Study developed in partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
The development of teaching materials in English for Aviation in the perspective of Language as a Human Factor in Aviation (LHUFT) has been addressed by School of Humanities and School of Technology, professor Dr Aline Pacheco. The study is being co-advised by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) professor Elizabeth Mathews. The partnership between PUCRS and ERAU involves students of the Aeronautical Sciences program of both universities.
There are two lines of investigation: the impact of the (lack of) proficiency in English in aircraft accidents and compilation of specific corpora. The analysis includes databases involving real-life communicative situations and common mistakes made by learners of English for Aviation.
The importance of language proficiency
In Aline’s view, Aviation English is a sub-area of the English language teaching known as English for Specific Purposes (ESP). Hence, the vocabulary and regular structures of English are used in the context of aviation. “We know that communication must be understood as the most relevant human factor in the safety of aeronautical operations”, said she.
Because of that, ERAU has recently opened the LHUFT Center, a center of reference for language studies in aviation. This center is coordinated by Dr Elizabeth, a widely experienced professional in this area, who wrote the Manual of Language Proficiency Requirements, of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which sets the guidelines for language proficiency for all pilots all over the world.
Although the need for communication in aviation in English has been around for long, the need for an examination has not. And many people have been looking for it all over the planet. “Unfortunately, there is a shortage of materials based on language in context. There’s also a shortage of professionals to teach this sub-area of English”, explains Aline.
High-quality teaching materials
The way she sees it, a great deal of teaching materials out there focus mostly on examinations. Aeronautical operations are at risk danger due to the lack of language proficiency as many professionals get certificates that are not officially approved and use learning methods that are not efficient.
This material will help us develop training and accreditation programs, teacher training for English for aviation and examiners. This will lead to quality tests that will attests the language proficiency of pilots and promote the safety of aeronautical communications.
Aline serves as a researcher for the International Civil Aviation English Association (ICAEA), an association accountable to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Study Group in Aviation English (GEIA) of the Instituto do Controle do Espaço Aéreo (Institute of Air Space Control) (ICEA) in Brazil. She has served as a visiting professor on the Daytona Campus of ERAU, in Florida (USA), from Jan to Feb, 2017. The material is expected to be released digitally by 2020.