What is MarTEL?

MarTEL-is standardised tests of Maritime English for safer seas. It is acknowledged by all concerned that effective knowledge of English at sea and in ports is a must for all seafarers responsible for safety and security of the ship, its crew and its passengers.

MarTEL offers the tests at three different phases. Phase 1 is based on upper intermediate/advance level of English, Phase 2 is for Officers of Watch for Deck and Marine Engineers and Phase 3 is for senior officers such as senior deck and senior marine engineers. Each test will be based on key skills of English language; Grammar, Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.

MarTEL tests are presently being piloted by the original project partners. A large number of partners from outside the original partnership have been supportive of the development of the MarTEL standards and are also piloting the tests in their own institutions and organisations.

In the coming months the test will be available in a large number of institutions across Europe. Initially the test will be available quarterly and then on a monthly basis.

MarTEL has three levels of grading these are Pass, Merit and Distinction. Also, a percentage mark will be given.

To prepare the candidate, each phase of MarTEL comprises of a study guide for each phase which will give examples of the type of questions that will be in the test for that phase. In the guidelines there are a number of samples and practice tests to prepare the test taker. These guidelines are free of charge and are available on the website. In addition, a sample study unit has been developed to support each phase of MarTEL tests that outlines the study areas that will be tested.

MarTEL tests were founded and developed by the European Union (EU) and eight major players in the maritime education and training community across Europe as well as several external consultants, examiners and verifiers. The external verification includes countries both inside and outside the partnership. MarTEL partnership has many years of experience in EU project developments and work very closely with the rest of the International maritime community. They have a number of years of experience in the testing and assessment of maritime education and training following internationally recognised assessment processes and programmes.

More details are available in the "test taker information leaflet".

Why choose Martel?

MarTEL is the vocational element of English language for seafarers and should be treated as any other ESP (English for Specific Purposes). MarTEL clearly has identified the English language needs of each type and rank of seafarers, setting English proficiency level at three different phases. MarTEL overcomes the limitations of SMCP and removes the need to use standards such as IELTS and TOEFL as these are not designed for seafarers’ requirements.

MarTEL tests all five main language skills – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking as well as Grammar.

Our research shows that MarTEL puts the test-takers into real life maritime scenarios with its assessment process, where possible. The tests are designed for the test takers who are planning to become involved or are involved in the maritime field. These maritime based tests will motivate the test taker to undertake MarTEL standardised tests. This will lead to an improved understanding of English for real life scenarios especially when in an English speaking environment.

MarTEL has established the highest quality assurance and control system. The MarTEL grading system is based on the novel and reliable criterion referencing system which is in line with the requirements of one the most well-known competence measuring systems and hence is a safe and a reliable grading system safe guarded against partial success in an examination. In English testing systems such as IELTS and TOEFL, a threshold of 6.0 in IELTS or 550 in TOEFL in percentages terms, for instance, may be classified as success whereas to pass a MarTEL test all criteria for a grade of Pass must be satisfied. It is no longer acceptable to answer say 60% of the questions correctly and expect a pass as for a Pass grade in a MarTEL test all criteria set for this grade must be achieved.

In all cases, as well as a grade of Pass, Merit and Distinction, a percentage mark will also be allocated and Maritime Institutions can decide which percentage mark to set as their threshold.

More details are available in the "test taker information leaflet".

Test format

MarTEL offers the tests at three different phases. There is one test in Phase 1 for those wishing to enter formal Maritime education at tertiary level; two tests in Phase 2 (one for Deck Officers and one for Marine Engineering Offices), and two tests at Phase 3, (one for senior Deck Officer and one for senior Marine Engineers). All test takers have a similarly structured test with all skills tested in the same format. The skills to be tested are Grammar, Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. Each test will take approximately 145 minutes. The diagram below provides details of the testing format.

Structure of Phase 1 Martel Standard
Figure 1. Structure of Phase 1 Martel Standard.
All other Phases have the same structure, but a different number of parts and questions.

Testing Approach

Vocational and Knowledge

Martel provides a vocational training assessment format that focuses on improved communication skills in a maritime based environment. Martel provides not only a vocational based approach to learning, but a knowledge testing format for those who want to study or train in an English-speaking Educational Institution/environment .

Three Different Phases/Stages of Maritime English Language Proficiency

The standards include three assessment phases ranging from elementary to upper intermediate/advanced in Phase 1, English test at given skill levels for Desk and Marine Engineering Officers of Watch in Phase 2 and English tests, again at given skill levels, for senior Deck and senior Marine Engineering Officers in Phase 3.

Reliable and Secure Test

The MarTEL grading system has three levels: Pass, Merit and Distinction, as well as a marking system based on percentage. To achieve each grade a set of assessment/grading criteria have to be fully met. Each Phase test is based on the BTEC Edexcel system and leads to an Edexcel qualification which has worldwide recognition. The phases have been also included in the IMO programmes/model courses as well as existing Edexcel/BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) in Nautical Science/Navigation Engineering and HND in Marine Engineering; both HNDs have been developed in collaboration with major awarding, accrediting and licensing bodies such as BTEC, IMarEST, MCA and so forth. At the pilot stage, much emphasis has been placed on the assessment system to ensure it is reliable, secure, benchmarked and understood worldwide with a consistent and reliable grading system. The test materials are designed carefully by MarTEL partners for each phase. Each grade for each phase has a set of assessment and grading criteria and each phase is designed for a given class and type of seafarer. Each test clearly demonstrates the comparable level of difficulty and is based on a given set of language skills deemed necessary for a given type and rank of merchant navy officer.

The process of training of the trainers/assessors is through a full MarTEL training and assessment programme to ensure quality and integrity of MarTEL assessment system is respected and maintained. All assessors are expected to develop a portfolio demonstrating their knowledge of MarTEL and its assessment system and pass the test intended to assess/grade themselves with Distinction. A Certificate is issued to successful assessors. The internal and external verification/examination system will be similar to the existing system in partner countries and in the UK and Turkey will be based on the BTEC/Edexcel/NVQ/SVQ system. Presently, the marking of the tests takes place at two pilot assessment centres, with the primary centre based in the UK and complementary centre in Turkey. Assessors have to attend at least one training and assessment event each year. Their performance is regularly monitored and evaluated by a lead verifier for them to retain their certification.

Our test centre in each country is coordinated by a designated key partner in that country and testing can be undertaken in independent organisations which meet strict standards of quality, security and customer service through regular monitoring of the assessment centre.

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