I was reminded today in my National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) Newsletter today that August 19th is National Aviation Day here in the United States.

The newsletter asked its recipients to write what we, as flight instructors, did to promote aviation. Upon reflection, I felt that what we did today is beneficial to you as pilots, air traffic controllers, flight instructors, and aviation professionals internationally. In reality, today is no different than any other day. It’s a situation we assist student pilots and flight instructors with on a daily basis: What do I do if I think a person (myself, a controller, a student pilot, a pilot, or any other aviation professional) doesn’t understand? Here’s my answer in my reflection of National Aviation Day.

On this National Aviation Day, I met with two flight instructors who were concerned about two of their students’ ICAO English Proficiency. One student pilot was a lesson away from his PPL check ride. Another student pilot was beginning IFR flight.  In both instances, the instructors were concerned that the students were struggling with English, but they weren’t sure how to tell if the issue was English or external factors like stress or memory. What I recommended to the first instructor is something I offer to many flight instructors nearly every day. It’s a great way to promote safety and clear communication during flight training.

After asking if the first instructor was asking the student to confirm her instructions during training, I recommended that she continue the process of asking the student to repeat or rephrase with more frequency.  Oftentimes instructors may wonder what a student is thinking and if he/she understood correctly.  I say, “Remove the doubt! Ask!”  As I tell instructors in our “Training International Students the Right Way,” asking who, what, when, where, why, and how questions are a great way to support students English proficiency skills.  However, there is often not a lot of time in the air to ask questions.

To resolve this, instructors can ask students to repeat or (even better) rephrase what they hear.  By making it a habit for students to confirm directions received, there will be no doubt if a student understands what was said.  Then, if the action doesn’t match the words, the instructor will know there is another issue at play.

Naturally, we will assist the instructors by meeting with the students. We can further assist in helping to “diagnose” or strengthen student’s skills. Yet, much can be learned between instructor/student interactions.

A reminder that we are taking audio recordings for our next FREE Aviation English lesson on August 25, 2015. If you would like to participate or know someone who would, please follow this link to learn how to participate.  We must receive the student’s assignment no later than 21 August 2015 at 0400 GMT.

At Expedite Aviation English, we exist to support student pilots, pilots, CFIs, ATCs, and all of the Aviation community. There is no greater gift than to help one achieve one’s dreams and have an amazing career!

Learn more about National Aviation Day here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/todayinthesky/2015/08/19/celebrate-national-aviation-day–these-amazing-photos/31974425/