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TEFL Training In Costa Rica | Updated: 09/30/2022

Theory of Multiple Intelligence

Written by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica

How do you define "intelligence"?  Having a high IQ? What about musicians, authors, or actors? Professor Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligence has revolutionized the traditional approach to education by validating that there are many types of intelligence that we must address in the classroom in order to meet the needs of all of our learners.

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Intelligence and learning styles are often confused, but Gardner explains intelligence is an area where a person has computational power, whereas learning style is how a person approaches materials.

All of us have each of the intelligences, however, we tend to be dominant in only one or two of them. Having new information presented through our dominant modes helps us acquire knowledge and memorize new information more easily. As teachers we should assist our students in understanding and appreciating their strengths by identifying real-world activities that will stimulate effective learning.

What intelligence(s) do you identify with? 

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence

"Word Smart"

I really enjoy books.
I enjoy word games such as crossword puzzles, Scrabble, anagrams, etc.
I remember more when I listen to the radio, CDs, and podcasts than from TV or films.
English, Social Studies, and History are easier for me than Science and Math.
I like to read the billboards and signs on the roads and notice them more than the scenery.
I have written something recently that I was proud of.

A person with a high verbal-linguistic intelligence is a natural speaker and presenter who writes well and excels at learning foreign languages. Poets, writers, and many politicians would find themselves in this category.

Verbal-linguistic students enjoy reading and writing assignments. They benefit from listening to lectures, taking part in debates and class discussions, delivering presentations, conducting interviews, in addition to listening to and telling stories. They typically excel at learning foreign languages.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence 

"Logic/Numbers Smart"

I can quickly and easily compute numbers in my head.

I like solving brainteasers, logical games, and other strategy games such as chess and checkers.

I look for structure, patterns, codes, sequences, or logical order.

I like to know how things work.

I enjoy Math and Science.
I like to measure, categorize, or analyze things so I better understand them.

Those with a high logical-mathematic intelligence learn best through experimentation and problem-solving. These students are traditionally the ones who are labeled as "smart" and typically become mathematicians, engineers, and scientists.

Logical-mathematic students enjoy crossword puzzles and riddles, and they benefit from computer games and detailed illustrations with charts, graphs, and diagrams.

Visual-Spatial Intelligence

"Picture Smart"

When I close my eyes, I can see clear visual images, and I  often have vivid dreams at night.
I respond to color.
I prefer reading books, newspaper, magazines, etc. that have many illustrations.
I enjoy visual puzzles such as mazes, jigsaw puzzles, 3D images.
I usually don’t get lost even in unfamiliar places.
I often draw or doodle.

People with strong visual-spatial intelligence have an ability to visualize and mentally manipulate information. Architects, painters, and interior designers have a strong visual-spatial intelligence.

These students learn best by doing arts and crafts projects, illustrating stories, and creating their own booklets. They enjoy slide shows, cartoons, and vivid websites. Many children have high visual-spatial intelligence.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence 

"Body Smart"

I play at least one sport or physical activity regularly.

I find it difficult to sit still for long periods of time.

I like working with my hands (like sewing, carving, carpentry, etc.)

I use gestures and other body language when engaged in conversation.

I need to touch or hold objects to learn more about them.

I am well-coordinated.

Someone with a high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is able to use his or her body skillfully and enjoys hands-on activities. Some examples of professions requiring high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence include actors, athletes, dancers, and surgeons.

These learners excel by doing something physically over reading or writing about it. Best types of activities for these learners require acting out dialogues and performing, role-playing and manipulating realia. This group also enjoys Total Physical Response activities like Simon Says and playing charades.  Many children are bodily-kinesthetic learners.

Rhythmic-Musical Intelligence 

"Music Smart"

I have a nice singing voice.

I know when musical notes are off-key.

I often listen to music on the radio, CD, Itunes, MP3 player, etc.

I play an instrument.

I can’t imagine my life without music.

I can often hear music in my head.

I often clap, tap, whistle, hum, or sing when engaged in a task.

Students with a high musical intelligence appreciate a variety of musical forms and are perceptive to rhythm, melody, beat, and pitch.

Rhythmic-musical students learn best by listening to songs and music. They benefit from using songs and rhythms to learn and memorize information; they enjoy choral reading and analyzing and writing songs. Many children learn well by singing songs in a foreign language.


"People Smart"

People often ask me for advice, and I like to help other people.

I prefer team and group sports over individual sports.

When I have a problem, I like to talk to someone about it.

I would rather spend a Saturday night out with my friends than spend it at home alone.

I have been called a leader and consider myself one.

I am comfortable in a crowd of people.

I am involved in local, school, neighborhood, church, and/or community activities.

Those with high interpersonal intelligence are empathetic, and they interact well with everybody. Teachers, psychologists, and sales representatives are typical professions with high interpersonal intelligence.

Interpersonal students excel in debates, discussions, and collaborative work. They enjoy sharing their opinions, offering oral or written advice, and being interviewed and interviewing others.


"Self Smart"

I spend time thinking about important life questions.
I know my strengths and weaknesses.

I prefer to spend Saturday night at home alone than out with lots of people.
I am independent and strong-willed.

I keep a journal or diary.

People with high intrapersonal intelligence are aware of their own feelings, knowing their strengths and limitations, and being able to set goals for themselves. Those with high intrapersonal intelligence do well in careers like counselors, teachers, and policemen.

Intrapersonal students profit from writing reflective essays and journal entries and completing self-paced projects. They tend to be intrinsically motivated, and they enjoy working on their own, like studying in a language laboratory or in a library.

Naturalistic Intelligence 

"Nature Smart"

I am always aware of what is going on around me.
I love to go walking in the woods and look at the trees, flowers, and wildlife.
I like to collect things, such as rocks, sports cards, and stamps.
I enjoy being in nature, away from the city.
If I have to memorize something, I tend to organize things into categories.

Students with high naturalistic intelligence love nature and are environmentally conscious. They are normally good at classifying plants and animals, and they take pleasure in spending time outdoors. Professions requiring a high degree of naturalistic intelligence include veterinarians, animal trainers, and farmers.

These learners enjoy discussions about the environment, reading and writing assignments about nature and classifying and analyzing information.  They also love being in an outdoor setting. Many children are naturalistic learners.

Even though most of us are dominant in one or two intelligences, we can still learn if some information is presented in a different form. Highlighting a variety of needs and preferences, we must consider our students' multiple intelligences, providing instruction that places the focus on the student, allows flexibility on the learning tasks and provides chances for students to succeed.  This will also allow us to increase the repertoire of class activities making our lessons more interesting and more appealing to a group of students with a variety learning preferences.

To learn more techniques and how to properly meet your English students' needs, sign up for one of our 4-week TEFL training courses! 

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