The development of the Multiple Intelligence theory by Howard Gardner has greatly impacted education. The theory of Multiple Intelligences changed how educators viewed intelligence. Before Gardner's theory a student was intelligent when he excelled in academics in a traditional school setting. Gardner suggested that a person is born with multiple intelligences and they can be displayed in many ways (Noyes, 2010). This was a new perspective, most people believed that intelligence was fixed and that there was one human intelligence.
Howard Gardner described these intelligences in his book Frame of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Noyes, 2010). There are eight intelligences according to Gardner and they are: verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, musical/rhythmic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, kinesthetic, and naturalist. Gardner stated that students have different intelligences and they learn in different ways also. If teachers consider different learning styles when planning lessons student learning would increase. By changing the delivery of content and information according to students' intelligences will make the content more comprehensible for the students. Teaching is no longer simply lecturing information to students but it should be tailored to meet the learning style of each student. Gardner's theory has influenced educators and will continue to benefit classroom instruction.
Students demonstrate the verbal/linguistic intelligence when they learn through reading, discussing and writing. Teachers teach to this intelligence the most, because these students possess traditional academic skills. Other characteristics of the verbal/linguistic intelligence are: communicate effectively, large vocabulary, writes well and thinks in words (Noyes, 2010). People who have this intelligence are usually poets, writers and public speakers. This intelligence includes the ability to express feelings and understand others through language (Poole, 2000).
The next intelligence logical/mathematical is when a person is exceptionally good with numbers and patterns. Algebra and logic problems are easily solved by this person. This person excels in mathematics and thinks analytically. This person will most likely become a mathematician, scientist or computer program (Noyes, 2010). The traditional classroom may have been more difficult for this person because they were not thinking in words or phrases. However, this person's intelligence would have been demonstrated in math and science.
Characteristics of the visual/spatial intelligence include thinking in images and pictures. A person with this intelligence is good with color and detail. This person may express themselves through art or artistic mediums (Poole, 2000). A student that demonstrates the visual/spatial intelligence is a visual learner. So it is difficult for this person to learn in a traditional classroom that uses language to communicate to the students. To communicate effectively with a visual/spatial learner the teacher must put the information into a more visual and artistic format. They are most likely to be an artist, designer and architect.
The musical/rhythmical intelligence is the ability to perceive musical patterns, forms and by hearing and performing them. A person with this intelligence thinks in musical rhythms and patterns. Learning through music and rhythm is natural for a person with the musical/rhythmical intelligence. Musicians, composers and singers all have and demonstrate this intelligence.
The interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand feelings and intentions of other people (Poole, 2000). This person is very good at relationships with other and has the ability to resolve conflicts with others. Leading and organizing others comes naturally to this person. Teachers, politicians, actors, and sociologists have the interpersonal intelligence. This person learns through interaction with others and discussions. So this student would not learn well by listening to a lecture but must interact with peers to fully understand a concept.
The intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to understand ones feelings and intentions. Taking time to analyze and think about new information is common among people that have the intrapersonal intelligence (Noyes, 2010). This person likes time alone to reflect, has strong opinions and beliefs. Theologians, philosophers, and psychologists all have the intrapersonal intelligence.
Athletes, surgeons, dancers and gymnasts all have the kinesthetic intelligence. The kinesthetic intelligence is the ability to use the body to express ideas, emotions and to solve problems. This person learns the best by physically doing a task or activity. It is difficult for this type of person to sit and listen to a lecture and then be expected to understand the information. Other characteristics of the kinesthetic intelligence include being highly coordinated and taking things apart to fix them. Role playing and acting are also great ways for these students to learn new concepts.
The naturalist intelligence is the ability to discriminate among living things and to have sensitivity to animals and living creatures (Poole, 2000). A person with this intelligence is good with animals and plants. They also understand natural phenomena and are good at classifying. Common careers for people with this intelligence are zoologist, oceanologist and ecologist. Good observation skills are common among people with the naturalist intelligence (Noyes, 2010).
The introduction of Gardner's multiple intelligences changed how educators would approach education and creating lesson plans. Teacher's had much more than content to consider when creating a lesson. Now the teacher had to think about individual students and how their intelligences would affect their learning. A few benefits of incorporating Gardner's multiple intelligence theory into the ELL classroom is that it improves students learning, increases language acquisition, and increases student awareness.
Incorporating the multiple intelligences into the classroom improve student learning among English Language Learners (Noyes, 2010). When a teacher uses the multiple intelligence theory while creating lessons and curriculum the students are receiving more personalized instruction. The teacher takes into consideration how the students learn and what their dominant intelligence is and uses this information to make the content more understandable. So if student has a musical/rhythmical talent the teacher may ask the students to describe the content through a song. This will come more naturally to the student and make the content more comprehensible therefore, increasing student learning and vocabulary development. The students must discuss and sing while completing the task, which promotes language development in ELL students.
The implementation of Gardner's multiple intelligence theory also increases language acquisition in English Language Learners (Poole, 2000). The teacher is differentiating instruction according to the students' intelligences. This will allow the teacher to modify language and use strategies that benefit the ELL students. Most of the lessons and activities foster student discussion and cooperative learning. The more the ELL students participate in the activities and discuss topics the more language they will acquire. Students learn a new language from speaking and listening to that language at there level. The students are given the opportunities to speak and listen at their level in a multiple intelligence classroom, because during a discussion the students naturally speak and discuss at their level. The student centered environment allows the teacher to differentiate the curriculum. ELL students acquire more language when the multiple intelligence theory is implemented into the curriculum.
Teachers have to reflect on student behavior and learning to incorporate the multiple intelligences into the classroom. The students have to reflect on their behaviors and tendencies as well. This makes the teacher and students more aware of the student's multiple intelligences and learning styles. When the students are more aware of how they learn they can take an active role in their learning (Poole, 2000). This includes ELL students also, when they are more aware of their learning styles and intelligences it will increase their self awareness and self esteem. This will result in increased learning and language acquisition. The ELL students will be able to complete the tasks at their level and according to their learning style.
Gardner's multiple intelligence theory benefits the ELL classroom. There are several different methods that can be used to integrate the multiple intelligences into the classroom. Some strategies are quick and easy and require little preparation while others require more preparation and planning from the teacher. However, all of these strategies increase student learning and language acquisition in ELL students (Noyes, 2010).
The first strategy focuses on the verbal/linguistic intelligence. Think/pair/share is a cooperative learning strategies that allows the students to use language to express ideas (Noyes, 2010). The students are asked a question by the teacher and given time to think about it. Then the students discuss the question with a partner. Finally the students share their ideas with the class. In this activity the students are using language that is at there level and they are repeating the content information. These actions help ELL students increase language development and retain content information.
The next strategy using graphic organizers focuses on the mathematical/logical intelligence. Since mathematical/logical students tend to use visuals and pictures to help understand information graphic organizers work well. Graphic organizers put information into an organized picture allowing the student to understand the information more clearly. This strategy works well with ELL students because they do not need to be fluent in the language to understand the content.
The visual/spatial intelligence learning strategy includes using pictures to understand vocabulary. The student would be given a word and they would visualize the word in their head and then draw a picture to represent the word. This picture will help the students understand and retain the vocabulary therefore increasing language skills.
A strategy for the musical/rhythmical student includes putting content into a familiar song or poem. The repetition of the song or poem would help the ELL student learn the content and new vocabulary. Students tend to retain material in songs because of the rhythm and beat. This strategy changes the delivery of the content to meet the needs of the students while increasing language development and learning (Poole, 2000).
The next cooperative learning strategy jigsaw is for the student with the interpersonal intelligence. This strategy requires the students to work in teams to discuss and learn about specific information and share it with the class. The ELL student does well in this strategy because it requires them to participate in active discussion at their level and work with peers. Students with the interpersonal intelligence learn more effectively when they work with peers.
A learning strategy for the intrapersonal intelligence is keeping a daily journal (Noyes, 2010). This person does well when they are given time to reflect on concepts and behaviors. Keeping a daily journal allows the student to reflect and practice writing and reading at their level. The students could also be given the opportunity to share their journals with their peers. Allowing the students to take time and reflect helps them clarify concepts they have learned and gives the students the opportunity to practice writing to communicate.
The kinesthetic intelligence is the ability to use ones body to express emotion and solve problems. This students learns when they are moving and taking an active role in completing a task. A learning strategy for this intelligence is learning by movement, such as role playing or acting out the alphabet. This student may chose to retell a familiar story by acting it out with puppets. The student may learn the alphabet more effectively if they make a corresponding movement for each letter of the alphabet. These skills also benefit the ELL learner because the movement will help them remember the vocabulary and skill.
The naturalist intelligence learning strategy is observation. This student learns by observing natural occurrences in the environment, such as recording plants growth or caring for the class pet. Allowing this student to record observations and share them with the class promotes language development. This student is able to use observation to learn content as well.
Gardner's multiple intelligence theory increases learning and language acquisition in the ELL classroom. Incorporating the multiple intelligences allows the teacher to create a student centered classroom and teach to the students learning styles. When the teacher is able to teach to the specific learning styles of the students the content becomes more comprehensible therefore student achievement and language acquisition increase. The strategies given above give specific examples of how incorporating the multiple intelligences into the curriculum benefit the ELL classroom.