As Aviation English Instructors, we use realia (“real life” materials) in our classes on a daily basis.   We recognize the value in providing our students with content in the types of experiences they might encounter on an ICAO English Proficiency Test or, hopefully not, an actual emergency.  But, how can we adapt this content to give it the greatest mileage for our students…especially if the content is only written in a news article?  For the purposes of this type of lesson, we’d use a 300-500 word article.  Here are a few strategies we might use to work with all six ICAO Language Descriptors and get the most instructional content out of our lessons:

  1. Pronunciation-Go around the class having students read the article. Provide correction as needed.  When possible, choose articles that provide audio and text.
  2. Structure-Have students search the article for examples of the grammar aspect you are working with for the particular lesson.
  3. Comprehension-Use an online speech reader to have students listen to parts of the article or have someone record it for you.  Create questions about the topic.  Be sure to structure your questions so that the answers require inference rather than rote response.
  4. Fluency-Extract the larger topics from the article and ask students to share their knowledge. (This allows for longer response.)  Record the responses for students so they can evaluate their own responses, identify pauses, etc.
  5. Interactions-Ask open ended questions about opinions and procedures that allow for longer response. Ask students follow up questions based on their responses.
  6. Vocabulary-Have other students paraphrase the responses of other students while incorporating key vocabulary you’d like to reinforce with the students.

Would you like to see this in practice? We will take an aviation related news story and provide a complete lesson for it.  Make sure you sign up for our Flight School and Flight Instructor Newsletter.  This issue will be was sent December 14, 2015. Feel free to request it via email.