First Advisor

Tucker Childs

Date of Publication

Summer 8-12-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Applied Linguistics




Merchant mariners -- Training of -- China, Seamanship -- Terminology, English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers, English language -- Pronunciation, English language -- Accents and accentuation



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 92 pages)


Worldwide, mariners use a variety of English as an International Language known as Maritime English regardless of the first language spoken by the crew or port in which they enter. English knowledge and ability is therefore critical to a mariner's livelihood at sea and is also mandated by the International Maritime Organization. The ability to understand and be understood is paramount to safety at sea. This study investigated which accents of English a subset of Chinese mariners found easy or difficult to understand. The data from 39 Chinese mariners who listened to 8 Standard Marine Communications phrases was analyzed. The phrases were spoken in English by native speakers of Japanese, Russian, Chinese, and English. The participants provided verbatim responses followed by their assessment of the speakers' intelligibility and accent. Results indicated that participant position on board the vessel had a statistically significant effect on the intelligibility rating of the phrase heard and the overall understandability assessed of the speaker's accent. Moreover, participants reported that the phrases were deck commands. For deck officers who participated in the study, the phrases were easy to understand, for engineers, they were more difficult. These findings suggest that within the field of Maritime English, further specification of English training is warranted and necessary to provide all mariners with authentic language relevant to their jobs. Initial Maritime English instruction at Maritime Education and Training (MET) institutions must include reading, writing, listening, and speaking which includes the spectrum of scenarios which all cadets may find themselves. Follow-on English classes for mariners beyond the academies or maritime universities must necessarily be situated in the context of the mariner and be flexible enough to adjust to the needs of the mariners. Finally, assessment of the mariner's Maritime English language abilities must also strive to test authentic use of the language as indicated by the position.


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