As cabin crew members at work deal with a number of people from different nationalities almost every single day of their lives, it’s somewhat expected of them to be multilingual and even if not be able to communicate in passenger’s native language, at least speak fluent English. However, is that really the case? Do airlines prefer applicants who have a language skill in hand? These are some of the topics I’d like to cover in this article.
In order to prevent accidents and improve communication, authorities established English as the official language of aviation. All procedures, emergency processes and related on board items should be in English. This definitely allows flights to be safer, smoother and more comfortable for everyone on board.
Consequently, the level of English language of any crew member is tested prior to starting work. This happens by written or oral exams and guarantees that communication with other crew members, airport staff as well as passengers is excellent.
Other preferred languages
Large, commercial airlines usually prefer their staff to speak a certain second language depending on the region a flight attendant will be working. An example of this could be Europe, where the preferred languages are, apart from English of course, French (which can be also widely used in Africa), German and Italian. Flying on privately chartered or business planes is slightly different, as the two languages which are requested most often are Russian and Arabic.
Nevertheless, working as a flight attendant is very similar to perhaps any other job in the world – a knowledge of any second language won’t hurt and can only help you in your application. Being able to communicate efficiently not only with the passengers, but also with other crew members is an extremely important part of being a steward or stewardess.
Do I need to be fluent?
If you travel to a certain destination regularly and often, you’ll most likely pick up some of its language. Even if it’s just a few simple phrases, being able to say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ or ‘you’re welcome’ to a passenger in their native language, shows not only your professionalism, but also respect to their culture, and this small gesture will certainly be appreciated. Indeed, fluency isn’t necessary. Remember, you are not aiming to become a professional language interpreter or a translator working for a translation agency. Such professionals are required to have an advanced and extensive knowledge of a language.
Other aspects of language learning
Someone once said that to possess another language is to possess another soul. As you can see, being able to communicate in a foreign language can be extremely beneficial in your professional life, but you can also translate your skills onto the personal life. Whether you are on holiday, visiting friends and family or even enjoying a foreign music or film – the language you have learnt and which you use daily while working, will bring you a number of other benefits outside of your job too!
So, apart from English, it is extremely advantageous to possess another, foreign language when working for an airline. Different airlines have different language requirements and therefore it is important to check their specific wants before applying for a job there.