Using Grammar Girl Podcasts—Back to Basics

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This blog series is written by Julia Domenicucci, an editor at Macmillan Learning, in conjunction with Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl.


Watercolors in a watercolor tray 

From all of us here at Macmillan Learning and the Grammar Girl podcast—welcome back to school! To celebrate the start of another semester, we’re going to look at some back-to-basics activities and podcasts that will work for classes of all levels.


Podcasts have been around for a while, but their popularity seems to increase every day—and for good reason! They are engaging and creative, and they cover every topic imaginable. They are also great for the classroom: you can use them to maintain student engagement, accommodate different learning styles, and introduce multimodality. 


LaunchPad and Achieve products include collections of assignable, ad-free Grammar Girl podcasts, which you can use to support your lessons. You can assign one (or all!) of these suggested podcasts for students to listen to before class. Each podcast also comes with a complete transcript, which is perfect for students who aren’t audio learners or otherwise prefer to read the content. To learn more about digital products and purchasing options, please visit Macmillan's English catalog or speak with your sales representative. 

If you are using LaunchPad, refer to the unit “Grammar Girl Podcasts” for instructions on assigning podcasts. You can also find the same information on the support page "Assign Grammar Girl Podcasts."

If you are using Achieve, you can find information on assigning Grammar Girl in Achieve on the support page "Add Grammar Girl and shared English content to your course." If your English Achieve product is copyright year 2021 or later, you are able to use a folder of suggested Grammar Girl podcasts in your course; please see “Using Suggested Grammar Girl Podcasts in Achieve for English Products” for more information.


Going Back to Basics with Grammar Girl


Assignment A: Place students in groups of three, four, or five, depending on the size of your class. From the list below, assign a different podcast to each group for homework. Have each group meet during class to discuss their assigned podcast. Give them about ten minutes to write a brief summary. Each group will then present that summary to the rest of class.


  • Where Do I Use Commas? [7:16]
  • Apostrophe Catastrophe 1 [8:12]
  • How to Use Quotation Marks [7:51]
  • Capitalizing Proper Nouns [6:58]
  • Dashes, Colons, and Commas [4:41]
  • Compound Nouns [5:57]
  • Noun or Adjective? [5:43]
  • Preposition or Adverb? [16:03]


Assignment B: Read the blog post Grammar Girl Essentials as a class—perhaps you might also listen to one or two of the listed podcasts together. Then, discuss the selections or have students write responses to the following: 


  • Which of the podcasts address an issue that you have noticed in your own writing?
  • What other grammar rules do you struggle with that are not reflected here?


If your students share similar grammar struggles, consider assigning a podcast from the Grammar Girl library in LaunchPad for homework and having follow up discussions on that topic.


Assignment C: Ask students to indicate a grammar rule they find confusing or struggle with. (Alternately, provide the class with a list of grammar topics to choose from—for example, commas, apostrophes, capitalization, and colons/semicolons.) Tally up the results, then assign relevant podcasts from the Grammar Girl library in LaunchPad.


Have you used podcasts to address common grammar concerns in your class? Let us know in the comments!


Credit: Pixabay Image 1067686 by padrinan, used under a Pixaby License