I had the honor of joining an esteemed panel of legal English professionals last Thursday at the TESOL 2017 Convention in Seattle for a presentation titled “Legal Language: Strategies for Effective Communication in Law School.” The panel was organized by legal English expert Pamela Dzunu of Washington University of St. Louis School of Law and also included experienced legal English practitioners Kirsten Schaetzel of Emory Law School and Shelley Saltzman of Columbia University.
The topics presented were:
- “Participating in Socratic Method and Seminar Discussion Classes“ by Kirsten Schaetzel, Emory Law School (plus handout)
- “Using Storytelling to Teach Legal English” by Pam Dzunu, Washington University of St. Louis School of Law
- “Learning the Language of the Jury System“ by Shelley Saltzman, Columbia University
- “Comprehensible Input for Legal English: An Approach to Teaching Students How to Read and Brief Cases“ by Stephen Horowitz, St. John’s University School of Law
In addition to our panel presentation, I also had the opportunity to attend several other excellent, informative and thought provoking presentations, including:
- Collectivizing for Reading Developing in the L2 Legal Classroom – English for Specific Purposes, by Lindsey Kurtz of Penn State University. (Lindsey is one of a handful of people conducting linguistic research on law school language and learning.)
- Beyond Exit Tickets: Teaching Pre-service Candidates Linguistic Assessment Techniques, by Beth Clark-Gareca, University at New Paltz-SUNY
Engaging, Enriching, and Empowering ESP Teachers and Students, Cynthia Flamm and Maria Tameho-Palermino, Boston University; Marta Baffy and Michelle Ueland, Georgetown University Law Center; Kirsten Schaetzel, Emory Law School; and Shelley Saltzman, Columbia University (all legal ESL professionals with extensive experience)
- Empowering Teachers to Address the Challenges of ESP Curriculum Design, Heather Gregg Zitlau, Business English and Jennifer Chang-Lo, Business English, Georgetown University; Julie Lake (legal English) and Michelle Ueland, Legal English, Georgetown University Law Center; Robert Engel, Defense Language Institute; and Liz England, Liz England & Associates LLC (plus general handout, and Ueland handout)
Unfortunately, I also had to miss two presentations I was very excited about seeing:
- Teaching Advanced ESP Writing Using Dialogue, Feedback, and Iterative Feedback by Kia Dennis, Julie Lake, Michelle Ueland (powerpoint), and Marta Baffy of Georgetown Law Center and Kirsten Schaetzel of Emory Law School (additional powerpoint by K. Schaetzel)
- Strategies for Framing Language Learning as a Disciplinary Activity by Marta Baffy, Julie Lake, and Mari Sakai, Georgetown Law Center
- I joined the English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Special Interest Group meeting and had the opportunity to connect with and get to know not only legal English professionals, but also teachers, consultants, and administrators (e.g., outgoing president Robert Connor of Tulane and ESP group newsletter editor Kevin Knight of Kanda University in Japan among others) who develop and teach curricula related to engineering, business, tourism, and medicine among other relevant ESP fields that are increasingly in demand.
- Having a nice chat with Christine Feak of the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute. Feak, together with John Swales, has published a number of influential books and research articles on teaching academic writing at the college and graduate level to non-native English speakers. She has also developed and taught curricula for legal English in the past, and I discovered that, like me, she also has an affinity for the Lefkowitz case as a vehicle for teaching students to read and brief cases.
- Meeting Ted Chen, a lawyer who now teaches legal English at Edmunds Community College in Lynwood, WA near Seattle. He’s the first person I’ve met who teaches legal English at the community college level. (If you know of others, I’d love to hear about them.) He’s incorporated some interesting ideas into his course including inviting a police officer to visit his class and answer questions–an idea I would love to incorporate when we teach criminal law in the ALDA Program next semester!
Final comment: Seattle is a beautiful city with a wonderful vibe, even in the rain. Especially in the rain, come to think of it.