The nine intelligences

A deeper look at your students strengths and weaknesses.

When designing a class it’s important to think about 4 areas; visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile. As  students respond in different ways to these areas of teaching, it’s important to alter the focus from lesson to lesson to keep things fresh and exciting. For more information check this out.

Looking deeper we can see what makes up a students focus or intelligence and use this when creating games and activities. Of course, the purpose of the lesson should never be forgotten. Students need to learn. This way of thinking is aimed at slightly altering HOW the lesson is taught.


A love and affinity to natural things and nature as a whole. Sensitivity to natural features of the world like trees, mountains, cloud shapes…  This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef.  

It is also speculated that much of our consumer society exploits the naturalist intelligences, which can be mobilized in the discrimination among cars, sneakers, kinds of makeup, and the like. 

In class: When contextualising a grammar pattern you could try using a natural environment or possibly including nature images on your teaching materials. 


Musical intelligence is the capacity to discern pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone.  This intelligence enables us to recognize, create, reproduce, and reflect on music, as demonstrated by composers, conductors, musicians, vocalist, and sensitive listeners.  Interestingly, there is often an affective connection between music and the emotions; and mathematical and musical intelligences may share common thinking processes.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence are usually singing or drumming to themselves.  They are usually quite aware of sounds others may miss.

In class: Don’t dismiss the student that seems not to be paying attention. They might be drumming their pencil on the desk but *maybe* they are completely focused on everything you are saying. This also goes back to class discipline. As an ALT you shouldn’t be using negative re-enforcement to control a class. Behaviour modification or Positive/Random re-enforcement are far better methods.


Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses, and carry out complete mathematical operations.  It enables us to perceive relationships and connections and to use abstract, symbolic thought; sequential reasoning skills; and inductive and deductive thinking patterns.  Logical intelligence is usually well developed in mathematicians, scientists, and detectives.  Young adults with lots of logical intelligence are interested in patterns, categories, and relationships.  They are drawn to arithmetic problems, strategy games and experiments.

In class: Communication can be seen as an art by most student and really puts off the more math/science focused kids. But remember all the skill that come from the logical intelligence can be used to figure out grammar patterns and memorising words and structures. Spoken communication is what we need to specialise in but that doesn’t mean we cant make the games a challenge for the logical thinkers.


Sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here.

In class: These students are great at original thinking and always come up with the best responses. Later in school life, they excel at English debate.


Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others.  It involves effective verbal and nonverbal communication, the ability to note distinctions among others, sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of others, and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives.  Teachers, social workers, actors, and politicians all exhibit interpersonal intelligence.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence are leaders among their peers, are good at communicating, and seem to understand others’ feelings and motives.

In class: Communication is not entirely spoken. Students can get a lot from body language, context and even gesture. Perfect grammar is not always required to convey an idea in a different language. (Although it is quite important to pass a test :p ) Try explaining this to the kids to help them feel at ease if they make a mistake.


Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is the capacity to manipulate objects and use a variety of physical skills.  This intelligence also involves a sense of timing and the perfection of skills through mind–body union.  Athletes, dancers, surgeons, and craftspeople exhibit well-developed bodily kinesthetics intelligence.

In class: Student who sit at their desks all day might switch off. Moving the desks into groups or having an activity where the students need to walk around and ask their friends questions is a great idea.


Linguistic intelligence is the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings.  Linguistic intelligence allows us to understand the order and meaning of words and to apply meta-linguistic skills to reflect on our use of language.  Linguistic intelligence is the most widely shared human competence and is evident in poets, novelists, journalists, and effective public speakers.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence enjoy writing, reading, telling stories or doing crossword puzzles.

In class: The pure skill of communication. Some students might have the English ability in their head but it’s no good if they are too shy to ever use it. Try and make the students feel comfortable in the classroom and always praise the effort and not necessarily the end result.


Intra-personal intelligence is the capacity to understand oneself and one’s thoughts and feelings, and to use such knowledge in planning and directioning one’s life.  Intra-personal intelligence involves not only an appreciation of the self, but also of the human condition.  It is evident in psychologist, spiritual leaders, and philosophers.  These young adults may be shy.  They are very aware of their own feelings and are self-motivated.

In class: Again look out for the students that can plan out and write an amazing speech but have a little difficulty when it comes to performing it. Some of these students might try and get a connection with you through homework or written assignments. Feel free to leave them a written comment explaining how awesome their submission was.


Spatial intelligence is the ability to think in three dimensions.  Core capacities include mental imagery, spatial reasoning, image manipulation, graphic and artistic skills, and an active imagination.  Sailors, pilots, sculptors, painters, and architects all exhibit spatial intelligence.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence may be fascinated with mazes or jigsaw puzzles, or spend free time drawing or daydreaming.

In class: These kids can draw really really well. Check out this post to see some of the ones I came across during one afternoon’s marking. These students enjoy directions lesson, guessing shapes and silhouettes, and creating sentences from cut up pieces of paper.


For more information please check out:

Source:From: Overview of the Multiple Intelligences Theory.  Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and Thomas Armstrong

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