Never mind Maritime English. That thing was invented so that more people can make money from seafarers. What is essential is that ship officers and crew are able to communicate in simple, clear and effective English.

Good English language skills not only contribute to shipboard safety and proper coordination between members of the crew. They can also boost a ship officer’s career. I have known successful doctors, chemists and ship officers who were not particularly bright or talented. Yet, they went far because they could express themselves in proper English.

I hope the following tips will help seafarers and others who wish to speak and write better English.


Avoid textspeak when texting (e.g., typing “cul8r” to mean “see you later”). You cannot hone your English skills by butchering the language in this manner.



Practise your English on Facebook. Post or comment in English, and do not limit yourself to your own nationality group and native language.



Stick to English when speaking in English. Do not mix English with words or phrases in your native language in the same sentence (Filipinos have this bad habit). This is no way to improve your command of English. It can also be annoying to your listener.



Watch English language films and TV talk shows. Pay attention to the dialogue and how words and phrases are spoken.



Install a dictionary on your smartphone. It comes in handy when you encounter a word you are not familiar with. Several dictionaries are available in Google App Store (I use the free version of the Oxford Dictionary)



Challenge yourself with crossword puzzles. It will help you expand your vocabulary and is a good way to beat boredom and loneliness.



Practise reading aloud a short paragraph and record your voice. This will give you a good idea of how you sound like when speaking to people.



Be conscious of how you pronounce words in English. Not pronouncing them correctly could result in your being misundertood or misinterpreted by others.



Watch your spelling and grammar.



Cultivate the habit of reading. Books and magazines help broaden your outlook and improve your English skills.

~ Barista Uno

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