Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Teach about Idioms

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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.


Three dogs dressed as ghosts with a jack-o-lantern.


Happy almost Halloween! This month, we’ll look at some Grammar Girl podcasts about idioms--including two that are quite “spooky.”


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 Idioms

  • "Dead" Idioms [6:16]
  • "Skeleton" Idioms [5:24]
  • Quirky English Idioms [5:10]
  • Idioms about Rain [5:35]
  • Wordiness and Idioms [4:27]


Students can do a lot more with podcasts than simply listen to them. Choose one or both of the following assignments for students to complete using the suggested Grammar Girl podcasts.


Assignment A: Have students listen to the podcasts listed above. Then, ask students to brainstorm ideas for their own podcast about idioms, either individually or in small groups. Students should consider the following questions:

  • What aspect of idioms do they want to focus on? (For example, one student may want to investigate idioms across cultures, another may want to look at idioms that share a word or theme, and a third may choose to highlight one idiom and research it in depth.)
  • How long do they want the podcast to be? (As with an essay, broader topics tend to result in longer podcasts. You may also want to set time limits.)
  • What do they already know about their chosen topic? What other questions do they still have about their topic? What will they need to research?


After brainstorming, have students draft a brief write-up of their podcast idea. Ask them to include a potential title, the planned duration, research questions, and potential sources of information.


Assignment B: Ask students, either individually or in small groups, to write a script for their own podcast about idioms. (If your class completed Assignment A above, they can use their write-up to guide the script.)  Students should consider what information they want to convey (or what question they want to answer), how long they want their podcast to be, and how they will structure the discussion. Will they research different sources and summarize what they’ve discovered? Will they interview an expert and include that recording as part of their podcast?


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


Credit: Pixabay Image 2870607 by Fotoshautnah, used under a CC0 Creative Commons License