English for law at the University of Malaya

| December 4, 2013
English for law at the University of Malaya

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Stefanie Pillai and Angela Satomi Kajita
University of Malaya

Stefanie Pillai is an associate professor at the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University of Malaya (UM). She started her teaching career at UM teaching English for Law. Her main areas of research are the pronunciation of Malaysian English and the documentation of Malaccan Portuguese Creole.

Angela Kajita is a visiting language teacher of Portuguese at the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University of Malaya. She also teaches English for Law. Her areas of interest include language documentation, historical linguistics and the phonology of Portuguese.

A common complaint among Malaysian employers is the lack of English proficiencyand communication skills among graduates (Pillai et al., 2012). The same finding was also reported by the Malaysian Bar Council based on a survey of a group of law graduates, chambering pupils and newly appointed lawyers (Cheng, 2012; Devaraj, 2012). For graduates intending to enter the legal fraternity whether as a lawyer or in other law-related capacities, English language proficiency is paramount given this fraternity largely operates in English, despite requirements to use the Malay language for court-related matters (Powell & Hashim, 2011). With the passing of the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2012 (Anis, 2012), local graduates will find themselves having to compete with non-Malaysian lawyers, and thus, they need to ensure that they are equipped with the relevant skills, which include being competent in English, to face such competition.

In a bid to address the lack of English proficiency and communication skills among law graduates, and also to ensure that graduates are equipped with relevant employability skills, public universities in Malaysia incorporate compulsory English language courses in many of their undergraduate courses (Pillai et al., 2012). These courses comprise general English language proficiency and subject- or content-specific English language courses depending on the level of proficiency of the students and the degree programmes they are undertaking. One such subject-specific course is the English for Law course offered to law students at the University of Malaya.

[private] Pages 406-412

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Category: Curriculum Contexts, Volume 15 Issue 4