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Olga Griswold

Getting to know our faculty

Associate Professor Griswold teaches courses in English grammar, general linguistics, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, pedagogical grammar for ESL/EFL teachers, and freshman composition for multilingual speakers.

Griswold’s current research interests lie in the acquisition and teaching of grammar for academic discourse. Griswold specifically focuses on the grammatical skills that bilingual writers (sometimes referred to as Generation 1.5 Bilingual English users) bring to their college-level writing. She investigates their use of grammar by analyzing academic texts produced by bilingual writers in the course of their First Year Composition instruction, determine the areas where their use of grammar differs from the expectations of Standard Academic English, and develops pedagogical strategies to teach grammar as a rhetorical tool within the context of writing and for the purposes of academic writing. Currently, Griswold is working with colleague Jennie Watson on a project which focuses on the ability of bilingual and monolingual English writers in First Year Composition to detect common grammatical errors and edit them. They presented their preliminary results at the TESOL Convention in March 2018 in Chicago. They identified the rate of accuracy in error identification and the strategies students use to edit problematic sentences. Based on this identification, they proposed a range of pedagogical activities that instructors can implement in any First Year Composition classroom regardless of the language background of their students.

Griswold is currently serving as outgoing chair in her final year in the chair succession for the Applied Linguistics Interest Section of the TESOL International Organization. She previously served as chair elect and then as chair. Her responsibilities have included organizing academic sessions, overseeing and writing for the newsletter, and managing proposals. As outgoing chair, she is an advisor and mentor to the current chair and chair elect. The goal of the organization is to connect classroom teachers to practical current research.

What is one thing you would like others to know about your profession?

I wish others knew how fascinating language is. We take for granted that we are the only species that have the ability to speak. This language we use is extremely complex and it is explored very little. Stop and think about it- How do we make words? It is worth exploring the more we know about language the more we know about us as humans. Language is worth exploring.

What are your favorite books to read?

I actually enjoy reading mysteries, science fiction, and fantasy books. I don’t always read professional text like you would think.

Who is a person living or deceased you wish you could meet?

I would have loved to have met Stephen Hawking. He was brilliant and I would have loved the chance to learn a bit about his thought process.