Jeremy Day teaches English for Specific Purposes, mainly legal English, in Poland, and has an interesting weblog on the subject.
In a post of 20 June, he had a (deliberately) polarizing description of legal English teachers:
Samantha Smug has got a law degree and thinks she knows everything about Legal English. She didn’t get a very good law degree, which is why she ended up as an English teacher. Her lessons are pretty dull – lots of explanations and translations, but at least she knows her stuff. She charges a lot for her lessons, and clients are happy to pay for her expertise.
Ken Cool, is currently working his way around the world, using income from ELT to support his life as a surfer. One of his classes is with a group of lawyers, but they rarely touch on the subject of law. His lessons are very touchy-feely – lots of jazz chants, self-expression and kinaesthetic group dynamics. He’s discovered a new technique is called dogme, which he used to call ‘winging it when you’ve forgotten to plan’.
Yes, ‘touchy-feely’ was exactly the term that occurred to me for many teachers of English as a Foreign Language. That was beginning to open up as a field when I graduated in 1969 and has really taken on a life of its own. I have done a short RSA course and teacher training myself, but because I am not very outgoing, I suspect my teaching was rather like Samantha Smug’s, but with more jokes. (I thought dogme was in the cinema, but I seem to be behind the times there).
Of course, we were teaching translation. There are many teachers of legal English and English or American law in German university law faculties who know more law than language and wonder how to improve their students’ language.
Anyway, the Cambridge International Legal English course has become very successful, so I imagine many lawyers-to-be will be learning their legal English through the Ken Cool-ish approach. One feature of this is using a lot of genuine legal English texts to skim and answer questions on, where the teacher probably can’t explain every word. But some effort has to be left to the students whatever the approach.
There’s an association of legal English teachers called EULETA. Here’s a blurb on Euleta recently posted on the Euleta Yahoo Group by Matt Firth (overleaf!):
The benefits of EULETA membership
Since EULETA’s beginnings at the now historic Greifswald conference, EULETA has established itself as the international network for teachers of Legal English. These past three years have seen many exciting developments in the world of Legal English, and EULETA is proud to be at the centre of the newly emerging profession of the lawyer-linguists. We are recognised by some of the most important institutions and publishing houses in the world of Legal English, including Cambridge ESOL, TransLegal, Cambridge University Press, Garnet Education, Cornelsen Publishing, Klett Verlag and Spotlight Verlag.
Exclusive access to our growing network of lawyer-linguists
Our mailing list is used regularly by universities and schools across the globe seeking teachers with the excellent credentials typical of our members. Our active discussion board sees regular contributions from lawyer-linguists teaching Legal English at all levels, from B1 level university students to C2 senior partners with major international law firms. Lesson ideas, handouts and other useful files are often posted in the files section of the discussion list which can be accessed at any time. Questions of law are regularly solved by means of the discussion list, as are points concerning translations and all areas of teaching and learning Legal English for both vocational and academic purposes. Put simply, EULETA opens doors to a network of contacts invaluable to the professional lawyer-linguist
Reduced conference and workshop fees
EULETA has hosted two major international conferences, the last one attracting around 120 participants from 20 countries. Our themed workshops begin this year in Berlin with a full day of events dedicated to testing, evaluating and assessing Legal English skills. Our members benefit from generous reductions to these events, and will be given priority access in cases delegate numbers have been capped (eg the EULETA Workshop 2009, which has a maximum number of 40 participants).
Special offers from our sponsors
Our sponsors regularly post special offers to our members. These have included:
A free license to TransLegal’s cutting edge PLEAD ILEC blended learning preparation course
Free copies of the award winning ‘Legal English edition of Business Spotlight
50% of Legal English materials from Forum Legal
A free license to TransLegal’s Legal English Digest for teachers and learners of Legal English
A free subscription to the English Language Gazette for all workshop participants
10% off the price of Pyramid Consulting’s highly respected Introduction to Teaching English for Legal Purposes teacher-training course
We are currently negotiating further discounts for EULETA members on a wide range of LE and BE products, including teaching materials, courses and future workshops for teachers of Legal English.
Access to the members only section of our website
The EULETA website is now being developed to include exclusive members-only access to conference papers going back to EULETA’s origins in the 1990s. Also being planned is a discussion forum, blog and newsletter for teachers of Legal English.
Put EULETA on your CV
Individual annual membership costs 30 euros. Institutional membership costs 60 euros and includes the reduced members conference fee for up to four delegates. Institutions are also invited to include their logo, website link and contact details on our institutional members page, together with details of any Legal English courses they may be offering.