Jean-Luc Delghust, Maïté Dupont & Sandrine Mulkers

The Legal Vocabulary Project: developing vocabulary learning strategies through collaboration

Audience focus: Teachers of adolescent learners, Teachers of adult learners, Business English teachers, Academic English teachers, Teacher trainers, Freelance teachers


The presentation aims to present a collaborative approach to the study of vocabulary, through which learners are brought to reflect on their vocabulary learning strategies. The approach was developed in the framework of our BAC1 legal English course, and consists of two main steps:

  1. methodological sessions designed to help students develop useful strategies for learning new vocabulary (e.g. what makes a good definition? How do we select the right meaning of a word in a specific context (cf. battery in a general vs legal context)? How can we use online resources such as Reverso Context or Linguee to come up with helpful examples of a word?);

  2. design of an online database of student-written definitions, example sentences and exercises on the Moodle platform. Each student was assigned a small number (3 or 4) of words of legal vocabulary that they had to work on thoroughly, using the methods and tools taught in the first step of the project.

The result was a large, richly-documented database of legal vocabulary (c. 800 words in total), reviewed by all three teachers in the team and converted into Quizlet form, which the students could use as a basis to study for the exam. In addition, one side benefit of the project was to help students use the wide array of online tools at their disposal (e.g. Linguee, Reverso, Quizlet) in the most efficient ways possible.
In our presentation, we will present the project, its output and challenges, as well as our plans to make the project evolve in the next academic years. We would also like to encourage participants to think about the advantages of a collaborative approach to vocabulary learning, where students are accompanied into building their own learning tools and rethinking their learning strategies. We are convinced that this approach encourages deeper and more effective learning of English vocabulary.


The presenting team teach English for Lawyers to BAC1 Law students at the Institut des langues vivantes de l'Université Catholique de Louvain.
Jean-Luc Delghust also teaches Dutch and provides techno-pedagogical support and training to colleagues.
Maïté Dupont also teaches linguistics at UCLouvain Saint-Louis Brussels and l'Université Catholique de Louvain
Sandrine Mulkers graduated as an Italian-English-French translator before studying Germanic languages.