Use English to learn conflict resolution; use conflict resolution to improve English.

About Us



Mediation as a Second Language (MSL) began in 2002 as a small experiment in a single classroom at UC Berkeley: Could 14 international students learn basic conflict resolution skills - in English - during a 6-week summer session, and if so, with what results?

The short answers were “yes” and “great success." The 14 university students from Asia and Europe improved their fluency, accuracy and confidence in English while focusing on something entirely different: Conflict resolution skills they could use for the rest of their lives. “Two for the price of one!” according to one satisfied student.

Since 2002, MSL has expanded to include workshops and courses for ESL instructors, university professors, law & LL.M. professors and students, court interpreters and others.  And courses that incorporate MSL continue to grow at UC Berkeley in the Summer English Language Studies (SELS) Program and throughout the year. 



About MSL Instructors

MSL Instructors are triple threats:

  • Experienced ESL instructors at the university level & 
  • Mediators with at least 40 hours of mediation training &
  • Experienced ESL and/or mediation trainers. 
  • For Law, LL.M. & Interpreter Programs, they are also JDs with court and court-connected ADR experience.

About Barrie J. Roberts

MSL’s founder, Barrie J. Roberts, practiced public interest law for over 12 years with Legal Services of Northern California, Inc. and was the first ADR Director for the Riverside County Superior Court in southern California.

She has taught Negotiations for foreign LL.M. students at Chapman University's Fowler School of Law and a variety of courses for international ESL students at UC Berkeley and other universities since 2000.


  • B.A. in Political Science (UC Berkeley)
  • J.D. (UC Hastings College of the Law) 
  • M.A. in TESOL (CSU Sacramento)  
  • LL.M. in Dispute Resolution (Straus Institute, Pepperdine University School of Law)

MSL combines Barrie's background in law, dispute resolution, ESL and ESP (English for Specific Purposes), cross-cultural communication, academic writing, public speaking and American humor.