Pronunciation Practice on Quizlet

I remember how my students once used to call me a „pronunciation pervert”. Well, I always tell my students that it is very important to master your pronunciation if you want to be understood. And being understood is crucial for communication.

This is how I sometimes help my students improve their pronunciation. I create QUIZLET sets for them where they either have the same word on both sides of the flashcard as we concentrate here on saying the word and not really learning what they men. Or like in the set I am showing here I create pairs of noun : verb or adjective : verb.

To benefit from this form of pronunciation work best you should a quizlet account and Here I recommend using a „flashcards” mode to be able to hear the pronunciation.

Peer Tutoring in My Legal English Classroom

Peer tutoring and peer evaluation activities increase the students’ engagement in the learning process. Student tutors require deeper knowledge and understanding of the task which may lead to better preparation for the classes, raising awareness, learning to share with others and performing additional out-of-class activities, e.g. reading, watching tutorials, etc.

Peer tutoring activities generate significant benefits for the students. They develop reasoning and critical thinking skills, improve self-esteem and interpersonal skills, motivate students to communicate by various means, not only face to face but also using latest ICT tools, so students’ digital competence may also increase.

Collaboration and teamwork are key competences for students. The syllabi academic teachers draw up for their legal English and business English courses always include the element of cooperation, group work, pair work as social competences that graduates require.

The project which I introduced into my legal English classes in spring semester 2019 was aimed at deeper engagement of students in the learning and teaching process. Students were delegated a number of peer tutoring tasks which were supposed to give them more responsibility, empower them to provide feedback and keep them accountable for the quality of the assignments carried out.

The activities which I introduced into my classes were modelled so that they developed the productive language skills of:

  1. writing/drafting (legal opinions, correspondence, blog posts, contract clauses paraphrases in plain English, translations), and
  2. speaking (presentations, job interviews).

An important element of each activity was the preparation stage during which students familiarized themselves with the rules, language, layouts and standards of modern writing/correspondence or presentations.

Before they made any attempts of writing legal opinions or paraphrasing contract clauses, they were introduced to plain language rules, they studied model answers, analysed layout, etc. Only then they were asked to write a document/text on their own. Peer tutoring involved in writing activities consisted in peer correction at the first stage before the assignment was handed in for the teacher’s grading. For writing tasks students were also familiarized with the correction code, so that they used the same code and the comments were understood by the authors of the texts evaluated.

In the case of presentations students studied the structure and the language of a presentation first and they were sent an evaluation sheet with checklist questions to know what their peer evaluators will be paying attention to while listening to and collecting feedback for the presenters. During presentations the audience was asked to make notes on the evaluation sheets under four headings: delivery, content/structure, body language, and visual aids. After each presentation audience commented on the strengths and weaknesses of the presentation and asked questions, they had been asked to prepare to rehearse a question and answer session after each presentation.

To help students prepare for job interviews a speed interviewing session was organized. Interviewers were given the grid to evaluate the interviewees and had five minutes to talk to each candidate after which time the interviewees moved to another interviewer.

As a follow up activity the interviewers group together to discuss their marks for each candidate and choose the student with the best score to get the job. The interviewees, on the other hand, may discuss the questions they had to answer, which were the most challenging, what surprised them, etc. or decide which interviewer was the most professional, asked the most interesting questions, etc. When the students announce their choices, they discuss the strengths and weaknesses of individual candidates and the teacher may also give the class some feedback.

During the semester the students also prepared their CVs. The CVs were supposed to be authentic but anonymized. I photocopied the CVs and distributed them among students who worked in groups and were asked to provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the documents they got and choose the best one from the collection provided. On the basis of the peer feedback and the teacher’s feedback, students had an opportunity to polish their CVs and resubmit them.

At the end of the semester students filled in a short questionnaire in which they shared their opinion about peer tutoring activities performed during their classes. Most students (73%) admitted they improved their letter writing skills, job interviewing skills, presentation skills. The students felt the comments they received from their peers after the presentations were most useful (82%). More than a half of students (60%) found the feedback concerning their letters of advice useful, while in the case of CVs only less then one third of students (27%) valued the feed and most students (55%) were not sure whether the feedback they received helped. Eight students out of ten enjoyed taking the role of an evaluator and reported that they had improved their confidence. They also confessed that positive comments were easier to give and for most of them (78%) their peers assessment was important.

Quite interestingly, my students considered writing letters of advice as the most enjoyable of all tasks and speed interviewing as the least. The same order is reflected in the question about usefulness of the activities.

If you would like to see a detailed presentation of the results of my survey, please download the presentation.

How to Exploit a Sample Clause in Class

The clause is, for example, a standard indemnity clause like this one below:

Licensee shall indemnify and hold harmless the Licensor, its affiliates and their respective officers, directors and employees from and against all costs, expenses, damages, claims, obligations and liabilities whatsoever from facts or circumstances not attributable to the Licensor including, but not limited to, all costs arising out of the acts or defaults, whether negligent or not, of the Licensee, Licensee’s agents, sub-contractors and employees.

A sample of an authentic clause can be exploited to practise various skills. The first stage may be the selection the terms of art and other legalese words for paraphrasing. This can be done by the teacher or by the students themselves to raise their awareness of the essential features of legal texts. I have bolded the terms of art, examples of legalese and words typical of the language of contracts which I consider significant in the clause above.

Next, the students can be asked to translate the text into their native language to make sure they understand what the clause deals with and really means.

Afterwards, the students write a paraphrase or a summary of the clause using plain English and their own words. Here attention is drawn to the features of plain language, i.e. word order, the length of the sentences, the use of tabulation, linking words, correct punctuation, eliminating nominalisations and the abuse of the passive voice, accuracy, etc.

The paraphrase or the summary can be prepared in a form of an email/letter sent to a client, who needs the clarification of the said clause.

In order to improve speaking the clause can be paraphrased orally in a form of a simulated lawyer-client interview.

Additionally, students can think of potential problems the clause may give rise to when the obligations it contains are or are not carried out.

There are many websites where sample contract clauses may be found, e.g.

Life Skills. What Do Employers Want from Graduates?

Growing popularity of the law studies, overproduction of law graduates, and the new demands of the labour market require the legal English teachers to reformulate their believes and workshop. The role of LSP (Languages for Specific Purposes) teachers is constantly evolving towards the one of the language coaches, who are able to equip their students with the skills that will help the them increase employability at the outset of their careers.

Nowadays employers look for people who communicate well both verbally and in writing. The ability to use a foreign language verbally, to write clearly and succinctly, to demonstrate a wide range of profession related vocabulary, to prove the skill of critical thinking, analyse and research information in order to perform a task, may guarantee the competitive advantage over other candidates. Recruiters often mention drafting as the most striking lack among the job seekers. Therefore, applicants need to demonstrate very good, if not excellent, foreign language skills as early as at the stage of a job interview.

With 20 years of experience as an academic ESP (English for Specific Purposes) teacher I try to model my courses so that my students complete them not only with TOLES (Test of Legal English Skills) certificates, which is the requirement of my University, but also the extensive knowledge of legal and business English skills that they will transfer to respond to the expectations on the labour market when the need arises.

If I were to conduct a traditional needs analysis recommended by the ESP authors, I would have to investigate my students’ prior experience in English learning, identify their strengths and weaknesses, collect information about their lacks, wants and wishes, establish what knowledge and skills they already possess, what learning strategies they apply, what motivates them to learn, and on that basis specify what skills and knowledge they should develop during the course.

TOLES examination syllabus and its requirements, as well as my long experience, may simplify the whole task without the need of conducting the needs analysis sensu stricto. With more advanced students the completion of the task within two academic years is not a very challenging job. However, during that time the freshers start to grow up and mature, sometimes they apply for their first job and start to think about their future seriously. Thanks to them I have started to realise that their target needs, apart from the examination preparation, will also comprise the ability to deal with the tasks assessing their knowledge of English during the recruitment processes. Therefore, developing the so called life skills in the legal English classroom has recently become my secondary objective. Life skills are the skills necessary for active and successful participation in life, in this case in professional life which will help law students and law graduates face the demands of the labour market and prepare them for the challenges of the real, professional world. These may comprise among others: translation, mediation (of meaning), register transfer, public/court speaking, client interviewing, and drafting.

As a linguist and an academic I am not involved in corporate business dealings, so I have decided to track early careers of my prior students with the help of a business oriented social networking service LinkedIn in order to obtain a more detailed feedback. From my past experience and contacts with practising lawyers I knew that law graduates are expected to be professional and independent, have strong drafting, legal research and analytical skills. They have to work hard, be dedicated, enthusiastic and driven to achieve excellent results, take initiative, be brave to make judgments or prepare a memo with an objective analysis, work well with others and communicate well with clients, be flexible and able to adapt to the needs of the supervising lawyers. However, I wanted to know how ideal job candidates are recruited in practice.

A group of fifteen students was contacted and asked to participate in an email interview providing me with the descriptive answers to the questions concerning the particular tasks they had had to perform in English during the job interviews they had attended and the use of English later on the job.

My respondents often stressed that the knowledge of English was usually tested during the recruitment processes in big, multinational corporations and quite rarely in small, Polish companies and law offices. They mentioned that most often they participated in a casual conversation about general topic, e.g. their interests within the area of law or the topic of their Master theses. The objective of the conversation was to check their ability to express themselves verbally, their vocabulary including job-related vocabulary. Some respondents mentioned that such conversations had had sometimes been conducted by native speakers.

In big corporations linguistic tests are a part of the recruitment procedure. The tests may consist in correcting mistakes in an English text, completing a grammatical test, multiple choice test or lexical test checking the knowledge of specialist vocabulary which resembles certificate examinations such as TOLES or ILEC (International Legal English Certificate organized by Cambridge English). The tests are sometimes short essays or summaries of the texts on the topics related to the branch of business which the company operates in. The topics are often designed so that they also check the so called commercial awareness, i.e. the general knowledge of up-to-date economic, political or social affairs. The tests may be conducted in a traditional paper form during the job interview or online.

Another kind of assignment which is quite common are translation tasks. My respondents mentioned the following kinds of texts which they had had been asked to translate into English: sample contract clauses, extracts from the codes (e.g. the Civil Code or the Penal Code) or other specialist and legal texts, e.g. from the area of property law, company documentation, e.g. shareholders’ meetings resolutions, agendas, or power of attorneys.

Other written tasks applied during the recruitment processes were quite varied and consisted in drafting a note, pleadings, a balance sheet, an e-mail to a client/customer, editing a text written in an informal register to the typical lawyerlike style. Sometimes candidates were asked to solve case studies within a set time limit, draft a legal opinion or give legal advice to a client verbally, e.g. on establishing a business in Poland and optimizing taxes. The biggest and most prestigious employers (the Big Four or the Magic Circle) use various online tests which are in English but not necessarily check the knowledge of the language as such but other skills, e.g. numerical, verbal or reasoning ones. Candidates solving these tests have to read a lot of text and understand the instructions in English, usually under the time pressure, but the tests eventually provide the recruiters with the non-linguistic feedback about the candidates.

The range of tasks which law graduates may be faced with is vast. Therefore, it is advisable to enrich  university language courses syllabi with the activities aimed at the development of the written skill. Following our students careers may help us gain practical information what kind of tasks these might be. Unfortunately, written tasks are usually not favourably welcomed by the students, since they are usually very demanding, time consuming and more difficult as compared with the tasks developing other skills. Incorporating them into the syllabi will definitely pay off in the long run.

Jakich umiejętności językowych szukają pracodawcy wśród absolwentów?

„Będąc” doświadczonym nauczycielem akademickim i lektorem prawniczego języka angielskiego, moje zajęcia staram się prowadzić tak, aby studenci wyszli z nich przygotowani nie tylko do certyfikatowego, brytyjskiego egzaminu TOLES (Test of Legal English Skills), czego wymaga od nich i ode mnie uczelnia, ale również by przekazywana przeze mnie wiedza dała im przewagę konkurencyjną na rynku pracy.

Gdybym chciała przeprowadzić książkową analizę potrzeb moich słuchaczy, taką jaka zalecana jest na początku każdego kursu języka obcego dla celów specjalistycznych, powinnam zapytać ich o ich  wcześniejsze doświadczenia w nauce języka angielskiego, zidentyfikować ich mocne i słabe strony, zgromadzić informacje o ich brakach, potrzebach lub życzeniach, określić jaką wiedzę i umiejętności już posiadają, jakie strategie uczenia się stosują, co kieruje ich motywacją, i … wskazać jakie umiejętności powinni nabyć w trakcie kursu.

Jeżeli te docelowe umiejętności wynikają z wymagań egzaminu certyfikatowego, to nasze (moje i studentów) zadanie jest dość proste. Dzięki mojemu doświadczeniu wiem jak to zrobić bez przeprowadzania zalecanej analizy potrzeb. Mam na realizację tego celu dwa lata; dwa lata w ciągu których moi młodzi i niedoświadczeni pierwszoroczniacy zaczynają dojrzewać i dorośleć, czasami szukać pierwszej pracy, poważnie myśleć o swojej przyszłości. Dzięki nim ja zaczynam rozumieć, że ich sytuacja docelowa to również radzenie sobie z zadaniami sprawdzającymi znajomość języka angielskiego w procesie rekrutacji. Moim celem staje się umożliwienie moim słuchaczom rozwinięcie tzw. sprawności życiowych (ang. life skills), czyli umiejętności, które pozwolą młodym studentom i absolwentom prawa zmierzyć się z wymaganiami rynku pracy.

Pracodawcy cenią u absolwentów umiejętność komunikacji zarówno w mowie jak i na piśmie. Szczególna waga przypisywana jest umiejętności pisania w języku obcym w sposób zwięzły i jasny, z wykorzystaniem branżowego słownictwa, odzwierciedlająca zdolność wyszukiwania informacji oraz myślenia krytycznego i analitycznego. Jej brak często jest podkreślany przez pracodawców, a ci coraz częściej za pomocą zadań pisemnych sprawdzają poziom znajomości języka angielskiego wśród kandydatów.

Wykorzystując sieć LinkedIn nawiązałam kontakt z moimi studentami, którzy rozpoczęli już pracę zawodową i poprosiłam ich, aby podzielili się swoim doświadczeniem nabytym w procesach rekrutacji, które już przeszli.

Moi respondenci często podkreślali, że znajomość języka angielskiego była sprawdzana zazwyczaj w czasie rekrutacji do dużych, międzynarodowych firm, a rzadziej w małych, polskich firmach i kancelariach prawniczych. Najczęściej wymieniali oni luźną rozmowę na tematy ogólne np. zainteresowania z dziedziny prawa, temat pracy magisterskiej. Celem takiej rozmowy było sprawdzenie zdolności formułowania wypowiedzi i zasobu słownictwa, często słownictwa branżowego. Zdarzało się, że rozmowy te były przeprowadzane przez native speakerów.

W dużych firmach kandydaci poddawani są testom językowym, które mogą polegać na: poprawieniu błędów językowych w tekście angielskim, rozwiązaniu testu gramatycznego, testu wyboru lub testu sprawdzającego znajomość słownictwa specjalistycznego, który przypomina egzaminy certyfikatowe TOLES lub ILEC (International Legal English Certificate organizowany przez Cambridge English). Testy językowe mogą mieć też przybierać formę wypracowania lub streszczenia tekstu na tematy związane z branżą, w której działa firma lub sprawdzające wiedzę związaną z aktualnymi tematami gospodarczymi, politycznymi, społecznymi, czyli tzw. commercial awareness. Testy językowe mogą być przeprowadzane w wersji papierowej w czasie rozmowy kwalifikacyjnej lub online.

Znajomość języka angielskiego bywa też sprawdzana za pomocą zadań, w których należy wykonać tłumaczenie tekstu. W doświadczeniach moich studentów najczęściej pojawiały się tłumaczenia zapisów umowy handlowej, fragmentów kodeksów (Kodeksu cywilnego, Kodeksu karnego) lub innych tekstów specjalistycznych i prawniczych, np. z obszaru prawa rzeczowego, dokumentów spółek, np. uchwał z posiedzeń, pełnomocnictw.

Inne zadania pisemne zadawane w procesach rekrutacji polegały na sporządzeniu notki, pisma procesowego, bilansu, napisaniu maila do klienta, przeredagowaniu tekstu napisanego w stylu nieformalnym na tekst napisany językiem prawniczym. Ponadto kandydaci mogą być poproszeni o rozwiązanie case studies w określonym czasie, napisanie opinii prawnej lub ustne doradzenie zagranicznemu klientowi jak otworzyć firmę w Polsce i jak zoptymalizować podatki. Największe i najbardziej prestiżowe firmy wykorzystują również testy w języku angielskim, które niekoniecznie sprawdzają znajomość języka obcego, ale inne umiejętności, np. matematyczne.

Wachlarz zadań jest bogaty i uważam, że warto wzbogacać treści kursu języka angielskiego dla celów specjalistycznych o zadania pisemne. Niestety zazwyczaj nie należą one do ulubionych, co zapewne wynika z faktu, że są bardziej wymagające, czasochłonne i trudniejsze w porównaniu ćwiczeniami rozwijającymi inne sprawności.

Ciekawa jestem, jakie doświadczenia mają czytelnicy bloga. Zachęcam do dzielenia się nimi w komentarzach.


Osoby uczące się prawniczego języka angielskiego na pewno rozumieją ogrom wysiłku, jaki należy włożyć w naukę kolokacji…

Słownik Języka Polskiego PWN definiuje związki wyrazowe, czyli tak zwane kolokacje, jako „często spotykane połączenia wyrazów, których znaczenie wynika ze znaczenia ich składników”. W języku angielskim kolokacje mogą składać się z różnej liczby i różnych rodzajów wyrazów. Najprostszy podział wyodrębnia sześć rodzajów kolokacji: przymiotnik + rzeczownik (wrongful dismissal), (podmiot-) rzeczownik + czasownik (court ruled), rzeczownik + rzeczownik (piece of advice), przysłówek + przymiotnik (summarily tried), czasownik + przysłówek (severely criticize) i czasownik + (dopełnienie-) rzeczownik (receive a salary).

Aby nieco skomplikować sprawę można dodatkowo podzielić grupę czasownik + rzeczownik na dwie bardziej szczegółowe: czasownik + rzeczownik (make a decision) i czasownik + przyimek + rzeczownik (come to a decision).

Aby sprawę skomplikować już całkowicie możemy dodać więcej przyimków do angielskich kolokacji i utworzyć kolejne kategorie: rzeczownik + przyimek (interest in), przyimek + rzeczownik (on demand) i przymiotnik + przyimek (worth of), które stanowią tak zwane kolokacje gramatyczne. Znajomy doktorant próbował w swojej pracy badawczej policzyć wyrażenia przyimkowe występujące w tekstach wykorzystywanych w nauce języka prawniczego i uzyskał wynik… 290.

Tworzenie kolokacji w przeciwieństwie do zasad gramatyki nie podlega żadnym jasno sprecyzowanym regułom. Pewne słowa występują razem tylko dlatego, że w takim połączeniu używa się ich od dawna. Trudno jest wyjaśnić, dlaczego w języku angielskim organizując przyjęcie mówimy „to throw, hold, have a party” a nie „to make a party”. Podobnie w języku prawniczym użyjemy wyrażenia „to break the law” mówiąc o łamaniu prawa, ale już „to breach a contract” mając na myśli naruszenie warunków umowy i „to infringe a copyright” odnosząc się do naruszenia praw autorskich. Opanowanie i znajomość kolokacji jest zatem jednym z najtrudniejszych aspektów procesu uczenia się języka prawniczego i jest dużym wyzwaniem dla słuchaczy.

Część kolokacji w języku prawniczym jest stosunkowo elastyczna i niektóre czasowniki, przysłówki lub przymiotniki mogą być zastąpione ich synonimami bez zmiany znaczenia danego związku wyrazowego. Na przykład w wyrażeniu „to settle a dispute” czasownik „to settle” można zastąpić czasownikiem „to resolve” i nie spowoduje to zmiany znaczenia całej frazy.

Istnieje jednak grupa kolokacji typowych dla branżowego języka prawniczego, które powstały w wyniku wieloletniej tradycji. Są to wyrażenia, które były używane przez pokolenia prawników, przekazywane z pokolenia na pokolenie w tekstach, często bardzo niepoprawnych gramatycznie, składniowo i interpunkcyjnie. To jednak w oparciu o te teksty kształciły się kolejne roczniki prawników i wykorzystywały pewne, utarte i utrwalone przez tradycję wyrażenia i zwroty mówiąc o konkretnych zagadnieniach, zjawiskach i elementach procesu prawnego. Użycie innych wyrażeń i zwrotów wprowadziłoby dwuznaczność i niejasność. Dlatego też, w procesie nauczania i uczenia się angielskiego języka prawniczego tak bardzo ważne jest rozwijanie znajomości specjalistycznego słownictwa ze szczególnym naciskiem na kolokacje, gdyż mają one wpływ nie tylko na płynność wypowiedzi, ale również świadczą o profesjonalizmie użytkownika. Zwolennik prostego angielskiego Rupert Haigh ilustruje powyższe zagadnienie przykładami kolokacji (czasownik + rzeczownik) używanymi do określenia zakończenia różnorodnych procesów, spraw, zdarzeń w obrębie prawa:  „annul marriage/contract”, „cancel order/meeting/appointment”, „discharge obligation/duty/invoice/contract/from liability”, „dismiss application/employee/appeal”, „repeal law/statute”, „repudiate contract”, „rescind contract”, „revoke order/power of attorney/ permission/authorization”, „terminate contract/employment”, „withdraw  offer/permission/support”.

Powyższe przykłady pokazują jak ogromnym wyzwaniem jest dążenie do poprawności językowej w procesie uczenia się języka prawniczego, co z kolei jest jedną z najważniejszych umiejętności oczekiwanych przez pracodawców. Badanie przeprowadzone przez Catherine Mason z wydawnictwa Global Legal English wśród największych międzynarodowych kancelarii prawniczych, tzw. magicznego kręgu, w 2010 roku potwierdziło, że doskonała znajomość języka angielskiego jest jednym z najważniejszych kryteriów rekrutacyjnych. Badania cytowane powyżej pokazują, że wyrażenia przyimkowe są bardzo istotnym elementem języka prawniczego i mogą być źródłem wielu nieścisłości jak chociażby w wyrażeniu „submit your offer WITHIN 7 days” (w ciągu 7 dni, tj. któregokolwiek dnia przed upływem 7 dni) i „submit your offer IN 7 days” (za 7 dni, tj. w siódmym dniu licząc od dzisiaj). Innym przykładem jest zrozumienie różnicy pomiędzy „draft the contract BY 5 o’clock” (napisać/skończyć pisanie do godz. 5.00) i ,,draft the contract UNTIL 5 o’clock” (pisać do godz. 5.00).

Jeśli są Państwo zainteresowani rozwijaniem swojej znajomości prawniczego języka angielskiego zachęcam do korzystania z, opracowanych przeze mnie i moich studentów z Akademii Leona Koźmińskiego, gotowych, darmowych fiszek dostępnych wraz z ćwiczeniami na stronie oraz na urządzeniach mobilnych po zainstalowaniu aplikacji memrise (iPhone i Android).

Memrise Tutorial

This week I am going to present at the BLEC Conference „LANGUAGE AND LAW – TRADITIONS, TRENDS AND PERSPECTIVES” at the University of Białystok. I will talk about using memrise in teaching Legal English. Below you can find the abstract of my presentation.

I have also prepared a handout in which I explain step by step how to create courses on memrise. I hope it will be useful for you and your students.

Memrise is an educational tool available both online and for mobile devices. Memrise uses flashcards and mnemonic techniques to aid in teaching foreign languages and memorizing information from other subjects, e.g. geography, law or mathematics. Memrise courses are created by its users through the process of crowdsourcing, therefore they are tailored to the individual needs of the users and may focus on the specific content of a particular coursebook or classes.

The paper will attempt to present possibilities of using memrise in teaching and learning legal English vocabulary during a tertiary course leading to TOLES (Test of Legal English Skills) certificate examination. The paper will look various types of exercises which facilitate memorizing vocabulary, learning collocations, prepositional phrases, develop the skill of paraphrasing and defining legal terms of art in plain English. Application of the crowdsourcing method enables the learners to participate in the process of the course creation and constitutes for them a supplementary, out of class exposure to the target language.

The second part of the paper will discuss the results of the research conducted by the author among her law students. The aim of the research was to investigate the students’ opinions about memrise as a tool which might facilitate individual learning of the specialist language as well as to assess whether memrise may influence the test results achieved by the students during the legal English course. The paper will contrastively analyse the progress tests results achieved by the students who have used memrise to revise and recycle language material and those who have chosen traditional (non-mobile) methods of learning. The research will also attempt to address the question whether the students who have been the contributors to the content for memrise courses have performed in tests better than those who have only been the users.

The Legal English Manual – a Review

The Legal English Manual

by Alison Wiebalck, Clemens von Zedtwitz,

Richard Norman and Kathrin Weston Walsh

Manz, C.H. Beck, Helbing Lichtenhahn 2013

A new manual on legal English, by four authors all of whom are qualified legal professional with either British, American or Swiss background, comes from C.H.Beck in cooperation with Manz and Helbing Lichtenhahn.

The manual is not a traditional legal English coursebook. The first and the main part of the manual is a glossary book which presents legal terminology for fourteen areas of law in a form of short texts which explain the most important topics of the law and present the legal terms of art in context, usually Anglo-American but with some references made to Swiss law.

The practice areas include: contract law, tort law, company law, employment law, family law, inheritance law, insurance law, intellectual property law, competition law, civil procedure, arbitration, bankruptcy, tax law and criminal law. This cross-sectional approach makes the manual a useful tool for legal English learners who wish to quickly grasp the legal terms in a nutshell, revise material they have already covered in a legal English course or prepare for legal English examinations since the content of the manual corresponds with the syllabi of the most recognizable legal English examinations  (e.g. TOLES).

Each of the fourteen areas of law is organized in the same pattern. First the key legal terms are presented and used in a text clarifying various legal issues. Then the use of the most important terms is illustrated with some authentic samples of texts showing how the terms are used by lawyers. Later three or four definitions of the most representative terms in each area are provided and finally at the end of each section there is a collocations corner.

From the methodological point of view such organization of the book content has certain advantages, since it:

  • presents the most important legal English vocabulary in context in one book
  • uses plain English which reflects the current trends in linguistics and law
  • clearly explains the intricacies of the law in short notes loaded with the terms of art
  • shows how to clearly define sometimes complex legal terms
  • stresses the importance of collocations.

The texts contained in the manual can be of help not only for legal English learners but also for teachers who can use the them in a variety of ways to revise the language already taught for example in a form of short dictoglosses (i.e. classroom dictations in which students are asked to reconstruct a text after they listening and noting down key words only).

The only drawback which I have spotted so far is the lack of alphabetical index at the end of the manual which could help the users find a specific term in the book faster and without much effort.

The consecutive two parts of the book concentrate on the development of writing and speaking skills, while the last part is an overview of plain English and contains a short history of this linguistic phenomenon and the rules for writing plain which I myself strongly promote.

The second, legal writing part is definitely useful, since not many coursebooks teach legal writing. The manual clarifies the issue of register transfer by opposing informal and formal language for correspondence. Besides it contains a vast collection of standard phrases and templates for a legal memorandum, a letter to opposing counsel, a letter to a client and a reply letter agreeing and declining a request for documents or information.

The part of the manual for oral communication contains an incredibly rich collection of phrases and expressions for oral advocacy, oral negotiation, client interview and job interview.

I recommend the manual as a self-study book for all learners of legal English and as a supplementary material for any legal English course to be used in the class for presentation or revision of legal vocabulary, teaching paraphrasing, defining and collocations, for developing writing skill and preparation for speaking tasks.

EDIT 16 January 2018: the second edition of Legal English Manual is now available at


New Legal English Handbook from Hart Publishing

Common Law Legal English and Grammar

A Contextual Approach

Alison Riley and Patricia Sours


Lord Denning, an influential but controversial English judge, stated that 'Words are the lawyer’s tools of trade’. This course book reflects that conviction as it focuses on words, the language of the law – legal terms, expressions, and grammar – introduced systematically with relevant aspects of the law, and examined in context through analytical reading activities based on original legal texts selected for their interest and importance in different branches of the common law system. This book explores constitutional law, criminal law, tort, and contract; yet includes international legal contexts, with a particular focus on human rights and European law.

The presentation of legal concepts and terminology in context in each chapter is graded so that the course progresses, building on the vocabulary and law encountered in earlier chapters. Each chapter, organized thematically, includes a series of activities – tasks – to complete, yet the book does not presuppose previous knowledge of legal English or of the common law: full answer keys and reflective commentary on both legal and linguistic aspects are given and sections marked 'Advanced’ offer especially challenging materials. Consolidation sections are designed to test students’ global comprehension of the legal texts analysed, including precise usage of legal vocabulary in context, with solutions.

Common Law Legal English and Grammar is addressed to the non-native speaker of English, and in particular, intermediate to advanced students who are studying law, or academics with a professional interest in Anglo-American law. Practising lawyers will also find that the book offers valuable analysis of the language of legal documents.

Please note, this book is not available for purchase in Italy.

The Authors

Alison Riley is Lecturer in Legal English at the University of Ferrara.

Patricia Sours is Lecturer in Legal English at the University of Padua.

Book Details

June 2014   528pp   Pbk   9781849465762  £25 / €32.50


If you would like to place an order you can do so through the Hart Publishing website (link below).

Alternatively please contact Hart Publishing’s Distributor, Macmillan Distribution Ltd by telephone or e-mail

Address: Macmillan Distribution (MDL), Brunel Road, Houndmills, Basingstoke, RG21 6XS, UK

Telephone Number: 01256 32924



Hart Publishing Ltd. is registered in England No. 3307205

Hart Publishing Ltd. is an Imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc

WIKI for Students of Law has been specially designed for Polish and Russian students of Law.

The Project is coordinated by dr Elena Vyushkina from Saratov State Law Academy, Russia and dr Aleksandra Łuczak from Kozminski University, Warsaw, Poland.

Below here is a presentation of WIKI DURALEX for the 5th International Scientific and Methodological Conference on „Information and Communication Technologies in Linguistics, ELT and Crosscultural Communication” at Lomonosov Moscow State University on 7-9 June 2012

The article describing DURALEX WIKI Project written by dr Aleksandra Łuczak from Kozminski University has been awarded the third place in the competition organised by a Polish magazine for foreign languages teachers „Języki obce w szkole” and can be read here: