The 2008 ICAO language testing Standards and Recommended Practices completely change the context of how English language training will occur in the aviation industry. Prior to the adoption of strengthened Language Proficiency Standards and Recommended Practices by the ICAO Council in 2003, English language training for pilots or air traffic controllers had, to a large extent, been seen as important item to include in a budget—when possible. The length and quality of aviation English training, when conducted, was driven largely by time and budgetary constraints, and—equally important—there was no target proficiency level towards which to aim.
Having to demonstrate ICAO Operational Level 4 English language proficiency in order to earn a license to operate internationally will require that pilots and air traffic controllers remain in English language training until the target level is obtained. That is, aviation English training will be driven by the target—Operational Level 4—rather than solely by time and/or economic constraints.
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