Learning “legal English”, the specialized language that students encounter in law school, is particularly challenging as law students must learn to use English forms and structures to meet the expectations of the legal academic and professional community. Learning legal English is thus a process that involves elements of both legal and language expertise. Collaboration between legal and applied linguistic scholars can contribute to this learning process. By integrating both legal and linguistic expertise in the collaborative evidence-based research initiative “Digital Multimedia Resources for Legal English: An Interdisciplinary Project”, digital multimedia legal resources were specifically designed, developed and assessed to enhance the legal English language skills of law students. The development and use of digital multimedia teaching resources has the potential to help students improve their legal writing, as well as their analysis and evaluation of a broad range of legal genres, particularly those that draw upon conventional forms of legal reasoning. Qualitative thematic analysis of student feedback on the digital multimedia resources indicates that the resources help students learn to manipulate legal language strategically to achieve various desired linguistic and legal reasoning effects. The students also note the value of learning these written analytical skills and techniques for their future professional careers, whether it is giving advice to lay clients in opinion letters or writing for legal professionals.
Cite as: Hafner et al., JLL 7 (2018), 142–166, DOI: 10.14762/jll.2018.142
Law, language and law, legal skills, legal English, applied linguistics, language learning and technology, digital multimedia, digital video
Christoph A. Hafner
Department of English
City University of Hong Kong
Associate Professor & Director
LLM in Arbitration & Dispute Resoution
Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong
Faculty of Law
Chinese Univerity of Hong Kong
Senior Teaching Fellow
School of Law
City University of Hong Kong
Dr. Rajesh Sharma
Global, Urban and Social Studies Department
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