Learning ‘legal English’, the specialized language that students encounter in law school, is particularly challenging. Law students must learn to use English forms and structures in such a way as to meet the expectations of members of the legal academic community, consistent with the conventions of the legal discipline. Learning legal English is therefore a process which involves elements of both legal expertise and language expertise. As a result, both lawyers and language teachers have something to contribute in order to support this learning process. This interdisciplinary project combines the expertise of lawyers and language teachers/applied linguists to develop a digital multimedia resource for legal English based on an analysis of the language needs of Hong Kong law students. This resource will target the most common tasks and genres for law students, e.g. essays, legal problem questions, memoranda, dissertations, oral mooting, and provide input in two forms: 1) edited video interviews with legal experts providing advice on legal writing and legal argument; 2) task-based activities created by applied linguists providing language-focused extensions on experts’ observations.
The aims of the project are three-fold:
- To provide an in-depth analysis of the English language needs of Hong Kong law students;
- To develop video-based teaching materials to target these needs, including expert videos, language-focused activities and resources;
- To promote the use of these language-focused materials by law professors in legal skills and content courses.
The team members are Christoph Hafner, John Burke, Katherine Lynch, Anne Scully-Hill and Rajesh Sharma. For a sample of one of the instructional video for students, see below. The new website can be accessed here.