ELEMENTARY APPROACH TO THE MAIN TYPES OF AIRCRAFT AND
THEIR DISTINCTIVE MACRO-STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS
Teachers: Carmen Sancho Guinda (Dpto. Lingüística Aplicada), under the supervision of
Miguel Ángel Astiz Suárez & Jesús López Díez (Dpto. de Vehículos Aeroespaciales),
ETSI Aeronáuticos, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.
Students´age: 18-21 years old
Student´s language level (CEFR): B1-C1 (average)
Subject: Idioma Técnico Moderno (2nd year, 2nd quarter)
Module: Elementary approach to types of aircraft and their distinctive macrostructural
Unit title: “Basic identification of the hangar inventory” (8 hours = 4 x 2-hour sessions)
Comments: Experimental insertion of disciplinary contents in a linguistic subject, with the
aim of reversing gradually the procedure and imparting technical free choice subjects in
English with a similar methodology.
Unit description: Reinforcement of the introduction to aircraft being provided in the 1styear subject “Aeronaves y vehículos espaciales” since 1998, but focusing only on
macroanatomical and functional aspects, with special emphasis on a learner-centered
dynamics involving: a) inductive learning, b) peer scaffolding (e.g. mutual instruction,
correction and testing), c) the development of more active study skills (Internet search,
creation of discussion groups, expression of opinion, oral presentations, etc.), d) the
acquisition of technical lexical terms in English, together with the structures and
communicative strategies necessary to convey disciplinary information. Since the
technical syllabus is highly theoretical and subsequent contacts with aircraft are
postponed until the 4th or 5th years, such an approach may prove very motivating.
Goals: Partial review of the contents imparted in “Aeronaves y vehículos aeroespaciales”
during the previous school year, but from a historical and more tangible perspective. In
addition, the encouragement of the learning methodology described above.
Disciplinary 1) Identify the aircraft models of the school hangar with the major
2) Identify their main macrostructural components and, according to
them, predict/identify function, behaviour, performance, etc.
3) Learn the history behind the school hangar models. Justify/Explain (if possible)
their past and/or present uses.
Pedagogical 1) Be able to take down relevant oral information.
2) Be able to look for and select information from diverse sources in
the target language (books, journals, the Internet, etc.) practising
scanning and skimming reading skills as well as summarising techniques (in the
form of key words, tables, outlines, flow charts, diagrams, etc.).
3) Be able to interpret graphic information and express the interpretation orally and
4) Organize and participate efficiently in study, work and discussion groups.
Linguistic 1) Review and practice the language (lexis, grammatical & rhetorical structures) of
description, argumentation, and narrative.
2) Review and practice the language of subordinate functions like comparison and
contrast, definition, classification, expression of cause and effect, hypothesis,
prediction, and inference.
3) Acquire the L2 technical vocabulary involved.
4) Develop agility in oral presentations
Students workload: They will be requested to a) participate actively in brainstorming and
discussion sessions, as well as in group tasks, b) look for demanded information and
provide it & present it orally and in written form (summarized) to the class, c) do the
exercises provided, c) take a final quiz on the contents studied (?)
Resources & materials:
Common to students & teacher
Internet, any technical dictionaries, technical
aeronautical manuals and journals (from the school library & the Linguistics and
Aerospatial Vehicles Dpts.).
Initial quiz, teacher´s dossier, worksheets, final test (?)
Brief summaries of their information search and handouts
with the outline of their oral presentation.
Learning environments: Initial session at the school hangar, subsequent ones in the
classroom, and at the Calculus Center at the ETSIA/home (for Internet search)
Contents: 1) Guided visit to the school hangar. General overview of the main aircraft
types, 2) parts of the airplane (light and military), structural elements and forces acting
on them, 3) Helicopters (structural elements and forces acting on them), 4) Hovercraft
(structural elements and forces acting on them), 5) History and uses related to each type.
Lesson plans (4 2-hour sessions)
Session 1 (2h) (Learning environment = hangar)
1) In situ brainstorming session: Teacher asks students warming-up questions about the
types of aircraft they see & asks them to point at obvious structural differences between
them and predict functions & behavior (5-10´)
2) Teacher elicits information (if any) from the previous year visit about the models at
3) Teacher passes a quiz on basic concepts concerning aircraft types (10-15´).
3) Peer correction on the spot (10´)
4) Aeronautics or L2 Teacher explains and contrasts the anatomical & functional
features of each displayed aircraft in depth (without mentioning the exact models) (40’).
Students may take notes.
5) Teacher provides students with simple comprehension exercises (matching,
true/false, gapped summary of the aeronautical presentation. Students fill it in in situ
(15-20´) To be turned in for assessment
6) Creation of study/work groups + assignment of searches (10-15´):
North American T-6D Texan
Northrop CASA F5-A
Helicopter Alouette 3 Astazou
Collective negotiation of assessment parameters for the oral presentation Desirable
points: content (command of the subject/security, clarity, organization, visuals) +
language (fluency, grammar, phonetics, body language…). Teacher may facilitate tips
for an efficient presentation later on (e.g. overall rhetorical strategies + connectors, etc.).
Oral presentation in sessions 3 and 4 (with obligatory participation of every group
member) (20’ max.) Points to be touched on: anatomical description and distinctive
features (Teacher may provide listeners with diagrams, together with the outline),
functions & history of the model.
Handing in of written summary (1 sheet max.) + talk outline
Session 2 (2h) (Learning environment = Calculus Center + library + classroom)
Optional Internet search (1h) at the Calculus Center (if not at home) and/or at the school
Classroom briefing (1h) Here students gather & organize their materials, assign
points to each group member, and start elaborating a glossary—or at least a list—of the
terms they will be using.
Session 3 (2h) (Learning environment = classroom)
Oral presentations (20’each, with 10´ for questions) with simultaneous peer evaluation
(subsequent if students decide to take notes. Teacher facilitates a grading grid with the
parameters negotiated in Session 1.
Session 4 (2h) (Learning environment = classroom)
Completion of the gapped summaries from the presentations + simple extra
recapitulating exercises. (1h)
Class debate on the presentations & on the most interesting aircraft model. Teacher may
facilitate tips for expressing opinion. (1h)
Assessment: Continuous through participation, exercises, presentation feedback sheets
(gapped summaries), and final presentation performance.
Bibliography & Sitography:
Barnard, R.H. & D.R. Philpott (1989/1991). Aircraft Flight. A Description of the
Gunston, B. (1988). A Century of Flight. London: Brian Todd Publishing House.
Kermode, A.C. (1970/1989). Flight Without Formulae. Hong-Kong: Longman, 5th ed.
Northrop F-5A “Freedom Fighter”
Northrop F-5A “Freedom Fighter”
Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter
North American Harvard / T-6D Texan
North American T6 Harvard
T6D Mosquito and TACP Jeep
SA-316/SA-39 Alouette III
News:The Alouette 3 celebrates 40 years
Hovercraft History & Hovercraft Museum Website Index
The history of the Hovercraft-ChristopherCockerell
Science Experiment-Build a real working hovercraft
Science fair project: vacuum cleaner powered, large simple hovercraft