What are the benefits of teaching Australian law to non-law students from non-English speaking backgrounds and cultures?
For students who choose to study law, the attraction to law is a given but for students who study law as incidental to their degree, the intrinsic interest in law is not a given. This challenge is further magnified in the case of students for whom English is a second language and the law is foreign to their previous civic experiences. This paper begins with a brief conceptual discussion of the perceived benefits of studying Australian law as a non-law student from a non-English speaking background and culture. It then reports on the findings of focus-group research conducted with non-law students from non-English speaking backgrounds who are enrolled at the Sydney campus of CQUniversity and with the academic staff who are involved in teaching these courses. The focus group research components of the paper seek to identify the perceptions of the teachers and students engaged in the incidental study of law and to identify pedagogical approaches and strategies that facilitate teaching and learning in a culturally diverse teaching and learning environment. Student-participants express their opinions about studying law as part of their degree and reflect on the value of the courses in relation to their professional and personal outcomes. The lecturers and tutors discuss the challenges they have encountered and the strategies adopted to effectively engage these students in legal issues, processes and discourse as well as identify effective teaching approaches, strategies, materials and assessment in the education of second language, non-law students.