SeaTALK Maritime English Training Modules - Engineer Officers (Management Level) - Introduction for Teachers

There is no global uniform system for Maritime Education and Training (MET). This has been acknowledged and confirmed by several studies and EU projects such as METHAR , METNET and UniMET, and, in addition, the SeaTALK project survey. This lack of uniformity has led to a substantial discrepancy in learning outcomes at national and institutional level as borne out by the differences between the agreed standards adopted collectively by the member States of IMO and the national systems of certification of seafarers that these States actually apply. This has led to training which in some States surpasses the STCW requirements and in others which barely meets the minimum standards: differing programmes of study (curricula) at MET institutions across the world; a lack of uniform systems of accreditation for study programmes within MET institutions to undertake reliable comparison of the typology of global MET systems; different types of competent bodies in charge of national MET and organizational structures between MET systems and national educational systems.

The objective of the SeaTALK project survey has been to collect information about current practices in Maritime English across Europe. The responses to a questionnaire survey has provided information from a range of European countries about training courses, specifically Maritime English courses, at maritime universities/institutions/training centres. The survey concludes that MET institutions across Europe are not uniform in their make-up, since frequently the curricula of a particular institution are predetermined by the institution’s “history” and internal capacity rather than recognition of the needs and demands of the international shipping industry. The survey results offer a credible basis for the SeaTALK Maritime English Competence Grids for each seafaring rank and profession, and the production of acceptable learning outcomes for Maritime English with a view to developing a common credit system.

The SeaTALK Maritime English Competence Grids have been drawn up for each seafaring rank and profession, namely for Deck Officers at management level, Deck Officers at operational level, Ratings at support level, Engineer Officers at management level, Engineer Officers at operational level, Engineer Electro-Technical Officers at operational level, and Ratings at support level. Each of the Grids list the occupational standards concerned, with reference to language learning outcomes linked to Maritime English. The occupational standards have been derived from STCW, as amended. In addition, each language learning outcome has been broken down into several language performance criteria. The detailed and visual nature of the Grids allows the maritime teacher or learner to map, trace and link each step along the path to achievement of the occupational standard. Within this context the language learning outcome adopts a central and defining role as the bridge between the language performance criteria and the professional standard. By highlighting specific English language competences, the Grids refer to the requirements of the learner as able to use all four communicative language skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing. The Grids are linked to the CEFR; they acknowledge the content of the IMO Model Course 3.17, Maritime English (2015 edition); and, in addition, they incorporate the ECVET system. The Grids, combined with the learning materials related to each of the Language Learning Outcomes, potentially provide the Maritime English teacher with the ideal planning aid that includes supporting resources. Moreover, the SeaTALK training modules and their respective Competence Grids are partnered with MarTEL (Maritime Tests of English Language). The materials in the SeaTALK training modules thus cover the whole Maritime English syllabus, starting from the planning phase and ending with evaluation. The Bologna process places special requirements on MET institutions, including the teaching of Maritime English. Under the requirements of The Bologna process, Maritime Education and Training systems in Europe must prove that degree programmes in MET are easily recognizable and comparable, have uniform degree structures, and promote the mobility of students, teachers and researchers. The Bologna process aims to facilitate mobility by providing common tools (such as a European Credit Transfer and accumulation System – ECTS and the Diploma Supplement) to ensure that periods of study abroad are recognized. These tools are used to promote transparency in the emerging European Higher Education Area by allowing degree programmes and qualifications awarded in one country to be understood in another. The Bologna process calls for the achievement of a high degree of harmonised learning outcomes. However, these may sometimes be in conflict with STCW requirements. The SeaTALK Maritime English training modules provide a Maritime English ECVET system to allow mutual recognition of seafarers’ Maritime English competence within the maritime industry directly linked to the CEFR to promote greater mobility of the seafarers’ workforce, in line with STCW requirements.

 

Teaching and Learning Strategy

The SeaTALK Maritime English training module for Engineer Officers (Management Level) is designed for use in the communicative approach as recommended by IMO Model Course 3.17, Maritime English (2015). In addition, the STCW requirements (as amended), promoting practical and effective communicative competence in English, have been taken into account when considering methodological dimensions. Accordingly, design, lesson plans, test materials, tasks, and assessment criteria have been devised to meet theoretical communicative assumptions.

 

Principles of the Communicative Approach

“For seafarers to be able to communicate effectively, they need to be able to use and understand English in a range of situations. ‘Being able to use English’ means that the seafarer can combine the ‘building blocks’ of language (grammar, vocabulary, phonology) to express him/herself clearly and appropriately in speech and writing. ‘Being able to understand English’ means that the seafarer can interpret messages that he/she hears and reads correctly and can respond to these messages appropriately and comprehensibly. When a seafarer can demonstrate the ability to do this, he/she proves his/her communicative competence in English.” ( IMO Model Course 3.17, 2015)

“The ultimate aim of the Communicative Approach is that instructors should teach in a way that develops communicative competence. This can be done even at elementary levels: introducing communication practice at an early stage helps students to become confident in their ability to use English. By actively communicating in English from the beginning, students develop their communication skills and strategies and confidence, as well as knowledge of the language itself.” The ultimate aim of the Communicative Approach is that instructors should teach in a way that develops communicative competence. 'Being able to use English' can be done more at elementary levels and intermediate levels in this Model Course: introducing communication practice at an early stage helps students to become confident in their ability to use English. By actively communicating in English from the beginning, students develop their communication skills and strategies and confidence, as well as knowledge of the language itself. 'Being able to understand' should be more emphasised for 'Specialized Maritime English' for the purpose of meeting the amended STCW competency of seafarers in terms of Maritime English, derived from related practices and operations on board. ( IMO Model Course 3.17, 2015)

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