Professor; Program Chair, Translation, Translation and Interpretation, Conference Interpretation

Julie Johnson
McCone Building M123
(831) 647-3089

As a high-school exchange student in France, Julie Johnson experienced the distress of getting off the plane and hardly understanding a word. By the end of that year, she had earned her baccalauréat French secondary degree with honors.

She went on to study international relations and French at University of California, Davis. On a social-justice learning trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico she experienced interpreted communication first hand and was captivated: the interpreter was absolutely pivotal and yet a fly on the wall, able to observe and learn. This greatly appealed to Julie as both a livelihood and way of being in the world.

After another stint in France, Julie earned a Masters in French Translation and Interpretation here at the Middlebury Institute, and has worked as a professional translator and interpreter ever since. She primarily interprets for executive seminars, governmental missions and legal proceedings; translates legal, financial, and technical documents; and offers trainings for court interpreters and government linguists. 

Julie also started teaching at the Institute and serving on the boards of the Northern California Translators Association and the American Translator’s Association. In 2009, she undertook a doctorate in Learning and Instruction at University of San Francisco as a way of further underpinning and enriching her teaching practice. In 2014 she received the Leslie Eliason Excellence in Teaching Award.

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

The primary purpose of this course is to support student interpreters by helping them develop some of the general cognitive and affective abilities that underlie interpreting. These include the ability to focus, sustain, and shift one’s attention, to be at once alert and relaxed, and to handle internal distractors like performance anxiety and self-criticism.

The course, however, is open to all MIIS students. It does not involve any interpreting-like tasks, but rather builds these abilities through practice at simply paying attention in the present moment on purpose and non-judgmentally.

Spring 2019 - MIIS, MIIS First Half of Term, Fall 2019 - MIIS, MIIS First Half of Term, Spring 2020 - MIIS, MIIS First Half of Term

View in Course Catalog

Builds on the theoretical and practical foundation laid in Introduction to Translation and introduces the translation of specialized subject matter. Depending upon the language program in which they are enrolled, students will be expected to acquire and demonstrate basic proficiency in the sight and written translation of either commercial and economic texts, legal texts, or scientific and technical texts. The amount of emphasis accorded to a particular topic will depend on the specific professional requirements of each language program. Course assignments will include readings, research, presentations, practice and graded exercises in sight translation, and practice and graded written translation assignments, including exercises in speed translation. Students will also be expected to take at least one midterm and one final exam. The frequency, nature, and structure of course assignments and examinations are largely at the discretion of the instructor(s) of record.

Prerequisite: Introduction to Translation or equivalent background.

Spring 2019 - MIIS, Spring 2020 - MIIS

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Intermediate Interpretation – Consecutive and Simultaneous

Builds on the practical and theoretical foundation laid in Introduction to Interpretation. Consists of both language-specific and joint sessions with other language programs.

In consecutive, students learn to identify the implicit structural organization of an extemporaneous speech by presenting and interpreting speeches of this type. Reinforces ability to perceive essential meaning and further develops note-taking techniques. Emphasizes clarity of expression, correct style and grammar, proper diction, and polished presentation. Students also expand their active vocabulary to include the terms and idioms that frequently occur in extemporaneous speeches. At the end of the course, students are able to interpret passages that are delivered extemporaneously, are of moderate difficulty, and are derived from professional settings. These passages vary from one to several paragraphs in length depending upon language combination, direction, and source content.

In simultaneous, students are introduced to basic strategies of interpreting in this mode in the booth. Begins with a general introduction and follows up with a series of preparatory exercises helping students develop the concentration necessary for listening and speaking at the same time, mastering voice management, and acquiring smooth delivery techniques. Students learn to analyze discourse for meaning while rendering a coherent version in the TL with correct grammar, diction and style. At the end of the course, students are able to interpret passages that are between eight and ten minutes in length.

Content on a wide range of topics and current events is interpreted, with some emphasis placed on business and economics. Course assignments include readings and research on class topics, presentations, practice, graded exercises, and peer and self-assessment. The frequency, nature, and structure of course assignments and examinations are at the discretion of the instructor(s) of record.

Course prerequisites: Introduction to Interpretation or the equivalent

Spring 2019 - MIIS, Spring 2020 - MIIS

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This course is the counterpart to Advanced Translation I. Students are expected to translate texts of considerable difficulty and complexity and to cope with the types of operational challenges that are likely to be encountered in professional translation settings, such as working in teams or coping with multiple technologies. Emphasis is on particular text categories and subject-matter knowledge that are pertinent to current market demand for the specific language combination and direction in which the course is being taught. The frequency, nature, and structure of course assignments are at the discretion of the instructor(s) of record, but will include projects that simulate, as closely as possible, the professional translation environment, as well as at least one midterm and one final exam.

Prerequisite: Advanced Translation I or similar background.

Spring 2019 - MIIS, Spring 2020 - MIIS

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Introduces students to the basic theory and practice of translation, both written and sight. Students will learn to apply text analysis, text typology, and contrastive analysis of their working languages to identify, analyze, and resolve translation problems while independently developing an efficient and rational approach to the process of translation. The appropriate application of electronic translation tools will also be introduced. Fundamental translation theory will be emphasized at the beginning of the course and will be conveyed in the form of assigned readings, lectures, class discussions, and independent research. In addition, course assignments will include practice and graded exercises in sight and written translation, utilizing authentic texts drawn from an extensive variety of text categories that include, but are not limited to, current events, general political economy, general legal documents, and scientific and technical topics for general audiences. As the term progresses, student time and effort will increasingly be spent on the preparation and evaluation of written translation assignments. Students will be expected to take at least one midterm exam and one final exam, to be assigned at the discretion of the instructor(s) of record.

Fall 2019 - MIIS

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This is the first of two complementary courses designed to bring translation knowledge and skills up to the level that would be required of someone working in a professional translation environment. Students will be expected to apply the knowledge and skills acquired during the first-year translation courses to produce translations that meet high standards for content, form, and presentation. A great deal of attention is given to subject matter knowledge and research, precision in text analysis and writing, and the appropriate application of translation technology. Some programs emphasize scientific and technical topics in this course, but others give considerable attention to commercial, economic, legal, and political texts, many of which have a technical component. The frequency, nature, and structure of course assignments and examinations are at the discretion of the instructor(s) of record. Students will, however, be expected to take at least one midterm exam and one final exam.

Prerequisite: 2nd-year student in good standing or equivalent background.

Fall 2019 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

Much of Julie’s current research and activities are motivated by a desire to support students through the difficult and often humbling process of developing professional competence. Along the way she has examined and extended Cognitive Load Theory as it applies to interpreting and other cognitively-demanding performative tasks. In this context, Julie has brought mindfulness training to the curriculum at MIIS, to the Summer Language Schools at Middlebury College, and to the Bread Loaf Orion and Translators conferences.

Academic Degrees

  • EdD in Learning and Instruction, University of San Francisco
  • MA in French Translation & Interpretation, Monterey Institute of International Studies
  • BA in International Relations and French, University of California at Davis
  • Baccalauréat, Philosophy with two living foreign languages, Lycée Mansart, France

Professor Johnson has been teaching at the Institute since 1988.