English for Aviation

ICAO language proficiency testing

Ih Cape Town is a registered ELP testing centre with the South African Civil Aviation Authorities and therefore all tests conducted are valid for international licensing.

ICAO, a division within the United Nations, regularly reviews and strengthens its language proficiency requirements.

ICAO stipulates that all pilots operating on international routes and all air traffic controllers who communicate with foreign pilots must be able to communicate using both ICAO phraseology and plain English, and must have their English language proficiency formally assessed.


ICAO has established 6 levels of language proficiency:

  • ICAO Level 6: Expert
  • ICAO Level 5: Extended
  • ICAO Level 4: Operational
  • ICAO Level 3: Pre-Operational
  • ICAO Level 2: Elementary
  • ICAO Level 1: Pre-Elementary

The minimum language level for licensing purposes is ICAO Level 4. To be assessed at ICAO Level 4 or above, a pilot or air traffic controller must achieve Level 4 in all six of the ICAO skill area:

  • Pronunciation
  • Structure
  • Vocabulary
  • Fluency
  • Comprehensive
  • Interactions

Local civil aviation authorities determine how long test scores remain valid. ICAO recommends that:

  • Level 4 is valid for license endorsement for 3 years from the test date
  • Level 5 is valid for license endorsement for 6 years from the test date
  • Level 6 is valid for license endorsement for an indefinite period from the test date

This course has been designed with the new language regulations in mind which have been introduced by ICAO for all concerned to reach Level 4 and higher on the Language Proficiency Scale.

The English for Aviation covers a range of subjects associated with flying and the Aviation Industry. The course is organized in the sequence of a flight, starting with an introductory unit, followed by pre-flight, ground movements, departure, cruising, en route events, contact and approach, landing and end-of-flight ground movements.

Pilots and air traffic controllers will find the course useful for improving their Standard English, but anyone working in aviation ground staff, emergency services, or administrators, for example – who want to improve their English ability will benefit from the English for Aviation course as well.


The English for Aviation course includes the following units:

  • Runway incursion
  • Lost
  • Technology
  • Animals
  • Gravity
  • Health
  • Fire
  • Meteorology
  • Landings
  • Fuel
  • Pressure
  • Security

Course Duration: 4 Weeks

Level Required: Intermediate – Advanced

Number of Lessons: 20 group lessons per week + 10 mini-group lessons per week

Private lessons: Upon request it is also possible to cover the material in the English for Aviation course with 40 – 60 one-to-one lessons.

At the end of the course all students receive a certificate and written evaluation of their progress.

Students can also combine English for Aviation with Standard General English and / or Business English courses.


You can also study:

  • Telephone skills
  • Negotiating
  • Interviewing techniques
  • Conference and meetings
  • Presentation
  • Reading and discussing business publication
  • Business writing: memos, letters, reports
  • Cross-cultural tips
  • Social and business customs
  • Simulated business situations and role-plays
  • English courses for Executives and Professionals according to students’ specific needs are offered in small groups and one-to-one.

Minimum Age: 18 years

Duration: 2-4 weeks

Level required: Intermediate to Advanced

Lessons per week: 20 – 30 lessons per week

Lesson length: 50 minutes

Class schedule: Monday – Friday from 13:30 – 17:00

Class size: Max class size is 12 / min is 2


Course times

Morning Classes:09h00 – 12h40

Tea Break:10h40 – 11h00

Lunch Break:12h40 – 13h30

English for Aviation:13h30 – 16h00

Tutorial Hour:16h00 – 17h00

Morning classes consist of General Standard English. Contextual lessons are balanced to ensure that students improve their ability to apply language structures (grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation) for authentic communication and improve their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.

Afternoon classes focus on English for Aviation. These lessons are designed specifically to prepare non-native English speakers to meet the minimum standard of Level 4 in order to achieve operational recognition to meet the ICAO standard.

The Tutorial hour involves self-study vocabulary and phrases, with a teacher available, should students need any assistance. Homework will include writing and reflection on the days’ study, vocabulary and structures.

*Optional excursions: Helicopter tours, Huey Combat Flying Experience, Air Force Museum visits, Paragliding, Skydiving, Military Jet flights, Hot-Air Ballooning, Airport visits and much more.