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English for Specific Purposes in Aviation and Engineering

English for specific purposes in the aviation

It is difficult to imagine such kind of activity where global standardized rules are needed more than in aviation. During air traffic control, a potential misunderstanding between pilots and ground staff can cause serious incidents. That is why an introduction to common language standards is of crucial importance for aviation. The usage of one language, in this particular case it is English, is the best way for accident prevention. The problem is that for the majority of pilots and crewmembers, English is not a native language.

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The article views Aviation English as a branch of English for Specific Purposes for all participants of air traffic and students involved in aeronautics or aviation fields.

Aviation English is a specialized language, which is used mainly in aviation or aeronautics. It includes specific terms for radiotelephony communication. Aviation English has a wide sphere of application. It is used not only by pilots and crewmembers but also by ground support personnel. Aviation language is needed during briefings. It is used in flight deck communication systems and by air technicians and dispatchers.

The key point of Aviation English is a “radiotelephony communication between air traffic controllers and pilots” (Aiguo, 2008, p.152). Pilots, who carry out flights all over the world emphasize the importance of knowledge of Aviation English. Pilots reports say that the language problem is global, and it deals with radiotelephony phraseology as well as conversational English. In fact, the lack of knowledge of Aviation English or simultaneous use of two languages may cause major incidents. The most common language problems are the incorrect use of phraseology or the lack of conversational English proficiency. Sometimes, problems are caused by the use of different languages at one frequency, which leads to a situation when pilots have no notion concerning an aircraft position.

Aiguo (2008) states that Aviation English includes “the phraseology set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and can require the use of general English at times” (p.2). The author suggests that Aviation English, or the language of air traffic control, is a subdivision of English for Specific Purposes, which can be regarded as special.

The author distinguishes between three types of Aviation English. The first designed for occupational purposes, which implies the usage of specific terms and definitions from a specific filed of the air industry. The language courses of this type are held for pilots, cabin crews, dispatchers, and airport staff.

The second one is the language for general use, which is similar to conversational English.

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In addition, the third type is the combination of two previous types for advanced learners.

The author emphasizes the importance of the implementation of Aviation English courses into a curriculum of aviation colleges. Aviation experience has shown that in different countries, there are various standards of Aviation English courses. Some countries have high standards of English language knowledge as an essential condition for aviation staff. On the other hand, there are states in which this standard is absent, or there is a demand for knowledge of one foreign language. In such a case, there is a necessity of standardization of requirements for Aviation English on a global basis.

On the example of China, the author proposes a methodology of Aviation English teaching. Aiguo (2008) asserts that the final target of Aviation English teaching is to “cultivate the students communicative competence” (p.156). He distinguishes several aspects of Aviation English learning. According to Aiguo (2008), phonetics is a key area of studying ESP (157). The reality is that many incidents are caused by a misunderstanding between pilots and ground dispatchers because of wrong pronunciation. Apart from phonetics, the author also emphasizes the importance of speaking and listening activities.

In spite of the fact that the methodology of Aviation English learning is proposed for Chinese colleges, its key points may be applied to many non-English speaking countries.

English for specific purposes in engineering

In contemporary society, within the development of modern technologies, English communicative abilities for engineers are important for their successful activity. In this respect, Kim (2013) states that English has become a “global communication tool” (p.3). At the same time, teaching ESP those specialists, whose native language is not English, should correspond to global standards. The profession of engineer, apart from general English courses, implies additional knowledge of terminology, which has constantly been changing simultaneously with the development of technologies. In this context, ESP is of crucial importance for non-English speaking engineers.

Apart from detailed knowledge of the engineering specification, the author emphasizes the importance of English as the language of contemporary science. Kim (2013) is convinced that without the knowledge of English engineers are unable to “cooperate globally in their professional fields” (p.1).

The initial aim of ESP is to evaluate a definite approach for English teaching that is based on learner’s motives for studying. In other words, the initial step for the successful learning of ESP is to identify the requirements of a learner. Nevertheless, the generalized English courses, which are provided by some engineering programs, are not enough for understanding in a full manner the needs of students (Kim, 2013). There are examples of engineering graduates who are good enough in reading and writing, but they lack communication skills. At the same time, there are also cases when engineering students are good in English communication, but they are at a loss when specific terminology is used.

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The author is convinced that it is necessary to elaborate on a curriculum that will meet the needs of engineering students, professors, and industries (Kim, 2013). The author of the article provides a detailed analysis of the needs of students of engineering colleges in the context of learning of ESP. For her research, she has used multiple surveys of students, professors, and industry workers.

Based on the results of her research, Kim concludes that while choosing between learning of conversational English and ESP, the majority of engineering students, as well as professors, are interested in ESP. The participants among industry workers have chosen conversational business English. It is explained by the development of international joint ventures and negotiations with foreign partners. Among such ESP activities as speaking, writing, listening, and reading communicative skills are the weak point practically of all the participants. At the same time, students do not pay much attention to writing and reading activities, considering them to be of no importance. The author states that in spite of the fact that practically all the participants realize the importance of ESP, they pay more attention to communication with customers than with their foreign colleagues (Kim 2013).

Based on this data, the author gives practical recommendations for the ESP curriculum. This survey has been conducted among Korean students, professors, and industry workers, but at the same time, the data obtained due to this research may be useful for ESP studying in any country.

Reference List

Aiguo, W. (2008). Reassessing the position of Aviation English: from a special language to English for Specific Purposes. Civil University of China, 15, 151- 164. Web.

Kim, H. (2013). Needs Analysis for English for Specific Purpose course Development for Engineering Students in Korea. International Journal of Multimedia and Ubiquitous Engineering, 8(6), 279-288. Web.

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