Category Archives: Typical pilot mistakes

The KISS Principle applied to the ANAC Test

Don’t worry, I’m not about to start giving away romantic advice, far from that! In fact, the KISS principle is everything but romantic.

It is an acronym said to have been used for the first time by Kelly Johnson, an engineer at Lockheed in charge of designing spy planes during the Cold War. The acronym K.I.S.S. stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid“, and he meant that even an average mechanic should be able to repair  the aircraft they were designing, they shouldn’t  require an expert with sophisticated tools. This principle is still used nowadays by project managers and software developers, among other professionals.

I usually advise my students to apply this principle when taking the ANAC Test. That doesn’t mean that you should follow your “friends'” advice and answer just “yes”/ “no”/ “never happened to me” to every question the examiner asks. It just means that you should adjust the amount of information you give, for a few reasons:

1) You should use the structures and vocabulary you feel comfortable with. Of course, we’re all trying to achieve level 4 or higher, but everyone has an inner “examiner” that tells them how deep they can dive into their English pool. During the exam itself is not the time to test new vocabulary or structures, that should be done in class.

2) Examiners can give up to four tests a day. Can you imagine what it’s like to hear practically the same things over and over again? I’m sure your life is very interesting and you’ve had hardships and joy in your career as a pilot, but that’s much more information than the examiners need to assess your English proficiency.

3) Excessively precise information may be detrimental to your fluency. Whenever you stop to remember exactly when you had that engine failure, or what was your destination when that passenger fainted during the flight, you will have to pause for a few seconds (maybe more than a few), and this silence, or even worse – the hesitation sounds you will probably produce while trying to remember that piece of information (erm, hm, or plain “é….”, which by the way is a hesitation sound in Portuguese, not in English) – will come off as lack of fluency.

My point is: think quality, not quantity. If you have the markers for level 4 and you know the test format inside out , you will certainly pass without problem, even if you stay a short time in front of the examiner. On the other hand, a long test doesn’t necessarily mean a good result.

So here go some tips:

a) Tell the truth, nothing but the truth, but NOT THE WHOLE truth.

b) Give prompt and informative answers, using the words and grammar you feel comfortable with.

c) If you forget some vocabulary (you will forget some terms, trust me), don’t try to remember it,  just explain it in other words.

d) If you don’t understand a question, negotiate with the examiner until you are able to answer it appropriately. Don’t answer any questions you haven’t understood.

e) If you realize you’ve made a mistake, correct yourself. Self-correction is a sign that the speaker is confident in their English, not the contrary.

Other than that, what can I say? Keep studying so you can achieve your level 4 – and keep it!

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Confusing words: due to x because (of)

After “right…”, “why?” is the most frequent word said by an examiner when applying the ANAC test. The examiner always wants to give an opportunity for the candidate to speak a little longer, to develop the topic and provide the examiner with a long enough sample to be able to assess his or her English proficiency.

Pilots just love using the expression “due to” to explain why something happened, or the cause of some problem or failure. But is it always appropriate? Let’s see.

Basically, “due to” must be followed by a noun, nbot a complete sentence, with subject, verb and complement.

“We had to land as soon as possible due to an engine fire”, and NOT
“We had to land as soon as possible due to the engine was on fire”

“Because”, on the other hand, must be followed by a sentence with a subject and a verb, as seen in the example below:

“We shut down engine number one because it was vibrating”, and NOT
“We shut down engine number one because vibration”.

What about “because of”? Well, it follows the same rule as “due to”, so it must be followed by a noun.

“We couldn’t take off because of the rain”, and NOT
“We couldn’t take off because of it was raining”

Why does it work like this? Just because!

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A prova da ANAC mudou?

“Anda rolando uma AFA”…

É assim que meus alunos começam a frase quando querem que eu confirme alguma informação a respeito das exigências da ANAC -na verdade, da OACI (estou escrevendo em português, e é assim que chamamos a ICAO nas línguas latinas).

Pois bem, “anda rolando uma AFA” de que a prova da ANAC mudou, que tem novas exigências, e tem até curso de inglês capitalizando em cima disso…

Vamos direto ao ponto: A PROVA DA ANAC NÃO MUDOU. Continua igualzinha. O mesmo formato, a mesma duração, os mesmos critérios de avaliação, o mesmo nível de exigência.

Esta é a página da ANAC que trata da Proficiência Lingüística. Nela, encontra-se este outro link, que leva a uma explicação detalhada do Santos Dumont English Assessment, ou “prova da ANAC”, para os íntimos.

Para quem tem curiosidade de saber como é a prova, há um MOCK disponível , ou seja, uma versão simulada, que não está sendo utilizada pelos examinadores no momento, mas é exatamente o “script” que eles têm à sua frente enquanto estão aplicando a prova nos pilotos. E continua idêntico ao que sempre foi, portanto essa “informação”, ou desinformação, não tem nenhum embasamento na realidade.

Então, não dê ouvidos a blá blá blá e concentre-se nos seus estudos, que você ganha mais!

Então, por que tem pilotos indo fazer a prova em Madri? Oras, eu já estive em Madri, tenho até parentes lá, e é uma cidade linda. Quem sabe eles estão indo visitar A Plaza Mayor, La Puerta del Sol, ou o Museo del Prado, né? Aliás, eu recomendo a visita, são todos lugares fantásticos!

Agora, se você estiver precisando de ajuda para praticar para a prova da ANAC, entre em contato para fazermos algumas aulas! Eu também continuo a mesma, igualzinha…

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Typical pilot mistake: To…to

Of course I had come across this mistake before, but it was only when I was an ANAC Examiner at TAM that I realized how frequently people make it.

Pilots said “I was flying to London to São Paulo”, when what they really meant was “I was flying from London to São Paulo”.

Remember: you always (go/ drive/ fly/ travel/ etc) FROM one place TO another place.

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Typical pilot mistake: cabin

First of all, the word ‘cabin‘ refers to the passenger cabin, not to the cockpit.

Second and most important, it’s pronounced /.bin/ Oo

Let’s practice!

What other words do you find difficult to pronounce?

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Typical pilot mistake: “emergency”

If you’re a baker, you should know how to pronounce the word “bread”. It might be useful to know how to pronounce “burnt”, just in case things don’t happen as they should. If you’re a teacher, you’ll know how to pronounce “mistake”, after all you’ll be teaching human beings; a dentist will certainly know how to pronounce “cavity”, for cavities are quite an important part of their job… Can you see where I’m going?

In my 11 years teaching pilots, I’ve always been baffled by the fact that a lot of you don’t know how to pronouce the word “emergency”. Of course, no one wants an emergency to happen to them. But as far as I know, airline pilots have to undergo flight simulator training once a year, and I’m pretty sure you practice a lot of emergency procedures there… And don’t you think this word might come up during your ICAO test interview? And what if you need to use it when flying abroad?

Well, to end this problem once and for all, let us all say it together: /i.mãr.djãn.ci/. Again! /i.mãr.djãn.ci/. One more time for good measure: /i.mãr.djãn.ci/.

Very good! Now, let’s hope you never have one in real life!

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Se você é padeiro, deve saber como se pronuncia a palavra “bread” (pão). Também pode ser útil saber a pronúncia da palavra “burnt” (queimado), apenas para o caso de as coisas não saírem como planejado. Se for professor, você sabe como pronunciar “mistake” (erro), afinal dá aulas para humanos; um dentista certamente sabe como falar  “cavity” (cárie), pois cáries são uma parte muito importante de seu trabalho… Vocês estão vendo onde quero chegar?

Em meus 11 anos treinando pilotos, sempre fiquei impressionada com o fato de tantos de vocês não saberem como se pronuncia a palavra “emergency”. É claro, ninguém quer ter uma emergência. Mas até onde eu sei, pilotos de companhias aéreas tem que passar por um treinamento anual no simulador de voo, e tenho quase certeza de que vocês praticam muitos procedimentos de emergência lá… E você não acha que esta palavra pode aparecer na sua entrevista da prova da ICAO? E se você precisar usá-la quando estiver voando fora do país?

Bom, então para acabar com o problema de uma vez por todas, vamos dizer todos juntos: /i.mãr.djãn.ci/. De novo! /i.mãr.djãn.ci/. Mais uma vez para arrematar: /i.mãr.djãn.ci/.

Muito bom! Agora, vamos torcer para você nunca ter uma na vida real!

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Typical pilot mistake: “don’t have conditions to…”

Some mistakes are typical to a group of professionals, probably because all of them have access to similar training materials, manuals, and deal with similar equipment and situations. Pilots have several peculiar mistakes, and I’m going to try to address them slowly from now on…

The first typical pilot mistake we’re going to see is: “I don’t have conditions to…”. The origin of this error is clearly a wrong translation from Portuguese, the mother tongue of most of the pilots I teach. Pilots tend to use this expression mistakenly when they want to say that it’s impossible for them to do something, for example when it would be impossible for them to land because of the bad weather, or when it wouldn’t be possible for them to take a certain action for some reason.

To make this idea sound more natural in English, the best solution is to use either one of the following expressions: “I’m unable to…” or “I’m not able to”. Of course, the verb TO BE has to be changed according to the subject and to the context (adjusting singular x plural and verb tense), but this would sound better and still carry the same meaning.

Let’s see some sample sentences:

“It was raining so hard that we were unable to land at our destination”.

“If I’m not able to put out the fire, I will land immediately”.

Can you think of other examples? Let’s practice in class!

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Erro típico: “don’t have conditions to…”

Alguns erros são típicos de um grupo de profissionais, provavelmente porque todos eles têm acesso a materiais e manuais de treinamento similares, e lidam com equipamentos e situações semelhantes. Pilotos têm diversos erros peculiares, e vou tentar tratar deles devagar de agora em diante…

O primeiro erro típico de pilotos que veremos é: “I don’t have conditions to…”. A origem desse erro é claramente uma tradução errônea do português, a língua materna da maioria dos pilotos a quem dou aulas. Os pilotos tendem a utilizar essa expressão de maneira equivocada quando querem dizer que é impossível fazer algo, como por exemplo, quando não teriam condições de pousar devido ao mau tempo, ou quando não seria pssível tomar determinada atitude por alguma razão.

Para que essa ideia soe mais natural em inglês, a melhor solução é usar uma das duas expressões a seguir: “I’m unable to…” ou “I’m not able to…”. É claro, o verbo TO BE tem que ser adaptado de acordo com o sujeito e o contexto (ajustando singular x plural e o tempo verbal), mas soaria melhor e ainda teria o mesmo sentido.

Veja exemplos de uso:

“It was raining so hard that we were unable to land at our destination”.

“If I’m not able to put out the fire, I will land immediately”.

Você consegue pensar em outros exemplos? Vamos praticar em aula!

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