English Language Specialist Ron Serra is flying planes and teaching grammar—at the same time.
In Almaty, Kazakhstan, Serra is teaching Aviation-English to pilots. Aviation English is a hybrid of aviation-related material, air traffic control communications, and English grammar.
“Aviation English provides foreign pilots a glimpse into American aviation, social acceptance, and cultural differences,” Serra said. For example, listening comprehension videos portray women and minorities as having equal opportunities in aviation careers. The aviation English program not only teaches pilots the specialized English language skills they need for their jobs, but also introduces them to American customs.
“I earned the respect of the pilots because we all spoke one language – aviation. For many people, ‘music’ is the international language, but among aeronautical professionals, especially pilots, it is aviation. Before long, we were having weekend barbecues and the colonel would provide personal tours to famous attractions in Almaty. I felt like a rock star, yet I too was being intellectually challenged.”
International pilots like the ones Serra trains are natural ambassadors and diplomats because of their job requirements, and the aviation English program is helping to broaden their knowledge of other cultures.