Word Smarts: Why Students Need Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence and More

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

Is your student word-smart?

Whether or not your student’s verbal-linguistic intelligence is particularly strong, it’s important for him or her to exercise this intelligence—along with other types—when he or she is learning.

Howard Gardner, who developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences, explained in Howard Gardner speech(opens in a new tab) that “important ideas, topics, theories and skills ought to be taught in more than one way, indeed in several ways—and these several ways should activate the multiple intelligences.” 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 aren’t as word-smart.

Below is a breakdown of verbal-linguistic intelligence and tips for how you can “activate” it more during the virtual school day.

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.

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

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.

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