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Zone36's avatar

What kind of Japanese do flight attendants use in flight?

Asked by Zone36 (408 points ) February 18th, 2011

I’m looking at becoming a Japanese speaking flight attendant. Can anyone tell me or show me a site that has common phrases or announcements they have to make?

If you are a flight attendant, was there a language test for you and what was it like? What did they ask or what did you have to say or read?

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9 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

If you are working at any Japanese company they will rate your ability based upon the Japanese :Language Proficiency Test :
Depending upon the company Level 4 (good beginner) might be acceptable if you are a foreigner.
Study guides are readily available.
Gambatte! 頑張って (Good luck! Go for it!)

ashesg's avatar

My mother became a flight attendant (although in her native language), and she was given a lot of papers to study from before her test. She had to memorize a lot of facts and airport codes and such, as well as the whole speech on safety (there are two safety exits located at the front and the back of the aircraft…). Can’t say much more than the last post on the Japanese, though most Japanese jobs require higher than a level 4. I’ve heard level 2 is the minimum for jobs actually in Japan. Again, I don’t know anything about Japanese flight attendants, so this is really just speculation.

Zone36's avatar

I’ve already taken up to level two of the JLPT. But when I think about it, I’ve never really thought about what they say on the plane and some terms like that. I think I know how to say there are two emergency exits located in the front and back of the aircraft, but I know it won’t be the proper way of saying it.

ETpro's avatar

High Japanese?

Jeruba's avatar

@Zone36, won’t the airline supply a script for you to memorize?

Ron_C's avatar

On my flights, they spoke English.

@ETpro “high Japanese” good one!

geeky_mama's avatar

It’s polite business Japanese that they use to make announcements.
That is, the same sort of honorifics and expressions that you’d make to anyone that is your customer.
Japanese has very rigid rules around how you communicate based on hierarchical levels..and there are at least 3 separate levels (not counting the special “Imperial” Japanese which is apparently what you’d need to know to converse with the Japanese Royal family..).

Example of the three levels:
“Please sit down.” (in English)

If you’re my “junior” or I’m older than you (think: mother talking to child, mentor talking to junior employee) I’d just say: 座って (Suwatte)
Which is essentially just the command to sit down.

If you’re my equal and we’re friends (casual) I’d say: 座って、ね or 座ってください
(suwatte ne) or (suwatte kudasai) (Please, sit.)

If you’re my guest / customer or senior to me I’d use the honorific form: どうぞお座りなさい (doozo, osuwarinasai.) Which is essentially: “Please take a seat.”
This is how a Japanese flight attendant would speak to the flying public. Or, a department store employee would talk to a customer, etc.

FWIW—every airline I travel only has Japanese natives making the Japanese announcements on the plane. It’s pretty standard procedure these days to have a bilingual attendent (native speaking Japanese with English fluency) as a “translator” – 1 each for coach and business class.
Recently, my flights to Japan also include a Chinese speaking translator, too.

The only things the English-speaking attendants need to be able to say to the Japanese speaking folks on the plane are:
“Ko-hi, oocha?” (Coffee? Tea?)

That said, I took up to ni-kyu (level two of JLPT) and Delta (and the former Northwest Airlines) has tried to recruit me in the past but you wouldn’t believe how bad the pay is (was?)! Literally, last time a job recruiter contacted me the starting salary info was so abysmally low (in the 20K range annually…I’m thinking it was like $27K near the top of that starting range) I felt sure one could work at McDonalds and make more.

Also, for most major US carriers..the attendants that get the long haul international flights are those with decades of seniority. I don’t mean this as a discouragement to your plans..but even if you were multilingual, you might not get those routes. My stepmom’s best friend has over 20 years as an attendant w/ a major US airline and does long-haul routes now that take her across the Atlantic. According to what she’s told me she had to wait well over a decade to get those “prime” long haul slots and she’s multilingual (French, German, English) to boot.

LuckyGuy's avatar

For those of you who didn’t recognize it in @geeky_mama ‘s answer, level “Ni-kyu (level two of JLPT)” means she is very knowledgeable. We all should bow to her competency. (Honest!)

geeky_mama's avatar

@worriedguy..actually..it means I’m lazy. I shoulda taken the level 1..but I stopped working as a translator and found more lucrative work in s/w localization where no one cared about JLPT. ;)

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