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Delta Language Testing Information

Expected Performance of Program Participants

Flight attendants participating in the Language Program are offered a unique set of benefits. Due to these benefits, not offered the regular flight attendants, the performance of the Language Program participants must be above reproach at all times.

During the past two decades, language-qualified flight attendants have performed admirably and have positioned Delta Air Lines as a leader in terms of professional in-flight language support. In an effort to maintain our strong competitive position and due to increased customer expectations, the following performance standards have been developed.The performance standards will assist you in achieving maximum exposure to our foreign customers and should be considered the bench mark for any language qualified flight attendant’s performance.

Language qualified flight attendants operating in a priority language position are expected at all times to:

  • Provide safety, marketing and general public address announcements as published by the Company. Utilizing privately translated P.A.s or P.A.s from other carriers is not considered acceptable.
  • Provide our customers consistently with translations of P.A.s made from the cockpit.
  • Above and beyond regular flight attendant duties, seek out and with a formal introduction advise as many as possible of our foreign customers (especially our FC and BC customers) of the availability of language-qualified flight attendants onboard
  • Proactively engage in conversation with as many of our foreign customers (in the target language) as possible.
  • Support the entire onboard team by offering to assist in more than one cabin during the flight hence maintaining maximum language coverage.


Language Proficiency Assessment Parameters

The entire assessment process will not last more than 30 minutes. After the initial introduction, the assessment will be conducted entirely in the target language and will be recorded.

The evaluation will start with a series of personal and general questions. Each question is designed to test a particular language objective (for example, describing a hypothetical situation, or adjusting the formality of one’s speech). Several role-play questions are included in this section as well. Questions incorporate common vocabulary and situations associated with a typical Delta flight.

The next part will consist of two announcements that the flight attendant would routinely make on an international flight.

The last part of the assessment will consist of performing a short interpretation of announcements from English to the target language. The flight attendant should bring a notepad and pen with them to jot down notes during the interpretation section of the test.

Following the performance, the ALTA evaluator will assess the flight’s attendant ability based on guidelines determined by ALTA.

Your evaluation will result in one of four Delta Air Lines approved qualification terms:

  • Qualified = 10 year qualification term
  • Not Qualified = no qualification term

The qualification terms will be based on your performance in the following Delta Air Lines approved categories:

  • Comprehension
  • Communication
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Interpretation

If a flight attendant fails to meet the proficiency standards as outlined in this booklet, a three-month study/waiting period will commence from the date the test was administered. Additional testing sessions may not be requested during this 90 day period.

Flight attendants who have entered the International Program based on their ability to speak a foreign language (i.e. holding a language slot), will be removed from the International Program with the expiration of their language qualification. Routine conversion of a language slot holder’s status to regular slot holder status, to ensure continued International Program participation will not occur. Available Regular slots will be awarded in seniority order to any flight attendant who has submitted an International slot request. Language slot holders may request a regular slot at any time according to published International Program parameters.

The flight attendant will have the ability to view and discuss his/her evaluation with his/her local Language Supervisor. To ensure the privacy of our contracted evaluators and the overall integrity of the Language Program, only General Office personnel will have direct contact with the evaluator group. The local Language Supervisor will always be the immediate source of policy and procedure clarification and should be utilized whenever questions arise.



The evaluators are all professional, educated, native speakers who are thoroughly familiar with the target language. They have all been carefully trained in spoken language evaluation based on the Delta Air Lines approved criteria.

Delta Approved Criteria Comprehension



Range of comprehension including colloquial expressions and figures of speech.

  • Qualified – Displays wide range of comprehension and can respond to most idiomatic expressions.
  • Not Qualified – Fails to comprehend or respond to more than one third of the questions/situations presented. Comprehension is limited to routine and general topics.



Grammatical structures such as conditional and subjunctive.

  • Qualified –  Makes occasional mistakes in understanding long and complex structures.
  • Not Qualified – Does not understand most complex structures. Often needs clarification, repetition or simplification.



Understanding of speakers at normal rate. Understanding of natives with regional accents

  • Qualified – Follows native speech that has not been adjusted for speed but with slight difficulty. Has little difficulty with rapidly speaking natives with strong regional accents.
  • Not Qualified – Needs evaluator to speak very slowly in order to understand. Has considerable difficulty with rapidly speaking natives with strong regional accents.


Delta Approved Criteria Communication



Ease and fluidity in speaking. Self expression and clarity of ideas.

  • Qualified – Speech is almost effortless and quite smooth, although obviously dealing with an acquired language. The discourse is well organized. Candidate expresses him/herself well but is obviously not a native speaker. Ideas are adequately clear but with some vagueness.
  • Not Qualified – Continuity and quantity of speech is limited and grammatical errors frequently occur. Candidate fails to adequately express him/herself. Ideas are not understood.



Utilization of variety of linguistic devices – gerunds, contractions. Speech is cohesive with no exceptions.

  • Qualified – Can sustain a wide variety of linguistic devices. Speech is cohesive but at times flight attendant uses expressions that are understood but are not used in target language.
  • Not Qualified – Linguistic devices very limited. Speech is not cohesive and evaluator must struggle to understand.



Traces of regional or native accents. Pronunciation.

  • Qualified – Communication is largely independent and confident but noticeable non-native or very regional. Makes only slight pronunciation errors.
  • Not Qualified – Accent is heavy, causing difficulty in comprehension. Candidate has many pronunciation errors and is very difficult to understand.




  • Qualified – Speaks readily with occasional pauses that affect only minimally continuity of speech and speaks at a conversational rate.
  • Not Qualified – Numerous false starts, self corrections and hesitations demonstrate a general inability to effectively communicate in the target language.


Delta Approved Criteria Grammar


Linguistic Grammatical Structures

Knowledge of complex linguistic structures. Grammatical mistakes involving pronouns, prepositions, adverbs, adjectives, sentence order, etc.

  • Qualified – Displays structural accuracy and flexibility near that of a native speaker; range and control is accurate and instinctive. Some grammatical mistakes but these do not result in ambiguity or confusion.
  • Not Qualified – Inadequate knowledge of in-depth linguistic structures. Grammatical mistakes are frequent to such a degree that the speaker is not understood.



Correct conjugation in all tenses. Correct subject-verb agreement. Mood and Voice.

  • Qualified – Conjugates common tenses well but has some difficulty with less common ones. Some problems with agreement. Some problems with mood and voice.
  • Not Qualified – Avoids complex verb tenses and when used makes frequent mistakes. Many errors with agreement, mood and voice.



Gender (when applicable). Cases (when applicable).

  • Qualified – Relatively few errors with gender. Relatively few errors with cases.
  • Not Qualified – Insufficient knowledge of gender. Insufficient knowledge of case system.


Delta Approved Criteria Vocabulary



Range. Precision.

  • Qualified – Displays a broad range of vocabulary. Displays minor and infrequent errors in vocabulary usage. Avoids rough slang.
  • Not Qualified – Limited and imprecise vocabulary leads to complete misunderstanding. Invents words.


Aviation Terminology

  • Qualified – Has a good knowledge of aviation vocabulary.
  • Not Qualified – Inadequate knowledge of aviation vocabulary to perform job.

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