The ESSE Collaborative Project Workshop Scheme

Developing Mediation Skills for Teaching Legal English

By Patrizia Anesa & Barbora Chovancova

 4-5 October, 2018
Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería de Sistemas Informáticos, MADRID

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The project proposal was presented by Patrizia Anesa (University of Bergamo, Italy) and Barbora Chovancová (Masaryk University Language Centre, Brno, Czech Republic). Members of the project are: Ismael Arinas Pellon (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain), Shona Whyte (Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, France) and Halina Sierocka (University of Białystok, Poland).

 The workshop gave the participants the chance to discuss the project proposal and offer a definition of the first operational steps. Some of the sessions were also open to members of the Comm&Learn Research Team based at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (in particular Carola Álvarez-Bolado Sánchez, José Luis Llavona Arregui, Luis Dochao Moreno, and Éva Jakusné Harnos). The workshop also allowed us to discuss future strategies and potential forms of cooperation, as well as to share ideas about how project findings can be presented and circulated to colleagues internationally.

The term mediation can denote both a tool to reach a consensus in ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) and a language skill which enables communication over a linguistic barrier. The project intends to address both aspects. It also aims at defining good practices in the field of mediation to be developed for the legal profession, identifying educational needs and gaps in the area (emerging across different countries), and producing flexible programmes for legal English in a globalized, fast evolving legal world. The approach is not limited to linguistic features but will be contextualised by information offered by practitioners and teacher educators.

The complexity of mediation dynamics encompasses phenomena such as the popularization of information and its recontexualization, especially in teaching and training contexts. Thus, mediation will also be observed from a communicative perspective as a skill which has been relatively overlooked in ESP teaching (Chovancova 2016). The project will investigate practices which can be implemented in the teaching of Legal English in light of the importance of such discursive practices in making informed decisions. Thus, the analysis also aims to evaluate to what extent mediation may be defined as a crucial skill in legal language instruction and teacher education, and will provide practical applications of the integration of mediation into the legal English syllabus. In particular, legal language learning is inherently linked to content construction in Content-Based Instruction (CBI) and English Medium Instruction (EMI). Thus, a syllabus focusing on technical mediation material, interactive teamwork, and communication skills is crucial for efficient teaching and learning. Practical examples of qualitative and quantitative results from courses involving different types of technology-mediated teaching and learning in different universities will also be considered.

The overall objective is thus to offer insights into ways of enhancing and modernizing legal English teaching and learning by taking into account skills which are often ignored in traditional materials, but which in turn represent essential abilities in specific professional contexts.

This workshop represented a great opportunity to discuss the strengths and weakness of the project and exchange ideas with other experts in the field. We would like to express our gratitude to ESSE, which supported it and made it possible.