There is more than one way to learn Dr. Gardner, a professor at Harvard,
Dr. Gardner, a professor at Harvard, presented the theory of multiple intelligence in 1983 . This theory goes beyond the superficial IQ testing and begins to look more deeply into an individual. By using multiple intelligences you are able to tap into different areas of interest and possible ease information acquisition. Gardner lists seven different types of intelligences: verbal-linguistic, mathematical-logical, visual-spatial, bodily- kinesthetic, musical-rhythmic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal .
Teachers of all subjects enlist the multiple intelligences into their lessons to allow the students to gain access to the information the way that suits them best. In an ESL classroom, I believe that multiple intelligences play an even bigger role in acquisition of knowledge. Students learning a new language cannot just approach it by using only one of the intelligences and expect to gain a full understanding of the language. Most would think that having a personality that is mostly linguistic would cause the student to learn the language more quickly. This may be true, however, when you are just learning a language how do you put that language into your head. Many people use logic and/or visual/spatial tools to help them put sentences together ' subject, verb, object. Others use 'drilling' ' repeating a phrase over and over again. This method is often used in ESL classrooms and in my opinion works more of the musical/rhythmic intelligence than the linguistic. You will often see students tapping on their desks or knee when repeating a phrase that they are trying to remember, thereby incorporating the bodily/kinesthetic portion of their intelligence.
A method of teaching that is used intensively in the ESL classroom is that of games and songs. These forms of teaching encourage students to use other intelligences engraining the new language into all aspects of their intellect.
From the above you may think that using the multiple intelligences would only be appropriate for teaching younger students, you don't normally see adults sitting around together singing songs. However, it has been found that adults, especially those from cultures that encourage or respect musical and interpersonal skill sets flourish in ESL classrooms that use the multiple intelligences . Using multiple intelligences not only help the students become better learners, but also helps the teacher become a better teacher, by opening a window into the students potential and strengths . Allowing the students to acquire and demonstrate their knowledge in different ways can be a challenge for beginning teachers, as it can seem overwhelming. However, if the teacher is willing to explore new opportunities with their students, the level of understanding shown by their students can more then make up for the initial challenge.
Multiple intelligences can also provide a problem in the classroom, when the students get too comfortable in only a couple of the intelligences. For example, the student is more comfortable speaking than writing, this could lead to their improvement in speech but they are unable to write. Even though students may be comfortable in particular intelligences it doesn't mean that they should only use those intelligences. The world uses all of the multiple intelligences and so should your students. Another problem with using the multiple intelligences in the classroom that has students from all cultures is that some will expect the more traditional types of teaching . Therefore using more 'modern' methods could be thought of as 'wrong'. Thus, you must balance your teaching styles to suit both you and your students. By using the multiple intelligences in your ESL classroom, you and your students can benefit immensely from the experiences that will come out of your lessons. Students will begin to see others' strengths and will be proud of their own. Language acquisition can be less intimidating and learning will be more fun.
1. Armstrong, Thomas. 2000. Multiple Intelligences. http://www.thomasarmstrong.com/multiple_intelligences.htm . Accessed September 19, 2006
2. Palmberg, Rolf. 2006. Catering for Multiple Intelligences. http://www.tefl.net/esl-lesson-plans/multiple-intelligences.htm Accessed September 19, 2006
3. Christison, Mary Ann, and Deborah Kennedy. 2004. Multiple Intelligences: Theory and Practice in Adult ESL. Eric Digest. http://www.tefl.net/esl-lesson-plans/multiple-intelligences.htm Accessed September 19, 2006
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