Developing legal writing materials for English second language learners: problems and perspectives

Candlin, C.N.; Bhatia, V.K. and Jensen, C.H. (2002). Developing legal writing materials for English second language learners: problems and perspectives. English for Specific Purposes, 21(4) pp. 299–320.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0889-4906(01)00029-1

Abstract

This article begins by analyzing the appropriateness of such texts for law students whose native language is not English. The 37 textbooks analyzed fall into four categories; 1) lexico-grammatical, which focus on word and sentence-level writing; 2) rhetorical, which focus on audience and purpose of writing as well as drafting and editing; 3) legal content, which focus on topics and discourse in legal methods and are written by specialists in law; 4) English for Academic Legal Purposes (EALP), which focus on legal content, but are written by language specialists. The second part of the article consists of suggestions on how to develop materials for teaching legal writing to English learners. Candlin, Bhatia, and Jensen suggest that teachers of EALP customize materials to make them appropriate for L2 contexts and develop materials that integrate language and law using a genre-based approach. Acknowledging the close connection and enormous amount of overlap between teaching the content of law and the language of law, the authors recommend that legal writing instructors focus on the language of law as documented through research and cooperate closely with law instructors to ensure that their courses fit together. Given that the content of law is generally specific to a particular country or region, the authors also recommend that more generic language-focused textbooks be supplemented with a resource bank of authentic materials specific to a particular legal system, as they have done at the City University of Hong Kong.

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