Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Multiple Perspectives on ESP Needs Analysis and Research

ESP = English for Specific Purposes, e.g., Legal English and Teaching International Law Students

It's a short article, but it brings up an important issue that may be overlooked in developing LL.M. programs and courses: needs analysis and research.

Multiple Perspectives on ESP Needs Analysis and Research
by Kevin Knight on the TESOL Blog

The author suggests that multiple perspectives must be considered for a needs analysis to be valuable. Focusing on "multiple perspectives" may manifest in a variety of ways. For example, from the article:

In the field of professional communication research, Candlin & Crichton (2012) write of a multi-perspectival research framework. This framework includes multiple and overlapping perspectives of site-specific discursive practices. Briscoe (2009) defines discursive practices in education to be as follows: 
Briefly defined, discursive practices in education are the uses of language in an educational context (e.g., the typical pattern of teacher question, student answer, teacher feedback) or the use of language in context relating to education (e.g., state legislators’ talk when making new educational laws).
Alternative perspectives may include focusing on "necessities, lacks and wants":
Needs or ‘Target Needs’ are comprised of necessities, lacks and wants (Hutchinson & Waters, 1989, p. 54). First, necessities are ‘determined by the demands of the target situation.’ This procedure involves the estimation of necessary skills required for the learner to work efficiently in the target situation. Second, lacks are the gaps between the target proficiency and existing proficiency of the learner. Third, wants are perceptions of the learners about their own needs (Hutchinson & Waters, 1989, pp. 55–57).

Just how important is good grammar?

In this recent decision, the court considered the placement of a comma in a settlement agreement.

Erie Boulevard Hydropower v. State of New York

From the settlement agreement:
The intent and purpose of the agreement being so to operate the Hinckley State Reservior [sic] that, after serving the canal uses and purposes, of the State, it may so far as practicable, be fully used for the storage of water and the regulations of the flow of West Canada Creek below the same for the benefit of the power property and riparian lands of [claimant] on West Canada Creek below the Hinckley State Reservior [sic]. Provided, [h]owever, that during periods of extradordinary [sic] or unusual drought, flood or emergency caused by the temporary failure of other sources of water supply for the canal use, . . . the Superintendent of Public Works or other officer . . ., without the payment of any damages to [claimant], . . . may temporarily vary or entirely suspend the operation of th[e] said dam and reservior [sic] as described and laid down in the operating diagram aforesaid during the periods of such extraordinary or unusual
drought, flood or emergency caused by the temporary failure of other sources of [water] supply for the canal use . . . .

The explanation by the court:
The key phrase at issue here addresses the parties' intent that defendants operate the reservoir such that, "after serving the canal uses and purposes, of the State," the reservoir may be fully used to store water and regulate its flow for the benefit of claimant's power facility and riparian rights. Defendants contend that they may operate the reservoir for any State purpose – including protection of a local supply of drinking water – in the first instance. On the other hand, claimant contends that defendants may only consider the State's canal uses and canal purposes before fully using the reservoir for claimant's needs, after which defendants may consider other uses or purposes. Defendants' interpretation would be accurate if the comma was placed after the word "uses" rather than after "purposes" (see A.J. Temple Marble & Tile v Union Carbide Marble Care, 87 NY2d 574, 581 [1996]; cf. Valleylab, Inc. v New York City Health & Hosps. Corp., 228 AD2d 180, 181 [1996]). As written, "canal" -4- 516510 modifies the entire phrase "uses and purposes," and the phrase "canal uses and purposes" is modified by the ensuing phrase "of the State" (see People v Case, 42 NY2d 98, 101 [1977]). 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is it Time for Contractions in Legal Writing?

Although I always tell my students not to use contractions in legal writing, this author makes a good case for them. What do you think?

Is it Time for Contractions in Legal Writing?
by Matthew Salzwedel on Lawyerist

Monday, January 13, 2014

On Writing in Grad School

Somewhat disturbing article on how writing is given short shrift, even in grad school.

On Writing in Grad School
by Kevin Gotkin on The Chronicle of Higher Education's blog The Conversation

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cultivating Focus

Although their target audience is teachers of younger students, these short video clips are certainly applicable to law students!

Daniel Goldman, author of Emotional Intelligence, talks about the importance of cultivating focus in the classroom. I really like what he says about the emotional atmosphere of a classroom and how distraction is the new normal. For international students, creating a good learning atmosphere and limiting distractions seem to me to be especially important.

Daniel Goleman on the Importance of Cultivating Focus 

  1. Daniel Goleman: The Emotional Atmosphere of a Classroom Matters (1:10)
  2. Daniel Goleman: Three Kinds of Focus (1:33)
  3. Daniel Goleman: Distraction is the New Normal (1:24)
  4. Daniel Goleman: Breathing Buddies (1:48)
  5. Daniel Goleman: Attention is Like a Muscle (1:16)
  6. Daniel Goleman: The Importance of Downtime (1:34)
  7. Daniel Goleman: Parents Teach Focus (1:34)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Law v. Science

I love this quote about the difference between law and the natural sciences. 

"If what we are discussing were a point of law or of the humanities, in which neither true nor false exists, one might trust in subtlety of mind and readiness of tongue and in the greater experience of the writers, and expect him who excelled in those things to make his reasoning most plausible, and one might judge it to be the best. But in the natural sciences, whose conclusions are true and necessary and have nothing to do with human will, one must take care not to place oneself in the defense of error; for here a thousand Demostheneses and a thousand Aristotles would be left in the lurch by every mediocre wit who happened to hit upon the truth for himself."

The quote is from Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems by Galileo Galilei, which was banned by the Catholic Church when it was written because of Galileo's expressed view that the sun is the center of the universe. 

Read more about Banned Books Week here