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Multiple Intelligences and Technology

by Kate McDonnell, Helena

 Last spring at our Montana Adult ESOL Conference I had an opportunity to learn about “Issues in English 2”, an interactive software program for adult ESOL learners.  The program was ordered in the fall, and it arrived in October.  I was so excited.  I was now able to complete my ESOL Conference assignment which was to look at a software program through a multiple intelligence perspective.

First, I will provide you with some background information which I hope will paint a picture of where I am within the world of technology.    My goal for the last two years has been to increase the use of technology in my classroom; however, this is an enormous challenge for me.  My aura collides with the computer, and whenever I touch technology Murphy’s Law prevails.     My intelligence is most likely not Logical-Mathematical as my patience lies with people rather than technology.  Nevertheless, my students teach me bravery and tenacity.    As they have left their comfort level so must I.   I installed the program myself with the moral support of a tech person.  It was off and running.  I liked what I saw.  The next challenge for me was to figure out why my headphones weren’t working.  I tried everything possible, but with my limited knowledge (and my aura) nothing worked.  Finally, I had the tech person look into the problem.  He checked everything but it was to no avail.   I couldn’t use the software as the audio component would disturb the other students. Perseverance carried the day; after locating a special tool and digging in the CPU the tech person had my headphones working properly.  I was ready to move forward.  That was last week.  This week I have assigned three ESOL students to work at my “Issues in English 2” computer station.

.  “Issues in English 2” teaches and tests in the areas of reading, writing, listening, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.   There are four levels ranging from Beginner to Advanced.  This program is most engaging for the following Intelligences:  Linguistic, Kinesthetic, and Intrapersonal.

Here are some examples of activities which address Linguistic Intelligence.  Students listen to video clips of two people discussing an issue. Subsequently, the learner reads the dialogue while watching the video.  There is both spoken and written instruction.  The program begins with the following activities:  comprehension, cloze, spelling, and dictation.   Vocabulary activities include matching words to pictures, finding synonyms and antonyms, and working with word order and word families.   The grammar activity requires the learner to practice with tense, conjunctions, articles, pronouns and prepositions.  There are many opportunities for writing practice.  All activities are connected to the dialogue. 

This software is a strong match for Kinesthetic Intelligence because students are either moving the mouse or typing.  The program requires students to move words with a mouse to match the corresponding pictures.   It also requires students to type words and sentences through dictation. 

Because this program is self-paced and provides individual assessment, it may appeal to Intrapersonal Intelligences.  It helps the students identify personal strengths and areas for improvement by giving immediate feedback.

The remaining Intelligences: Spatial, Logical-mathematical, Naturalist, and Interpersonal are not ranked as high but are present. Students who demonstrate Spatial Intelligence would like the video clips.   Learners who possess a high Logical-mathematical Intelligence may be able to recognize word and sentence patterns and categorize information. The dialogue topics are varied and may appeal to a variety of Intelligences. The dialogues that discuss computers, media, and technology may appeal to those with Logical-mathematical Intelligence.  The person who is high in Naturalist Intelligence may enjoy the wilderness dialogue.   Dialogues that focus on social issues, problems, and situations will spark learners with Interpersonal Intelligence.  Such students could present these issues to fellow students during conversation class or use e-mail to discover opinions and beliefs of others.

Musical Intelligence is the least engaging of all the Intelligences in the software program.   I have found no music per se. 

In conclusion, I believe this software could be adapted to most Intelligences through creative efforts on the part of the instructor.   The three students in my classroom who have used “Issues in English 2” love it.  All of them feel that the activities are meaningful and fun.  They appreciate the instant feedback. They also commented that working on the computer helped them focus.  It is a successful match for their Linguistic, Kinesthetic, and Intrapersonal Intelligences. The positive feedback made the frustration of trying to fix the headphones worthwhile.  Who knows—“Issues in English 2” software today--- VANBASCO (an internet karaoke program) tomorrow!  Maybe there is hope for me after all.