Language Learning|April 13, 2011 5:33 am

Language Learning With the Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Learning a new language can be difficult, which is why you need to ensure that you are studying in the most efficient way possible. To understand the most efficient way for you personally to learn, you must understand the theory of multiple intelligences, as presented by Howard Gardner of Harvard University. This post will give a brief summary of the seven distinct learning intelligences outlined by Mr. Gardner. Using this information, you can then develop a self-study strategy that will greatly increase the speed at which you acquire a new language.

Before we begin our look into the seven different learning intelligences, a word about the theory and its applications. The theory emerged out of contemporary cognitive research, research that studied how humans get to know the world, how we solve problems, and how we come to understand our own actions and the actions of those around us. Specifically, the research showed that people learn, primarily, in seven distinct ways: visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, and logical-mathematical.

When using the theory to design your personal language learning strategy, it is important to note that every person, including you, uses every intelligence, to some degree. The difference lies in the degrees of strength one has in each learning intelligence. Find out which way you naturally learn, and you will empower yourself to design a learning strategy that greatly improves your learning ability.


Visual-spatial learners are people who are very aware of their physical surroundings. These people tend to enjoy subjects like architecture, and they make great navigators. Reading maps is easy for them, and they quite enjoy using them. They are often visual daydreamers, and they enjoy activities such as putting together jigsaw puzzles. If you are one of these people, you will learn best when taught through drawings and verbal and physical imagery.


Bodily-kinesthetic learners are people who are very in touch with their bodies. They are good with their hands, and they enjoy using movement, making things, and touching objects. They can be found in a range of professions, from dancers to surgeons. These are the type of people who tend to communicate as much with their body language as they do through spoken words. If you are a bodily-kinesthetic learner you will learn well through physical activity, role playing, acting out various scenarios, and all types of hands-on learning. You should incorporate physical objects and tools into your learning strategy.


Are you one of those people who is constantly tapping out tunes? If so, you may be a strong Musical learner. Musical learners are very sensitive to rhythm and sound. They are music lovers, yes, but they are more than that. They are very aware of and sensitive to all sounds in their environment. They learn well when using tools such as musical instruments, radio, music, and various multimedia devices.


Do you thrive in environments that call for heavy interaction with others? If so, you probably also have many friends, empathy for others, and good street smarts. You are an interpersonal learner, and, clearly, you are not going to learn well by spending all of your time sitting in a quiet space reading a book. You learn through interaction, and you will excel when taking part in group activities and seminars and by engaging in dialogues, no matter how simple they may be.


In contrast to an Interpersonal learner, Intrapersonal learners tend to shy away from others. These people are very much in tune with their inner feelings. They have a strong will and the wisdom, motivation, and intuition to make things happen. They are the most independent of learners, and they do well spending quiet time alone with books and other learning materials.


Linguistic learners are people who are great at using words. They display highly developed auditory skills, and they typically think in words, as opposed to other types of learners who think in more abstract or emotional ways. They enjoy playing word games and reading and writing stories. They learn best when they are encouraged to see and say words, which means reading is a very effective way for them to learn.


People in this category drift towards learning methods that involve reasoning and calculating. They are good at seeing patterns and relationships, and they enjoy experimenting and solving puzzles. It is important for them to define things in terms of concepts before they attempt to work with detailed information.


The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, as described by Howard Gardner, is a powerful tool to use when developing a language learning strategy, and you should not attempt to design a learning strategy without fully comprehending it. In addition, you need to complete a self examination to determine which intelligences you are naturally comfortable with. This article has given a brief explanation of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. To learn how to use this theory to design your very own language learning strategy, please visit the pages below.

Language Learning Strategies Table of Contents


When you’re ready, check out our FREE Chinese Course.

Going to Korea? Learn Korean for FREE!

  • Share this post:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: