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Introduction

I have chosen to do a multiple intelligence lesson as part of my experimental practice. As someone who is strongly
kinesethetic and has the ability to understand people (interpersonal intelligence), this is a subject that is of great
interest to me. Furthermore, in the last two years I have taught older students (35 years and above) who have been
away from Education for a long time and in such situations it really pays to know how to fully play to the strengths of
the learners. Finally, this is a topic that interests many in the EFL world and I am grateful to have the opportunity to
reserach this area ‚ I really to believe that what I learn this week will be of interest to my future employers.

Multiple Intelligences Theory

The theory of multiple intelligences (MI) expands the traditional view of intelligence as solely composed of
verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical abilities. MI theory argues that all humans possess at least eight different
intelligences that represent the different ways to learn and demonstrate understanding. These are1:

1. Linguistic: a special ability to use language creatively.

2. Logical/mathematical: the ability to think logically.

3. Spatial: the ability to form mental models of the world.

4. Bodily/Kinesthetic: having a well-coordinated body, like athletes and craftsperson’s.

5. Interpersonal: the ability to work well with people.

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Jack Richards and Theodore Rogdgers „Multiple Intelligence“s in Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge, 2001) p. 117

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6. Intrapersonal; the ability to understand oneself and apply ones talent successfully.

7. Musical: a good ear for music

MI theory was first proposed by Howard Gardner in his book “Frames of Mind”. First published in 1983, he argued
that people have different strengths and combinations of intelligences and all of them can be enhanced through the
right training and practice.2 MI theory is based on the following principles:

1. Learners are individuals and these differences should be respected.3

2. Learners come from different economic, social backgrounds and all these factors can affect a performance.4

3. The different intelligences can operate independently from each other.


For example a child may have a highly developed spatial intelligence but a severe inability to be with other
people. In other words, a serious deficit in his/her interpersonal intelligence.

4. Each intelligence will develop in clear steps as the person goes from the womb to adulthood. In the words of
Herbert Puchta and Mario Rinvolucri:

There may well be critical periods during which development speeds up. If the appropriate stimuli are
absent during such periods, then development may be stunted.5

2
Jack Richards and Theodore Rogdgers „Multiple Intelligence“s in Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge, 2001) p. 115
3
Ibid
4
K. Currie Multiple Intelligences and the ESL Classroom. http:www.itselfj.org/Articles

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Good teachers are usually passionate about their subject area. However, they often discover that their learners don’t
share their passion. For instance, I had an enthusiastic and a passionate Maths teacher at school but it wasn’t
enough to make Maths understandable and attractive to me. I remember her presenting information in a way that I
couldn’t relate to and as a result I learnt very little and eventually, I failed the final exam. It was unfortunate that I
didn’t have a teacher like Mark Wahl. In this book Math for Humans, he mentions that he made maths accessible to
a visually-spatially intelligent girl by linking numbers to visuals on index cards.6

Application of MI to language teaching has been a recent development. While language learning is linked to
“Linguistic Intelligence”, it would be too simplistic to believe that there is nothing else. argues:

There are aspects of language such as rhythm, tone, volume and pitch that are more closely linked, say,
to a theory of music than to o a theory of linguistics.7

Rather than prescribing teaching methods or a particular curriculum , MI theory provides a way of understanding
intelligence, which teachers can use as a guide for developing classroom activities that take into account the various
ways of learning and knowing. It focuses on empowering the learner and on strategies that serve their needs within a
classroom setting, for e.g. if you want to reach out to an athlete or a musician include activities that play on their
strength.

5
Herbert Puchta and Mario Rinvolucri Multiple Intelligences in EFL (Helbling Languages, 2005) p. 14
6
Herbert Puchta and Mario Rinvolucri Multiple Intelligences in EFL (Helbling Languages, 2005) p.p- 15-15
7
Jack Richards and Theodore Rogdgers „Multiple Intelligence“s in Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge, 2001) p p. 117

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MI theory is not prescriptive. Rather, it presents teachers with a sophisticated mental model from which to design a
curriculum and to better themselves as educators. Teachers are encouraged to think beyond their roles as educators.
In fact, they are encouraged to wear many hats i.e.

Curriculum developers, lesson designers and analysts, activity finders or inventors, most critically,
orchestrators of a rich array of multisensory activities within realistic constraints of time, space and resources
of the classroom.8

MI theory can be described as holistic. A typical MI classroom is designed to support the development of the whole
person. Its environment and activities are intended to turn students into well-rounded individuals and more
successful learners in general.

Objectives of the Experiment

In my experimental practice lesson, I intend to find out how learners react to a lesson based on MI theory. By
helping learners to develop an understanding of their individual learning preferences, I hope to answer the following
questions:

• Does MI truly empower learners and lead to thoughtful learning?

• Does MI have a positive effect on students’ motivation?

Evaluation of the Experiment

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the lesson I will administer a feedback sheet adapted from David Hopkins A
Teacher’s Guide to Classroom Research in order to get answers to the above questions (Appendix One). I will also
get my colleagues input and will give them a feedback sheet to fill out (Appendix Two).

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Jack Richards and Theodore Rogdgers „Multiple Intelligence“s in Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge, 2001) p p. 120

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Commentary on the lesson

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This lesson is something that would be done at the beginning of any course. It makes students aware that people
learn languages in different ways and that they have to find learning strategies that work for them. In planning the
lesson, I have attempted to follow the principles laid down by Michael Berman9. These principles are:

1. Setting the scene to create optimal learning conditions:

This includes building a supportive learning environment by promoting the students’ self-esteem and self-
belief.10

I do this at the beginning by asking students to look at problems on worksheet 1 asking them to solve the one they
are most comfortable with. Hopefully this will promote their self-esteem.

2. Provide the learners with an authentic reason for doing the class: Berman talks about selling the lesson to the
class.11 What are the reasons for doing the activities? This is my reason for including worksheet where
students have to talk about activities they like doing to practice their English and to relate it to their
intelligence.

3. Ensure main activities cater for the three main learning styles12 or Gardner’s main intelligence types. The
activities in this lesson take into account the Kinesthetic, Visual and Auditory. Berman argues that unless you
cater for these three you never can be sure of reaching all the students. A good example of an activity that will
appeal to a variety of learners and not just the big three is the discussion about school days(see procedure for
details).

9
Michael Berman A Multiple Intelligences Road in the Classroom (Crown House Publishing; Wales, 1998) See Unit 10
10
Michael Berman A Multiple Intelligences Road in the Classroom (Crown House Publishing; Wales, 1998) p.179
11
Michael Berman A Multiple Intelligences Road in the Classroom (Crown House Publishing; Wales, 1998) p.182
12
Kinesthetic, Auditory and Visual

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The other activities in this lesson should also engage all the learners in the lesson. For instance the activity
where students match pictures with definitions will cater to the visual and the kinesthetic learners and the
activity where students have to rate famous people in order of intelligence should appeal to the logical-
mathematical learners.

4. Errors should be corrected in a systematic manner – Berman talks about justifying our roles as teachers. He
argues for going against the fashion of putting free flow of communication above accuracy. He puts forward the
view that students can enjoy free flow of communication in the coffee bar without the teacher being present. In
order to remain faithful to this principle, I will note down errors and give students the opportunity to self correct
in the feedback session. I will also deal with emerging language in a systematic manner.

Lesson Plan

Aims:

• To develop understanding of individual learning preferences and how these can help the learner

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• To build vocabulary with gerunds for activities

Timetable fit

We are at the beginning of a new block and so it is the ideal time do this kind of lesson. The strategies that students learn in the lesson will
stand them in good stead for the rest of the course.

Langauge Analysis

Meaning Form Pronunciation

(substitution drill)

Doing sports perform, take part or gerund + noun I enjoy doing...........at the
achieve something. weekend
Doing moths

a)learning from films a) to get knowledge from gerund + prepistion + I like learning from.......
something or someone noun
b)learning from mistakes
b)learn something was not gerund+prepoisiton
right and then correct it +noun

leading meetings to be in control of gerund + noun


something (people,
country, a situation)

learning about nature to become aware of gerund+preposition+ I like learning about..........


something / to be told noun
facts about something

Sorting into groups arrange things in a gerund+prepositon +


particular way (here into noun
groups)

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Problems:

• Learners may not have the schemata to deal with the subject.

• Learners may find certain vocabulary problematic e.g. the words used to describe the intelligences

• This lesson is about learning strategies and so some learners may feel frustrated that there is no obvious language component

• Students may be shy to talk about their school days

Solutions:

• It is highly likely that the students may not have heard of multiple intelligences. I will, therefore, give them a brief background to the
subject. I will also introduce the subject in a way that arouses their curiosity(i.e. by asking them to solve puzzles. See Worksheet A
appendix three )

• To ensure that students understand what is meant by Linguistic, Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, I will ask them to match pictures with
the correct definitions (Worksheet E appendix three ). I will also do some phonology work so that students know how to pronounce
the words.

• I will use worksheet F (appendix three ) as an opportunity to extend their lexis for discussing activities.

• The discussion part of the lesson will be in pairs so that students don’t feel as if they have been put on the spot.

Assumptions:

• It is the beginning of a new block and therefore students will be keen to discuss strategies they could use to improve their English.

• Students will have at least some learning strategies up their sleeve and will be willing to share them with their classmates.

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Student Profile

Name Reason for learning Strengths (S) and Other comments


Age
Weaknesses (W)
Nationalit
y

Anna 39 Anna is a housewife, her husband S – very communicative Refuses to work with students who are
works for BBC Moscow. She needs weaker than her (e.g.Ryoko), needs to
Russian English to communicate in W - serious problems with order her grammatical knowledge.
everyday situations outside the grammatical structures, including
classroom and during hr numerous use of tenses, questions and
trips abroad. modal verbs

Anna 21 To improve her communication S – very diligent, tries to use new Joined the group a few days ago.
and be promoted structure and vocabulary freely,
Spanish pays a lot of attention to accuracy,
good command of grammar

W – should work more on rhythm


and intonation

Charles To get a better job, to travel S – good command of grammar, A very busy students, sometimes his
22 very communicative, enjoys absence is caused by tennis tournaments.
answering T’s questions, acquires
French new structures quite quickly

W – should work on pronunciation

Eduardo To be able to work in his field (an S – very diligent, wants to be Quite shy, but enjoys speaking in one-to-
29 engineer) challenged, tries to use new one situations. If he doesn’t understand
structures something, asks questions.
Italian
W – sometimes finds it difficult to
understand TL, particularly

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grammar

Francisco To be able to do his job in the UK(a S – very communicative, wants to Leaves earlier every day and misses part of
42 helicopter pilot) be challenged, probably studies a the lesson.
Mexican lot on his own.

W – big grammar gaps, including


knowledge of tenses, questions,
modal verbs.

Guzel 26 To be promoted, to do her MA in S – has a good command of Very motivated, one of the most
the UK grammar and a rich scope of conscientious students in the group.
Turkish vocabulary, pays attention to
linguistic accuracy.

W – quite shy in open-class


discussions/activities.

Jean- To get a better job (he is currently S – has a very good command of A very busy student, sometimes his
Michael working in a night club) grammar. Starts using new absence is caused by tennis tournaments.
21 structures almost immediately.

French W – should work more on


intonation and rhythm.

Ryoko 24 To communicate better outside the S – quite fluent, seldom makes Attends every lesson and always does
classroom grammatical mistakes. homework.
Japanese
W – intonation, rhythm,
prominence.

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Safak 26 To be able to do her job (a S – the most fluent and accurate Very communicative, enjoys all the
ceramicist) in the UK student in the group, very activities done in the classroom.
Turkish communicative, although

W - makes occasional grammar


mistakes (-s in the 3rd person
singular in the Present Simple
Tense)

Mami 26 looking for part time job while in S – Happy to participate in whole A radio journalist – traffic reporter.
London class discussion. Friendly attitude
Japanese and works well with other
students.

W – Very slow speaker and has


comprehension difficulties, the
two are often connected

Armand For employment reasons. S – Grammatically strong. Communications/PR.


21 Confident speaker and works well
Wants to take TOEIC when he feels Working in Burger King while in London
French with partner.
his level is good enough
W – Has a tendency to distract
partner during pair work.

Sara 43 S – Extremely confident speaker. Works long distance as a packaging designer for a
Enjoys reading for pleasure Colombian glassware company
Columbia (translations of books she has
previously read in Spanish).

W – Tends to use present simple


even when referring to events
which are clearly in the past. Can

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dominate the group

Procedure

Aims Procedures Resources Focus Time

To set the Students individually What are you S>S 3 mins


scene; to choose one of the good at?
create interest three problems from British
about the worksheet A. They Council
subject matter. then discuss in pairs Lesson Plan
which problem they
choose and why they
chose it.

In pairs students talk


To get students
discuss these
thinking about
questions:
the idea of
“intelligence”.
• Who is the
most S>S 3 mins
intelligent What are you
person you good at?
know? British
Council
• What are they Lesson Plan
good at?

• Why do you
think they are
intelligent?

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Student rate famous
people in order of
To cater to intelligence What are you S>S
mathematical- good at?
logical British S>T 3 mins
intelligence. To Council
introduce the Lesson Plan
idea of different
intelligences

Your School Days

Dictate questions to
To give
students. Students
students an
discuss questions in What are you
idea of how the
pairs. good at? S>S
intelligences
British
relate to our S>T 7 mins
Council
real lives
Lesson Plan

Students do
worksheet E . They
match activity with
To introduce
particular a particular What are you
students to the S>S
learning types. good at?
terminology.
British 5 mins
Council
Lesson Plan

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extends Students now do
students worksheet F (match
vocabulary activity with What are you s>S
intelligence) good at?
British 6 mins
individually and then
they check in pairs. Council
Learning
Select some phrases What are you
to point out patterns. good at?
Do drilling if there is British s>s
time(see language Council
analysis) Learning Plan

Students do the test


and compare results.
To discover What are you
learning type (Worksheet G) good at?
British
Council s>s 9 mins
Learning Plan

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Students relate MI
theory to learning
To provide English 7 mins
learners with
learning (Worksheet H)
strategy

Feedback

Students fill out


feedback sheet
7 mins

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Bibliography

Books

Berman, M. A Multiple Intelligences Road in the Classroom (Crown House Publishing; Wales, 1998)

Hopkins, D. A Teacher’s Guide to Classroom Research (Oxford University Press; Maindenhead, 2002)

Puchta, H. and Rinvolucri, M. Multiple Intelligences in EFL (Helbling Languages, 2005)

Richards. J. and Rogdgers , T. Multiple Intelligence“s in Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching
(Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001)

Articles

K. Currie Multiple Intelligences and the ESL Classroom. http:www.itselfj.org/Articles

Practical Materials

What are you good at? British Council http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/try/lesson-plans/multiple-intelligences-


what-are-you-good

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