Explanation of rating scale descriptors
Requirements for the respective ICAO level according to the Manual on the Implementation of ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements.
The six levels of pronunciation descriptors are applicable at all levels to native and non-native speakers. This implies that native English speakers may demonstrate Elementary Level 2 proficiency if their regional dialect is so localized that it is not readily understood by those outside of that particular region. On the other hand, speakers whose speech patterns clearly identify them as non-native speakers (having a so-called “accent”) may demonstrate Expert Level 6 proficiency, as long as this meets the criterion of “almost never” interfering with ease of understanding.
Relevant grammatical structures and sentence patterns are determined by language functions appropriate to the task. Users may refer to the communicative aeronautical language functions, to the list of controller communicative tasks and to the classification of basic and complex structures in Appendix B for guidance. Language teaching specialists generally categorize grammatical errors into two classes: “global” and “local”. Global errors are those which interfere with meaning; local errors are those which do not interfere with meaning.
Vocabulary includes individual words and fixed expression. Vocabulary can be classified by the domains of meaning to which it refers. A partial list of vocabulary domains related to aviation communications is found in Appendix B of this manual. While memorizing phraseologies is neither an acceptable means of demonstrating language proficiency nor an effective or recommended language learning strategy, it is undeniable that context is a relevant factor in language proficiency. Therefore, learning or testing that focuses on, or is designed to elicit vocabulary related to, aeronautical radiotelephony communications is preferable.
For our purposes, fluency is intended to refer to the naturalness of the flow of speech production, the degree to which comprehension is hindered by any unnatural or unusual hesitancy, distracting starts and stops, distracting fillers (em … huh … er …) or inappropriate silence. Levels of fluency will be most apparent during longer utterances in an interaction. They will also be affected by the degree of expectedness of the preceding input which is dependent on familiarity with scripts or schemata described in Chapter 3.