Teach English in Yanggang Zhen - Huangshi Shi

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In his 1983 book “Frames of mind: The Theory of multiple Intelligences”, Howard Gardner introduced the concept of multiple intelligences. Gardner challenged the conventional measurement of intelligence at the time, the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test, and proposed a new model with seven different areas of intelligence. He later amended this model by adding more areas of intelligence, now totaling nine areas. Since then, many new theories have been proposed that suggest multiple types of intelligence. These theories include Robert Sternberg’s three types of intelligence: practical, creative and analytical, and Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence. Sir Ken Robinson expanded on the notion of multiple human intelligences and identified three features of human intelligence. In his book “The element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” Robinson argues that human intelligence is diverse, dynamic and distinct. This argument suggests that everyone is intelligent and that it should be a question of how, not if, they are intelligent. Building on the notion put forward by Sir Robinson, every TEFL teacher should start thinking differently about student levels and capabilities. Students should no longer be dubbed weak or strong, but rather thought about in completely different manner. First, teachers should only consider the ability and potential of their students to learn. This potential is hidden behind a locked door and the teacher’s role is to choose the correct key to unlock that potential. If teachers change their mindsets, they will shift their focus to identifying the correct activity, treatment and encouragement needed to maximize student learning. This is the foundation of individualized learning. While teachers are not expected to customize teaching material and activities to suit each individual in the classroom, their ability to help students recognize their own intelligence goes a long way. It makes students feel that the course material was specially catered for them, increasing the students’ confidence and engagement in the course. It is easy to create an activity that asks the student to privately reflect on their learning potential, how they learn best and if it was up to them, how would the learning process be changed. Such an activity could be in the form of a questionnaire distributed to each student or a discussion part of the Engage phase of the class. The outcome of that activity will help the teacher modify the content, material and activities of the following session in the course. Second, teachers should embrace having student with different levels in the classroom. In most English language classes, including TEFL, students are segregated based on their current level of proficiency in the language. Taking the multiple intelligence theory into account, we should put faith in the students usually categorized as beginners and mix them with more advanced students. In real life, we do not split the infants, from the children, from the adults in the middle of the conversation. Typically, when language is flowing during a conversation, each individual deals with the language at his own level. Infants have a feel for the main topic and, from the intonation, can figure out the feelings and opinions of others. Children would understand more of the conversation and might even participate. Adults, in the meantime, are communicating at their level. We trust our infants and children to sit with us during our conversations, they ask questions and we are more patient with them, we repeat and explain concepts, and have completely different expectations from them. We do not treat students as less intelligent people, simply as people with less experience, and we trust their intelligence, which is different than ours to pull them through the conversation. Similarly, we should trust the intelligence of our beginners to cope with more advanced colleagues. Finally, multiple intelligence could require teachers to venture into taking psychology lessons before teaching students. Given that students have distinct and diverse intelligence, teachers need to be more aware of the psychology behind the behavior and emotions of the students. This will help the teacher deal with each student and assist him or her in unlocking their full potential. Multiple intelligences need to be taken into consideration when teaching TEFL courses. It affects the way teachers view and treat their students. It also forces the teacher to modify existing classes to cater for individual students. It also necessitates further effort on the teacher’s part to learn how to deal with each individual case. Students of different levels are recommended to be part of a common learning group, where each will use his or her distinct intelligence to cope with the difference in level.