Maritime Tests of English Language

At present no international or European standard for Maritime English exists; therefore MarTEL has been created as a system of Maritime Tests of English Language.

This project intends to establish a set of standards by transfer of innovation from existing English language standards and maritime English model courses such as the IMO’s SMCP (Standard Maritime Communication Phrases). It was noted that deficiencies in maritime English caused accidents and therefore needed to be taught seriously in the basic and the main training of all chapters of the IMO’s STCW Code of practice.

The main aim of MarTEL is to develop a series of Maritime English language standards incorporating the IMO’s SMCP, at three different standards.

  1. Foundation – Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced
  2. Officer – Deck and Engineering
  3. Senior Officers – Deck and Engineering, also senior officers at port and pilots

The tests will be piloted in at least two partner countries (Turkey and the UK). The other partner countries with experience in developing and testing of maritime English will be encouraged to pilot the tests in their own institutions.

The core material outcomes are;

  1. The Foundation standards which include tests at three levels of proficiency: Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced. All levels will include active skills i.e. Speaking, Comprehension and Writing. The content would be based on active learning and on maritime terminology and usage with less emphasis on grammar. The Foundation test at advanced level will benchmark the well-known English qualification standards TOEFL 500 and IELTS 5.5 in terms of testing methods rather than their contents.
  2. The Officer standards will be based on TOEFL 550 and IELTS 6.0 standards but content will be primarily based on Navigation English and Marine Engineering English. These tests will focus on all skills but with less emphasis on grammar.
  3. The Senior Officers standards will be equivalent to TOEFL 600 or IELTS 6.6. For the senior officers in charge of vessels over 3000 GRT, the standard will include a section on language requirements for these vessels and the term Unlimited will be added to the end of the qualification designation. All standards for Officer and Senior Officer Levels will have different weights on different skills and different proficiency requirements at different ranks and duties. For example, a Chief Engineer should be competent on comprehension (especially reading) and writing but a more moderate level of speaking may be tolerated. The success would lead to vocational qualifications in Maritime English and usage which is expected to be recognised Europe-wide.

To ensure these developments are implemented effectively it is proposed to:

  • develop supporting training programmes for the intended standards by formation of pilot groups initially in one of the partner countries and then re-run them and/or validate them in other partner countries,
  • to establish a network of transnational partners to support the development of the project, to surpass the minimum of standard of maritime English set by IMO,
  • to design a programme for the trainers and assessors development, and their certification, for application of the intended standards and subsequent tests, as well as for the internal assessment and verification process, in line with European vocational qualifications for Assessors and Verifiers,
  • to facilitate secondment of trainers and assessors to partners’ establishments on short assignments in order to familiarise the trainers and assessors with the necessary skills and good practice,
  • to form a committee to monitor the progress and make the necessary changes when required, applying a quality manual instigated in the course of developing this proposal,
  • to develop bridges for maritime personnel, through these standards so that they can take advantage of other programmes, some leading to higher vocational qualifications.

All tests for officer and senior officer levels will have weight on different skills. The officers are expected to reach certain levels of proficiency and competency at given ranks/duties by their companies or potential employers.

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