorry to pop your bubble, but I would suggest concentrating on an area that needs little, if any, prior experience.

    Cherokeeflyer
    Participant
    6 March, 2014 at 15:22
    • Total posts: 2

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    Another interesting fact is that Aviation English itself is not ICAO Phraseology, but is "plain" English used within the aviation realm: emergencies, communicating with the ground crew, and other agencies involved at the airport and in the flight planning process. In order to teach ICAO Phraseology you must be a qualified instructor–my guess is either a CFI or a ground school instructor.

    Negative. You do not need to be a CFI or GSI. But a knowledge of WHY this phraseology is required, how and WHEN to use it, and when plain English is used, is essential. This can only be delivered when YOU the teachers actually knows this.
    Which means you are an aviation professional or, at the very least, armed with a good deal of aviation knowledge – and preferably engineering, also.
    The dangers of non-qualified aviation English teachers has been the subject of more than one ICAO report!

    nealius
    Participant
    6 March, 2014 at 22:54
    • Total posts: 7

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    Negative. You do not need to be a CFI or GSI. But a knowledge of WHY this phraseology is required, how and WHEN to use it, and when plain English is used, is essential. This can only be delivered when YOU the teachers actually knows this.

    And the only two ways for me, the teacher, to know this is by either a) being a pilot or b) a ground instructor. The latter is the most financially reasonable method for my current situation.

    You DO need certification to teach standard radio phraseology–I got this information directly from ICAO headquarters when I emailed them. This is why I am working towards an AGI endorsement in the near future.

    Which means you are an aviation professional or, at the very least, armed with a good deal of aviation knowledge – and preferably engineering, also.

    Hence why I am working towards acquiring a "good deal" of aviation knowledge (AGI), including a private pilot’s license at some point. I know for a fact a current university-level aviation English instructor in Japan whose only actual piloting experience is a PPL. Ditto for an instructor at Embry-Riddle, except I’m sure he has a CFI endorsement as well–I had a lengthy conversation with him and while he did say experience was necessary, he implied that a PPL or ground instructor endorsement would suffice.

    As for engineering, I do not see how that is relevant. Radio communications have nothing to do with engineering, and any necessary aerodynamic knowledge will be covered by the AGI.

    robbiekw
    Participant
    21 May, 2014 at 18:17
    • Total posts: 2

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    i am an ESL teacher in Panama .. i come in contact with pilots who speak english but need to improve and prepare to re-certify in the aviation english exam ..
    i am looking for a course … online if possible… to certify in teaching aviation to pilots to help the prepare ..

    any info will be most appreciated..

    Robbie

    nealius
    Participant
    23 May, 2014 at 1:42
    • Total posts: 7

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    Robbie,

    What I have found out here in Japan after talking to the Aviation English instructors at my university’s commercial aviation program is that a private pilot license and radio license are required to be "certified." There really isn’t a certification, and there are some online courses that prepare teachers for Aviation English instruction, but those aren’t held in very high regard. Without a private pilot license it may be possible to teach the ESP side of Aviation English (for situations in which there is no standard radio phraseology) but not the radio phraseology itself.

    The other thing is that the ICAO exam is different in every country. ICAO just sent out their assessment criteria and each country’s respective aviation bureau/agency made an exam that meets that criteria.

    robbiekw
    Participant
    26 May, 2014 at 21:17
    • Total posts: 2

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    hello Nealius,

    thank you for your feedback …it’s most appreciated. I have found a couple of places that have courses for teachers .. but i think they will have to customize the course. I’m of the mindset that i don’t have to know all the technical jargon to teach examples of verbal communication … I need the listening exercises and then can use the same tone and expression in my q&a sessions with students. your thoughts ? :)

    robbie

    nealius
    Participant
    27 May, 2014 at 11:31
    • Total posts: 7

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    Is the verbal communication you want to teach specifically for aviation and the ICAO exam, or just general English?

    The technical jargon is a major component of Aviation English and the ICAO exam criteria. On the plus side, the jargon isn’t too technical–compared to something like law or medicine–and pretty easy to pick up for a native English speaker.

    But, there are a lot of terms, collocations, and acronyms that you will need to have knowledge about. Also the NATO Phonetic Alphabet. I don’t have my textbook with me at the moment, but I can give you some examples:

    -ATIS
    -FOD
    -TWR
    -RWY
    -bird strike
    -stall
    -runway incursion
    -taxi
    -line up and wait
    -approach
    -pronunciation of numbers (niner for 9, etc.)
    -abbreviations (affirm instead of affirmative)
    …etc.

    Actually, just the other day I had to go to the airport and I took my radio scanner and a notepad. I can’t give you exact phraseology because the communications were so fast, but here are some reconstructions from my notes:

    Narita Tower: "Air Canada 009 cleared to land ILS Yankee runway 16 right, wind 260 at 3"
    Air Canada: "Cleared to land ILS Yankee runway 16 right. Air Canada 009."

    (after landing)
    Narita Tower: "Air Canada 009 contact ground on 121.95."
    Air Canada 009: "121.95, Air Canada 009. Have a good day."
    Air Canada 009: "Narita ground, Air Canada 009 with you at Alpha 8."
    Narita Ground: "Air Canada 009, Narita ground. Taxi via Whiskey 10 Whiskey, hold short Whiskey 9 Gateway."
    Air Canada 009: "Taxi via Whiskey 10 Whiskey, hold short Whiskey 9 Gateway. Air Canada 009."

    Air Canada 009: "Air Canada 009 at Whiskey 9 Gateway."
    Narita Ground: "Air Canada 009 contact Ramp on 121.75."
    Air Canada 009: "121.75, Air Canada 009. Have a good day."

    ——–

    (After takeoff)
    Peach 116: "Tokyo Departure, Peach 116 passing through 1,700 for Flight Level 200."
    Tokyo Departure: "Peach 116, Tokyo Departure. Radar contact."

    vcq14
    Participant
    28 May, 2014 at 21:24
    • Total posts: 2

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    I’m an aviation English instructor (fixed and rotary-wing) and have taught over 300 Japan Air Self Defense Force pilots and aircrew both in Japan and the United States. I would like to find a full-time job in Japan teaching military aviation English (my background is primarily USAF fixed wing, with a special emphasis on fighter jets/tactics/comms). I’ve taught military pilots from 110+ countries.

    There are many of us at my current location, but only one or two have any actual flying experience or background. I’ve spent the last several years studying and taking FAA and other online courses / exams on aerodynamics, rotary-wing theory of flight, and aircraft maintenance. I also have several thousand hours of logging ATC calls and helped a JASDF base write their own aviation English course (including proofing / providing sample transcripts and recording audio).

    I find teaching military aviation English to be tremendously rewarding, but am wondering what my possibilities are for finding the same type of job (and pay, and benefits) in Japan.

    Teacher Luis Leal
    Participant
    19 February, 2015 at 13:42
    • Total posts: 1

    Reply To: Aviation English as ESP?

    Hi Guys,

    Greetings, this is Luis, I am an English Teacher and I have a quick question: Are you still interested in teaching Aviation English?

    If so, please send me an inbox, I would like to know your experiences and maybe we can help each other become Aviation English Teachers.

    davis13
    Participant
    20 October, 2015 at 18:09
    • Total posts: 1

    Hi Luis
    I’m interested in teaching Aviation English so I would like to have some information

    KD
    Participant
    23 June, 2016 at 10:58
    • Total posts: 1

    Luis. I found your post from last year. I have a strong aviation back ground as well as a TESL certificate and I am interested in teaching Aviation English. Where would be a good place to start searching for employment?
    Thanks KD

    alicia
    Participant
    12 August, 2016 at 10:31
    • Total posts: 2

    Dear Teacher Luis Leal,
    I’ve read your post,and it seems that you have a good background in teaching aviation English, would you please help me to find an answer to my doubts and questions. I’ll be so grateful if you did so.
    Kind Regards

    alicia
    Participant
    12 August, 2016 at 10:32
    • Total posts: 2

    Dear All,
    Thank you so much for all the insightful information you have mentioned in your discussion, I appreciate every single word. It helps me a lot to wideden my knowledge & have more details about aviation English. I’ll be so grateful if you could help me to have audio materials & I do wish to know about teacher training. Would you help me to be in contact with schools who are specialized in training ESL teachers to teach Aviation English.
    Best.

    Dave_usa
    Participant
    30 December, 2016 at 21:22
    • Total posts: 1

    Hello All,

    I’m currently working on a TESOL certification and I came across this post.

    Is there a demand for aviation teachers? I currently hold a commercial/instrument
    ticket issued by the FAA in the USA. Can I use this for another avenue of teaching?

    Best Regards
    Dave

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