Accommodating Multiple Intelligences of ESL Students

in a Mainstream Classroom

Now that we understand the theory of multiple intelligences as it relates, in general, to public education, let's see how we can apply this theory specifically to teaching ESL students. First of all, why should you take this theory into account when teaching ESL students in your mainstream classroom? Well, because research shows that integrating specific, intelligence-based lessons for language into a mainstream classroom curriculum has a high level of effectiveness in achieving results in teaching ESL students. Okay, so now you are probably wondering, “How can I adapt my classroom methodology to reflect the strengths and weaknesses of my ESL students, both collectively and individually?” Initially you will need to establish, through observation and communication, what types of intelligences you have in your classroom. Each intelligence is associated with a specific learning style, so being able to pinpoint what category (or categories) of intelligence each student falls into will help you to tailor your teaching methods and lesson plans to accommodate those learners and be the most effective you can be in teaching them. Below, under each intelligence are characteristics of learners of that intelligence. This will help you determine what and how many different intelligences you have in your classroom. You should then present lessons in at least two or three different approaches based on the preferred multiple intelligence learning styles and strengths of your ESL students. Below, you will also find the teaching method associated with each intelligence learning style, as well as examples, "lesson ideas," that you may be able to utilize in your own classroom to suit ESL students in that intelligence category.

Effectively communicating with and teaching any student requires an understanding of multiple intelligences, but it is especially vital when dealing with ESL students in a mainstream classroom. Your ability as a teacher to tailor your teaching methods and lesson plans to accommodate the multiple intelligences of your ESL students is the determining factor of their success in your classroom. By recognizing that learners are in fact different and therefore may need different types of classroom activities and techniques in order to learn, you will fully encourage your ESL learners to try harder, and at the same time, make the learning environment as meaningful and enjoyable as possible for all students involved.

Verbal / Linguistic
Characteristics of Verbal/Linguistic Learners: Possess the ability to use language effectively both orally and in writing; need explanation and find understanding through the use of words; enjoy expressing themselves orally and in writing; love wordplay, riddles, and listening to stories.

Teaching Method: Focuses on using language and plays a primary role in learning English.

Lesson Ideas: Read a book aloud or tell a story, have the students debate a current issue, ask the students to make a book (in any form that they choose, incorporate journal writing into your curriculum.

Visual / Spatial
Characteristics of Visual/Spatial Learners: Possess the ability to recognize form, space, color, line, and shape and to graphically represent visual and spatial ideas; need explanation with and develop comprehension through the use of pictures, graphs, maps, etc.; tend to think in pictures and mental images; enjoy illustrations, charts, tables and maps.

Teaching Method: Focuses on giving students visual clues to help them to remember language; this is a very effective way for students to learn English.

Lesson Ideas: Show a video, ask the students to paint a picture or sketch a scene, have the students prepare charts or graphs, incorporate puzzles into your curriculum.

Body / Kinesthetic
Characteristics of Body/Kinesthetic Learners: Possess the ability to use the body to express ideas and feelings and to solve problems. experience learning best through various kinds of movement.

Teaching Method: Combines physical actions/body movements with linguistic responses to express ideas, accomplish tasks, create moods, etc.; uses dialogue simultaneously with role play; this is very helpful for tying language to actions.

Lesson Ideas: Take your students on field trips, have them to do hand-on experiments like papier mache, teach a lesson on telling time, do arts and crafts with your students, incorporate physical education ideas into a lesson.

Characteristics of Interpersonal Learners: Possess the ability to understand another person's feelings, motivations, and intentions and to respond effectively. like to interact with others to accomplish tasks and learn best in groups or with a partner; they learn while speaking to others in an “authentic’ setting; they develop English speaking skills while reacting to others.

Teaching Method: Focuses on group learning to allow students to work with others to accomplish tasks and complete activities.

Lesson Ideas: Teach a lesson on social awareness, incorporate peer editing and peer teaching into the curriculum, break the students into small groups and have them discuss specific topics and then share their group thoughts with the class.

Logical -Mathematical
Characteristics of Logical-Mathematical Learners: Possess the ability to use numbers effectively and reason well; display an aptitude for numbers, reasoning and problem solving.

Teaching Method: Focuses on using logic and mathematical models to represent and help students work with concepts and ideas.

Lesson Idea: Play logic games with the students, have them complete a webquest that brings into play data collecting, critical thinking, and problem solving, incorporate geometry and money into lessons where a relation can be made.

Characteristics of Musical-Rhythmic Learners: Possess the ability to recognize rhythm, pitch, and melody; learn best through songs, patterns, rhythms and musical representations.

Teaching Method: Focuses on using melody, rhythm, and harmony to help students recognize things and communicate; this is often underestimated in classrooms with ESL students.

Teaching Idea: Play background music (like classical) when the students have free time, have the students construct a poem about something related to the lesson or class, teach your students a song that relates to the topic being discussed in class that day.

Characteristics of Intrapersonal Learners: Possess the ability to know about and understand themselves and recognize their similarities to and differences from others; learn through self-knowledge leading to understanding of motives, goals, strengths, and weaknesses; reflective and intuitive about how and what they learn; able to deal with underlying issues (this can improve or hamper English usage).

Teaching Method: Focuses on guiding students’ learning through self-knowledge which will lead to an understanding of motives, goals, strengths and weaknesses. This method is essential for long-term English learning.

Lesson Idea: Set time aside each week for your students to enjoy independent reading, allow the students to do a project of their choice to show their undestanding of a concept or lesson, have the students write down their personal goals, pick the one most important to them, and display it somewhere in the room.