Monday, April 15, 2013

Articles I'm reading now...

Now that the semester is all but over, I anticipate having more time to read. Here are four articles that sound interesting, with application to teaching international students and/or legal writing.

"Procedural Vocabulary in Law Case Reports" by Simon Harris
English for Specific Purposes, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 289-308, 1977.

For student legal readers of English case reports, being able to interpret and evaluate references to other cases is a crucial reading comprehension task. This paper examines features of the text and task in law case reports which are both characteristic and problematic. Using extended extracts from two English appellate case reports, where the discussion centres on other texts, the paper then examines a lexical feature of this genre, which may be of help in classifying and evaluating judicial evaluation of past cases. In conclusion, the paper suggests possible pedagogic applications to the teaching of legal reading.

Don't let the English-isms throw you: "law case reports" are judicial opinions and the "ratio" of a case is the rationale of the decision. More and more I feel that "legal reading" should be an integral part of "legal writing," especially for international students, who usually have much less contextual knowledge of case law than students brought up in the common law system. 

Read more here:

"Are we encouraging patchwriting? Reconsidering the role of the pedagogical context in ESL student writers' transgressive intertextuality" by Ali R. Abasi and Nahal Akbari
English for Specific Purposes, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 267-284, 2008.

This is a topic that is near and dear to me, and this article takes an interesting approach to why students may be patchwriting. The article suggests that the rhetorical context within which we place students - as learners not capable of doing and not expected to do real, professional writing - emphasizes "reproduction of authority over its production." 

From the Abstract:
[T]here is now a consensus that a multiplicity of cognitive and social reasons might be behind students’ transgressive intertextuality, and that it needs to be treated as an issue related to learning rather than ill-intentions. While recent research has increasingly drawn attention to the role of the social in the phenomenon, an issue that has received little attention is the part that the immediate pedagogical context might play in students’ unacceptable appropriative practices. There is evidence to believe that this context does in fact play a role. 
Read more here:

"Application of Multimodal Information Corpus Techniques in Legal English Teaching" by Jingbang Du
International Journal of Law, Language & Discourse, Vol. 2, No. 3, 19-38, 2012.

The article defines "multimodal information processing" as "the processing of information involving more than one mode of communication, i.e., information picked up by human perception through different sensory channels." In other words, as technology becomes ever more present in the classroom, videos, pictures, slides, music, and the like increase the modes of communication available to us. 

From the Introduction:
This paper focuses on the application of the MIC [Multimodal Information Corpus] techniques to legal English teaching in the classroom environment. It introduces and explains some relevant critical concepts, presents the techniques that can be used, discusses the procedures, methods and skills for information processing, and analyzes the principles and problems in teaching legal English. It also discusses assessment of students' ability concerning multimodal information processing.

Read more here: [PDF]

"Legal Writing, the Remix: Plagiarism and Hip Hop Ethics" by Kim D. Chanbonpin
Mercer Law Review, Vol. 63, No. 2, 597-638, 2012.

I had the pleasure of attending Professor Chanbonpin's presentation at the LWI One-Day Conference at Southern University Law Center in December. You may not think that hip hop music and plagiarism in legal writing have much in common, but Chanbonpin makes a strong case for her "attempt to theorize a hip hop ethic and develop its application to the teaching, the academic study, and perhaps eventually, the reform of the law." 

According to Chanbonpin, hip hop music and legal writing rely heavily on the work of others to "build credibility and authority." Both genres also follow an ethic of giving credit to that prior work. Borrowing others' work without giving the appropriate credit is called plagiarism in the academic world; in the hip hop community, it's called "biting." Interesting! 

Read more here:

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