“Word Smarts”: Understanding Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence in Students

5 min to read
Male child student laying down on the floor reading a book in front of books shelves

What is Linguistic Intelligence?

Linguistic intelligence refers to the ability to “understand and use spoken and written language.” Individuals who possess strong linguistic intelligence – such as writers, poets, speakers, and lawyers – can express themselves well in both written and verbal communication. 

However, just because someone has linguistic-verbal intelligence or is “word smart” doesn’t mean they should exclusively rely on that skillset. 

In other words, multiple intelligences aren’t learning styles but faculties that students use when they approach new subjects. Those who have strong verbal-linguistic intelligences can learn a concept more easily if the learning method targets this intelligence, while the same method can offer verbal-linguistic practice to those who don’t pick up verbal intelligence as easily.

How to Recognize If Your Student Has Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence

Do you suspect your student has strong verbal intelligence? Here are some verbal-linguistic intelligence examples – if you recognize these in your student, it’s likely they may be “word smart.” Students with verbal-linguistic intelligence are usually great at:

Often, these students have a broad vocabulary, enjoy word games, and take pride in owning books.

How to Engage a Student with Verbal Intelligence

If you recognize some hallmarks of linguistic intelligence in your student, it may be wise to encourage them to lean into this aptitude. For example, by doing more verbal-linguistic activities or even joining clubs and social groups that capitalize on this intelligence, your student can thrive within their natural intelligence 

Some of the clubs that exercise verbal-linguistic intelligence include:

  • Book Club
  • Debate Club
  • Digital Storytelling Club
  • Pen Pal Club
  • Poetry Club
  • Student Literary Magazine
  • Student Newspaper
  • Theater Arts Club

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence Activities for Students Kindergarten-Grade 2

Some great examples of verbal intelligence-focused activities for students in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade include:

  • “Story time” — listening and watching books being read
  • Sounding out words and phrases
  • Learning the alphabet and spelling

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence Activities for Students Grade 3-5

Some great examples of verbal intelligence-focused activities for students in third, fourth, and fifth grade include:

  • Writing poems or short stories
  • Reading fiction books
  • Practicing reading out loud
  • Starting a diary or journal

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence Activities for Students Grade 6-8

Some great examples of verbal intelligence-focused activities for students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade include:

  • Creative writing (short stories, poems, writing prompts)
  • Reading magazines and blogs
  • Playing word games like Scrabble, crosswords, and Bananagrams
  • Public speaking and sharing of ideas
  • Listening to podcasts and other educational material in audio format
A group of online students practice verbal linguistic intelligence by writing.

Incorporating Other Types of Intelligence

While your student can gain a great deal of satisfaction and build confidence by participating in activities that allow them to exercise their word smarts, it is also important to encourage them to practice using other less dominant intelligences as well, such as “body smarts” or “logic smarts.” 

An example of an activity that targets verbal-linguistic intelligence is writing a poem. On its own, poetry writing helps students build their vocabularies, practice their rhyming skills, and understand a unique literary form. But if you want to help activate other intelligences, try adding these elements for younger students:

  • Auditory-Musical: Turn your poem into lyrics and set them to a melody to create a song.
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic: Act out your poem, create a dance for it, or present it to your family through charades.
  • Logical-Mathematical: Place math manipulatives above the words in your poem to distinguish the rhyme pattern. For example, the manipulatives for an ABAB pattern could be red, blue, red, blue. You can also place manipulatives over different syllables to visually display the meter.
  • Naturalistic: Make nature the topic of your poem and write it outdoors if you can.
  • Visual-Spatial: Draw pictures to illustrate your poem or write a poem about a picture.

By taking different approaches to poetry writing, students can learn much more about the form than if they simply sit down and write. Don’t forget that you can also put a linguistic spin on activities that focus primarily on math or other subjects.

Recognizing skills and intelligences that come naturally to your student can help you support them in learning in the way that’s best suited for them, as well as identify areas of improvement to create a well-rounded education. Online schooling, such as the curriculum offered by Connections Academy, can grant your student the freedom to learn in the way that best aligns with their natural intelligence. Learn more about Connections Academy today!

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