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
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