Multiple Intelligences in the ESL Classroom In 1904 the French government

In 1904 the French government commissioned psychologist Alfred Binet to find a method to distinguish between children's levels of intelligence. The purpose was to put the 'intellectually inferior' into special schools where they could receive more individual attention1. So begins the journey of testing and analysing scores, consequently giving us an outline or a picture of a person's intelligence. The Intelligent Quotient is a 'score derived from a set of standardised tests' (

The notion of measuring a person's intelligence, and therefore, a person's potential, may seem limited to some, as it did to Howard Gardner- professor of education at Harvard University. Gardner argues that 'pencil and paper IQ tests do not capture the full range of human intelligences' ( As an alternative, he puts forward seven different intelligences with the hope to give a broader spectrum of personal potential. These intelligences are: 1.Verbal/Linguistic intelligence 2.Logical-mathematical intelligence 3.Visual/Spatial intelligence 4.Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence 5.Musical intelligence 6.Interpersonal intelligence 7.Intrapersonal intelligence

Every person learns in a unique and distinctive way, whether it is humming or singing a tune to remember a telephone number (musical intelligence) or devising a mnemonic to memorise the planets in our solar system (verbal/linguistic intelligence). I believe ESL teachers should consider all seven intelligences when working with students.

In this assignment I will outline each of Gardner's seven intelligences and relate this to the teaching and learning of ESL learners. 1. Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence This involves the ability to use words and language. This kind of student would think in words rather than pictures and as a result the ESL learner would grasp a new language with more ease than others. 2. Logical/Mathematical Intelligence This involves the ability to use logic, reason, and numbers. These learners will see the link between two pieces of information and will perceive patterns readily. Although this intelligence is mostly concerned with mathematical and scientific enquiry, the ESL learner with this dominant intelligence will likely enjoy noticing patterns of language. The teacher can draw the learner's attention to spelling patterns (e.g. plurals, vowel phonemes) in order to help them with reading and spelling. Furthermore, the ESL learner will enjoy matching cause and effect pieces of information (e.g. matching conditionals: when water boils, we get steam). The student's ability to classify and catagorise information can be ustilised by the effective teacher in activities such as grouping verbs and subjects. 3. Visual/Spatial Intelligence These visual learners are likely to think in pictures and tend to create visual representations of new concepts learnt. The effective ESL teacher can use pictures to explain ideas/new language during their board work and in worksheets. The teacher should generate activities and resources using pictorial representations such as maps, charts and pictures. 4. Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence These learners may communicate themselves using movement. 'Through interacting with the space around them, they are able to remember and process information' ( 20Intelligence). The capable English teacher will create activities based around mime/charades in order to teach new language (e.g. teaching prepositions by using the pupils as chess pieces). 5. Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence Students with this as a dominant intelligence will think in sounds, patterns and rhythms. The competent ESL teacher will use sound (tapes of sounds to elicit new language), rhythm (using a drum/clapping to represent syllables in words in order to teach pronunciation) and music (using The Beatles' 'When I'm 64' lyrics to teach future simple tense). 6. Interpersonal Intelligence People with this as an overriding intelligence will have the ability to empathise. The proficient English teacher could elicit and create new language by using body language/different intonations to signify feelings. 7. Intrapersonal Intelligence The intrapersonal learner will have the ability to self-reflect and to 'appreciate one´s feelings, fears and motivations' ( This could be used to teach the English words for feelings and emotions, for example using sentence starters such as 'how did you feel when'' Moreover, this kind of sentence structure would elicit a great deal of student talk time, especially in a 1-2-1 situation. Traditionally, teaching techniques have involved using linguistic and logical intelligences as a foundation for the teaching style. However, as demonstrated above, it is possible to incorporate a range of teaching techniques suitable to each of Gardner's seven intelligences. Every person learns differently. It is my opinion that ESL teachers should include a range of teaching methods to ensure that the learning objective will reach every individual. Of course, it is not always possible to consider each of the seven intelligences in every lesson; but teachers should use their own judgment to scatter them accordingly over several lessons. After all, 'seven kinds of intelligence would allow seven ways to teach, rather than one' (








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