Lesson idea: multiple intelligence

The theory of multiple intelligences came up in English in Mind this week. I knew it would really interest my students, so I decided to explore it a bit more. Here’s another idea to get your teens talking, and reflecting on their own skills/abilities.

MI falls in the neuromyth category, but doing a lesson on it doesn’t mean you think it’s valid. Allow critique of the topic and promote discussion. If this doesn’t emerge, you could encourage students to research the theory as a homework task after the lesson.

Lead in:

I did a quick ‘unscramble the letters to make words’ task

LEVECR = clever                MARTS = smart                 ITELGINTLEN = intelligent

Then I asked the students to complete the sentence:

‘Intelligence is…’

They came up with some pretty good definitions. I put a simplified dictionary definition of intelligence, and then the students discussed a few questions:

Do you think you’re intelligent? If so, how?

What about your friends? Do you have any really smart mates?

Do you have to be good at every school subject to be ‘intelligent’?


Introducing multiple intelligences

I put up this slide to generate ideas:


We had a quick discussion on this as a class.

Then I gave students these 8 pictures of different people:


I asked them to rank the people in order 1-8, with 1 being ‘most intelligent’ and 8 being ‘least intelligent’. They had to agree on the ranking as a group.

The best thing about this task was it highlighted the concept of multiple intelligences straight away. Some students felt that the task was really hard, ‘because footballers are clever, but in different [ways] to artists’. Each picture represents a different type of intelligence. Image C generated a lot of discussion and led to a brief tangent with students reading up on Malala Yousafzai. Most groups either chose the monk or the teacher as their most intelligent person.

One student from each group visited the neighbouring table and listened to their ideas. They then reported back to their own group on whether the ideas were similar or different to their own. This is an activity I remembered from the CELTA, I mentioned it in this post on classroom organisation.

Students were then given a list of intelligences, which they matched to the pictures.

A – musical intelligence, B – visual intelligence, C – verbal intelligence, D – interpersonal intelligence, E – body intelligence, F – intrapersonal intelligence, G – naturalistic intelligence, H – mathematical intelligence

They did a quick gap-fill ‘grass skirts’ activity to check they understood the meaning of each type of intelligence.intelligence2

Following on from that, they then ranked the intelligence types in order based on what they thought their skills were.

I went online and found this nice version of a multiple intelligence test. The statements were written to be answered by an individual, e.g:

Tick the statements that are true for you:

____ I like listening to music on my phone or online

I made this a pair work task, where students had to transform each statement into a question for their partner:

Do you like listening to music on your phone and online?

Tip: the test needs updating a bit as it still mentions things like listening to CDs. I blanked out and changed some information, but kept the amount of questions the same.

The question types needed were ‘Do you think…’, ‘Can you…’ and ‘Do you like…’. This was a little difficult at first and they struggled with changing the pronouns, but they eventually got going and did well.

The task did need a pretty big pre-teach for my pre-intermediates – there were about 12 words that I thought would be difficult (clay, charades, hike, etc) but most were quite easy to explain.

Add the end of the test they achieved a score for each type of intelligence. They ranked the intelligences based on this score, and compared this ranking with their predictions before the test.

Tip: blank out the scoring chart at the bottom of the test. It says which Area corresponds with which intelligence. Get students to match this information themselves.

The students were keen to share their results with each other and seemed very engaged in the task. We ended the task with group discussions based on questions about the results and the test in general:

Were any of your results surprising? How?

What do you think of the test?

Is the test useful in anyway? Can we learn anything from it?


I did a ‘What I’ve learnt…’ post-it feedback at the end of class (which I mentioned here)

Overall, the activity worked well and generated quite a bit of discussion. It tied in well with our ‘anti-bullying week’ event, and discussion on accepting that it’s ok to have differences. The lesson as a whole needed some tweaking, but I was pleased with the level of engagement and interest from the learners.

Do you have any ideas on how this lesson could be developed? Have you covered this topic yourself? What did you do? What do you think about multiple intelligence tests in general? Comments are much appreciated!


  1. I’m studying pedagogy and teaching English, so your lesson idea will be very helpful to introduce my students to multiple intelligence while learning English. Thank you so much for your contribution!

    Liked by 1 person

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