An Ethnomethodological Case Study on Closed-Loop Communication at Sea by Japanese EFL Learners in Role-Plays


Maritime accidents, 80–85% of which are due to human errors (e.g., Hasanspahic´ et al., 2021), have been a serious problem in international shipping (e.g., Baniela and Rı´os, 2011). Among these errors, the grave risks posed by failures in verbal maritime communications (inter-ship/ship-to-shore/shore-to-ship/on-board communications) (Bocanegra-Valle, 2013) have long been recognized (e.g., Bocanegra-Valle, 2011). To prevent misunderstandings in maritime communications, closed-loop communication (CLC), a method of fully or partially repeating a message received from a sender (Flin et al., 2008; IMO, 2001), has been widely used at sea, and its proper use has been recommended to prevent accidents. Although CLC can indicate the receiver’s understanding of the message to the sender, it has not yet been fully implemented as an actual communications strategy (e.g., Boström, 2020; Jurkovič, 2022). Furthermore, few studies have explicitly examined CLC by non-native speakers of English (John et al., 2019), who account for about 90% of workers in the global shipping industry (Pritchard, 2003). The present study aims to investigate CLC in the context of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) education. This study first reviews the findings and limitations of studies on maritime use of CLC. Then, using an ethnomethodological approach (Garfinkel, 1967), it analyzes CLC used by Japanese EFL learners in role-plays at a marine technical college to clarify the nature of CLC as both interactional practices and procedures making these practices mutually understandable to the learners themselves.

Author Information
Yuto Mizushima, Marine Technical College, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: SEACE2024
Stream: Foreign Languages Education & Applied Linguistics (including ESL/TESL/TEFL)

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon