THE PROBLEM OF BILINGUALISM IN AVIATION ENGLISH

Olena MOSKALENKO

Abstract


Introduction. In the article it was highlighted the problem of bilingualism in aviation and its role in accidents and incidents. Language plays a key role in future aviation specialists’ professional preparation in the context of flight safety. English is the official language of aviation. Today, English is spoken by more non-native speakers than native speakers. Many flight crews are now composed of non-native English speaking pilots from different countries. This situation, combined with the fact that many controllers are non-native speakers, can lead to substantial communication issues that can affect flight safety. Therefore, any discussion of communications must focus not only on the intelligibility of non-native speakers to native speakers but also on the interaction between non-native speakers.

Code switching is a term that refers to the alternation between two or more languages, dialects or language registers in the course of communications between people who have more than one language in common. Code switching often occurs in bilingual communities or families. In aviation environment code switching can occur even between native English speakers and often involves switching between technical jargon and vernacular English. This can lead to communication problems when the same word has different meanings in the technical and vernacular language. In the article the author gives statistical data about communication failure due language problems.

Purpose. The aim of this article is a study of concept «bilingualism», its role in aviation; to suggest recommendations concerning bilingualism initiatives in language training.

Methods. In the research the empiric and theoretical methods were used, namely: theoretical analysis and synthesis of psychological and pedagogical scientific sources, observation, comparison.

Results. In the article a theoretical analysis was conducted concerning the concept “bilingualism”. It allowed to come to the conclusion that bilingualism can be defined as the use of more than one language, variety, or style by a speaker within an utterance or discourse, or between different interlocutors or situations. The research has shown that bilingualism is crucial in international aviation, because English is used as the international language for communication between pilots and ATCs irrespective of whatever their first languages may be, and research shows that human errors associated with language communication problems between pilots and ATCs account for 70% to 80% of all airline accidents. It was marked that because of the importance of bilingualism in English for international aviation safety, it is essential to ensure the highest possible reliability and validity in the bilingual (English) language proficiency testing programs for international pilots and ATCs to enable them to deal successfully with unexpected events and emergency situations.

Originality. Based on the approaches to bilingualism the authors suggest the following bilingualism initiatives and recommendations for aviation personnel language training, namely: to assess the need for bilingual employees in each shift based on airport capacity, category of an airport and labour requirements; to determine the appropriate number of bilingual employees required for each shift in order to meet language obligations; to establish the number of bilingual employees to be recruited; to develop a clear procedure to follow when no bilingual employees are available and ensure that it is communicated to and understood by all affected employees; to provide employees with training sessions and to promote their language training programs in order to raise employees’ awareness of bilingual service; to implement numerous automated systems that offer the same standard of quality services in three languages (English, Russian and Ukrainian) – airport self-service, transactions, the mobile apps and the websites; financial encouragement for bilingual employees;  to re-assess employees to be sure that they are maintaining their language skills and to implement a language evaluation system to help monitor the language skills of new hires and employees based on established corporate standards; to offer a vast range of language courses, such as skills maintenance, beginners, announcements and individualized coaching, etc., to develop online training modules that are much more flexible for employees who work various shifts; to ensure an English language support telephone line is available to all agents across the world.

Conclusion. Language situation in Ukrainian aviation companies and flight schools is still problematic although many steps are being undertaken concerning language training. Due to internationalism in the world and integration of Ukraine into world aviation the problem of using two or more foreign languages has become topical. It complicates the work of personnel. Moreover, professional language training is also of great concern. The authors emphasize the positive aspect of bilingualism in the sphere of aviation. Improving the quality of aviation specialists’ language training is a today’s necessity considering the aviation industry progress. Approaches revision to the assessment of professionals’ educational achievements is enhanced by the European integration process of the higher education in Ukraine. It can be seen a trend of gradual transition to more complex methods of assessment and using of multilevel assessment scales, differential approaches to the assessment of students’ educational achievements in bilingual education. Thus, it was suggested some bilingualism initiatives and recommendations for aviation personnel language training. 


Keywords


bilingualism; aviation specialist; professional language training; aviation English; accidents and incidents

References


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