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Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Write about Words

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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.

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No word exists in a vacuum; each has an origin and a history that can be explored through writing. Use one of the activities in this blog post to encourage your students to explore the etymology of a word—and use podcasts while doing so!

Podcasts are well-established, 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 encourage student engagement and introduce multimodality. 

LaunchPad and Achieve products include 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.

 

Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Write about Words

 

Assignment A 

Pre-Class Work for Assignment A: Assign your students a podcast about a word or several words. You might assign one podcast to the entire class, or place students into groups and assign a different podcast to each, or add several podcasts to a folder and allow each student to choose one. Ask students to listen to the assigned podcast.

Tip: If you’re using Achieve, consider choosing podcasts from the topics of “Spelling” (for example: Expresso versus Espresso), “Word Choice” (for example: Irregardless versus Regardless), or “Word Usage” (for example: "Monstrous" Words). If you have included the folder “Grammar Girl: 25 Suggested Podcasts” in your course, consider assigning word-focused podcasts such as: Affect versus Effect, Bad versus Badly, and The Difference Between Disinformation and Misinformation.

Assignment: Ask students to write a short essay about the history and usage of the word or related words they have been assigned. The works cited or bibliography should include at least 3 sources, including the Grammar Girl podcast. Alternately, ask students to create a short presentation on the history of the word or words.

Reflection for Assignment A: Place students into small groups of 2-3 and ask them to read each other’s papers. Encourage students to comment on at least 2 things that surprised them, 1 thing they would like to know more about, 1 thing they felt their peers did well in their writing, and 1 thing they feel their peers can improve in their writing.

Finally, ask each student to write a short paragraph discussing how they researched their word:

  • What strategies did they use?
  • What types of sources were most useful?
  • What difficulties did they run into, if any? What successes?

 

Assignment B

Pre-Class Work for Assignment B: Ask each student to choose a word that interests them. The word can be anything—a slang term, a word from another language, a new word they came across in a book or article.

Assign the podcast “Writing Scripts and Speeches” for students to listen to.

Assignment: Ask each student to research the history and usage of their word, then write a short podcast script explaining their findings. Students should use the tips and format of the assigned podcast to guide them, and they can also take inspiration from other podcasts they’ve listened to. They should also create a works cited or bibliography of at least 3 sources. 

Reflection for Assignment B: Place students into small groups of 2-3 and ask them to read their podcast script to the group. After each podcast reading, ask students to write a short list noting 2 things that surprised them and 1 thing they would like to know more about

Finally, ask each student to write a short paragraph discussing how they researched their word:

  • What strategies did they use?
  • What types of sources were most useful?
  • What difficulties did they run into, if any? What successes?

 

Credit: "Dictionary" by greeblie is licensed under CC BY 2.0