Research suggests that one of the main barriers for Chinese seafarers to compete in the global maritime labour market is their insufficient English communication ability. Limited empirical research, however, has been conducted on examining the status of communicative competence of Chinese seafarers. This study intends to fill this gap by providing empirical evidence on the communicative competence of Chinese seafarers. Using mixed methods, this study revealed that Chinese seafarers had a poor to fair level of communicative competence and the level of communicative competence had a moderate correlation with their educational qualifications, and a strong correlation with their sea experience. However, no significant differences existed in communicative competence across age or rank groups of seafarers. Using qualitative data gathered from 12 interviews of Chinese seafarers, a discussion was given to explain the reasons behind these findings. Recommendations were made to improve the English communicative competence of Chinese seafarers.
effective communication, maritime English, communicative competence, maritime education and training, Chinese seafarers