By James Jewitt, BABSEACLE Volunteer
The CLE English Manual, written by BABSEACLE director Kevin Morley and Sophie Geoghegan, a member of the Thailand team, is designed to teach students how to use the manual and how to improve their English language skills. It also introduces them to legal concepts, legal ethics and clinical legal education (CLE), in English rather than their mother tongue, because English has become a second language for many and is used globally. The manual contains legal and CLE text extracts, English language learning exercises and discussion topics that stimulate class debate, and that test the understanding and knowledge of a topic, before and after it is discussed.
Jessica Avalon, Frances Bradshaw and Georgina Fry, volunteers from Australian National University have recently prepared lesson plans for BABSEACLE, which are based upon information and exercises that appear in the CLE English Manual as part of their involvement in a virtual clinic course between Australian National University. Using their excellent work, we have been able to test the effectiveness and utility of the CLE English Manual, as a teaching tool for Universities, Community Legal Education sessions and workshops, and whether it improves the understanding of English legal terms. For about the last month, I have been teaching Chapter 2, of the CLE English Manual, to the current crop of 7 BABSEACLE interns, from Thailand’s Thaksin University, in order to determine how well the CLE English Manual will function as a practical teaching tool.
The Interns were very engaged in their lessons, as they were with us to learn, and they wanted to improve their English language skills. As Law students, their vested interest in the topics under discussion overcame the language barrier. Despite their wide range in linguistic ability, the stronger English speakers were amazingly helpful in translating the information to those with less command of the English language. Whilst much class time was spent explaining and defining unfamiliar words, there was unmistakable improvement in learning those words that should prove helpful to their future legal careers.
Overall, thanks to the fantastic work done by Kevin Morley and Sophie Geoghegan in putting the CLE English Manual together and the lesson plans created by the QUT Volunteers, that will provide an exceptional model for others who need to create their own lesson plans using the CLE English Manual, these Law students are leaving BABSEACLE not only with their English skills improved but also their Legal English skills improved, meaning the CLE English Manual accomplished its task.