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Teaching and Learning Through Multiple Intelligences

Teaching and Learning Through Multiple Intelligences | ITTT | TEFL Blog

This essay on the Multiple Intelligences is based on my past 26 years of teaching experiences at the elementary and middle school grades, as well as teaching in teacher education in higher education at the university level. I have conducted much research on the area of Multiple Intelligences, however, this essay will be based on my memory and experiences of teaching utilizing the Multiple Intelligences; thus, references are not included as they have been an accumulation throughout the last 26 years of teaching.

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


Howard Gardner, a professor in Education at Harvard University (USA) published his theoretical research on how children learn in the early 1980s. He surmised that the traditional use of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) in learning was limited to how a person can learn. He believed that there were other variables that came into play for learning. I will focus on the first eight (8) of his intelligences. These include: linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. I will outline my understanding of the intelligences and how they can be used to teach in a classroom for yearly learners of the English language.

Linguistic learning is based on those who love words and are word smart. Those that fit in this category love words and respond to words. They typically love literature, poetry, rhymes, narratives, storytelling, and such. Good examples of teaching young learners in this category include, but not limited to: word searches, word scrambles, creative writing, reading short stories and novels, examining newspaper articles and magazines; all in all, those who respond to words. I would use all of the above-mentioned examples in my class.

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Learning Domains

1. Numbers

Logical, also known as Mathematical intelligences are those who like numbers and love to reason; they think logically. They want to know ‘why’ and ‘how’. A good teaching exercise with young learning is having them plan a trip across the United States (or across countries based on their age and nationality; very young learners could just plan a trip across the neighborhood to their friend’s house). Give them a map and have them find the quickest route and the longest route and calculate how many hours it would take them if they were walking, riding, or taking a plane ride. Of course, give these learners most anything with numbers, and they will be motivated.

2. Art and Crafts

Spatial intelligence is most akin to those learners who have picture smart. They can look at a field of trees and see a mall or condo in its midst. They can visualize what can be where it is not. Good activity with young learners is having them design a new bedroom in their home. They can also design tree houses, doll houses, or their perfect playroom. Give them a blank page of the paper and let them go. Also, good materials would be modeling clay or digital layouts in which they can manipulate.

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3. Body Language

Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence is for those who like to learn while moving. They learn best while using their bodies and manipulating physical objects. A great activity for elementary young learners is hopped scotch to learn the parts of speech. Draw a diagram on the sidewalk (or on paper in the classroom) with the words: noun, verb, adjective, pronoun, etc… and call out a word and they have to hop and skip to the correct part of speech. A teacher can also have students in a circle and the teacher says “noun”, toss a football to a student and the student has to respond that it is a person, place, or thing. Give students movement, and they are really into it.

4. Music

Young learners, on the most part, love music; this is where this intelligence comes in. Teaching students to pick out the active verbs or nouns in a popular song is great. In the USA, how did we teach our students the rule about ‘i before e?” With rhythm (musically): “I before e, except after c”. Our young students learned that “In 1942, Columbus sailed the ocean blue”; rhythm. Songs, chants, and cheerleading for their home school are great ways to learn.

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5. Social Skills

Interpersonal learners love to interact with others. Debates, discussions, and interviews are good teaching and learning opportunities. Whereas, Intrapersonal intelligence is for those who like to examine oneself. Journal writing, diaries, and movie critiques are good activities. One is based on interacting with others, while the other (Intrapersonal) is based on feelings, emotions, and inner thoughts.

6. World Around

Lastly, Naturalist intelligence is for learners who are sensitive to nature and their surrounding world. Take them outside to learn how to describe a tree, or a spider web and they are in their element. Field trips are a great escape from the classroom for learning. Naturalist intelligence helps those who is an outdoor enthusiast and who want to learn from the larger world.

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In conclusion, I think an effective teacher will teach to the Multiple Intelligences. What fun it is to write learner objectives and plan an activity around each of the intelligences. All, of the above activities, can meet more than one of the intelligences, but I prefer to plan an activity for young learners for each one. Intelligence is more than just IQ; learning comes through a variety of activities and avenues.

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