Guidance to authorised persons - student pilots and English language
Issued: 1 September 2014
Student pilots need to be proficient in general English language (GELP). Proficiency is checked before a student pilot undertakes their first solo flight.
There are two parts to the pre-flight assessment:
- General English background – the applicant needs to provide their HOFO with evidence about their background in English such as secondary schooling in English, recent work experience, completion of an approved course or an acceptable result from a recognised English language test or general English language assessment.
- The HOFO also needs to interview the applicant to check their English language proficiency.
Student pilots must be authorised each time they fly. Language proficiency and their familiarity with the rules, procedures and standard radio communications phraseology (relevant to the proposed flight) must be considered by the instructor authorising the flight.
English language proficiency is a qualification requirement for flight crew licensing – refer to regulation 61.B.5 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998.
Australia implemented the ICAO aviation language proficiency standards on 5 March 2008.The ICAO standards apply to flight crew licence holders.
The Australian standards are in Schedule 2 of the Civil Aviation Orders (CAO). CASA has approved certain Flight Examiners (FEs) to assess both aviation English proficiency (level 6) and GELP. Testing centres have been approved to conduct assessments at all levels.
Student pilots are required to have GELP whereas private, commercial and air transport pilots are required to have aviation English language proficiency. Aviation English includes standard R/T phraseology and common language relevant to the aeronautical environment.
How does a student demonstrate English proficiency?
The demonstration involves the following three steps which must be completed prior to the student undergoing their first solo flight:
- The authorised person checks the background evidence provided by the applicant showing they meet general English language.
- The authorised person then conducts an interview to make sure the applicant has an acceptable level of English.
- If satisfied the applicant has an acceptable proficiency in general English, the HOFO then completes the training record.
Step 1 – Background evidence
Applicants must present to the authorised person with evidence that they meet one of the criteria listed in Schedule 2 of the CASR Part 61 MOS. The options include:
- completion of a secondary education in an Australian or New Zealand educational institution;
- completion of at least the equivalent of an Australian secondary education in an educational institution in a country where 1 of the principal mediums of instructions was English;
- is receiving secondary education in an Australian or New Zealand educational institution and the language of instruction is English;
- worked in Australia or New Zealand for at least 3 of the 5 years immediately before applying for the student pilot licence;
- worked in a specified country for at least 3 of the 5 years immediately before applying for the student pilot licence;
- successfully completed one of the following English language proficiency tests:
- The General or Academic Training Module of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall grade of 5.5 on condition that no single test area has a score of less than 5.0.
- Test of English for International Communication-Secure Program (TOEIC-Secure Program/Public Testing Centre) with the following minimum test scores:
- listening - 350
- reading - 300
- speaking - 160
- writing - 140.
- Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) with a test score of 71.
- Test of English as a Foreign Language computer-based test (TOEFL CBT) with a test score of 197.
- Test of English as a Foreign Language paper-based test (TOEFL PB) with a test score of 530.
- He or she has successfully completed a CASA approved General English Language Course and has obtained a grade of at least 75% in the speaking and listening components of the General English Language Course;
- He or she has been assessed by a CASA approved general English language proficiency assessor as meeting the requirements mentioned in Schedule 2 of the CASR Part 61 MOS.
Note: Specified country means United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, United States of America, New Zealand, Canada (proof of English language proficiency may still be required)
The authorised person needs to be satisfied the evidence put forward is genuine.In exceptional circumstances, where the applicant cannot present evidence about their secondary schooling or having worked in an English environment, a Commonwealth of Australia Statutory Declaration made by the applicant is acceptable.
The declaration must set out how the applicant has satisfied the standard in relation to their schooling or work.For example, state where and when the applicant attended secondary schooling; or details of place and periods of employment.
Note: Tertiary education does not necessarily provide an environment where spoken English is used – many courses can be completed by correspondence or in a language other than English. Secondary schooling involves extensive formal and informal spoken communication; which is why it is used for this purpose.
A self-employed person can satisfy item (4) or (5) if they provide acceptable evidence about their business operations in Australia for 3 of the last 5 years. (For example certified true copies of tax return statements from ATO, BAS statements, statement from accountant. Figures can be redacted.)
Step 2 – Interview
The aim of the interview is to check the applicant’s ability communicating effectively in English; they need to understand what the interviewer says and the interviewer needs to be able understand what the interviewee says. It should validate the background evidence provided by the applicant.
The interview should cover several topics that are of a general nature such as current issues or the applicant’s background and interests. Material such as newspaper or magazine articles can also be used to supplement the interview to check their reading.
The applicant needs to be able to give information independently of prompts and be understood. Also they need to be able to respond appropriately to questions. The applicant needs to be able to resolve a miscommunication.
Elements to consider:
- pronunciation is intelligible and not unduly affected by dialect or accent
- structure is acceptable – the message is uncomplicated
- vocabulary has sufficient range and is accurate for the purpose of the message being conveyed both expressing and understanding
- fluency is acceptable to the extent the message is conveyed
- comprehension is accurate to an acceptable level – not confused
- interacts adequately when new topics are raised and has the ability to clarify, confirm and deal with misunderstandings.
General points to note.
- Prepare questions prior to the interview – they should be relevant, valid and challenging but not unreasonable or ambiguous.
- Content should not be technical – vocabulary should not be complicated.
- The applicant should be required to consider the question, formulate a response and provide a free flowing response that is appropriate to the question – closed questions should be avoided (ie those that require a yes/no answer).
- Aim the interview questions at a similar level of complexity (not the content) you would expect during a routine training exercise.
- Remember the student pilot will always have to be authorised for flight – the aim of this assessment is to ensure they have a reasonable command of English that allows them to learn effectively and communicate unambiguously in the learning and operating environments.
- ICAO Annex 1
- Schedule 2 of the CASR Part 61 MOS
- CASA’s website – go to www.casa.gov.au and look for language proficiency.