Using corpora in Legal English
A corpus is a large collection of written and/or spoken material collected to show the state of a language. Corpora can be extremely useful tools in language teaching as they help both the teacher and the learner to understand exactly how language is currently being used. They can also be excellent resources when it comes to developing materials. A number of corpora are available for free online. Among the best are: Collins Cobuild, the British National Corpus and the Corpus of Contemporary American English.
Teachers and researchers often create their own corpora, focusing on a particular area of language or source e.g. a set of newspapers, recordings taken at conferences or a collection of legal texts. One way of doing this is to import your own texts into a corpus tool, such as the popular WordSmith Tools. Another way is to create a search engine that limits searches to trusted websites at which you can be certain to find useful material websites. The Rollyo website lets you do this, and below you can find the link to the Legal English Corpus search engine that Matt created to help our research into the coursebook Introduction to International Legal English and the TransLegal Learner's Dictionary of Law. They should be useful to lawyers in finding out more about the way that language is used and for teachers wanting to create materials that reflect contemporary Legal English.
For an excellent introduction to corpora and their use in English language teaching and learning, see http://www.onestopenglish.com/section.asp?docid=155104