| packy |
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While English has always been the de facto language of aviation, it wasn't until 2003 (for air traffic controllers; 2004 for pilots) that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) mandated that language proficiency be required of personnel in its member states. Later, the deadline for compliance was amended to March 5, 2008 for all controllers and pilots. This deadline was then extended to 2011 for those nations which haven't yet fully complied, provided that those states submit an implementation plan. The People's Republic of China is among the countries now preparing to meet this deadline.
I have been fortunate to have been party and witness to the course of language proficiency training and certification in China during this new era. From training teachers and the pilots themselves, to taking them through the examination and certification process, I have seen emotions the range of which is likely only this vast in a test preparation environment: fear, anxiety, frustration, disappointment, elation.
With the departure of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology English Language Test for Aviation (RELTA), the instrument approved, from 2006 to 2008, by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to demonstrate compliance, the government initiated its own test, the Pilot English Proficiency Examination of China (PEPEC). While the RELTA and PEPEC differ in format, they share the same mission: to provide a valid, reliable instrument to measure English language proficiency.
When the PEPEC launched, the percentage of those who achieved Level 4 was so low that many people felt at a loss of what to do, how to prepare, and of course, how to pass. It was too difficult, pilots said. Bring back the RELTA, they yelled. These were natural responses to things unfamiliar. I had surmised back then that the complaints would subside as familiarity with the test grows. One major problem was that there was insufficient training material. Thus, the birth of this book.