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Multiple Intelligences

The theory of multiple intelligences developed by Dr. Howard Gardner (1983) states that human beings have eight different intelligences. In class, it means that every student is gifted with one or more of these intelligences and teachers have to be aware of these different learning styles in order to involve all students in learning.

Linguistic intelligence
Logical-mathematical intelligence
Spatial intelligence
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence
Musical intelligence
Interpersonal intelligence
Intrapersonal intelligence
Naturalist intelligence

These different intelligences mean learning styles; sometimes we notice in classroom that some students do not like to work in groups, others do not like to role play, to make compositions, and to be seated the whole class. Some others can draw but can not sing. Others understand better if you explain grammar rules. As it can be seen the diversity of learning styles in the classroom is a reality that we have to face. Talking about Public Secondary School, diversity is a must; we have large groups from very different sociocultural contexts. So, we have to link learners to activity types in the classroom. If a student is not doing well in class, it could be that the teacher is not providing opportunities for the most prominent intelligence developed in that student. Imagine a sportsman without movement and studying his sport on books. He would not have opportunities to practice and increase his abilities. It is the same in the classroom; students need opportunities to practice their abilities, not only one, but to have different options to learn what is being taught but, in different manners, trying to reach the majority of students. One of the most important issues from this theory is that any intelligence can be improved by training and practice. As an example I would like to mention a professional basketball player. If he practices all days, it is almost sure that he will improve his level. It means that the character of the "dumb person" is thrown far away from the classroom or any field; any student, or person, who is committed to learning, who makes an effort, who invests time, will learn if his abilities are trainned. This way, intelligence is not a matter of inheritance; intelligence becomes a personal trainning within each person. It is necessary a self commitment towards self improvement. It was music for my ears when I read about this theory: The merit of students will take them to learning, I mean, it is not luck or wealthness or any external reason where learning directly takes place. Students should be encouraged to use their strenghts in order to make learning more accesible and we can take advantage of that abilitiy, knowledge or interest, to encourage our students to use those strenghts to develop the language. It is not as simple as some students say that they "do not like" English language because is a difficult matter. In fact, this a common prejudice in Public Secondary School. It is not as simple as that: If we, teachers, offer opportunities for eveybody, planning, taking into consideration the diversity of our groups, their interests, knowledge, and abilities students will learn the language, at least at the required standards. So, the teacher has to vary the activities in class in order to achieve the goal. In my words I would say that Einstein is not more intelligent than Jordan; each one has developed a different type of intelligence. In classroom is the same: every child is differently intelligent and has to use it to learn in his own style but, teacher has to create these learning situations. We have to provide our students with some more options as in the next proposal for applying the theory to our level.

Now, let's go directly to the use of Multiple Intelligences Theory in Public Secondary level. I have tried many strategies, activities and games in first grade. Here, are some suggestions to relate the theory to the practicum.

Linguistic Intelligence- For "word smart" students. These students like letters; reading and writing are the most prominent abilities on them. They usually like literature and everything related to. This type of students like to correct mistakes in sentences, to skim and scan texts, rewrite sentences, complete sentences, assemble sentences, write letters, postcards messages, stories and tales. They are good at paraphrasing, looking for cognates, synonyms, and antonyms. For these students we have to include texts and oral presentations. The goal is to take advantage of their ability to use the language in order to express themselves.

Logical-mathematical intelligence- For "number/reasoning smart" students who easily understand the patterns of numbers we can include basic math operations when learning numbers. Activities which include add and substract (at least). Also, I have noticed that these students like to know a little more of sintax, what I believe is that they see grammar as some type of formula to see the order of words and assemble sentences.

Spatial intelligence- For "picture smart" students we must include visuals, maps, realia, posters, pictures, photos, paintings, maquettes, scale models, toys, and drawings. These type of learners see the image of things first than the written word; they link a sound to an image instead of link it to a written word. They can draw or paint. They can see objects from many perspectives. If we want to take advantage of this type of learners, we have to include any visual item, these students maybe can not write words very well, or write them the way they seem in their mother tongue but, they easily remember a sound if it is related to an image. Teachers can include activities such as picture dictation, drawing, describing photos, or images, creating stories from videos, retelling stories from videos, creating stories from cartoons, and describing people. Also, pictionaries, bingos, flash cards, flash verbs, have to be included in class to take advantage of this students' ability besides it is amusing and creative.

Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence- For "body smart" students we have to include movement such as role plays, acting and guessing words, sentences, phrases or stories. Of course TPR is essential for these students; when giving instructions or directions to get to a place, they like to include physical movement to achieve tasks. They can even jump the rope when learning how to count with numbers. They like to go around the classroom interviewing classmates or gathering information. They like to manipulate things like tokens, clothing, and maquettes. They like to act gerund verbs, to participate in plays, to cut from magazines and assemble charts, to play with clocks. Due to energy of students' age, we have to include activities which involve movement; they are funny and, many times, relaxing.

Musical intelligence- For "music smart" students we have to include songs; they like to complete them, to compose them, to explain their meaning, to sing them. Some students play a musical instrument and they can sing in class, it is one of the most amusing learning activities. In fact, "as diverse investigations have demostrated, as well as national and international ones, that music is a fundamental territory in the conformation of juvenile cultures" (SEP. Adolescentes y aprendizaje escolar. 2005. P. 42) and taking into account that music is one of the favorite matters of teenagers, we have to include it in activities.

Naturalist intelligence- For "nature smart" students we can include environmental topics. They also like videos of animals and outdoors and such videos can be the base for oral presentations, they really like to talk about these topics and, now that global warming is in vogue, it is an opportunity to involve more people on environment problems.

Interpersonal intelligence- For "people smart" students who like to organize teams, to lead the group and to be influential in decision making, we could even take advantage of their skills to relate with others in order to involve shier students in activities such as role plays and group participation. These students usually are the ones who are gifted with a charismatic personality. They like to interview partners, to go around the class gathering information, to plan activities like parties, reunions, and team work.

Intrapersonal intelligence- For "self smart" students who have a positive outlook of themselves (in fact, most of them) we can include activities where they can talk about themselves in topics such as favorite things, likes and dislikes. They also like to talk about their family members. They like activities where they can express themselves and, sometimes, where they can show the identity or group which they belong to.

Suggested activities in order to cover the different intelligences in the language classroom.

· Linguistic Intelligence

They like activities such as: Hang man, Chinese whispers, alphabeticon, secret code, tic tac toe, cows like politics in April (scrambled sentences), erase the word, four corners, oral presentations, write their profiles on electronic blogs, e-mail to friends.

· Logical-mathematical intelligence

They like activities such as: add and substract, mathematical operations, word order.

· Spatial intelligence

They like activities such as: Bingo, name the clouds, picture dictation, seeing videos, Venn's diagram, Skannes format, memory games, prepositions basketball, head figures, working on scale cities.

· Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence

They like activities such as: Write on the back, circle the number, the auction, table games, playing professions, this is Juan's scarf, this is my book, mimic games, videotaping class, A-B dictation, fly swatters, four corners, talking volley ball, competition on clocks, swap seats, prepositions basketball, head figures, acting plays, jumping the rope.

· Musical intelligence

They like activities such as: listening to songs, composing, inventing chants and rhythms They can sing texts instead of reading them, a good option is to record their voices with cell phones.

· Naturalist intelligence

They like activities such as: Counting trees and items around the garden of school, also to classify them, to see videos of nature, to write reports of weather, to describe animals.

· Interpersonal intelligence

They like activities such as: Acting plays, Think fast, Chinese whispers, funny voices, introduce people.

· Intrapersonal intelligence

They like activities such as: Talking and writing about their likes, dislikes, what they did on weekend, holiday. They are good at deciding types of movies, music.

Submitted by teacher Francisco Amador Garcia, July 2008.

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