At the new studyFIT English Learning Support service we are busy preparing language bridging courses for students who would like to improve their English in order to bring it in line with the requirements of their chosen academic pathway. Already established however, are some language and intercultural communication courses offered by the Law Faculty.
Promoting interdisciplinarity and intercultural communication are essential considerations if people are to understand each other’s legal cultures and practices. So declares EDELNet, the European Distance Education in Law Network, which has been steadily implementing its pedagogic concept for the greater part of the last decade. EDELNet consists of three top-notch institutions: the FernUniversität in Hagen, the Open Universiteit Nederland (OUNl) and Spain’s Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED). Two of the fruits of their labours are available to all FernUniversität students: the Open Moodle courses Legal English I and II. The courses are primarily aimed at students intending to participate in EDELNet’s Bachelor Summer School; however, the Open Moodle setting means that both courses are fair game for anyone interested in bolstering their knowledge of English legalese.
Dagmara Döll, LL.M. of the FernUniversität Law Faculty worked with Prof Sebastian
Kubis in creating the dual courses
Introduction to the American Legal System (Module 55212) and Introduction to the Common Law (Module 55508). In the latter course, successful completion of Legal English I and II is mandatory. Speaking of the goals of the aforementioned introductory courses, Döll says: “The aim is not to teach students grammar per se. What is of particular importance to us is that students deal with the jurisprudence of Anglo-American law.” To facilitate this, Döll and Kubis had to compile content that is dynamic and adapted to the needs of the times. Döll elaborates: “Some elements, such as court decisions, are exchanged each semester. The biggest challenge for us was to put together suitable materials for the students because foreign-language law literature that is aimed not only at native speakers is very rare.”
The Legal English courses contain a variety of input materials and embedded assessments where the core concepts and requisite vocabulary can be acquired by the engaged. It so happens that students must be in possession of a foreign language certificate in order to graduate from law school – in addition to fulfilling the other requirements of the state examination – and such a certificate is up for grabs for those who attain 80% or higher.
“So far, our students are very satisfied with the course,“ gushes Dagmara Döll, reflecting on the Moodle feedback and emails of approval that flood her inbox. “We have a very low failure rate in the final exams.”
If you’re reading towards a law degree, this is a course you’d do well to explore. And even if your specialisation lies elsewhere, you could still dip in if you don’t mind your language courses coming with a dollop of juridical jargon.
For more information, take a look at the course summaries here: Introduction to the American Legal System (Module 55212) and Introduction to the Common Law (Module 55508).