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How to Incorporate the Theory of Multiple Intelligences into the Classroom

How to Incorporate the Theory of Multiple Intelligences into the Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

The theory of multiple intelligences states that there are eight different intelligences human potential can be expressed through, including linguistic intelligence (word smart), logical-mathematical intelligence (number/reasoning smart), spatial intelligence (picture smart), bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (body smart), musical intelligence (music smart), interpersonal intelligence (people smart), intrapersonal intelligence (self-smart) and naturalist intelligence (nature smart).

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Melanie L. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Basic Concept

Individuals have strengths in different areas of intelligence and reinforcing learning through different areas increases the realization of students’ potential. Incorporating the theory of multiple intelligences into the classroom can be done by using activities in (or outside of) the classroom that help students express themselves through each of the eight bits of intelligence, such as linguistic activities, logical-mathematical activities, art activities, bodily movement, music, cooperative activities, inner reflection, and field trips.

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Activities Correlating With Intelligences

Many examples of activities could be provided for each intelligence. A teacher could list the eight bits of intelligence in one column and then brainstorm lists of possible activities for each intelligence. Provided in the following paragraphs are some examples of activities that could be used to incorporate each of the intelligence into the learning experience.

1. Linguistic Activities

Linguistic activities involve using words to engage the student in the learning process. Examples of this are endless. Stories, mysteries to be solved, written lyrics, poems, and word games are a few examples that could be used. This is the most common intelligence catered to in a typical classroom. Creativity can still be used to spice it up and draw students’ interest in linguistic activity.

2. Logical-Mathematical Activities

Logical-mathematical activities can also be spiced up and include students’ interests. Mathematical problems could be designed to solve a problem that represents the issues students might face in life. For example, the teacher could bring price labels with chocolate milk containers of different volumes and have students determine which container of chocolate milk is the cheapest per ounce. The teacher could give each student a sum of pretend money and see who can “purchase” the most ounces of chocolate milk with the money provided.

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3. Spatial Activities

Spatial intelligence could be incorporated in many ways, but art stands out as an activity most students would enjoy. Students could finger paint pictures of animals and invented creatures (or make them out of pipe cleaners and googly eyes) and practice vocabularies such as color, body parts, and function. The animals could have special powers, and these could present an opportunity for studying verbs.

4. Bodily Activities

Bodily movement is an easy category to incorporate into the classroom. Younger students could learn a song with movements that reinforce the meaning of the lyrics. They could also go on a pretend bear hunt around the classroom while pretending to be in a zoo. They could shout out animal names they “see” while walking through the zoo. When they “find” the bear everyone could hide behind a pretend bush and tell what actions the bear is performing. Then they could pretend to get back on the bus and drive back to the classroom. Older students could perform role-plays or play a game in which every time they make a basket, they must shout out an appropriate adjective, noun, or verb. Vocabulary could be written on a ball and the ball passed around the room with each student defining the word facing them.

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5. Musical Activities

Musical activities interest most students but must be geared to the age group. Younger students would enjoy nursery songs or rhyming songs with rhythm and movement. Older students would prefer to listen to pop music or modern songs from a popular CD. They could work to write the lyrics they hear and discuss what the song is about.

6. Interpersonal Activities

Interpersonal intelligence could be utilized by completing group activities and group tasks in the classroom. Younger students could work in groups to develop superpowers for each student for use in an imaginary situation in which they need to rescue a kitten from a tree. The rule could be that each student must use their power with the team as a whole to accomplish the task. Older students could design a new country after being stranded on an isolated island in which each person must have a job for the society to function. They could work together to create rules and a framework for their new country.

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7. Intrapersonal Activities

Intrapersonal activities could involve inner reflection. Some examples of this type of intelligence expression could be creating poetry, writing a creative story and completing a written personality or self-interest survey. Students could also be encouraged to keep a journal in the new language expressing their insights regarding their language learning process.

8. Naturalist Activities

Naturalist activities could benefit all students as they allow connecting with the outside world. Field trips could be used to explore the world outside and could be a great opportunity for acquiring and using language authentically. The teacher could arrange for a field trip to a nearby zoo or nature preservation center. Students might be highly motivated to read the captions at the center, listen to the tour guide/teacher and ask questions. A written expression of their experience could be completed upon returning to the classroom.

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Incorporating the theory of multiple intelligences into the classroom empowers students to reach their full potential by encouraging them to engage in activities that are designed to activate each of the intelligences. By developing activities that engage the eight bits of intelligence, students have the opportunity to learn in a manner that matches their strengths. It also helps students explore and grow in each of the intelligences. They may discover strengths they did not know they had.

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The above activities are just a sample of the many ideas a teacher could use to provide students learning experiences based on the eight bits of intelligence. The theory of multiple intelligences provides teachers with a great structure of eight categories from which to design engaging activities that enable students to more fully reach their learning potential.

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