Everybody has a different approach to learning and the more we understand about the type of learner we are, the more effective our studying should become.
Howard Gardner first introduced us to the idea of Multiple Intelligences in 1983. He believes that there are several types of intelligences that can’t be simply defined from one IQ test. He categorises intelligences under the following headings;
1. Verbal linguistic – having a good verbal memory, being interested in words and how language works
2. Analytical / logical – being able to investigate and have a scientific approach to learning
3. Musical – being sensitive to sounds and rhythms
4. Visual spatial – being imaginative with a good visual memory
5. Kinaesthetic – being receptive to touching objects to enhance your memory
6. Interpersonal – being good in group work, listening to others
7. Intrapersonal – being aware of your own personal goals and motivations
8. Naturalist – understanding the link between nature and humans
It’s important to understand that these intelligences work together and it would be unwise to think of ourselves as having only one or the other. Labelling learners as a particular type of learner could stop them from exploring all of their intelligences. So instead we should think of ourselves as having dominant intelligences.
When you are next in a classroom ask yourself these questions to think about how you learn:
- When I hear a new word do I need to see it written down to know how it’s spelt?
- Am I interested in grammar and how English tenses are put together?
- Are my notes kept neatly in a methodical way?
- Do I keep a personal dictionary of newly learnt words?
- Does my personal dictionary help me to remember the words?
- How easy do I find it to hear differences in sounds?
- Does drawing pictures of new words help me to remember them in English?
- Does touching an object help me to remember what it’s called?
- Do I enjoy listening to the teacher and taking notes?
- Do I prefer working on my own or with other people?
- Do I know why I’m learning English?
This list of questions is obviously limited but it’s a good start towards becoming a more effective learner. The more you are aware about your dominant intelligences in the learning process the more you can exploit them to make learning a more enjoyable and rewarding journey.