The Test that sets the first standards
MarTEL is the test that is going to set the first international standards for Maritime
English. Funded by the European Union through its Leonardo da Vinci programme of
Life Long Learning; MarTEL has been designed to test seafarers’ maritime English
through a series of online tests designed to cater for seafarers of different classes
and ranks within your company.
The inadequacy of Maritime English Language standards has been a major contributory
factor in causes of accidents, some involving loss of life, large numbers of injuries
and extensive financial loss for too long. More than 80% of accidents at sea are
caused by human error, for the majority of which poor language skills feature as
the main cause according to recent research (see research section).
MarTEL has developed a series of Maritime English language standards which incorporates
the IMO's SMCP, at three different levels: Foundation Level, Officer Level and Senior
- The Foundation standard will include tests at three levels of proficiency: Elementary,
Intermediate and Advanced. All levels will include active skills, such as Speaking,
Comprehension and Writing. The content will be based on active learning and on maritime
terminology and usage with less emphasis on grammar.
- The Officer standard will be based on TOEFL 550 (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
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, with less
emphasis on grammar.
- The Senior Officer’s standard 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. 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. These standards will be examined through
a series of online maritime English tests. The tests will award seafarers with vocational
qualifications in Maritime English according to the standard that they are capable
of. It is expected that these qualifications will be recognised across Europe and
later across the globe.
The main intangible outcome is that, the standards and their associated study
units will provide an opportunity for many companies, particularly smaller ones
to become involved, taking advantage of learning materials and the intended e-learning
and e-assessment facilities for self-learning and self-assessment. Impact
is expected to be substantial as the project responds to a European and international
acknowledgment of the problem which this project intends to address at source and
through industrial lifelong learning. There are many organisations including awarding,
accrediting and licensing bodies that are involved in the project.
MarTEL is set to launch at the start of the New Year in MET centres across Europe.
It is hoped that the new standards will not only improve communication at sea but
also help save lives and prevent material and financial loss for your company and
the industry as a whole.
Preparing for real life situations
MarTEL tests maritime English as it is used in real life situations in the maritime
industry. Unlike other tests, it provides a realistic and reliable score of a candidate’s
maritime English ability across all five language skills – listening, reading, writing,
speaking and grammar/SMCP. As well as testing candidates integrated skills and pronunciation
through a variety of questions.
MarTEL tests the use of Maritime English to a standard that will prepare test takers
for life at sea working within your maritime company. You can expect that a MarTEL
qualification is a certificate of real capability in Maritime English.
The MarTEL tests include voices from people with different accents and varying pronunciations
of the English language in order to reflect the real life situations and voices
that test takers will come across during their career. This is designed to combat
the sorts of problems that led to the Prestige disaster in 2002 highlighted and
similar cases in 2007 IMEC event. (see research Section for more information).
Which Phase fits your purpose?
The aim of the MarTEL test is to tell you if a test taker’s English language proficiency
fits the requirements for the type, class and rank your company requires. These
tests will enable quicker processing of applications for vacancies at your company
and will ensure that your cadets are given the maximum opportunity to learn their
profession rather than struggle with the English language which is often the case.
MarTEL is available in three phases:
- Phase 1, which is designed for entry on to merchant navy cadet officer programmes
for both deck and marine engineering cadet officers. This test is also for non officers
working within your company.
- Phase 2, which is split into two parts: Part 1 tests the level of competency for
senior deck officers of watch. Part 2 tests the level of competency for marine engineering
- Phase 3, which is also in two parts: Part 1 tests the level of competency for senior
deck officers (Navigators). Part 2 tests the level of competency for senior marine
These phases mean that you can recruit applicants who have taken a test that is
directly relevant to the English-language purposes required for your post.
Accessibility for test takers
MarTEL is set to launch on to the European market at the start of the New Year (2010).
As a European Union funded project it already has many partners and institutions
on board to incorporate the tests into their candidate selection process.
See the MarTEL Test Centre Search on our homepage to find out where your
nearest centre is.
Security procedures for tests and results
The security of material and test results is paramount to MarTEL.
Numerous procedures are in place to safeguard the test and test results.
- All MarTEL centres follow a detailed set code of practice for delivering the test
- Assessed work is internally and externally verified by an external assessment body
- Assessors (Markers/Graders) and internal verifiers are certified and follow specific
assessment and verification standards
- MarTEL scores are based upon the (CEFR) Common European Framework of Reference for
- Each test has been designed by a consortium of European experts in the teaching
of Maritime English and of the professions within the Merchant Navy to ensure that
the maritime English needs of the industry are met and tested accordingly
Ensuring we meet the highest standards
As it stands there is currently no standardised maritime English test. Therefore
this means that there is no qualification to show that a seafarer is competent enough
in the language of the sea; maritime English. It has been proven through many research
studies that this is one of the main reasons for the increasing number of accidents
that are occurring at sea. Research has shown that many of these accidents could
have been avoided if the seafarers’ understanding of maritime English had been of
an adequate standard. Many seafarers in the merchant navy do not have English as
their first language and many have little understanding of the language at all.
Sadly, the IMO and its international training standard (STCW) does not impose or
require competence in the English Language, the language of formal communication
at sea and in ports. MarTEL is at the forefront of all contemporary maritime English
research and has been developed by many senior officers and maritime language experts
in order to make sure the tests meet the requirements of the maritime industry and
cover the current deficiencies identified by research studies (see research section).
Pronunciation has also been proven to be one of the biggest obstacles (Nautilus
Telegraph, Dec 2007) for sailors in the maritime industry. MarTEL has taken this
on board and incorporated questions that test the correct pronunciation of words
in the speaking sections. There is advice, exercises and helpful references to help
test takers with these questions in the study guidelines and study units that accompany
As it stands all of the tests for each phase have been evaluated and are currently
about to undergo a series of pilot tests in MET institutions across Europe to ensure
that they are of the highest quality and accuracy that they can be. The project
is on schedule to be implemented in test centres Europe-wide early in the New Year
MarTEL is working alongside many awarding and accrediting bodies (including EDEXCEL)
as well as many other experts in the maritime English language field to ensure the
highest standards for the tests. The tests have also taken onboard feedback from
experienced seafarers about what skills are needed most at sea in real life situations
by each type, class and rank of seafarer.
All of the aforementioned, means that your company can rely on a MarTEL Test to
be a suitable vocational qualification of Maritime English language ability.
MarTEL – the benefits
There are many benefits of using Europe’s first standardised international Maritime
English language tests. These include:
- Improving the level of safety at sea and ultimately preserving lives
- Reducing material loss and financial costs incurred through accidents caused by
a lack of knowledge of Maritime English and consequently reducing the cost of shipping
- By reducing the number of accidents at sea; MarTEL will also be helping to save
the environment from the harmful and toxic cargo that is often spilt which has been
the case in several accidents
- Reducing administration costs and time
- Being able to choose candidates who have the standard of Maritime English required
for your job vacancy.
Join the MarTEL team today.