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Friday, January 27, 2012



This past Summer I took a two-week long Multiple Intelligence course in Canterbury and I must say that it took my mind off technology for a while and opened up my mind to many different types of activities which I had forgotten worked so well with EFL learners.  I'd been so obsessed with using technology in my classroom that I'd been putting off doing pair work, oral activities or activities in which students get out from their desks and move around the room. Those ‘linguistic’ activities which are typically used by language teachers had been set aside whilst I was trying out all the amazing new Web tools with my students.

As a language teacher of many years, I was actually surprised as I reflected upon my current teaching habits and techniques and how they have been changing over the past couple of years.  It's not that I had been purposely avoiding activities involving movement, personal reflection or tedious grammar activities.  It was simply the fact that I was so involved in my new ‘techy tools’ that my classes were beginning to feel like a broken record.      

Now, If there is one thing that I learnt in the Multiple Intelligence course, it’s that we must VARY our lessons in order to reach ALL of our students.  Students learn in different ways, with stronger or weaker degrees of ‘intelligences’ influencing them along their learning journey.  We are all born with the seven intelligences, however we have predominant ones which are often manifested in our ability or inability to learn something new.

Upon further reflection, I realized that by using copious amounts of technology with my students, I wasn’t failing them or their intelligences entirely!  I was in fact working on a variety of intelligences without actually realizing it. 

For those of you who are not familiar with Gardner's 7 Multiple Intelligences, they are:
  • Visual-Spatial
  • Bodily-kinesthetic
  • Musical
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal 
  • Linguistic
  • Logical –Mathematical
At a quick glance, it may appear that when teaching English we are automatically working on developing Linguistic intelligence. But by integrating music (Musical), getting students to share their opinions (interpersonal), keeping a journal or self-evaluating log (intrapersonal), putting together a digital story (Visual-Spatial); we are in fact working on various intelligences.  If we teachers take a look at the list, there are probably one or two that we systematically avoid.   Either they don’t appeal to us or we feel we know little in that particular area and thus we avoid them.  Let someone else teach that! 
To make a long story short, the course In MI has really enhanced my thinking in my EFL classes and recently I seem to be looking for and analyzing which ‘additional’ intelligence-s’ I am touching on, along with the more obvious Linguistic one.  I try to add a  lot of VARIETY to my lessons in the hopes that if the verb ‘to be’ doesn’t enter into their heads through the grammar exercises, it may finally get there through chants, visual games or the making of comics!! 
This whole reflection today has come about because of a fantastic lesson I had with my students this week.  It was an activity that I did with fellow teachers on the MI course and I think it’s worth sharing it with you.  From my own interpretation, I’d say that all but two intelligences are worked on in this activity and as an added bonus, the students had a lot of fun and laughs whilst doing it!
1.      Prepare the following link about Mozart:
2.      Students sit in pairs, one looking at the wall, the other looking at the video on the screen.
3.      The latter must describe to his/her partner everything that is happening in the skit.  The present simple or present continuous tenses work best and the video is very visual and eventful.
4.      Even if they don’t have the vocabulary to say everything, tell them to keep talking, fitting in any words they don’t know with their native language.  They have to sit very close to each other in order  to hear above all the noise the others are making.
5.      Halfway through the video, stop it and have partners switch their tasks.
6.      Once the video is done, show it to the class again and go over any words or actions they had trouble describing.
7.      As a last reflection, you can get them to think about how the skit depicts Mozart’s personality and his ability to play his music no matter what was happening around him.  Come rain or come shine, he never once stopped playing!

If you are looking for the ‘techy’ in this activity, sometimes a simple computer, projector, screen and a youtube video suffice!


1 comment:

  1. I don't normally take requests for my list, but I admire your cheek! ;-)
    In any case, I'm sure it's good enough to be included - thanks for bringing it to my attention. What's your full name, Susan? Are you on Twitter? I wanted to follow your blog by email but you're not offering that option :(