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No matter what you or anyone else has told you, I’m here to
state an important fact today: You are intelligent. Every single one of you.
Before you start to argue with me, let me also state that
some of you are intelligent in ways that the standard metrics don’t see.
In Education, we study Howard Gardner’s Multiple
Intelligence theory, which delineates at least nine distinct forms of
intelligence. While the standard ones of
verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical are often
classified as evidence of smartness by teachers and peers alike, others like musical, bodily-kinesthetic, and interpersonal intelligence go unnoticed
or noted as talents, but not signs of intelligence. Yet they are and harnessing their power can
help even the weakest student learn new things better.
Here’s the deal- you possess all of these intelligences, just
in varying amounts. Some of them are
super high, others in the middle ground, and a few are low. But another plus to Gardner’s theory (which
is also supported by Dweck’s growth mindset model) is that ALL intelligences
can be developed to a higher mastery.
AND nearly every intelligence can be used to support or supplement other
more traditional learning models, if you know what you are doing.
So why am I blabbering on about all of this?
Because over the next nine weeks, I want to dive into each
of these intelligences (with a little help from Brad who will be doing a guest
post for me) and how we can use it in our quest to learn languages. I’ll also try to give tips on how to boost
that particular intelligence, in case you find it to be a weak rather than a
strong point. Hopefully, you’ll find
some new methods that will help you maximize your own unique gifts, or at least
try something new.
For today, I want to just give a brief overview of each
intelligence, as well as some notes on how easily it relates to languages. Let’s dive in, shall we?
(Word) Intelligence: People with high linguistic intelligence are good with
language, both in terms of deduction and creation. Generally people with high verbal-linguistic
intelligence enjoy reading and writing (or oral story-telling). They enjoy plays on words and appreciate the
effort expelled to create a pretty sentence.
Obviously, most people who consider themselves good at languages likely
have high verbal-linguistic intelligence.
In the article on this one, we’ll focus more on how to develop this
intelligence to a higher level, as most of the typical activities we think
about for language learning fall under this intelligence anyhow.
(Logic) Intelligence: People with high logical-mathematical intelligence
are often good with numbers or putting together logical statements. Computer programmers very often have high
levels of this intelligence, as do people who work with numbers such as engineers
or accountants. At first glance this may
not seem to connect to language well, but I’d disagree. I think many people with logical-mathematical
intelligence are good at deconstructing grammar and creating sentence formulas
to help them communicate. They often can
organize information well, especially if they also have strong visual
Intelligence: This can go two directions.
The more obvious one is being able to represent things and ideas
visually. We often think of artists in
this group, but if you know someone who creates incredible mind maps or other
visual representations of their notes, chances are they have high visual intelligence. Another way to manifest this intelligence is
being good with understanding spatial concepts.
You know that person who NEVER seems to get lost, even in brand new
places, even when their GPS doesn’t work?
Or the person like my mother who can eyeball a cup of flour or tell you
exactly which rooms are directly above which in a house she’s walked through
once? Often people with high
visual-spatial intelligence initially struggle with language because the words
feel too abstract, but once they start adding pictures or other visual elements
to their learning programs, they catch up quick.
(Physical) Intelligence: This is
another one with multiple directions, but often simply stated as “learning by
doing.” Athletes and craftspeople often
fall into this category- they demonstrate intelligence through physical action
and creation. Drama can also often fall
in with these two as the physicality of theater is often the most critical
piece (think of those early silent film actors and actresses and how key their
actions and facial expressions were). If
one is learning a sign language, the connection to language is clear. But I find that even for spoken languages,
utilizing physical motions helps solidify vocabulary retention. AND let us not
forget the ever important learning of gestures and of course pronunciation,
which have physical components.
Brad will be writing the guest post for this one, but I’ll go ahead and introduce
it. These are people who are good with
rhythms and melodies, whether by playing an instrument, singing, composing
music, or even quality critics who can distinguish between large numbers of
pieces. Musical intelligence lends
itself nicely to language learning. Many
of us have learned vocabulary in simple songs or enjoyed music in the language
we are studying. Also chants and rhythms
can help us memorize information, as well as make it easier to learn both
prosody and tones of a language.
(Nature/Science) Intelligence: I am less familiar with this one as it was
added after I completed my formal study, but from my reading, I understand it
to be related to being able to classify natural systems as well as recognize
and even derive natural laws. Think
Charles Darwin out there sketching his finches and developing the theory of
evolution, without it already being written in a book for him to study- just
making connections among the physical evidence.
My cousin was the type who with a little bit of science knowledge at 8
could extrapolate how it applied to all sorts of situations, while I needed
much more direct explanation. While this
one has a very low connection to language naturally (pun unintended), I believe
we can make that classification aspect work for us.
(People/Social) Intelligence: This one is fairly self explanatory, but not
as limited as some think. As the name
suggests, this is the ability to interact with people well, often associated
with high emotional intelligence. These
are the great conversationalists, the people who read others well, and who know
how to work a crowd. This does NOT
always mean they are extroverted though.
Many introverts ARE highly intelligent in interpersonal matters, they
just need time to recharge. And many
extroverts are not as good at this as they think- we all know that person who has to be the center of attention, even
in the most inappropriate situations (e.g. the brother of the bride who makes
an arse of himself at her wedding).
Obviously, interpersonal intelligence can be highly useful to an
aspiring polyglot because one needs to talk with people to practice! Also people with high interpersonal intelligence
are likely to pick up on and acclimate to new cultural norms with ease, making
them blend in faster.
Intelligence: This is in many ways the reverse of the former, though that
does not mean one can’t be highly versed in both. Intrapersonal intelligence is all about
understanding yourself, knowing what makes you tick and how to motivate
yourself. It means understanding how you
learn best and what brings you both joy and stress and how to effectively deal
with both. Again, this plays a high role
in what many call emotional intelligence.
Intrapersonal intelligence may not initially seem super connected to
language learning (which after all, often has communication as its focus) BUT
knowing how you learn is critical to the autodidact
(self-taught learner- favorite word of a friend) and knowing how to boost
your own motivation is even more essential.
Therefore intrapersonal intelligence can be a great asset to a language
(Philosophical/Spiritual) Intelligence: Please forgive me, as I may falter
on this explanation. This is another one
that was not included in the list when I was formally studying this
information. But, from the reading, this
seems to be focused on people who ponder and come to interesting conclusions
about the BIG questions: why are we here,
what happens after we die, what does it mean to be “good”. I had to think a long while how this
intelligence would interact with language learning. Ultimately, I think this intelligence helps
one assign purpose (and therefore encourage motivation) to the activity and
also perhaps help one deal with the more abstract aspects of language
learning. We all know those expressions
that you have to feel more than learn in a formal respect- this is the
kind of thing that existential intelligence may help one acquire.
I hope you will find the next few weeks interesting as we
look at each intelligence in depth and give suggestions on how to both develop
this intelligence as well as how to use it to improve your language
learning. I’ll try to include some links
along the way for those interested in knowing more. Until then, peace out my Polyglot Peeps!
We’re still here at Grandma and Pops house! We’re here until Sunday and then back home to Brooklyn. It’s weird being here but also really nice and relaxing. You have been loving having a yard to play in. Grandma got you the lion walker and you can take a few steps then either stop or fall on your butt. I’m so proud of you! You did figure out you can crawl up to the front and play with it. You just don’t care about crawling at all, you do it but you just want to get up and walk.
The photos are from the past couple of days. You’re just so beautiful my boobah.
The only information we have on Elven childhood and maturation comes from Laws and Customs of the Eldar (Histories of Middle-earth Volume X).
For at the end of the third year mortal children began to outstrip the Elves, hastening on to a full stature while the Elves lingered in the first spring of childhood. Children of Men might reach their full height while Eldar of the same age were still in body like to mortals of no more than seven years. Not until the fiftieth year did the Eldar attain the stature and shape in which their lives would after- wards endure, and for some a hundred years would pass before they were full-grown.
In other words, Elves grow almost as quickly as Men until their third birthday and then slow dramatically. They look seven when Men are reaching adulthood. They come of age at fifty but often aren’t fully grown until 100 - so fifty might be the human equivalent of 17 or 18, when adolescents come of age in most societies, while 100 is the equivalent of 25, when the human brain actually finishes maturing. Then, of course, Elves cease to grow altogether. Now it’d be really useful to have a graph showing Elven ages versus the comparable human maturities, so ‘thirty-five-year-old Elf’ actually means something. And if we just connect the dots between our data points, we get a really ugly and uneven growth pattern. We want something that starts fast and then levels out, eventually becoming asymptotic (no matter how long they live, Elves will never reach the physical age of a human 30-year-old).
The obvious solution is a logistic curve, usually used in population growth and resource saturation models. I had to modify it a little bit to manage the fact that Elves grow at the same rate as Men for the first three years of their lives (that’s the ugly little start to the curve there), but from three forward Tolkien’s statements on Elven aging can be perfectly modeling by a logistic function. I set the asymptote at 27: no matter how long an Elf lives, their body will never mature past the physical age of a human 27-year-old. At 18, 19, or 20 years old, an Elf will look 7. At fifty, they’ll be 18. At 100, 26. Just like Tolkien specified, sort of.
So now we can answer all the urgent questions of the legendarium. Maeglin was 12 when Eöl named him; how old is the human equivalent? About five and a half. In the Annals of Aman Fëanor is 16 when his father remarries: what is the equivalent? Six and three-quarters.