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International Science conference

4th - 5th June 2009, Stara Zagora, BULGARIA

"Economics and Society development on the Base of Knowledge"
Esin Halid, Boryana Genova
Technical University, Faculty of Marine Sciences and Ecology, Varna 9000, Bulgaria
Nowadays crews on vessels become more and more multi-lingual and multicultural, thus
mastering maritime English becomes a public concern. Maritime English lecturers should use
some effective pedagogies to help the students in maritime related fields perfect their language
skills. However, in the process of teaching maritime English there are some problems related to
four macro skills in the English language communications. In this paper some of the difficulties
in the process of teaching and learning are revealed and suggestions are made regarding proper
teaching techniques.
Keywords: globalization, maritime English; maritime English teaching approach

Globalization has not omitted maritime industry. Nowadays we can see different nationalities
on board. This cross-cultural labor mobility makes many maritime English instructors aware that
the quality of cadets in the global seafarers community needs a proper teaching pedagogy. Todays
shipping industry communicates through maritime English, the language of the sea. Competent
seafarers should also be proficient in understanding and using maritime English, which is essential
for the safety of life at sea, ship property, pollution prevention, etc. Maritime English knowledge
and skills can ensure the effectiveness of communication between English speaking seafarers and
non-English speaking seafarers; and between seafarers and offshore personnel. To a certain degree
safety at sea depends on seafarers communication in maritime English. Proper command of
maritime English is not only for the essentials of seafarers but also for the appropriate operation of
Taking into consideration the significance of the above, IMO has officially adopted maritime
English as the language of maritime ndustry. But another important step is to ensure that seafarers
gain good maritime English communication skills. Most of the maritime institutes realize that
mastering communication skills is one of the important components which ensures the safety at sea.
To help seafarers to achieve high quality performance, maritime English instructors should focus on
the particular terminology and communication skills that include listening, speaking, reading,
writing and try to find the most effective ways to teach the language, trying to use or at least
introduce some communicative techniques.
In this paper we give an overview of the difficulties in maritime English teaching at the
Technical University of Varna, Bulgaria, giving some tips on how to improve the four
communicative skills in maritime English teaching.
Lecturers in general play an essential part in achieving the goals of teaching. And the quality
of maritime English teaching decides whether the cadets will become competent seafarers to meet
requirements of IMO Conventions, and whether they will be communicating freely in the global
maritime community. But in the process of teaching and learning maritime English there are some
One of the greatest problems for cadets at the Technical University of Varna is that their
learning motivation is low. Some of them are not aware how important it is to use maritime English
in their future either because they are not sure if they will pursue careers in this field, or because
they rely on their knowledge of general English, underestimating the role of maritime terminology.
Other students lack enough courage to speak English publicly, especially with foreigners. They
worry about any mistakes they can make during the conversation. As a result, during the learning
process they are silent and have barriers in speaking English psychologically. Hence, this blocks
their way to be competent seafarers. Some students have difficulties in expressing themselves
Volume V
Nautical & Environmental Studies.

International Science conference

4th - 5th June 2009, Stara Zagora, BULGARIA
"Economics and Society development on the Base of Knowledge"
clearly, whether in maritime or everyday English. Some of them form long and perplexing
Another difficulty for students is memorization of maritime vocabulary when they do not
know the meaning of the words in their native language. For example, the phrase standing guy, a
technical term relating to cargo handling gear, could be understood in a mistaken way if students do
not have enough knowledge of vessel structure and equipment.
Another problem is that very few students learn how to listen actively. When they listen to
materials, they accept the words in the sentence as separate ones and usually they ignore stress,
rhythm, and intonation, which are also essential to understanding. As to writing, which requires
comprehensive knowledge of English to produce, students have problems due to lack of some
knowledge of English.
Meanwhile there are pedagogical issues of concern. Textbooks and maritime English teaching
materials should be properly selected. If an outdated textbook is used, students will not keep up
with new development in shipping industry, not mention some new technical terms.
Having in mind these problems we can give the following suggestions.
To effectively teach the knowledge and skills required by IMO instructors can rely on the
communicative resources of maritime English, employing the communicative approach in the
process of their work. To become competent seafarers cadets should be helped to communicate in
English confidently and fluently and develop their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.
The entire teaching process should be very carefully planned, including selection of textbooks and
teaching materials, classroom management, assignments after school and evaluation examination.
All these should meet the requirements of IMO Conventions.
Cadets can improve their communicative skills if instructors put listening first, for the input of
good listening materials will contribute to the language acquisition. Students ability to
communicate can be improved by the use of global listening and sub-skills of listening in the
teaching process. To assist the practice in learning tapes and multi-media are very useful. It is also
recommendable related computer software to be uploaded to facilitate cadets studying. It is good if
the listening materials are of different English varieties, closely related to their future job. thus
students interest will be aroused and the cadets will be well prepared for their future exposure to
multi-lingual set ups.
Speaking a foreign language is a very complex skill. To help students improve their speaking
skills, lecturers should choose the concise and understandable SMCP phrases in cadets training to
operate the ship. English lecturers should use the resources of maritime English materials, such as
parts of Sailing Directions, textbooks written by the experienced lecturers themselves. It is
advisable that lecturers give some authentic situation first and then require the students to do roleplaying. The conversations should be as natural as possible. While the students are making such
conversations, lecturers should not pay too much attention to their pronunciation and structures not
to undermine students confidence. If lecturers want to build students confidence in speaking, they
should not correct mistakes until the end of the task. Thus students can use the language to
communicate freely.
As far as poor command of maritime English vocabulary is concerned, lecturers should assign
home reading tasks. It is preferable to employ some maritime English-based realia, such as original
ship documents, charts, notices to mariners, and parts of sailing directions. Thus students will be
able to memorize vocabulary easier. To check the results of home-readings, tests should be given so
that lecturers will know whether the students read these materials or not, and to what extent they
have read.
Mmaritime English-based realia in classroom should be used, e.g. telexes, original ship
documents or charts, etc. Thus students can become more interested in reading. Gradually,
comprehensive reading will broaden the students horizon, and enlarge the students vocabulary. In
such way students can gain knowledge of documents.
Volume V
Nautical & Environmental Studies.

International Science conference

4th - 5th June 2009, Stara Zagora, BULGARIA
"Economics and Society development on the Base of Knowledge"
It is usually difficult for cadets to master writing skills. To help them improve those skills,
writing models of business letters, notices and marine note of sea protest should be given to the
students. Some writing assignments can also be given in order to improve their writing ability.
Lecturers can collect realia of business letters, notices and marine note of sea protest, etc. from
shipping companies and ask the students to point out some advantages and disadvantages of the
writings. Gradually, the cadets will know how to write the correct ones. Writing skills are necessary
for cadets to become competent seafarers.
The syllabus of maritime English teaching should provide enough academic hours to teach
maritime English so that the material taken is reinforced. And gradually students will obtain more
competence in maritime English in the long term.
Another important issue, often neglected, is that measures should be taken to update the
experience of Maritime English lecturers. On board training is essential for those from non-native
backgrounds. Maritime English lecturers or would-be maritime English lecturers should be
provided with good research environments through inter-college and transnational academic
communication. Thus there will be competent maritime English lecturers to facilitate Maritime
English education.
There are certain difficulties encountered by students in the process of learning maritime
English. We revealed some suggestions what maritime English instructors could do to facilitate
students and improve their speaking, listening, writing and vocabulary memorizing skills. But as the
saying goes, You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.
1. Stromquist N P, Monkman K. Globalization and Education, Integration and Contestation
Across Culture. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2000.
2. Horck J. Getting the Best from Multi-cultural Manning. BIMCO Bulletin, 2005(100): 4.
3. Lewis M, Hill J. Practical Techniques for Language Teaching. Hove, England: Language
Teaching Publications, 1999.

Volume V
Nautical & Environmental Studies.