Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Sprachenzentrum

The 1st EULETA Workshop

The European Legal English Teachers' Association (EULETA) was formed in 2007 by teachers, lawyers, lawyer-linguists and materials writers to promote continuing professional development for teachers of Legal English. Its creation followed the Legal English Teachers in Germany Conference 2006 (Greifswald), an event of tremendous importance in the history of the professionalisation of Legal English teaching in Europe.

Following two very successful EULETA conferences (Passau 2007 and Ulm 2008), the association decided to run a major conference every two years, with a themed workshop to take place during the non-conference years. The first EULETA workshop took place on May 16 2009 at the Language Centre of Humboldt University, Berlin. The focus was the testing, evaluation and assessment of Legal English skills.

The workshop got off to an excellent start with an entertaining history of EULETA given by David Bowskill, one of the organisers. David’s talk was followed by an excellent presentation by fellow organisers, Cornelia Hacke, Lutz Helge and Christa Koebsch: "Testing Legal English at Unicert® II and III". This fascinating insight into the creation of reliable tests according to the general UNIcert® regulations set the standard for the five sessions to follow.

Andrew Frost took us through the development of the latest in the Cornelsen Short Course Series, English for Legal Professionals. Two other recently published books were also on display during the conference: English for Law in Higher Education Studies (Garnet Education, 2008) and Introduction to International Legal English, an intermediate level course aimed at law students and legal professionals (CUP, 2008). The publication of major titles in Legal English reflects the extent to which the EFL market has woken up to the English language needs of international lawyers, a market fuelled by the increasing numbers of Legal English courses on offer both in tertiary level education and private language schools. Such courses often lead students to the Cambridge International Legal English Certificate (ILEC), an exam referenced by several of the workshop presenters including an excellent session given by one of the ILEC exam writers, James Arnold (University of Surrey, UK): "Tests of Reading in English for Legal Purposes - Gauging the Accessibility of Texts".

Prepositions are possibly the most difficult aspect of English for non-native speakers to master; this is certainly true for learners of Legal English. Mariusz Beclawski of Warsaw University took us through both the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching prepositions, provoking interesting discussion along the way. This session was followed by some interesting thoughts by Mary Redmond of Dublin University on "Testing and assessing listening comprehension in the Legal English classroom", demonstrated with an extract from oral argument. The workshop ended with an instructive demonstration of a number of short activities for ILEC students by Matt Firth.

All aspects of the workshop were extremely well organised, and the extent to which participants were impressed by the high standards was reflected by the number of new members that joined the association, coupled with an unprecedented number of attendees at the AGM. EULETA now boasts members from across the globe, and is attracting sponsorship from many of the key institutions in English for Specific Purposes including Business Spotlight, Cambridge ESOL, Cambridge University Press, Cornelsen, Garnet, Klett and TransLegal. Preparations are now underway for next year’s conference, details can be found at the EULETA discussion list.

Matt Firth, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland