There has been quite a lot of discussion about the effectiveness of using multiple intelligences to teach. The basic theory of multiple intelligences is that there are a number of different types of intelligences. Traditionally, schools use logical and verbal intelligences to teach languages - English in this case. However, it is also possible to teach English through the use of other types of intelligences. Each type of intelligence provides a 'hook' through which English can be acquired. Some students excel in logical exercises such as learning through analysis using grammar charts, conjugation tables, etc. Others learners who excel in linguistic learning styles may profit from exercises focusing on word forms such as prefix, suffix activities, etymology research, etc. While these English teaching exercises prove helpful to many students, they may come up short when working with students who don't do well with these types of exercises.
Multiple intelligence theory strives to serve all students by reaching out to their respective strengths. Here's a quick overview of multiple intelligences as applied to English language teaching:
- Verbal / Linguistic - Learning English through the use of words. A great example of this type of English learning is standard teacher centered learning. The teacher explains an English learning objective and the students learn. However, students can also learn through explaining English to each other.
- Visual / Spatial - Learning English through visual means including charts, graphs, maps, etc. Any type of English learning activity that asks students to interpret visual information can contribute to visual or spatial intelligence. Vocabulary trees are also a great example of using visual intelligence to improve English vocabulary skills.
- Logical - Learning English through the use of logical deduction. Understanding the rules of grammar and applying them when diagraming sentences is a perfect example of logical intelligence used in an English teaching setting.
- Kinesthetic - Learning English through physical engagement. Typing is a great example of kinesthetic learning. Many English learners improve their spelling skills by typing out and using word processing programs. Fun games such as acting out 'heads, shoulders, knees and toes' are also examples of kinesthetic English learning activities.
- Musical Intelligence - Learning English through song. Any student who sings along with their favorite pop star in English is using musical intelligence to acquire English language skills.
- Interpersonal - English learning through group activities. Some students really enjoy group work, these students probably enjoy using their interpersonal intelligence to acquire skills in a second language - English.
Putting Multiple Intelligences Together to Teach
Multiple intelligence theory is great, but how to put multiple intelligence to use in the English language learning classroom? Here is an example of a lesson focusing on the use of expressions of quantity. Each exercise in the lesson focuses on a different type of intelligence. This page also provides lessons that take advantage of each intelligence type.
Aim: Focus on expressions of quantity used with countable and uncountable nouns
Activity: Focus on using multiple intelligences
- Verbal / Linguistic Intelligence: Ask students a variety of questions using how much and how many. Discuss the differences between the two and explain countable and uncountable nouns and the role each plays in using expressions of quantity.
- Visual / Spatial Intelligence: Provide students with a number of magazines. Ask them to cut out pictures and match to expressions of quantity such as 'a few', 'a little', 'a number of', etc.
- Logical Intelligence: Provide a list of expressions of quantity. Divide the list into three columns, one with expressions of quantity used only in the singular with uncountable nouns, another with countable nouns, and the third with expressions quantity that can be used for both countable and uncountable nouns. On another piece of paper, provide a list of common nouns. Ask students to use an expression of quantity with each noun.
- Kinesthetic Intelligence: Place countable and uncountable objects around the room, ask students to take objects and place them under categories. You can use either individual expressions of quantity, or two categories: countable nouns / uncountable nouns.
- Musical Intelligence: Use a grammar chant to help out through repetition. You can use this grammar chant focusing on questions with 'how much' or 'how many', as well as other questions with 'how'.
- Interpersonal: Provide students with some imaginary items which are both countable and uncountable. Ask students to barter for these items using expressions of quantity. For example: I'll give you a few apples for some wine.