Best Practice

We all share the belief that pilots and controllers deserve best practice aviation English teaching. We all know the stakes are high for aviation English.

For this reason, I feel worried when I see some aviation English providers use buzzwords, like “best practice” or “content-based” or “ICAO compliant” frivolously, especially when I see evidence that their materials are not content-based, or their teachers do not have “best qualifications.” Whether through ignorance or as an intentional marketing ploy, I regret the cheapening of what I feel is a profession, a profession that serves a cohort of learners--our pilots and controllers--who more deserve best practice than any other group of language learners that I know.

I want to clarify what best practice, and content-based, and good teacher preparation looks like. I think I have been extremely lucky in my own ESL and aviation English career, and I am at a place and time in my life when I want to share what I’ve learned working and practicing aviation English in a series of extremely privileged positions.

I’m going to be as frank and as fair as I can be. Like many women, I tend to shy away from conflict. I admire those women not afraid to step up to conflict, or who, in the words of one friend, “I won’t start a fight, but I don’t walk away from one” either. Although I am not at that point exactly, I have found that after, ahem, a “certain age,” it has become a little easier to say what is on my mind without worrying so much about how other people respond. It is not that I don’t care what people think; it is rather that I care much more for sharing what I have learned over several decades of academic good practice and experience and for speaking the truth of what I believe to represent ‘best practice’ in aviation English teaching and training.

I care that pilots and controllers have the most effective and efficient language training possible. Training that is interesting and relevant. Not “aviation English” for the sake of learning English! Aviation English for the sake of improving safety awareness and communication skills.

I think we need to hold one another to honest compliance with best practice. And when we don’t know enough, we acknowledge that, and seek remedy, either through collaboration with people who have stronger academic credentials or through our own self-education.

When I was a manager, one of the most important truths I learned was to not be afraid to hire, and surround myself, with people smarter than me. That is how you build a good team.

Ini this space, over the next weeks, I will outline what best practice in aviation English looks like. I’ll show how teachers can improve their education, skills, and awareness. No matter what part of aviation English we are involved in, we all have a responsibility to be sure that we are offering best practice, and that we increase our own awareness of best practice, and how we can improve our own skills and education.

I hope you will visit again, read what I want to share about best practice in aviation English, and share your experience and views.

//Elizabeth Mathews


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