Nova Maritime College charts new course in English

door Regina Coeli

The Dutch education system is welcoming increasingly more international students these days, which explains why English-language education is a hot item. This is also true for Nova Maritime College in Ijmuiden, Maritime Academy Holland’s intermediate vocational education location. A group of fourteen of their employees followed an English training programme at Regina Coeli. They didn’t follow it all at the same time, nor did they all have the exact same training programme, because they each had their own learning goals and different skill levels.

Giving lessons in English

“Nova College’s Maritime Academy offers training for internationally recognised qualifications, and that means that we can have learners from all over the world,” explains Patrick Randel, manager of Nova Contract Maritime. “Our lecturers already give numerous lessons in English and that’s of course not as easy as delivering lectures in Dutch. We wanted to become more competent in this area.

Individual and group programmes in English

When we were searching for a good training programme, we came across Regina Coeli. The intensive approach fit us perfectly because we ourselves offer many short-term courses. One week of training fit nicely into our own lesson planning. In addition, Regina Coeli listened carefully to what we wanted and took into account the various skill levels of the participants. Some employees had an entirely individual programme, and others had a week of training together at the language institute, receiving a blend of lessons both together and privately.”

Delivering lectures and getting feedback from the language trainer

Three of the lecturers happen to be specialised in navigation, including Dirk Reedijk. “I teach nautical science. That means I deal with the subjects of navigation, meteorology and nautical instruments. We have a large simulator park where we simulate being on a ship. There are enormous plasma screens hanging on the walls which allow others to watch along and with which we can carry out tests and research.

During our week at Regina Coeli, three of us had lessons together. We gave lectures and received feedback from the trainer and each other on what we had done. In the afternoon, I had private writing and conversation lessons.

Teaching non-native speakers

When I lecture in English, it’s mostly to non-native speakers, which is quite different to teaching native English speakers. The disadvantage of this is that I cannot use the full range of nuance English has to offer due to my own limitations as well as those of the learners. We will be welcoming English participants soon, however, and then my skills will be put to the test. I see that as an opportunity to learn. I’m curious about what everything is called, for example.”

First aid and medical procedures in English

Two lecturers who clearly enjoyed their training were Carolien Geeve and Ton Ploem. Carolien: “We give week-long medical training to crew members. In addition to standard first aid, we teach them how to perform a number of medical procedures such as taking blood pressure, splinting and administering medications. Skippers are required to follow medical training every five years.”

Importance of synonyms in English

Ton continues: “In the lessons at Regina Coeli we did what we always do in our own classes, but then we were also corrected by a language trainer. What we noticed is that synonyms are really important for us because we work with people who don’t know the English language through and through. Over the course of the week I translated a checklist with help from the trainers. Moreover, as colleagues we decided that from that point on we would always give the training in English on the final day of our five-day programme. Even though we might be working with other Dutch people, on board the language is always English.”

Individual English training

A number of people from Nova College also had a fully individual language course in English. One of them was Tineke Handgraaf. She works in project support and is frequently in contact with clients. “I was not at all looking forward to the course because it’s so intensive. Now that I’ve been to Regina Coeli, however, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Every day I had a grammar lesson, worked on my writing, and did numerous role plays to practice telephone conversations and handle complaints. The trainers put me completely at ease. I’d been afraid to use English, but since the training that hasn’t been a problem because I now have a better grasp on the language.”

Lessons that fit the learning style

Each Nova Maritime College employee had lessons from a team of four trainers. Berni McNamara, from Ireland, taught each of them. “It was delightful giving these people lessons. There were so many different characters and personalities. What I really noticed is that they helped one another and gave each other such positive feedback.

It asks a lot of a trainer to have so many different kinds of people in front of them at the same time because you want to give them a lesson which works for all their various learning styles. One person loves rules, the other is very hands on. They made it so easy for me because they could completely be themselves with each other from the beginning. It was really lovely. They were very disciplined and motivated as a group.”

Practising English as a group

Because the Nova College employees didn’t all attend training at the same time, the curiosity of colleagues who had yet to come to Regina Coeli grew. Patrick Randel: “Everyone was so enthusiastic. I now see everyone practising English together and giving each other feedback. Helping each other with English has become a communal goal  for the team. That’s been a lovely added benefit of the training!”


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