Using Grammar Girl Podcasts with Literature & Fiction

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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.


If you’re teaching a literature or fiction course, use one of the ideas below to add Grammar Girl podcasts to your classwork!

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 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.


Using Grammar Girl Podcasts with Literature

Assignment: Assign students the following two podcasts and ask everyone to listen to them before class.

  • Using Flashbacks in Fiction (9:06)
  • Using Present Tense When Writing about the Past (7:10)

In class, evaluate some of the literature you’ve read using these podcasts. Consider placing students into groups and assigning each group one book read in the course; alternately, student groups can select the title they would like to evaluate, or each student in the class can individually evaluate one selection. After the time allotted to discussion and/or note taking, discuss the findings as a class.

Students might consider questions such as: What tenses are used in this work? Does the author use more than one tense? Why might this tense or these tenses have been chosen; how are they used in the work? Does this work and its use of tenses align or differ with what we learned in the Grammar Girl podcasts? How would a different tense impact this piece of literature?


Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Write Fiction

Choose one or more of the following exercises for your fiction writing class. 

Assignment A - Figures of Speech: Assign students the following podcast, or listen to it as a class. Then, ask each student to choose 1-3 paragraphs from their most recent fiction piece & rewrite it using at least two of the figures of speech mentioned in the podcast.

  • Five Uncommon Figures of Speech to Spice Up Your Writing (8:04)

An alternate version of this assignment would be to ask students to include one example of each figure of speech (five total).

In pairs or small groups, ask students to review the revisions. What figures of speech worked? Which did not? Why?

Assignment B - Slang: Assign students the following podcast, or listen to it as a class. Then, ask each student to evaluate their most recent fiction piece for use of slang.

  • Writing with Slang (4:51)

In pairs or small groups, ask students to discuss their findings. In their own work, did they use slang? If so, how was it used? If not, where might it be used? If not, is there a reason it shouldn’t be used? For a fantastical work, is there space in the world-specific slang, or, if the author attempted this, how could it be improved? 

Assignment C- Redundant Language: Assign students the following podcast, or listen to it as a class. Then, ask each student to evaluate their most recent fiction piece for redundant language.

  • When Is It OK to Be Redundant? (6:40)

Ask each student to write a short paragraph evaluating their use of redundant language. Do they have any instances of redundancy? Does it work, or should it be edited out of the piece? 

As a bonus assignment, ask students to take one paragraph and purposefully add in redundant language, then evaluate its effectiveness.


More Grammar Girl Activities

If you are looking for other activities, be sure to check out the other Grammar Girl posts, especially:

Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Reflect on Writing & Accomplishments

Using Grammar Girl Podcasts in an Online Classroom

Grammar Girl & Ideas for Teaching Online

Using Grammar Girl Podcasts for Fun, Low-Stakes Activities

Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Improve Student Writing

Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Discuss Pronouns


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