The International Maritime Language Programme

                                     A review by Prof. Dr. Peter Trenkner



Meanwhile it goes without saying within the shipping industry, that, whenever the

"international maritime language" is referred to, Maritime English is meant. According to the

STCW 1978/95, future deck and engineer officers have to render a well developed command of this

specialised language, otherwise they will not be granted a certificate of competence as a great many

accidents at sea and in ports use to happen due to communication deficiencies.


English monolingual textbooks reflecting accepted standards in methodology and being abreast with

current developments regarding the requirements on Maritime English in modern shipping are badly

needed by teachers and students alike but still rarely found on the market.

That is why P. C. van Kluijven's course is highly appreciated by the Maritime English community.


The quite voluminous textbook comprises seven maritime fields, called units, of which the author

rightly assumed that they would cover safety related and communicatively highly relevant facts,

situations, processes, etc.: Maritime Communication, General Ship's Knowledge, Engineering, Navigation

(incl. cargo handling), Safety, Documents and Correspondence. All these complexes are broken down

into a number of related sub-areas witnessing the careful needs analysis the author has undertaken in

this respect. It should be noted, however, that at least an intermediate level of English language competence

is necessary to successfully cope with the requirements of the course.


The methodical approach applied in the different units follows the principles of  the so-called Content-based

and Communicative Language Teaching. This is an effective and appropriate method of language

instruction best suited for will-be seafarers to acquire the necessary communication competence for

their prospective career on shipboard. It is noteworthy and appreciable that the course also includes

the teaching/learning of the IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SMCP) which to appropriately

apply is one of the requirements of the STCW 1978/95 to ship's officers. The SMCP are embedded in

a convincing and trade-related maritime context so that a boring, isolated rote learning of the phrases

is avoided. At the end of each unit the learner is required to do a final project where s/he is expected to

apply what s/he has learnt and to demonstrate the progress made in acquiring Maritime English proficiency.


The accompanying CD-Rom is of great value as well. It doesn't merely attract students and cadets

because they like to play PC anyhow, it is first of all a well thought out and made up multimedial means

of instruction. It is not only perfectly suited for individualised group working of in the classroom  but also

or an instructorless learning in private PC-assisted studies  at whatever place. e.g. on board vessels.


The last unit covers selected problems of practical grammar which foreign learners of English often feel hard

to be properly mastered. This unit stands,  however, somewhat isolated at the end of the textbook in "tow"

of the other units, but not really "fastened" to them.  Its various well selected grammatical items

could probably  better  be dealt with when split and harboured in those preceding units in the language of

which they appear as typical grammatical features, but this remark does in no way diminish the value

of the course.


Maritime English teachers would be well advised to assign this teaching/learning aid a prominent place in

their daily work in classes, and when they wish or need to improve their maritime background knowledge,

this course also offers valuable and easily understandable information in this respect.

It would be extremely desirable for a probable second edition of the course when a copyright solution

could be negotiated permitting the textbook to be published in form of a ring-binder and allowing  instructors

to copy individual pages to be distributed as handouts among the students.




It does not require much prophecy to foresee The International Maritime Language Programme a

leading position in the convoy of Maritime English teaching aids.


Prof. Dr. Peter Trenkner

Wismar University

Dept. of Maritime Studies Warnemünde





IMLP by Peter C. van Kluijven – 2003

Published by Alk & Heijnen Publishers

Alkmaar, The Netherlands

ISBN: 90-5961-006. Pp 416. € 39.00