Internationalising Chinese Maritime Higher Education: Developing Content and English Language Integrated Teaching and Learning
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This thesis examines how new maritime nations, which are engaged in the export of seafaring labour, need to respond to the demands of the international maritime industry. In particular, traditional maritime nations are calling for greater internationalisation of maritime education and training. The global labour market for seafarers, which is dominated by employers from traditional maritime nations, demands internationally minded graduates. China’s response to these demands for quality labour exports from new maritime nations is the subject of exploration in this thesis. Within the specific context of Maritime English teaching and learning, a significant opportunity for innovation and change is identified.
The research took the form of an international collaborative education project in pursuit of the following question: What teaching and learning development opportunities are there for improving the communicative competence of Chinese Navigation officers?
The author of this thesis, formally a seafarer, is a teaching practitioner in higher education in the UK. For the purposes of this thesis, the author became a visi ting researcher, and later a teaching practitioner, at the case maritime higher education institution in China. Becoming a member of the teaching staff at the host institution was a necessary step in order to establish and carry out teaching practitioner -led research as a member of a professional learning community. The aim of this professional learning community has been to collaborate on a Maritime English
teaching development project. This development work has since continued beyond this PhD study into a commercially funded project, which demonstrates the necessity and timeliness of the research.
This thesis sets out to report on the collaborative process of an international education development project as it was experienced. Research was carried out over a 15.5 month period spent in-situ at the case institution. The institution was selected as it is the most influential maritime university in China in terms of national maritime higher education policy reform, due it being under the direct authority of the Ministry of Transport of the People's Republic of China rather than the Ministry of Education, as is the case with other universities. The author had to work very hard to overcome a number of cultural issues to become accepted as a teaching practitioner in the research setting. Once accepted as a participant researcher, research-based professionalism founded on previous teacher training and experience allowed for a living theory approach to improving both own teaching practice and that of new-found colleagues.
The outcomes of this PhD study are multiple:
The ethnographic account of the development process in the form of this PhD
The establishment of a professional learning community between teaching practitioners and continued research and development work.
The local teaching and learning innovation in the form of a new content and language integrated syllabus for Maritime English teaching, suitable for Chinese learners at maritime higher education institutions.
The continued collaboration between an industry stakeholder and the local teaching practitioners in the further development of a new Maritime English syllabus and accompanying teaching resources to ensure that it meets the
needs of employers.
As understanding grew of how Chinese maritime higher education institutions are preparing their students for employment in the global labour market for seafarers, the research objectives emerged while in-situ. The aim of the research centred on working with local teaching practitioners and industry stakeholders to improve the quality of maritime education graduates’ transferable skills, in terms of their intercultural communicative competence. The key feature of the study was to collaboratively identify teaching and learning development opportunities for improving the preparedness of Chinese maritime higher education graduates to work in a safety critical environment, where they will need to communicate effectively in English.
The internationalisation of the Maritime English syllabus, and the wider Navigation curriculum, through content and language integrated learning and teaching is the main recommendation of this thesis. The evidence presented in this thesis has led to
the conclusion that this curriculum intervention is necessary for improving the transferable skills of Chinese Maritime Higher Education graduates. The content and language integrated learning approach to teaching was found to offer Chinese maritime higher education institutions with a solution to boost intercultural communicative competence in meeting the demands of the international maritime industry for professionally skilled, and competent-in-English seafarers for labour export.
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