Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Teach about Commas

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344988_pastedImage_6.pngThis blog series is written by Julia Domenicucci, an editor at Macmillan Learning, in conjunction with Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl.


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.


Podcasts about Commas

  • Commas: Oxford, Appositive, Nonrestrictive [6:46]
  • Serial Comma [6:12]
  • Where Do I Use Commas? [7:16]
  • When to Use a Comma before Because [2:57]
  • When to Use a Comma with Too [4:01]


Students can do a lot more with podcasts than simply listen to them. Use one of the following assignments to encourage students to engage further with the Grammar Girl podcasts.


Assignment A: Ask students to listen to the podcast "Commas: Oxford, Appositive, Nonrestrictive" and then have them write a short response discussing and reflecting on the experience. (All Grammar Girl podcasts come with transcripts in LaunchPad—students can also read the podcast transcript to inform their response.) Have students consider the following questions:

  • How is listening to information about a topic different from reading about it? How is it the same?
  • How do the host's tone and voice impact the listener's experience?
  • What does the host do to connect with the listener?
  • What new information did the student learn about commas? Can they pinpoint any element of the podcast that helped them remember this new information?


Assignment B: Ask students to listen to more than one podcast about commas, such as "Commas: Oxford, Appositive, Nonrestrictive" and "Serial Comma." Have them also read the transcripts. In addition to the questions above, have them write a response considering the following:

  • How do the podcasts compare? Does the content overlap, and if so, where?
  • What is different about the coverage of commas in each podcast?
  • What content or information is conveyed through audio that does not appear in the transcripts? Is any additional information found in the transcripts that is not apparent from just listening to the podcast?


Do you have other suggestions for using podcasts in lessons? Let us know what they are in the comments!

Credit: Pixabay Image 2426854 by geralt, used under a CC0 Creative Commons License