Multiple IntelligencesIt is well known in the teaching world that there are many types of learners with skills and strengths in a variety of ways of learning. The Multiple Intelligences (MI) Theory, originally developed in 1983 by Howard Gardner, suggests that there is a set of typical profiles which describe the different types of intelligences that all individuals have. Originally, he named seven types and by 1999, he had added two more.
Multiple Intelligences are as applicable in an English-as-a Second-Language class as they are in a regular English or math class. At the beginning of any teaching session, a good teacher wants to know what the students know about the subject before appropriate and appealing plans can be made. In addition, it is helpful if the types of intelligences present in a class are considered, either through formal surveys or informal observations. Either way, it can be assumed that if most of the intelligences are being addressed over a series of lessons, that the majority of students will be having their learning needs met, other things being equal.
Following, is a brief look at each of the first five intelligences plus a few examples of how they can be applied
in the ESL classroom.
This area has to do with words and includes reading, listening, and speaking.
Obviously, a great deal of a language class will emphasize the use of words to learn. Listening to the teacher and each other, reading materials, practicing oral language, all will trigger memory more easily in a strongly verbal learner.
Ways to support verbal learning:
- choral repetition
- writing on the board to emphasize language patterns
- role plays, dialogues, games
- use of tape-recorder, workbooks
This type of learning has to do with logic, reasoning, abstract thinking and patterns, especially, but not only, associated with numbers.
Those with strong logical intelligence will have an easier time learning language through patterns and rules. Conjugating verbs, and creating adverbs from adjectives will make more sense to a person with this strength.
Ways to support ?logic? learning:
- grammar lessons
- explanations of the how and why of words;
- word etymology
- games using repetition of patterns
These learners gain information more easily through pictures, charts, and other visual clues.
Since learning a language can be a very visual exercise, both by picturing words and their interconnection, and by seeing what is being learned, this strength combines easily with verbal learning.
Ways to support visual learning:
- visual teaching aids, photos, drawings, posters, charts, and props, etc
- bright, cheery, clean room
- teachers and students using colour and design
This type of learning comes through use and awareness of the body..
It helps this type of learner to be moving. They have a stronger connection to their bodies and are able to express themselves and show meaning through physical action. Tying language acquisition to hand gestures and getting up out of seats help this kind of learner.
Ways to support kinesthetic learning:
- movement games
- role plays, theatre, drama
- clapping and rhythm actions while repeating language patterns or memorizing
These learners have the ability and interest to appreciate and produce music.
Creating harmony, using rhythm and finding the tone and pitch in music are strengths. They are strong auditory learners. As the sounds of words and sentences are important, hearing intonation makes it easier to learn a language.
Ways to support musical learning:
- use rhythm, like handclapping games, and repetition for memorizing
- find and make up tunes and lyrics for learning patterns or about certain topics, e.g. food songs
- playing music in the background
Most individuals possess more than one type of intelligence. Adults especially can be encouraged to maximize their learning by emphasizing and choosing their ?types? of activities. Teachers must also include exercises to address all the intelligence types over time, although not all in one lesson! Not only is this good planning from a fun and interest point of view, but it also creates ease and satisfaction when learners are continuing to find success.