Listening to Lefkowitz: Using recordings of actual lectures to help LLM students improve listening and note taking

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the two best predictors of success for non-native English speakers in American graduate programs are reading comprehension and listening comprehension–both input-related. Speaking and writing ability (both output-related) often get a lot of the … Continue reading

TESOL 2017 Seattle: Legal Language – Strategies for Effective Communication in Law School

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 … Continue reading

Comprehensible input for legal English students: Resources, approaches and ideas

International students in LLM and legal English programs at US law schools come to study law, not ESL. At the same time, law study requires deep engagement with texts and concepts that are complex and challenging even for native English speakers. … Continue reading

What part of the case brief?

The other day in class, working with another one of the Lefkowitz v. Great Minneapolis Surplus Store, Inc. case briefs, I again asked the students what tense they noticed in the Issue section. The students pointed to past tense in the two questions … Continue reading

The legal “Issue” of present tense vs. past tense

Facts: Earlier today, I was teaching LLM students about reading and briefing cases. The previous week they had examined a number of case briefs and noticed various features and characteristics. For example, after reviewing the Facts section of several case … Continue reading

Creative use of the law school as a resource

One of the great things about running and teaching the American Law: Discourse & Analysis (ALDA) Program is that it operates completely within St. John’s Law School. And working within the law school means access to resources that can be used creatively … Continue reading

The Issue of Questions

  “Professor, for question number one, I actually see two questions here!”  My student leans over my desk and frowns over his writing prompt, seemingly worried he is hallucinating. Later, during an in-class critical thinking exercise, there is a kerfuffle … Continue reading

Reading is not a skill: Helping LLM students comprehend law school texts

The Challenge: Helping international students to better read and comprehend law school texts. Solution #1: Recognize that successful reading is highly dependent on background information. Take the sentence: “A-Rod hit into a 6-4-3 double-play to end the game.” If a … Continue reading