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Revisiting Cinematic FASP and English for Legal Purposes in a Self-learning Environment

FASP cinématographique et anglais pour juristes en apprentissage autonome: quelques écueils
Shaeda Isani
p. 26-38


Cet article propose d’analyser l’exploitation de la FASP (fiction à substrat professionnel) cinématographique comme support pédagogique dans le cadre des cours d’anglais juridique destinés à sensibiliser l’apprenant à la culture professionnelle juridique des pays anglo-saxons.
Après un bref résumé de la FASP, un genre de fiction récemment identifié, et une présentation de la FASP juridique, l’article résume les particularités de l’enseignement de l’anglais juridique. Il s’attarde plus particulièrement sur l’analyse du phénomène du « paradoxe français » ou la substitution de la culture professionnelle cible pour la culture professionnelle source, un phénomène récurrent notamment dans une approche pédagogique fondée sur l’utilisation de la FASP juridique cinématographique en autonomie.
Pour conclure, l’article place le problème didactique dans une perspective d’anthropologie culturelle pour mieux comprendre les processus cognitifs et affectifs qui sous-tendent la découverte de sa propre culture, professionnelle ou autre.

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Texte intégral

Introduction: the pedagogical dynamics of visual literacy

  • 1 EGP : English for General Purposes.
  • 2 LSP : Language for Specific Purposes.

1Since the introduction of the VCR into the language learning environment, filmic text, whether authentic or didactic, documentary or fiction, has become standard resource material in both EGP1 and LSP2 teaching.

2While the benefits of using filmic text to boost language learning processes are well-documented, it is, nevertheless, worth noting here the quantum leap that has taken place since the introduction of the now “obsolete” VCR into language learning classrooms during the 1970s and today’s information and communication technology-based environment where even 10-year olds possess the technology, know-how and desire to gain rapid aural and visual access to information.

3In terms of learning, this revolution has given rise to a generation of aurally and visually literate learners. This means that our students, sophisticated consumers of sound and image, interact with aural and visual text in the same way that students of previous generations interacted with written text. In the new pedagogical dynamics of aural and visual literacy, the use of filmic text as a teaching support goes beyond the traditional “entertainment” added-value often cited to justify the use of cinematic legal FASP not only in ESP but in subject domain teaching as well. In universities, law professors teaching “dull” law subjects increasingly resort to book and cinematic legal FASP as case study resource material instead of text-book real-life ones, as Francis M. Nevins, professor of Law at St. Louis University, explains:

Fiction and film are now law school tools in traditional courses like Estates and in more exotic courses like Copyright. […] When used properly they can enrich both law students and the law school curriculum. And they can make life more interesting for some of us who are law professors. (2000: 185)

  • 3 ESP : English for Specific Purposes.

4Popular films as resource material are today a widespread feature of many ESP3 self-learning programmes as well. This is particularly the case in ELP classes where there are ample, diversified and constantly up-dated resources for the ELP course designer to draw on. It is this use of popular films in the ELP self-learning environment that is the particular focus of this discussion. Without detracting from the very positive pedagogical dynamics generated by the use of popular films in both classroom and self-learning language environments, a decade of using popular films in a self-learning environment for law students has revealed the existence of some latent tensions in need of remedying.

5Since fiction, whether book or film, is a popular resource material for ESP learning and teaching, this paper opens with an introduction to FASP, fiction à substrat professionnel, a recently identified genre of fiction, followed by an analysis of one of its main sub-genres, legal FASP. The focus then shifts from the teaching support to learner representations and the resulting interactive dynamics which ensue, leading to “the French paradox”, a cultural phenomenon specific to ELP for French and other European law students.

2. FASP or fiction à substrat professionnel

  • 4 Our translation : “Mere intellectual mastery of subject content.”

6The use of literature in ESP teaching has always had strong advocates who argue for the need for a more humanist approach as an alternative to the narrow-angled, goal-orientated and focused approach generally associated with ESP objectives. The ESP learner, it is argued, needs to be exposed to the “nobler” cultural dimensions of the target language. The use of authentic specialist documents as resource material inhibits this objective. In this perspective, a classical novel is often seen as a centrifugal antidote to counter what many ESP teachers and researchers tend to consider as a limited nuts and bolts ESP culture which is what Sturge-Moore (1998: 13) refers to as “la simple maîtrise intellectuelle du contenu dans le domaine4.

7The past few decades however, have witnessed the emergence of an alternative approach to the use of fiction in ESP. Far from seeking to steer the learner away from the so-called narrow confines of ESP, literary text is used in a centripetal approach to plunge learners into a world of fiction whose gravity and ethos are embedded in their very own field of specialisation. In this perspective, the literary focus shifts away from conventional literary classics to more popular genres of fiction, in particular novels whose plot dynamics depend heavily on professional or technical expertise relative to the subject domain.

8Although FASP in itself is by no means a new genre, it was only in 1999 that it came to be formally christened as fiction à substrat professionnel — or, more conveniently, FASP — and related to ESP teaching in a seminal article by Michel Petit entitled “La fiction à substrat professionnel: une autre voie d’accès à l’anglais de spécialité”.

9Petit’s definition focuses on several intrinsic and extrinsic aspects of the genre, but the defining core convention relates to content, the eponymous substrat professionnel or the highly specialised professional and/or technical foundation which fuels plot dynamics. As Petit points out, a FASP author requires intimate and up-to-date first hand knowledge of the profession to produce convincing substrat professionnel. This explains why most FASP authors generally belong, or have belonged, to the profession. Other terms proposed to define the genre also focus on this exceptional degree of insider knowledge, as, for example, “specialist literature” (Diaz-Santos 2000) and “roman d’expert”, the title of a French FASP collection.

10Some of the works and authors cited by Petit as “classic” representations of the genre are Tom Clancy’s techno thrillers, Michael Crichton’s scientific thrillers, Robin Cook’s medical thrillers and John Grisham’s lawyer novels, all of which correspond to major ESP subject domains.

  • 5 EST : English for Science and Technology.

11The cross-cultural and trans-disciplinary appeal and use of the genre as an ESP teaching tool is evidenced by the fact that Petit’s identification, conceptualisation and ESP correlation of the genre in France in 1999 is closely echoed by Diaz-Santos, professor of EST5 at the University of Havana in 2000:

During the last few years, doctors, biologists or physicists-turned-writers have raised science and high-tech topics to the level of hot literary commodities. Medical plots, deadly viruses, code-breaking, genetic manipulation, computer security, or virtual information environments are now themes which constitute creditable examples of how fast-paced action can be skilfully combined with scientific discussions and yield well-documented fiction works which entrance and educate a wide readership at the same time. (2000: 222)

12Subsequent publications related to FASP have tended to broaden the scope of Petit’s original defining concept (Isani 2004). Despite a recent publication (Petit 2004) intended to guide FASP back to orthodoxy and greater ESP relevance, current FASP-related academic discussion strongly suggests that the genie may indeed have escaped from the bottle.

  • 6 Literate : “Characteristic of the use of written language” ; Orate : “Characteristic of […] written (...)

13FASP is a particularly appropriate resource material for ESP teaching owing to its oxymoronic fusion of speciality-related fact and fiction, authentic document and literary text, literate/orate6 spoken/written language registers. Diaz-Santos sums up these invaluable pedagogical assets with reference to EST teaching:

These stories represent attractive material for EST students since:
- the protagonists are people in scientific and/or high-tech fields of activities,
- the settings described or mentioned are actual research facilities where contemporary breakthroughs are taking place,
- the passages often include physical descriptions (e.g. of living organisms or laboratory equipment), and descriptions of processes (e.g. the evolution of diseases, pathology procedures, or the stages in which a sophisticated piece of equipment is assembled or works),
- the characters usually discuss — in their jargon — scientific concepts, conjectures and theories (alternatively, authors include such commentaries as “asides” which bear a great resemblance to academic lectures and papers),
- the authors include maps, charts, drawings or photos to help readers better understand the stories’ scientific or technical aspects,
- the plots contain references to the goals, research trends, concerns and ethics of particular discourse communities, thus providing new clues to understanding academic or corporate subcultures. (2000: 222)

14It is these same characteristics that make both book and film FASP extensively used ESP resource material in such diversified domains as business studies, medicine, geography, philosophy, oenological studies, history of art, etc., not to mention law.

2.1. Legal FASP

15Legal FASP — or legal fiction, legal thrillers, legal novels, as the genre has also been variously called — is one of the mainstays of the overall FASP genre. Over recent years, it has become part of a growing field of study interested in law and popular culture, a field of academic enquiry defined by Michael Asimow, professor of Law at UCLA School of Law:

The law and popular culture movement takes seriously works of popular legal culture, meaning stories about law, lawyers, or the legal system in film, television, or print. It treats these cultural artefacts as legal texts, as important in their own way as statutes, administrative rules, or judicial precedents. Those who write in this field believe that the public learns most of what it thinks it knows about law, lawyers and the legal system from the works of popular legal culture. They believe that information or misinformation gleaned from popular culture has a significant impact on “law” in the legal realist sense: what judges, jurors, attorneys, legislators, voters, and ordinary consumers or producers actually do in their contracting, fact-finding, law-applying, and law-making functions. They are convinced that popular culture mirrors, often in an exaggerated and caricatured form, actual popular attitudes and beliefs about the institutions and characters that it describes. Finally, they believe that lawyers can benefit from studying the ways they are portrayed in popular culture, because the issues addressed in popular culture media are often serious ones for the profession. (2001: 1340)

  • 7 84 novels published in the United States between 1933-1970.

16John Grisham is undoubtedly the name which spontaneously springs to mind as being the most representative and prolific of contemporary legal FASP authors. It is, nevertheless, worth remembering that the first “lawyer novels” to enjoy cult status were arguably the mythic Perry Mason7 series by Erle Stanley Gardner. Considered as “America’s premier lawyer author and storyteller” (Nevin 2000: 79), Erle Stanley Gardner contributed more than any other single author to the popularisation of the legal fiction genre and deserves, as such, to be considered as one of the earliest and most popular of legal FASP authors.

17Legal FASP is today a prolific and multifaceted genre which has, inevitably, generated numerous sub-genres which may be broadly and randomly classified as:

  • Courtroom dramas;

  • Lawyer novels;

  • Procedural novels;

  • Forensic thrillers;

  • Detective novels.

18The transformation of a FASP book into a FASP film or FASP television series is a common occurrence, particularly so with regard to scientific FASP (Michael Crichton), techno-military FASP (Tom Clancy) and legal FASP (John Grisham in the United States, John Mortimer in the United Kingdom). It is the use of cinematic legal FASP as resource material in ELP self-learning courses which is the focus of the present study.

2.2. Cinematic Legal FASP: the courtroom drama

19European cinema aficionados often wonder why “legal” films, generally subsumed under “courtroom dramas” or “lawyer films”, are so dominantly English or American. The explanation lies, of course, in differences between Anglo-Saxon and European courtroom procedure and culture (adversarial vs. inquisitorial) as R. T. Lakoff explains:

American [and British] trial procedure is adversarial: the two sides […] present to the jury their own version of what took place; a judge presides to make sure nothing patently unfair occurs. Evidence is presented by witnesses, under questioning by the lawyers. At the end, the jury considers the evidence and decides in favor of the side that has made the most persuasive case. […] The jury of lay persons is assumed to be able (through horse sense and street smarts) to pick through the pyrotechnics and razzle-dazzle on both sides in order to determine who is really in possession of the truth. […]
Most other countries have an
inquisitorial trial procedure. A panel of professional judges listens to the evidence, presented by a state-appointed attorney, and delivers a ruling based on the exposure to this one sided presentation of evidence. The advantage is that there is no competition to produce the most dazzling show, nor is there a susceptible jury to play to. (1990: 86-87)

20The adversarial procedure allows for contradictory debate, witty exchanges and sharp verbal parrying between counsel, two protagonists playing out their roles on a stage in front of a captive audience composed of the famous “twelve honest men” but also the judge, court personnel, the public and, of course, the press. Examination, cross-examination and the final emotional summing up in front of the jurors are the perfect ingredients for a suspense story. If we add to this the investigative professional culture of Anglo-Saxon lawyers, we understand why cinematic legal FASP is a culture specific genre, as R.T. Lakoff points out:

Adversarial encounters are thrilling, inquisitorial generally tedious. It takes two sides to make a discussion interesting to an outsider. That is why we have courtroom dramas. The American courtroom is intrinsically interesting: two people are fighting tooth and nail, using every rhetorical device dreamed of by Aristotle, along with all the technical expertise money can buy (slides, videotapes, charts and graphs have all become standard equipment in the American courtroom). Add the desire to see justice done and truth revealed, and you have all that is needed for gripping drama. But countries with inquisitorial systems have no tradition of court room drama. (1990: 87)

  • 8 cf. Un crime au paradis (2001).

21The predominance of Anglo-Saxon legal FASP is further reinforced by the fact that film producers in France (and undoubtedly in other European countries where the inquisitorial system prevails) seek to capitalise on the cross-cultural appeal of the genre. However, constrained by the “tedium” of their own courtroom culture, they resort to considerable poetic licence by simply introducing elements of Anglo-Saxon courtroom procedure into the script and passing them off as authentic French courtroom procedure. Hence, it is not at all uncommon to have a French legal film, produced by and for the French, depict a French lawyer in a French courtroom defending a French client under French law, rising to his feet and shouting “Objection, votre Honneur”8. While this does indeed satisfy audience expectations, it is an egregious violation of the code of conduct and language dictated by French courtroom procedure and culture. (Isani 2001: 105-120).

2.3. Legal FASP specificities

22One of the defining precepts of ESP teaching is that courses are designed in accordance with learners’ immediate and future language needs in their field of specialisation, the ESP subject domain. Subject domain specifics clearly condition a number of pedagogical parameters. In the context of teaching English to French law students, ELP presents a number of characteristics which distinguish it from other ESP subject domains.

2.3.1. ELP and cultural polarisation

  • 9 A somewhat binary polarisation in view of the many varieties of native and non-native English spoke (...)

23One of the recurrent problems faced by ESP teachers working in a non-target language environment is the polarised curse of choice: which English, “English-English” or “American-English”?9

24In ELP teaching, this dichotomy is replicated with regard to the subject domain: which justice system, English or American? If the answers are somewhat less binary than the question might lead to suppose, the situation does, nevertheless, generate a number of pedagogical complications.

25As a logical corollary to the subject domain dichotomy, the problem once again raises its head when using legal FASP as ELP resource material. Legal FASP authors are prolific on both sides of the Atlantic as, for example, John Grisham, Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell in the United States and P.D. James, Rankin Davis, Iain Rankin, Colin Dexter, John Mortimer in Great Britain, to cite but the most obvious. Given the culture specific characteristics of the genre, their works are naturally embedded in, and therefore a reflection of, the justice system and professional legal culture of their respective countries. This subject domain cultural specificity precludes any significant degree of cross-cultural transposability regarding language, culture and content.

26Understandably then, the-English-and/or-American question needs to be addressed during the earlier phases of course definition and resource material identification. Legal FASP is a broad and diversified genre. While a taxonomic analysis of its sub-genres is not the object of this study, the complexity of defining the criteria for classifying legal FASP sub-genres is an important issue with respect to the focus of our discussion, ELP teaching.

27Let us take the case of lawyer FASP, one of the most popular legal FASP sub-genres. For the ELP course designer intending to use cinematic FASP as resource material, the first selection criterion to be defined concerns nationality: must content be relative to the English or American justice system? In the case of the latter, a further culturally specific criterion would concern the type of American lawyer: a solo practitioner (The Verdict) or a “big-firm” lawyer (The Firm)? A black lawyer (Philadelphia)? A Southern lawyer (A Time to Kill)? The lawyer-as-a-hero (To Kill a Mocking Bird) or the lawyer-as-a-shark (The Verdict)? And finally, does the teaching support need to focus on the lawyer as an advocate in classic courtroom drama (A Few Good Men) or on the out-of-court aspects of the profession (Counsellor at Law)? — and, of course, the same complex selection process applies to English legal culture as well.

2.3.2. Absence of learner subject knowledge

28Since the content of subject domain courses during pre-specialisation years is naturally the national legal system, learners generally lack knowledge of the cultural specifics of other legal systems, such as Anglo-Saxon law. This is a phenomenon that sets ELP apart from other ESP disciplines such as physics, mathematics (often referred to as “the universal language”), chemistry and biology, for which national frontiers have little or no bearing on subject content. Law in contrast, is by definition a subject domain which presents significant content variation according to national cultures.

29These cultural variations in subject content impact significantly on LSP course design notably with regard to presumed student subject knowledge. The absence or presence, high or low degree of presumed student subject knowledge considerably alters the equation of the three main components of LSP teaching, content, language and culture. In other words, EST course developers can, in principle, design foreign language courses based on a high and uniform degree of presumed student content knowledge in a specific scientific field and adjust language and culture learning input accordingly. In contrast, ELP teaching must juggle with non-existent, fragmentary, heterogeneous or even erroneous student target subject knowledge. It is the unstable nature of this knowledge which contributes to generating “the French paradox”.

2.3.3. The French paradox

30In the case of French (and other European) law students, the problems generated by the culture specificity of the subject domain is even more complex. This is particularly true in the field of professional culture. Traditionally, the bulk of ELP teaching has tended to focus on content (the law) and text (the language). However, with the intensive internationalisation which so characterises our era, there is an acute realisation that professional networking has become necessarily intercultural. However, communication in this context is not always and necessarily technical. Defined elsewhere as “socio-professional” (Isani 1994), it is a domain of communication which borrows from English for General Purposes, English for Professional Purposes and English for Technical Purposes. Familiarity with the target professional culture plays an important role in facilitating intercultural professional communication, a realisation which has led to greater interest being paid to this area of ESP studies today.

31The French paradox referred to in the title concerns this hitherto neglected area of ESP and relates to the fact that French and other European law students are more familiar with Anglo-Saxon legal culture (target professional culture) than their own (source professional culture i.e. French). Various reasons help explain the existence of this curious unawareness of source professional culture (Isani 2001). One reason is the relatively reserved role of the media in European courts as opposed to the heavy media coverage of American trials. Another reason is the academic culture of French law schools where theory is prioritised over the experiential and law students do little field work. Still another important reason is the absence of a French legal FASP cinematic genre based on authentic French legal professional culture. As R. T. Lakoff explains, “Countries with inquisitorial systems have no tradition of court room drama cinema. Hence, nobody other than professionals knows or much cares what happens inside a […] courtroom” (1993: 87).

32As a result, the vacuum created by this absence of knowledge of source culture is quite simply filled with the “legal” knowledge garnered subliminally, informally and indiscriminately from the ubiquitous Anglo-Saxon legal cinematic FASP. Thus, since Nature abhors a vacuum, Anglo-Saxon professional culture is unconsciously adopted as a convenient substitute through an insidious process of erroneous self-enculturation.

3. Course observation and analysis

  • 10 These courses are offered at the Self Learning Centre of the Maison des Langues et des Cultures, Un (...)

33In order to promote curiosity and awareness amongst 3rd year law students with regard to target language professional culture, an ELP course10 was designed with the objective of leading to a better understanding of professional cultural otherness with reference to Great Britain and the United States.

34The course is part of a series of optional courses with varying objectives offered to students who wished to enrol for language credits in a self-learning environment. Course format was designed for guided autonomous learning in a multimedia centre spread over a 10-week period, followed by two 2-hour recapitulative teacher-student interactive group sessions during the last two weeks of the semester.

  • 11 Films proposed : In the Name of the Father, The Parradine Case, Witness for the Prosecution and Rum (...)
  • 12 Cultural anthropologists describe culture in terms of superimposed layers — Hofstede’s onion (1980) (...)

35Several modules pertaining to legal professional culture are offered. Students who enrol for the module “Professional Culture of Lawyers in Great Britain and the United States” work in the multimedia centre on a selection of legal FASP films11, TV series, CD-ROMS and internet hyper-links. The films are accompanied by a number of “Gathering Specific Information” worksheets focusing on the identification of professional cultural differences situated at the observable level of what cultural anthropologists call “surface culture”12.

  • 13 « A critical incident » in cross-cultural communication refers to the occurrence of a communication (...)

36On the completion of the first cycle of this course, a glance at the completed worksheets and the unexpectedly low number of entries indicated the existence of “a critical incident”13. As Philadelphia (1993) was one of the films chosen by all the students for the American part of the programme, it was decided that an analysis of the answers provided in these worksheets would be the most representative of the learner population.

Student identification of differences between French and American legal professional cultures as present in Philadelphia (1993)

Student identification of differences between French and American legal professional cultures as present in Philadelphia (1993)

37Certainly there is some diminution of critical distance due to the “willing suspension of disbelief” so necessary to enjoy fiction. Nevertheless, these results tend to suggest that the average French law student does not clearly realise that examination and cross-examination, “Objection, Your Honor”, the all-lay jury, punitive damages, the negative image of the profession, etc., are not part of French legal culture.

38In other words, the problem engendered by “the French paradox” regarding ELP is less concerned with the absence of professional source culture awareness than with the adoption of the foreign professional culture as a substitute — a situation of reversed exposure sequencing reminiscent of Konrad Lorenz’s famous goslings…

4. Remedying culture shock

39From the pedagogical view point, it is important to note that this erroneous identification is so firmly entrenched in the learners’ referential schemata that realisation and discovery produce the traditional symptoms of culture shock or “alienation” associated with exposure to foreign culture: strain, sense of loss, rejection, confusion, anxiety and helplessness (Gibson 2000: 16). This is clearly evidenced by the disbelief, disorientation and aggressiveness expressed verbally and non-verbally by the students concerned, feelings very akin to the symptoms of cultural anomie experienced by individuals who do not feel part of the native culture but do not fully identify with the second one either.

40In view of these observations, it becomes clear that the use of legal cinematic FASP in an unguided self-learning environment can prove to be a source of serious pedagogical dysfunctions. Should it then be removed from unguided self-learning courses dealing with legal professional culture?

41In view of the very positive dynamics generated by the use of legal FASP in other pedagogical areas (most importantly perhaps, learner motivation), this would amount to throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It was therefore decided that reformatting the course to reorganise teacher-student interaction sessions would perhaps suffice to remedy the situation. The course format was subsequently redesigned to reorganise teacher guidance: one of the 2-hour teacher-learner interaction sessions now precedes the self-learning period.

42The object of this preliminary interactive session is simply to make learners aware of the existence of the phenomenon of erroneous enculturation, thus allowing them to expect the ensuing culture shock and therefore cope more adequately with it. In so doing, the course designers quite simply adopted, on a miniaturised scale, the “cultural awareness” programmes that international businesses and organisations routinely set up for future expatriates to distant-culture countries. Based on the principle that awareness helps anticipate and even pre-empt cultural conflicts, the objective of these programmes is quite simply to generate sufficient awareness of potential areas of cultural friction to allow for anticipation and adaptation. The 2-hour introduction session serves the same purpose and while it does not claim to solve all the problems related to professional acculturation, learners no longer manifest the confusion and tensions displayed by the first group.

Conclusion: the tail wagging the dog

43A common premise in the field of cultural anthropology is based on the paradox that discovery of target culture often precedes and leads to awareness of source culture. In other words, it is the tail that wags the dog. Individuals become consciously aware of their own culture only when confronted with the differences observed in situations of cultural otherness. This awareness is a preliminary step which in turn leads on to introspection and analysis regarding the culturally embedded aspects of one’s own behaviour, beliefs and attitudes.

44In the context of our discussion, creating awareness of professional cultural otherness is undoubtedly rendered more complex by confusion between source and target professional culture. However, the cognitive and affective processes set in motion by the subsequent confrontation of the two cultures remain very similar to those observed in instances of normal cultural confrontation where analysis of target culture inevitably leads back to introspection and discovery of source culture.

45In view of this and in spite of the unexpected setbacks initially experienced, the primary objectives of the course, discovery of professional cultural otherness, may in fine be considered as reasonably well attained: confrontation led to questioning about both source and target professional cultures. Furthermore, as the learners personally experienced some of the destabilising emotional processes inherent to complex intercultural situations, it may be wondered whether the insights gained were not done so more meaningfully and durably than would perhaps have been the case in more conventional learning circumstances. This is indeed what transpires through this excerpt from one of the anonymous student course evaluations:

  • 14 Translation : “A troubling course. After three years of law, I didn’t expect to have to learn and u (...)

Cours troublant. Après trois ans de droit, je pensais pas (sic) avoir à apprendre et à désapprendre des choses sur la culture juridique française dans un cours sur la culture juridique anglaise. – (#11/05.2001)14

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Asimow, M. 2001. “Embodiment of Evil: Law Firms in the Movies.” UCLA Law Review, vol. 48, n° 46, August 2001.

Diaz-Santos, G. 2002. “Technothrillers and English for science and technology.” English for Specific Purposes 19 (2000): 221-236.

Gibson, R. 2000. Intercultural Business Communication. Oxford: OUP.

Hofstede, G. 1980. Cultures and Organisations — Software of the mind. New York: McGraw Hill.

Isani, S. & M. Herino. 1994. “Quel(s) domaine(s) langagier(s) pour une évaluation en compétence en langue?” ASp, la revue du GERAS, n° 5/6: 249-256.

Isani, S. 2001. “Calques et emprunts culturels ou le paradoxe de la culture professionnelle cible comme vecteur de perceptions erronées dans la culture professionnelle source – le cinéma et les professions juridiques.” In Isani, S. (dir.). Culture & Communication en Milieu Professionnel Interculturel. Grenoble: Publication CERELC, Université Stendhal, 105-120.

Isani, S. 2004. “The FASP and the Genres within the Genres.” In Petit, M. (dir., en collaboration avec Shaeda Isani). Aspects de la fiction à substrat professionnel. Bordeaux: Coll. Travaux 20.25, 121-132.

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1 EGP : English for General Purposes.

2 LSP : Language for Specific Purposes.

3 ESP : English for Specific Purposes.

4 Our translation : “Mere intellectual mastery of subject content.”

5 EST : English for Science and Technology.

6 Literate : “Characteristic of the use of written language” ; Orate : “Characteristic of […] written language that bears traces of orality.” (Kramsch 1998 : 129-130).

7 84 novels published in the United States between 1933-1970.

8 cf. Un crime au paradis (2001).

9 A somewhat binary polarisation in view of the many varieties of native and non-native English spoken today, the situation is a reflection of the language and legal trends which affect global issues today.

10 These courses are offered at the Self Learning Centre of the Maison des Langues et des Cultures, Université Stendhal, Grenoble 3.

11 Films proposed : In the Name of the Father, The Parradine Case, Witness for the Prosecution and Rumpole of the Bailey (Great Britain) ; Philadelphia, My Cousin Vinny, The Verdict and A Time to Kill (the United States).

12 Cultural anthropologists describe culture in terms of superimposed layers — Hofstede’s onion (1980), Trompenaar’s “Seven Cultural Dimensions” (1993) — often metaphorically subsumed as the two parts of an iceberg, the visible and the invisible. Surface culture (also referred to as “visible” or “explicit” culture) refers to the observable aspects of culture, such as behaviour and artefacts (food, dress, architecture, etc.), while deep culture (also referred to as “invisible” or “implicit” culture) refers to the less observable areas, such as beliefs, attitudes and values.

13 « A critical incident » in cross-cultural communication refers to the occurrence of a communication problem between people of different cultures due to mutual incomprehension of each other’s culture.

14 Translation : “A troubling course. After three years of law, I didn’t expect to have to learn and unlearn things about French legal culture in a course on English legal culture.”

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Titre Student identification of differences between French and American legal professional cultures as present in Philadelphia (1993)
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Référence papier

Shaeda Isani, « Revisiting Cinematic FASP and English for Legal Purposes in a Self-learning Environment », Cahiers de l’APLIUT, Vol. XXV N° 1 | 2006, 26-38.

Référence électronique

Shaeda Isani, « Revisiting Cinematic FASP and English for Legal Purposes in a Self-learning Environment », Cahiers de l’APLIUT [En ligne], Vol. XXV N° 1 | 2006, mis en ligne le 04 mai 2012, consulté le 13 août 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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Shaeda Isani

Shaeda Isani est Professeur des universités à l’Université Stendhal, Grenoble 3 où elle enseigne au département d’anglais appliqué de la filière LEA. Ses domaines de recherche portent sur la didactique des langues et cultures de spécialité.

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Association des Professeurs de Langues des Instituts Universitaires de Technologie

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