March 2003: Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs)
Council adopted ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements relating to the language proficiency in international civil aviation. With these amendments, the achievement and demonstration of Operational Level 4 of the ICAO Rating Scale is mandatory for all air traffic controllers and pilots involved in international traffic.
Annex 1 Personnel Licensing;
Annex 6 Operation of Aircraft;
Annex 10 Aeronautical Telecommunications;
Annex 11 Air Traffic Services, and Procedures for Air Navigation Services;
Air Traffic Management (PANS-ATM, Doc 4444).
Publication of Doc. 9835: ?Manual on the Implementation of ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements?
Since the publication of ?ICAO Language Proficiency Rating Scale?, in March 2003, a number of attempts have been made to establish a correlation with other widely used English language rating systems (e.g. Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Test Of English for International Communication (TOEIC), Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Common European Framework, etc).
Although some qualified general correlations may be made in certain areas of language use, it is not
possible to make an overall correlation. The scope and focus of the ICAO Language Proficiency Rating
Scale are quite specific and unique in several important ways.
only addresses spoken language (speaking and listening); it does not address reading and writing skills although almost all other scales do;
has a distinct aviation focus; it addresses the use of language in a work-related, aviation context;
does not target grammatical perfection or mother tongue pronunciation; grammar, syntax, vocabulary and pronunciation are judged primarily to the extent they do not interfere with effective oral communication.
The final rating is not the average or aggregate of the ratings in each of the six ICAO language proficiency skills, but the lowest of these six ratings; this means that candidates need to get a minimum grade 4 (four) in every language skill in order to certify Operational Level IV.
In other words, in the final analysis, the question that has to be answered is "Would the pilot or air traffic controller be able to communicate successfully and with relative ease in case of complications or unexpected turn of events?".
The ICAO Language Proficiency Rating Scale and Part III of Appendix A of Doc 9835 provide clarification of the six language proficiency skills and the criteria for each level.