Assessing English Language Proficiency (ELP) to meet the requirements for flight crew licensing requires an assessment test which can be carried out in three ways (item 2 below currently unavailable but being developed):
Informal assessments may be conducted:
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 language assessor training. The Authority may approve language assessor training courses, there are a number of UK established providers of aviation English training that may seek approval for such specialist language assessor courses. Examiners who have completed a specialist assessor course (under development), approved by the UK CAA, will receive authorisation to conduct language assessments for a period of three years, which may be renewed.
All English speakers who are unable to satisfactorily demonstrate Level 6 proficiency to an approved examiner; as being a first-language speaker with native or native-like proficiency as well as second- or foreign-language speaker with a high level of proficiency must be referred to a UK CAA Approved Language Assessment Centre or an examiner who has completed specialist language assessor training.
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 evidence* of an individual's linguistic history which must be retained by the examiner as set out in FCL.1030 (c). The Examiner must submit the examiner report form, or the SRG 1199 in the case of a stand-alone language assessment, to the CAA.
*Records of supporting evidence to be retained by the examiner must include relevant details of:
Informal assessment may proceed only if the examiner's initial evaluation indicates that the 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.
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 endorsement to operate such equipment.
FRTOL Examiners and Examiners holding FE, TRE, SFE, CRE, IRE or FIE privileges granted by the UK CAA who hold Level 6 English Language Proficiency can currently conduct assessments for first-language speakers with native or native-like proficiency as well as second- or foreign-language speaker with a high level of proficiency and, where appropriate, award level 6 proficiency. Candidates not considered proficient to be operating at Level 6 should be directed to a CAA approved ELP testing organisation or an examiner who has completed specialist language assessor training for formal 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) or an examiner who has completed specialist language assessor training 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 an invalid 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:
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 speakers who use English as their first-language as 'probable expert users'. However, examiners should be aware that ' first-language English speaker' does not necessarily mean 'Expert Level 6' user.
Speakers who use English as their first-language 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; consequently should not be assessed as Expert Level 6.
Speakers who use English as their first-language who fail 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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