FEATURE

Toolkit for Julia Moves to the United States

Help students understand Julia’s experience from different perspectives with this interview activity. 

After students read about Julia Alvarez’s life, they may be thinking about how their lives are similar to and different from Alvarez’s. This sort of curiosity is an ideal foundation for a perspective-taking activity. Role-playing and interviewing are wonderful ways to activate perspective-taking, while also developing language skills.

 

Essential Questions

  1. What is an interview?
  2. How can I take on a different person’s perspective?
  3. What are some similarities and differences between my life and Julia Alvarez’s life?

 

Procedure

  1. Begin by having students read “Julia Moves to the United States” at least twice. The first time, instruct them to read simply for enjoyment. The second time, they should underline aspects of the story they find particularly meaningful. Instruct them to focus on parts of the story that give them clues into what it might be like to be Julia Alvarez.
  1. Convene your class to discuss the following questions:
  • What really stands out to you about Julia Alvarez’s life?
  • How do you think her experiences in life contributed to her career as a writer?
  • In what ways do you feel similar to and different from Alvarez?
  1. Explain to your students that they will have the opportunity to imagine they are interviewing Alvarez about her life and work. Each student should write five to seven questions they would like to ask Alvarez. Explain that questions should be open-ended (i.e., questions without a yes/no answer). Encourage students to revisit the text to get inspiration for their questions.
  1. Pair students up and have them take turns playing the role of Alvarez and the interviewer. The interviewer should jot down notes about Alvarez’s responses. Alvarez should use the text in order to respond as accurately and thoughtfully as possible.
  1. Give students a chance to share their interview experiences and reflect on the following questions:
  • What was challenging about thinking of interview questions?
  • What did you learn about Alvarez from pretending to be her? How did this activity make you think differently about her life?
  • Was it harder to be the interviewer or Alvarez? Why?
  • What was the most surprising or difficult question your partner asked you, and why?