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The Future Of Airline Language & Communication Training

The Future of Airline Language & Communication Training

The airline industry is recovering after some difficult years in the pandemic. Travel demand is increasing, airlines are gradually rehiring, and companies are investing more deeply in their employees to boost retention and satisfaction. 

But the recovery has faced some turbulence, and problems that existed before the pandemic continue to cause issues in airline operations – in particular, the issue of communication.

Airlines quite literally operate across the world. They deal with people and logistics in different languages, and to unify processes, English is the primary language.

But for many people speaking English as a second language, it can be hard to fully express themselves, especially for workers like mechanics and pilots who have to use more technical terminology.

Beyond English though, workers also struggle to adapt their communication according to contexts and recipients, as well as to use communication tools effectively. In the airline industry, these gaps in communication can have bad repercussions for both safety and profit margins. 

Fortunately, airlines are taking action (as well as flight). Here’s what the future of language training and communication skills in the airline industry looks like.

Artificial intelligence (AI) to facilitate English learning

One analysis revealed that English language proficiency was a factor for 75% of communication problems among foreign aircraft and 29% of incidents with US-English aircraft. 

AI is already at play in various areas of the aviation sector, and the technology can significantly help employees improve their English and general communication skills moving forward. 

Tools like ELSA for Business, powered by AI, allow workers to receive immediate, personalized feedback about their English speaking and communication skills. Users can receive detailed feedback on their pronunciation, fluency, grammar, vocabulary, and intonation. AI tools are especially beneficial in the airline industry because they can serve large teams and can be accessed directly from employees’ devices. 

Not to mention, real-time analytics gives airlines a clear overview of individuals’ progress and highlights where additional support is needed. 

Content can also be aligned to the airline industry, so employees become more confident in communicating with terms and phrases that they actually use. 

With ELSA, for example, 95% of learners expressed higher confidence when speaking English after using the app for only ten minutes a day for three months.

Technology will be an essential educational resource

Research shows that technology can be a positive influence on language learning. In such an innovative space like aviation, it makes sense that technology will be the foundation for stronger communication. 

That’s why airlines have embraced solutions such as interactive learning platforms, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), and speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP).

Interactive language learning platforms can incorporate audio, video, and games to assist employees in developing their language and communication skills. These platforms can be gamified to encourage use and can be accessed anytime, anywhere – which is ideal for the fast-paced world of aviation. 

Meanwhile, VR and AR are constructing more immersive language training experiences. Cabin crew can practice conversations with passengers and colleagues in a controlled, risk-free setting and get real-time performance feedback.

Elsewhere, speech recognition and NLP allow for automatic language proficiency evaluations. That means airline staff members can speak on voice-enabled devices and receive customized recommendations. This type of technology is valuable for employees who need to give long, precise instructions or deliver complex information. For example, to cabin crew when a flight is cancelled or delayed or to mechanics when debriefing managers.

Power skills will be a priority

The pandemic sparked a shift in what businesses and employees believe are the most important skills. Employees want skills that let them evolve in their roles and boost their employability in the future. Employers wish to have skills that keep them ahead of competitors and foster productivity. Both of these perspectives can be realized with “power skills”.

Power skills (also known as “soft skills”) are transferable competencies that empower people to easily adapt to changing environments. Communication is a notable power skill, whether speaking, listening, or writing. Other skills in this group include collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and digital literacy. 

Coaching and e-learning are advancing power skills in the airline industry, with players asking employees to role-play with one another, rehearse public speaking, and enact active and empathetic listening more often.

Recruiters in the airline sector will likely choose to bring on board new candidates that display power skills. In fact, 93% of hiring managers say that power skills are crucial when making hiring decisions. With a fresh intake of power-skilled workers, airlines can use new hires’ expertise to optimize training companywide.

Specialized training programs will be the norm

The airline industry is doubling down on language and communication skills training with specialized programs. These curated programs focus on developing language skills, cultural awareness, and international connections. They feature tailored language modules that reflect the industry’s business goals and customer expectations. 

Likewise, the modules may include training around niche vocabulary, such as emergency procedures and passenger service interactions.

Cultural sensitivity training will equally be a component of specialized programs. With more people from diverse backgrounds traveling by air and working in aviation, employees need to understand cultural nuances, etiquette, and customs. 

This awareness will shape a more respectful and inclusive working environment, plus a better experience for more customers.

In the coming years, language training and communication skills will undoubtedly reach new heights in the airline industry. 

After the disruption of the pandemic, aviation has had to become extra resilient and commit to training that protects the sector and its people today and down the line. Considering that excellent communication will always be necessary in business, airlines that take steps to improve it now will be the most successful and secure.

Ready for your airline employees’ English capabilities to take off? 

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