Minimum Language Requirements Are Not Enough to Keep Our Skies Safe!

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A terrifying mid-air collision in 2017 was caused by two international pilot trainees who both lacked basic English language proficiency. One of the pilots was severely injured, the other pilot died.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released a report on the crash that occurred between two flight school airplanes near St-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec. The report clearly states that lack of language proficiency in English and French on the student’s part muddled the complex aeronautical environment that caused the accident.

The investigation states that both pilots “deviated from the altitude restrictions provided by air traffic control before colliding in mid-air.” According to the report, the pilots involved in the crash were international flight students enrolled in training in Canada.

Both of the pilots in the crash were tested and met the minimum English-language proficiency requirements to fly, however, neither pilot’s first language was English or French. According to the TSB report, improper and insufficient language proficiency testing, which allowed these student pilots with low English-language proficiency to pass, is likely a key factor in the cause of the crash.

The investigation found that it’s not possible to ensure the validity, reliability or nation-wide standardization of the aviation language proficiency testing (ALPT) given by Transport Canada, as there is little to no oversight of the examiners. Even though pilots must be at operational or expert level in English or French (or both), “operational,” meaning they met a minimum international proficiency level to be able to communicate with air traffic control, it wasn’t enough.  A Civil Aviation Safety Alert was published, citing the risks created by improper validity, reliability and standardization in language testing.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada concluded with the recommendation that all international student pilots should be tested through private language proficiency testing programs, and be required to meet stringent English-language standards to obtain personal licensing prior to their first solo flight.

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Language Testing International (LTI) administers language assessments to hundreds of thousands of candidates every year and is one of the largest and most respected foreign language proficiency test providers in the world. We offer the highest level of client service as well as convenient online test scheduling and reporting over secure client networks.

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Lisa March is a bilingual Marketing and Sales Executive. She works closely with LTI on strategic partnerships, business development and marketing. Her efforts help LTI scale the use and implementation of language assessments in schools, institutions, corporations and government agencies.

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developing programming and coding technologies website design cyber-space concept woman manInformation technology is the study, design, and development of computer systems and networks, and it’s one of the most important fields of the future. Millions of jobs have been created by IT, as it plays a vital role in every aspect of modern-day life.

The tech world is full of different languages – JavaScript, Ruby and Python are just a few of them. With so many programming languages out there, it’s essential for tech workers to have one common language to communicate in and in most cases, that common language is English. Many IT professionals who are non-native English speakers may be technology experts but lack the English language proficiency needed for communicating effectively. The ability to communicate in English is a huge asset to many companies and organizations. Companies that conduct business internationally are likely to be engaging with people who speak English as a first or second language on a regular basis, making the ability to use English in the workplace a very valuable skill. Most global IT teams work and communicate on a day-to-day basis in English. Continue reading

Lisa March is a bilingual Marketing and Sales Executive. She works closely with LTI on strategic partnerships, business development and marketing. Her efforts help LTI scale the use and implementation of language assessments in schools, institutions, corporations and government agencies.