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Studying abroad with Julie Johnson

By Carly Cutrara

Julie Johnson is a Spanish 4 and 5 teacher here at Batavia High School. She got her degree in Spanish and secondary education from Augustana College and has been working here for 29 years. Her goal in teaching is to teach students how to use their Spanish in day-to-day life or in a future career.


Interviewer: What do you like most about teaching Spanish class?

Julie Johnson:  ‘‘I like helping to open up another culture to the students. I also love helping students to learn to use the language in a very natural way.”


I: What makes teaching a Spanish class different from any other academic class?

JJ:  ‘‘The language classes are very performance based. We move from one activity to another quickly and it includes many other content areas of information discussed in the target’.’


I: Which Spanish class do you like to teach most and why?

JJ:  ‘‘I like all of them, but level 5 is fun because of what the students can do. They come in ready to use the language the way they use English.”


I: How many different Latin American countries have you visited?

JJ:  ‘‘I have been to 13 different Spanish-speaking countries including  Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Spain, Chile, Panamá, Uruguay, Venezuela, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. My favorite was Peru because it was the first city I studied abroad in”


I: Why do you take the students on trips with you to Spain and other Latin American countries?

JJ: ‘‘I think that going to the places that speak the language you are learning is really important. It gives the students confidence and usually makes them want to keep studying to become fluent and keep traveling.”


I: What is the most fun part about traveling to a different country?

JJ: ‘‘I love the difference in culture. There is a different pace and rhythm to life in other places. I also love the history. It’s amazing that they have preserved so many beautiful monuments.”


I: What advice would you give to a student that wants to study abroad?

JJ: ‘‘Check with your school or university to see what they offer. There are a lot of great programs of all different lengths of time. Also if you want to learn the language, live with a family. It makes you immerse into both speaking and the culture.”

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