Assessing English Language Proficiency (ELP) to meet the requirements for flight crew licensing requires an assessment test which can be carried out in two ways:
An ELP endorsement at Level 6 has no periodic re-evaluation requirement. At Level 5 (Extended Level) a re-evaluation is required every six years and at Level 4 (Operational Level) every four years.
Examiners without a
professional background in language assessment should consider specialist rater
training. While the Authority does not approve or endorse rater training
courses, there are a number of established providers of aviation English rater
training in the United Kingdom.
Attainment of Level 6 should be considered as being beyond the realistic expectations of most second- or foreign-language learners (ICAO Doc 9835).
Level 6 proficiency is not an essential requirement for successful aeronautical communication. It has a very wide coverage since it is intended to account for most first-language speakers with native or native-like proficiency as well as second- or foreign-language speakers with a high level of proficiency.
If a candidate is potentially considered to be a Level 6 speaker and is to be evaluated through an informal assessment, this must be supported by documented evidence of an individual's linguistic history which must be submitted to the CAA with the examiner report form, or the SRG 1199 in the case of a stand-alone language assessment.
This must include:
Informal assessment may proceed only if the examiner's initial evaluation indicates that supporting evidence is sufficient to support a subsequent application.
The CAA wants to ensure that in all cases where an informal assessment of Level 6 (Expert Level) proficiency is undertaken, the exacting criteria specified in AMC 2 FCL.055 are consistently met before a rating is awarded:
Assumes a dialect or accent intelligible to the aeronautical community
Relevant grammatical structures and sentence patterns are determined by language functions appropriate to the task
To receive a Level 6 rating, a candidate must demonstrate all aspects of the Level 6 descriptors in the rating scale during the assessment. Examiners must be in no doubt that a candidate is an expert speaker.
In cases where the examiner has doubts about the level of attainment in any element of the assessment, then no language proficiency level should be recorded, and the candidate referred to a CAA-approved ELP Testing Organisation for formal assessment.
Informal assessments must no longer to be used when candidates have previously demonstrated Language Proficiency at either Level 4 (Operational) or Level 5 (Extended) Level in a formal assessment.
Candidates who have previously attained Levels 4 or 5 and wish to undertake an assessment to ascertain if they can achieve Level 6 (Expert Level), must undertake this assessment with a CAA-approved ELP Testing Organisation.
With the need to convert to EASA Part-FCL licences, those flying aircraft with an EASA Certificate of Airworthiness and holding a Flight Radiotelephony Operator's Licence (FRTOL) must have a Language Proficiency validation to operate such equipment.
FRTOL Examiners and Examiners holding FE, TRE, CRE, IRE or FIE privileges granted by the UK CAA who hold Level 6 English Language Proficiency can currently conduct assessments for native English speakers and, where appropriate, award level 6 proficiency. Candidates not considered fit to be operating at Level 6 should be directed to a CAA approved ELP testing organisation for formal assessment. All non-native English speakers should be referred to a UK CAA Approved Language Assessment.
Persons holding a Level 4 or 5 assessment issued by the UK or any other EASA Member State, must attend a UK CAA Approved Language Assessment centre (see CAA Standards Document No. 31) to renew or upgrade their assessment. Only those who were granted an automatic level 4 by the UK CAA in 2008 are exempt from this requirement.
Please note that a valid language proficiency assessment invalidates an FRTOL and will delay any subsequent licence request.
Examiners must familiarise themselves with the descriptors at Expert Level 6 of the ICAO Rating Scale. Explanatory notes on these descriptors can be found in the link below (further reading link at the end).
Examiners should familiarise themselves with the ICAO Rated Speech Samples Training Aid (RSSTA):
The RSSTA is designed to:
In particular, examiners must familiarise themselves with the speech samples rated at levels 5 and 6 so that they understand the threshold between 'Extended' and 'Expert' users of English.
Examiners should treat native speakers as 'probable expert users'. However, examiners should be aware that 'native speaker' does not mean 'Expert Level 6' user.
Native speakers may lack the vocabulary to discuss certain themes or may speak with a regional accent that is an impediment to intelligibility for those from outside that region. They may fail to use appropriate language or may not interact effectively.
A native speaker who fails to demonstrate proficiency in all aspects of the Level 6 descriptors in the ICAO Rating Scale should not be assessed as Expert Level 6.
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