Why three phases?
There are three phases to MarTEL to ensure the maritime English language knowledge
and competencies between the different levels and ranks of seafarer are met.
These phases are designed to test candidate’s competency in Maritime English for
three different stages in their career. They aim to cover all classes of seafarer.
All phases test the five key language learning skills: Reading, writing, listening,
speaking and grammar/SMCP.
For young people who wish to enrol on the programme of education and training for
merchant navy officers, a MarTEL Phase 1 test would be undertaken. This is based
on the vocational requirements for the programme of study that they intend to enrol
on. In this sense, the MarTEL test is no different to any other test of English
language proficiencies required for other college/university diplomas or degrees
at similar levels.
The duties and responsibilities of Senior Officers and Officers are distinctly different
and therefore it is necessary for two competency levels of maritime English. MarTEL
Phase 2 test is for the Officer level whereas Phase 3 is for the Senior Officer
At these Officer and Senior Officer levels it is important to distinguish between
the navigators (deck officers) and the marine engineering officers as the duties
and skills required for each role are different. It is widely accepted from our
research that different roles place heavier weightings on different communication
skills. For example the Deck Officers weighting for the writing section is 10% whereas
the Engineering Officers weighting for the same section is 5%.
At these three phases five tests have therefore been developed for the differing
requirements of maritime English language competencies. The MarTEL team have taken
onboard and conducted their own research in the field to establish different weightings
for the different skills within the five tests.
As described above the Maritime English requirements are divided into three phases.
More details of each Phase test are provided below.
Phase 1 - is for young people who wish to enrol on the programme of education
and training for merchant navy officers. Since English is the language of the sea
and in the majority of cases many of the units are delivered in English and that
when on board the vessel for training they will be working with multinational crew
it is critical that they develop competence in the English language at an appropriate
level which will equip them to take advantage of the programme of study to become
officers and to help to create a safe environment on board vessels as training officer
cadets when they do their sea training as part of their programme of study. Phase
1 test is set at CEFR level C1 (equivalent almost to TOFL 500-550 and IELTS 550-600).
However, Phase 1 test is based on the vocational requirements for the programme
of study that they intend to enrol on. In this sense MarTEL test is no different
to any other test of English language proficiencies required for other college/university
diplomas or degrees at similar levels.
Phase 2 - Cadet Officers studying for a certificate of competency will have
to acquire a high level of competence in the English language so that they help
to abide by international regulations and conventions and be able to communicate
effectively in an increasingly multi- lingual environment on board vessels in order
to create a safe environment and help others to become competent officers for the
sake of the crew’s safety and the safety of any passengers.
Phase 3 - This phase requires a higher competence in English language expected
from an Officer Of Watch. The tests in this phase are designed to assess senior
officers’ English language competence particularly with regard to ISM. International
codes such as ISM as well as PSPC are designed to ensure effective and efficient
management of the vessel in accordance to International standards which includes
many specific terms and terminologies. A full understanding of these terms and terminologies
in the context of Maritime vocation is considered important in preparing senior
officers for the important task they do at sea and in ports.
Why Criterion Referencing?
Unfortunately the majority of us are not familiar with the term Criterion Referencing
and have always given a percentage mark to express our level of performance in an
assessment opportunity/examination. In practical professions such as Merchant Navy
what is significant is that the officers who take responsibility for a vessel and
for the crew’s well-being and safety are expected to be fully competent in discharging
their responsibilities which is defined by international standards such as (STCW)
as well as international conventions and regulations. While in a university programme
obtaining a 50% in an examination often results in a pass mark being awarded. However,
a mark of 50% in competence in a given task on board a vessel cannot be considered
acceptable. In the MarTEL test the criteria for a grade of pass has to be achieved
for a certificate to be issued by the awarding body. Therefore, it is possible to
obtain the 70% in a given MarTEL phase test but fail the test because the test taker
has not convinced the person grading it to be a safe officer or has not convinced
the grader that s/he has displayed the competence required for a grade of pass to
be awarded. However, MarTEL test can be taken at any institution offering these
tests and the institutions are the authorities to decide on the threshold for the
pass mark. Some institutions may define 50% as a pass or 60% and so forth. However,
while MarTEL test takers will be given a notification of their performance in a
percentage term and given a grade, only those awarded a pass grade are entitled
to apply for the official MarTEL certificate. It is possible for test takers to
be given a grade of merit which signifies that they have achieved a level of competence
higher than the minimum required. The highest grade awarded is distinction grade
which is awarded to outstanding candidates who perform exceptionally well in any
MarTEL phase test. For a grade of merit or destination the required criteria has
to be achieved in all sections of the test for these grades.
In short if you really want to know what Criterion Referencing means just remember
that no one would wish to be operated on by a surgeon who is only 50% competent
in his profession. In any profession that deals with the safety of human beings
full competence should be a must.
Edexcel is a major awarding body recognised in over a hundred countries offering
qualifications right from school level to university level. Their qualifications
have been integrated within British secondary and tertiary education system as well
as in many other countries. As well as offering qualifications at secondary and
tertiary levels they offer short course certificates. They also offer vocational
and professional qualifications and work very closely with accrediting and licensing
authorities. MarTEL study units for phases 1, 2 and 3 have been transformed into
BTEC units which can be offered as a short course unit or as an integrated unit
within Higher National Diplomas (HND) in Nautical Science/Navigation Engineering
as well as in Marine Engineering. BTEC units are part of the ECTS (European Credit
What is the relationship between MarTEL tests and IMO model courses/HNDs?
MarTEL standards have been developed in line with IMO Model Course 3.14 and satisfy
the language requirements (communication performance criteria of the common skills/key
skills of existing Edexcel/BTEC Higher National Certificates and Diplomas).
If a test taker passes a MarTEL test, does s/he need to have a BTEC/Edexcel certificate?
All test takers will be issued with a MarTEL grade/mark notice indicating the grade
obtained and the mark awarded in any MarTEL test. The institutions that offer MarTEL
standard/tests may decide to have their own system of certification and set their
own pass threshold and may only decide to mark the assessments in percentage terms.
However, if an official MarTEL certificate is required then a minimum grade of pass
is required for a BTEC/Edexcel certificate to be awarded.
How much does a MarTEL test cost?
All MarTEL tests are free of charge.
How much does BTEC/Edexcel certification cost?
For BTEC Edexcel test takers are advised to refer to EXEDCEL/BTEC at www.edexcel.com
What is the difference between Deck and Marine Engineering tests and why it is important
to make a distinction?
The marine Engineering profession/tasks are very different to the tasks carried
out by a deck officer. They require different levels of competence in different
language skills. For instance, a Chief Mate or a Master has to have a higher level
of competence in speaking than a Chief Engineer.
What is the difference between Marine Engineering and Deck tests and why it is important
to make a distinction between the two?
A review of the IMO model courses 7.03 and 7.04 as well as 7.1 and 7.2 clearly indicates
that the programmes of education and training for these two types of officers are
very different. One requires competency in engine operations and related plants
and as well as auxiliary units (Marine Engineers) and the other in navigation of
a ship (Desk officers). The terms and terminologies used by these two types of officers
are very different hence any test in English language must distinguish between the
Why a distinction is made between the language competency level of a Marine Engineering
Officer and a Chief Engineer?
Marine Engineers at different levels of seniority have different language skills
requirements. It is the Chief Engineer who requires the higher levels of English
language skills and ultimately s/he is the authority for all aspects of Marine Engineering
on board a vessel.
Why a distinction is made between language competency level of a Deck Officer of
Watch and Chief Mate/Master/Captain?
The same argument stated for Engineers applies here.