Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 January 2018
Aviation English proficiency is a core competency in the global air traffic controller profession. There is, however, growing concern about the current ineffective paper-based assessment methods and the severe lack of interactive online testing for such a critical profession, one that should be ideally assessed in an authentic task and situation (Alderson, 2010; Douglas, 2013). The tests, which lack validity and authenticity, cannot capture how knowledge of aviation English communication and strategic competence are used through valid means and, therefore, inevitably fail to predict how test takers actually perform in the target language use situations (Douglas, 2000). In the present study, the researcher examines the potential use of verbal report data produced by test takers interacting in a virtual testing environment. The research seeks to answer two specific questions: (a) What types of strategies are used in the virtual aviation English task performance? and (b) How can the assessed strategies be interpreted in relation to test takers’ performance? The analysis of the test takers’ verbal reports from stimulated recalls indicates that various cognitive, metacognitive, and communication strategies were used while performing the Virtual Interactive Tasks for Aviation English Assessment, and that there is a positive relationship between the total number of cognitive and metacognitive strategies adopted and the test scores. The findings suggest that the use of an immersive interface and simulated tasks in a virtual world could provide language learners with more authentic opportunities to perform the target tasks and promote strategic, as well as linguistic, competence.