Second Language Acquisition for the Adult

Introduction to the Problem

This study examined the factors affecting second language acquisition in the adult classroom. This has explored how the Multiple Intelligence (MI) Theory of Howard Gardner might help adult learners in learning a second language. Even with the existence of traditional methods for teaching foreign languages, this study explored the ways incorporating Gardner’s MI theory might change the methodology of teaching and learning a second language.

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Howard Gardner introduced the theory of Multiple Intelligence in 1983. This theory suggests that each individual has a unique combination of the seven intelligences that Gardner identified. The intelligences are verbal-linguistic, mathematical-logical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical-rhythmic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligence (Gardner, 1983) with additional intelligences added in 1997, naturalist intelligence, and in 1999, existentialist intelligence (Gardner, 1999).

Learning a second language may be difficult, especially for adults who already have a strong foundation with their own native language. It is not impossible for these adults to acquire a second language; however it needs a considerable amount of time, teaching and learning, money, exposure to native speakers of the language, and a lot of effort to seriously learn a second language. Even then, it may take years to reach the native-level fluency of the language that a person wants to learn. The Contrast Analysis Hypothesis predicted that a learner may have difficulty learning a second language if the structure is different from the first language; also, the inverse is true, that the second language may be easier to learn if they have the same structure as the learner’s first language (Lado, 1964, in Lightbown & Spada, 1999).

W hat does the existence of the theory have to do with the acquisition of a foreign language in the adult classroom? How would this contribute to second language learners during the process of learning the foreign language? What then are the advantages of the teaching and learning strategy employed with MI Theory over traditional methods of teaching and learning a foreign language?

Studies have been done on foreign and second language acquisition and these has been a field of study for around 25 years. Even the first models of second language learning were formulated for over 10 years (Krashen, 1979; Schuman 1978a, 1978b). Since then, the formulation of different methods for teaching foreign languages has been changing until they find the most effective technique for teaching a second or a foreign language.

There are a lot of existing methods in teaching foreign languages. But being successful in teaching foreign languages to learners would not require just one method while disregarding other methods. One method that may be effective for one class but not another thus it needs methodology variations for a teacher to effectively teach a foreign language. Over the years, modifications have been made to methods of teaching foreign language to reach perfection but as we compare traditional methodologies to the present time, they reveal surprising similarities (Teaching and Learning Foreign Languages). As we take a look at the history of teaching foreign languages, we can see how the methodologies evolved and resulted to the present day methods of teaching a foreign language. J.A Comenius, a language methodologist, is best known for using pictures in teaching language because he stresses the importance of the senses rather than the mind thus ruling in favor of the importance of physical activity in the classroom. Later, he claimed that the language is learned from pre-set rules of grammar and from there the traditional methods were born such as Grammar-Translation Approach, Direct Approach, Reading Approach, Audio-Lingual Approach/Audio-Visual Method, Community Language Learning, the Silent Way, Communicative Approach – Functional-Notional, and the Eclectic Method.

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Table 1. Limitations of Traditional Methods of Teaching Foreign Languages.

Traditional Method Disadvantages/Limitations
Grammar-Translation Approach This method is taught in the mother tongue with little active use of the target language. The basic drill is translation from the target language to the mother tongue. Thus this may not he helpful when the learner wants to learn the target language for conversational purposes and does not practice an individual for spontaneity.
Direct Approach
(Reform Method / Natural Method / Phonetical Method / Anti-grammatical Method)
This method believes that the second language can be learned the same way as he first language, but learning process is different with adult learners and so this method would not be effective with adult learners.
Reading Approach The priority in studying using this method is the increased reading ability and that the grammar and fluency necessary for reading is taught with minimal attention given to the pronunciation or gaining conversational skills.
Audio-Lingual Approach The basic method in teaching using this method is through repetition. This method depends on mimicry, memorizing a set of phrases and over-learning with no or little explanation given about grammar Students failed to achieve a long-term communication capability, thus approval for this method declined as it was realized that over learning, habit formation and avoidance formation does not help in learning a second language (Brown,2000).

Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence may change the methods in teaching and learning foreign languages. By incorporating the understanding of multiple intelligences in teaching second languages, this could change the pace of acquisition. This may also lessen miscommunication because of language differences and lessen the problem of having language barriers. Gardner’s theory of is a rationalist model wherein it involves the eight different intelligences that a person possess. It would provide better understanding of the differences that each individual has when it comes to learning and then addresses these differences to help the individual develop potentials. The MI Theory incorporated in teaching a second language would give recognition to the learner’s holistic nature and their diversity. The teacher would have a variety of techniques and strategies that would help develop each of her students holistically in teaching a second a language (Arnold, et. al, 2004).

There are aspects that a teacher must consider in order to be effective. One is that she must understand the learners’ diversity. Traditionally, teachers teach their students as if they all have the same level of understanding. The world of teaching changed when the results of studies came out that demonstrated students in the classroom greatly varied in their learning styles; this is the reason why no single teaching method is effective for all the students. The dimensions investigated related to language learning were multiple intelligences, perceptual learning style, the dependence/independence, analytic or global learning styles, and reflective or impulsive learning styles. Increasing the learner’s awareness in their own learning style makes the learner more responsible in their learning process thus resulting in more effective learning (Reid, 1999).

With the emergence of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory, teachers of foreign languages or second languages may change their teaching strategies. As to how they can incorporate the MI theory in their teaching strategy, they may ask the following questions when planning their lessons (Armstrong, 1994):

Table 2. Questions to be asked in planning lessons incorporating the MI theory.

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Intelligences Question to be asked
Linguistic How can I use the spoken or written word?
Logical-Mathematical How can I bring in numbers, calculations, logic, classifications, or critical thinking?
Spatial How can I use visual aids, visualization, color, art, metaphor, or visual organizers?
Musical How can I bring in music or environmental sounds, or set key points in a rhythm or melody?
Bodily-Kinesthetic How can I involve the whole body, or hands-on experiences?
Interpersonal How can I engage students in peer or cross-age sharing, cooperative learning or large-group simulation?
Intrapersonal How can I evoke personal feelings or memories, or give students choices?

After considering these questions, a teacher may be able to incorporate the MI Theory in lessons that will be taught to adult foreign language learners. Determining how MI can be incorporated in foreign language teaching can be the same process for determining how MI can be incorporated in any other subject. As long as the teacher realizes the uniqueness of each of the learners, employing MI theory would make their teaching experience more fulfilling and would make learning easier for the diverse students.

Background of the Study

In this section the researcher looks at MI and examines factors within teaching foreign languages and how they can strengthen FL learning by using MI in the adult classroom.

Howard Gardner created the Theory of Multiple Intelligence in 1983 that suggested that all individuals have personal intelligence profiles that include combinations of seven types of intelligence. The intelligences mentioned included linguistic, mathematical-logical, visual-spatial, bodily kinesthetic, musical-rhythmic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal (Gardner, 1983). In 1998, this was first applied to teaching foreign language by Michael Berman. Gardner even added an 8th and 9th intelligence type, naturalist and existentialist intelligence respectively.

How then do we define intelligence? Intelligence is perceived by others as something that has an effect on the social status, the educational opportunities and career choices by some people. Even though it is seen as an important aspect of a person, a lot of people may be unable to define what intelligence really is. Intelligence is perceived by some as getting a high score on a traditional intelligence test, IQ test results that predict school performance or even the chosen career path of a certain person (Jencks, 1977).

Modern Psychology defines intelligence in two ways. One is that intelligence refers to intelligent acts which includes designing a computer program or writing a reference book. The second is that intelligence is used to refer to some mental processes such as analyzing and synthesizing certain information that would give rise to the intelligent act (Kail & Pellegrina, 1985). Gardner, however, presented a different view when it comes to the definition of intelligence. He proposed that people have different cognitive strengths and different cognitive styles (Gardner, 1993). This view of intelligence proposes that a certain set of mental processes would give rise to a full range of the activities of human intelligence which is completely realized in solving problems and product fashioning in real life.

What is “multiple intelligences,” and how does it apply in the acquisition of foreign language? Basically, MI refers, at least, to the seven intelligences listed by Gardner. He consulted different evidence from several sources in studying the eighth intelligence that a human being has. He was able to identify basic criteria that each of the intelligences must meet so that it can be considered as intelligence. Only intelligences that meet the following criteria, or a majority of the following criteria, were selected and tagged as intelligence (Gardner, 1985).

In brain damage studies, when a person suffers brain damage as a result from injuries, one of the identified intelligences may be damaged. An example is when a person has damage in the frontal lobe, what we call Broca’s area; the individual may have his linguistic intelligence damaged. This person may have difficulty writing, reading and speaking but is still able to perform mathematical problems, or can still dance and sing. Prior to the accident, the person perfectly performs the task that he finds difficult to do after the accident. Gardner actually proposed that there are eight autonomous brain systems that exist so that a person may lose ability in an area and retain the other abilities that he has. He then concluded that there could not possibly be just one kind of intelligence that a certain person has.

Another criterion that made Gardner come up with his idea that a person’s ability is qualified as an intelligence is the study involving exceptional individuals. In some people, we can observe that they are capable of calculating multi-digit numbers in their heads or can play a musical composition after hearing the music once. Savants, for example, are people who demonstrate amazing abilities in one intelligence while performing very poorly in another.

Developmental history is another criterion for each of the intelligences. Its developmental history arises during childhood with its peak during the person’s lifetime. One of the intelligences may peak early and the other intelligence the person has may peak very late.

Another criterion is that every intelligence a person possesses has evolutionary roots. One example is the archeological evidence that supports the presence of musical instruments in early history. The early cave drawings at Lascaux are another example of spatial intelligence.

Another criterion is the present standardized tests for support of the Multiple Intelligence Theory such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children which include subtests focusing on the different types of intelligence.

Psychological tasks are another criterion wherein psychological studies and witness intelligences are working separately. An example is that a person may be able to do complicated mathematical problems but is not able to read well or an individual may be good at memorizing words but have difficulty remembering faces. These are typically tasks that seem to be independent from each other.

Another criterion is the core operations wherein each intelligence has their own set of these kinds of operation. That is every intelligence deals with a specific kind of input using one or more basic information processing mechanism that the intelligence has. An example is that a person with musical intelligence should be able to discriminate rhythmic structures and must have pitch sensitivity for musical intelligence.

Symbol system is another criterion wherein intelligences are prone to being symbolized. Examples are spoken and written languages, musical notation systems, computer languages, and ideographic languages.

The eight intelligences that qualified according to the above mentioned criteria identified by Gardner are as follows: Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence, Intrapersonal intelligence, Interpersonal intelligence, Linguistic intelligence, Logical-mathematical intelligence, Musical intelligence, Naturalist intelligence, and Spatial intelligence. This list is not a final one nor is it exhaustive; the main point that is implied is the plurality of the human intellect. People differ in the intellects that they each have and the way they are developed. According to Weinrich-Haste (1985), many people became surprised with the categories that Gardner presented because they never thought some areas were actually related to intelligence, instead having seen them as more of a talent or aptitude.

In taking a closer look at each of the intelligences that Gardner presented, we will be able to identify their attributes more closely.

First is Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence. This kind of intelligence is the ability to express ideas and feelings and solve problems with the use of the body which includes physical skills such as coordination, flexibility, balance and speed.

Another intelligence that Gardner presented is Intrapersonal intelligence. This is the ability to understand one’s self, including one’s weaknesses, strengths, moods, intentions and desires. Skills included in this kind of intelligence are: understanding how one is similar or different from other people, reminding oneself to do something, knowing oneself as a language learner, and knowing how to handle one’s feelings such as the proper way to behave when one is angry or sad.

The third intelligence that Gardner included is Interpersonal intelligence. This is the ability to understand the moods, feelings, motivations and intentions of another person. The skills included in this kind of ability are responding effectively to other people in some pragmatic way, such as encouraging others to participate in a project.

Linguistic intelligence is the fourth intelligence included by Gardner. This is the ability to effectively use words orally and in writing. It also comprises sound sensitivity and language’s meaning and function.

The fifth intelligence that Gardner included is Logical-mathematical intelligence. This includes skills such as understanding the basic properties of numbers and the principles of cause and effect, including the ability to predict and using simple machines.

The sixth intelligence included is the Musical intelligence. This is the ability to sense the rhythm, the pitch and the melody. This includes skills such as the ability to recognize simple songs and vary speed, tempo and rhythm in melodies that are simple.

Spatial intelligence is the seventh. This is the ability to sense the form, space, color, line and shape. This would also include the ability to graphically represent visual or spatial ideas.

The last intelligence included is Naturalist intelligence which is the ability to recognize and classify plants, minerals, and animals. This may also include classification of rocks and grass, along with a variety of flora and fauna and may also include the recognition of artifacts like cars or sneakers.

How do multiple intelligences play a part in foreign language acquisition in the foreign language classroom? Each of the intelligences identified have ways that could help a person in acquiring a foreign language. Since each person has his own set of intelligences, teachers may be able to incorporate these when teaching foreign language so that the person may be able to learn faster. Foreign language may not be easy to learn because it is not the primary language that a person learns and so he is not able to practice it in his daily life. There are certain ways that the study of Multiple Intelligence would help in the acquisition of a second language. Each person has their own specialty when it comes to learning foreign languages.

Studies have been done that present each person’s differences when it comes to learning styles, learning strategies and some affective variables.

People differ in the learning style that helps us understand Multiple Intelligence better. In 1954, when Thelen (1954) used the term learning style in discussing group dynamics, it was not familiar to people. Allport (1937) proposed the term ‘cognitive style’ instead of learning style, coined to mean ways of living and adapting modulated by personality, but this term is reserved to mean activities of the brain associated with the acquisition and processing of information. It considers personality variables to represent another kind of learning style. However these terms, along with personality type, sensory preferences, and modality, are used interchangeably.

Persons have different ways or strategies for learning. Each of these persons possesses all the eight intelligences but they function uniquely. Intelligence varies from one person to another; for example, a person may be outstanding in math but poor in grammar and another person may excel in arts but be poor in mathematics, and this became Gardner’s basis for the Multiple Intelligence theory.

Intelligences can be developed and Gardner suggested that everyone may be able to develop all the intelligences to a reasonably high level of performance accompanied with appropriate encouragement, enrichment and instruction.

Intelligences also work in complex ways together. All human beings have these eight intelligences and what make a person unique are the specific and individual interactions of these intelligences. Say, for example, when cooking a meal a person might first read a recipe, which is part of Linguistic intelligence, measuring or preparing the meal to make sure it would cater to a certain number of persons uses the Logical-mathematical intelligence. Looking after the satisfaction of the guests would involve Interpersonal intelligence, or one’s own satisfaction which is included in Intrapersonal intelligence in preparing a meal.

Intrigued by the theory, Campbell (1989) developed a program to teach his third grade class with 27 students. He was able to develop seven centers that are each dedicated to one of Gardner’s identified intelligence. He made use of the seven centers while studying planet Earth. The table below summarizes Gardner’s seven intelligences with its corresponding seven centers and with the activities that the students participated in as they studied planet Earth.

Table 3. Gardner’s seven intelligences and Campbell’s seven centers with the corresponding activities involved.

Gardner’s Identified Intelligence Center Name Activities involved
Kinesthetic intelligence
(the intelligence of the whole body and the hands)
Building Center Students built a three layer replica of the Earth with three colors of clay to represent the core, the mantle and the crust.
Mathematical-Logical intelligence
(the intelligence of numbers and reasoning)
Math Center Each of the group worked with the geometric concepts of concentric circles, radius, diameter and others.
Linguistic intelligence
(the intelligence of words)
Reading Center The students would be reading a story called “The Magic School Bus” that tells a story of a group of school children who are exploring the inside of the Earth.
Musical intelligence
(the intelligence of tone, rhythm, and timbre)
Music Center The students are provided with a listening/spelling activity wherein the students listen to music and at the same time are studying spelling words such as Earth, crust, mantle and core.
Visual-Spatial intelligence
(the intelligence of pictures and images)
Art Center The activity involved cutting out concentric circles of different sizes and colors, pasting, and labeling them to identify the different zones.
Interpersonal intelligence
(the intelligence of social interactions)
Working Together Center This involved a cooperative learning activity wherein the students had to read a fact sheet about the Earth and they have to answer the questions together.
Intrapersonal intelligence
(the intelligence of self-knowledge)
Personal Work The activity involved a fantasy writing wherein the students are individually asked to write about the topic “Things you would take with you on a journey to the center of the Earth.”

With the activities mentioned in Table 3, Campbell (1989) stated that all of his 27 students knew the structure of the Earth and they learned involving the seven intelligences Gardner identified.

In an action research done by Campbell in the year 1989-1990, wherein it aimed to explore the student’s reactions to a multiple intelligences-based model, he studied student behavior, attitudes and abilities to work in non-traditional ways such as with music, movement, visual arts and cooperation. When the study was done, ten hypotheses were validated which indicated that there is an improvement in students with the application of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory in the classroom (Campbell, 1990).

Definition of Terms

Foreign Language Learning – This refers to learning a foreign language in a context where the target language is not widely used in the community for example is learning English in Spain where English is not the primary language (Lightbown & Spada 1999).

Second Language Learning – This refers to learning a second language in a context where the target language is widely used in the community. For example is learning English in the United States (Lightbown & Spada 1999).

Multiple Intelligence – These are the 8 intelligences that Gardner identified which are the verbal-linguistic, mathematical-logical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical-rhythmic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligence, naturalist intelligence, and existentialist intelligence (Gardner, 1999).

Statement of the Problem

There is not a perfect method for teaching second or foreign languages. Although there have been traditional methods that were used over the years, these methods are not applicable to general learners. Each of the methods may have a target learner for them to learn their target language. As Gardner (1983) introduced the theory of Multiple Intelligence, this may help learners be aware of what their capabilities are and develop them holistically. All their potentials will be discovered as this theory gives a new light to teaching.

In the adult classroom, where a mother language has been fully developed, a second language may be hard to learn. The traditional methods may work for one group but may not be applicable to another. As adults have different learning process as the children, some of the traditional methods of teaching foreign languages that are effective in children are not necessarily effective for adults.

Gardner’s theory expounds the intelligences of human beings and helps design the methods of teaching second or foreign languages to fit the intelligence of all learners. The theory helps learners in developing their intelligences while learning the target language. As all of the intelligences would be used if MI theory is employed in planning the lessons for foreign language teaching, learners would then find it easier to learn the target language. As the learners would know that the lesson is designed to develop them holistically, they would be more responsible in the learning process.

Purpose and Rationale of the Study

The purpose of this study is to look at the advantages and/or disadvantages of an FL course teaching to the MI.

The theory of Multiple Intelligence offers new teaching and learning styles, as well as approaches, for both the teacher and the learner especially in the adult classroom. The purpose of this study is centered on the presentation of the advantages, and/or disadvantages, of a foreign language course incorporating MI theory in instruction. This study could offer insight to contributing variables that measure classroom success after having used MI in the FL adult classroom.

Research Questions

The research was done and guided by the following research questions:

  1. Is teaching involving the Multiple Intelligence theory, in method or strategy, an effective way of learning foreign language?
  2. Are there any differences between teaching foreign language with the use of MI theory compared to the traditional methods that did not use the theory?
  3. How and to what extent does teaching with the use of the MI theory model simplify the acquisition of a foreign language?
  4. Should the use of the MI theory model be a practice in the foreign language classroom?


There is significant evidence that:

  1. teaching with the use of the MI theory model in the FL adult classroom does promote foreign language acquisition,
  2. there are differences between teaching foreign language with the use of the MI theory compared to the traditional methods that did not use said theory,
  3. its use simplifies the acquisition of a foreign language,
  4. use of the MI theory model be a practice in the foreign language classroom.

Significance of the Study

Incorporating MI theory with the methods for teaching foreign languages may not just help in learning the second language but the teachers as well. This would help make the second or foreign language easier to understand. The MI theory would improve the quality of teaching given by the teachers and the learners would receive the quality results that they wanted. With the learners’ differences, the learning process may still depend on the learners’ enthusiasm, interest and hard work. However, compared with previous methodologies without MI employed, the learner may not be given the chance to learn the target language using the intelligence where he can learn best.

Assumptions and Limitations

The result of Campbell’s (1989) study with his third grade students, who showed improvement after he employed multiple intelligences, is what college and universities should look into. This study was conducted under the assumption that this could also result positively if the theory would be employed in teaching second languages, thus giving a positive experience of learning to those adult students wanting to learn a second language. This would also let them feel more confident with themselves because they would feel as if they were involved in their learning and the learning process.

Limitations to this study are that it was conducted at a rural public community college in southwest Missouri and there was no attempt to compare findings from other geographical areas. The participants were not all “traditional” college students, as ages ranged from 17-72; the study involved two first-year FL courses offered at different times and different days of the week. Additionally students were at different levels of their education; some students were enrolled in remedial math and English courses while others were enrolled in honors courses offered by the college.

Nature of Study

The researcher used a qualitative research approach that included asking students a series of open-ended questions on their study behavior, asking them to describe their learning and study habits. These questions were considered in order to achieve a clear understanding of the intellectual abilities of the participating students, as defined by their performance on the MI-based questions. After determining the “intelligence” (the manner in which they learn best) of each student enrolled in this first-year FL course and participating in the study, it was determined how their learning could be improved. The study examined whether first-year foreign language students gained an understanding of the material being presented using MI practices in the classroom as opposed to traditional methods previously used by the instructor.

Organization of the Remainder of the Study

This dissertation is composed of 5 chapters: Chapter 1 is an overview and introduction of the research study. Chapter 2 presents a synthesis and review of the current literature surrounding the theoretical construct of using MI in the FL adult course room. Chapter 3 reviews the research methodology used in the study. Chapter 4 evaluates the research findings and Chapter 5 discusses conclusions of the findings from Chapter 4 and expands on the research results to amplify further FL acquisition program development.

Literature Review


Studies of how second language acquisition was taught and learned has evolved for over 25 years but was said to have not reached perfection yet since then (Mangubhai, 2006). The methods change from one approach to another, from one style to another to fit the learner’s need or to teach and learn a second language the shortest possible time. Children and adults have different comprehension and adaptation skills when it comes to learning a second language. Unlike adults, children can learn second languages and can adjust easily to the target language despite the fact that adults have higher intellectual capability than that of children. However, traditional methods of teaching foreign language or second language failed to consider the uniqueness and individuality of the learners in terms of their capability and ability to grasp and acquire the language that they are learning. Traditional teachers taught FLA or SLA taught as if all learners have the same level of intelligence. Thus a certain traditional method may be effective to one learner but not to the other learner.

Intelligence is one factor that helps a person learn new things. There had been a lot of attempts to explain what intelligence really is, even made studies to measure intelligence but no single definition can really explain the broadness of what really intelligence means.

The theory of Multiple Intelligence by Gardner (1983) is one theory that attempted to simplify the meaning of what intelligence is by looking into every aspect that would explain man’s intelligence. The theory looked into the wholeness of man when giving definition to the different intelligence that a human being have. Gardner (1983) presented in his Theory of Multiple Intelligence that every individual have their own unique composition of the 9 intelligences that Gardner was able to identify based on the criteria that he made to consider the ability as intelligence. The 9 intelligences that he was able to identify are the following: Linguistic: the intelligence of words, Logical-mathematical: the intelligence of numbers and reasoning, Spatial: the intelligence of pictures and images, Musical: the intelligence of tone, rhythm, and timbre, Bodily-Kinesthetic: the intelligence of the whole body and the hands, Interpersonal: the intelligence of social interactions, Intrapersonal: the intelligence of self-knowledge (Armstrong, 1994). Gardner added another intelligence on 1997 which is the naturalist intelligence and on 1999, the existentialist intelligence (Gardner, 1999).

How then does the theory of Gardner change the strategies of teaching and learning foreign language or second language in the adult classroom? To what extent can it affect the learning process and how does this define the individuality of the learner?

Applying the Multiple Intelligence Theory in the Second Language Acquisition in the adult classroom would help learners in exploring the intelligences that they have and develop the intelligence where they can learn best and learn comfortably. In this way they would be more responsible for their own learning.

The literature review would present the theories, studies and the ideas surrounding Multiple Intelligence in the adult classroom.


The concept of “intelligence has been a part of everyday lives. History shows the numerous attempts to explain and test intelligence. In 1905, Binet’s work developed a test of intelligence involving children which has been adapted and modified a lot of times (Coleman, 1977). The early research done by Spearman (1927) made an attempt to chart intelligence and abilities in whole populations to establish a single measure of ability described as the general intelligence labeled as the “g factor” (Morgan 1996).

There had also been attempts to establish scientific measure of intelligence. The Binet – Simon scale developed in 1905 became the first apparatus for testing intelligence. It was adapted in 1916 at Stanford University and the concept of intelligence quotient was introduced by the Stanford-Binet Scale. In the 1960’s Guildford had an elaborated model that separated intelligence into one hundred and twenty independent components and the design of the test was to assess each of these component however this was difficult to use (Coleman, 1977). In 1974, Weschler devised a test which he based on the Binet scale and this was named the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R). This was used to screen children to decide on the placements of children aged six to sixteen in their giftedness and special needs programs but later was found to have dissatisfaction with the results and the ways in which they are used.

What really is intelligence? Intelligence has been used by individuals in an effort to describe their own mental powers as well as of those others. Individuals living in the West were called “intelligent” if they were quick or eloquent, or scientifically astute or wise. In some other cultures they consider a person to be intelligent when they are quiet, obedient, and well-behaved or equipped with magical powers (Gardner). Notions of intelligence in the past are different but none of these notions gave an exact meaning of what intelligence really is. Traditional schools would define the intelligent person as the one who could master classical languages and mathematics especially geometry.

In the business sector, the person who is intelligent could see ahead commercial opportunities, study risks, builds up an organization and makes sure the books are balanced and sees to it that the stockholders are satisfied. In the early 20th century, an intelligent person is believed to be the person who can execute orders competently when dispatched into the far corners of an empire. When millennium was coming, the two new intellectual virtuosos gained recognition. One is the “symbol analyst” who can sit in front of a string of numbers and words for hours in a computer screen and discerns readily the meaning of the symbols and can make reliable and useful projections. Another is the “master of change”, a person who readily acquires new information, readily solves problems, and a person who is able to form “weak ties” with mobile persons who are highly dispersed, and easily adjusts to the changing circumstances (reference Intelligence and individuality).

Intelligence may have been misunderstood by the general public. The public’s understanding about what intelligence is, affects the social status, the educational opportunities and the career choices of people. Intelligence is seen as synonymous to the high scores in the “intelligence test” authored by Alfred Binet (Jencks, 1977 on Christison 1998). Intelligence is sometimes connected to the a person with high results on IQ tests such as Marilyn Vos Savant who hold’s the world’s highest record of IQ test was often referred to as the most intelligent person in the world. But within psychology, there had been a confusion of what intelligence really is because of the fact that intelligence has several psychological perspectives.

In modern psychology for example, intelligence can be defined in two ways. The first way is that intelligence refers to the intelligent acts such as writing a book. The second way of defining intelligence is that it refers to the mental processes that make intelligent acts possible say for example the process of analyzing and synthesizing information. Mozart the musician for example, one view would explain that Mozart was born with his talent on music while the other view explains that it was just accidental, that Mozart was just in the right time and place to write his music and that any other person can write was Mozart wrote. But this does not give much sense to what really is intelligence. Gardner’s (1983) and Sternberg’s (1985) results of their recent study offered different explanations of what constitutes intelligence begun to change the perception that intelligence is a single construct.

While intelligence is looked upon as a unitary concept, a debate soon arose about the legitimacy of breaking the concept into components. Researchers LL Thurstone and JP Gilford argued that it is best to conceive intelligence as a set of possibly independent factors. As a result then by the findings from the fields f artificial intelligence, developmental psychology and neurology a number of investigators then proposed the view that the human mind consists of several independent modules or what we call “intelligences” (Gardner).

With the theory of Gardner then, he presented an alternative definition to what intelligence is, based on the different view of the mind. His proposal offers a pluralistic view of the mind, acknowledging that people have unique cognitive strengths and have contrasting cognitive styles. This view of intelligence that Gardner offered stated that there are certain finite sets of mental processes that results to a full range of intelligent human activities (Christison, 1998).

Contextualization of Intelligence

No matter how intelligence is seen, whether singular or multiple, most of the theories that have been formulated about it assume that these are simply biological entities or potentials which are believed to only exist “in the head” and can be measured reliably. However the students of intelligence now realized that intelligence cannot be conceptualized nor accurately measured and is independent of the environment one is in and of the opportunities and values provided by such environment. We can take Bobby Fischer for example. He may have the potential o be a great chess player but if he lived in a culture that would not expose him to chess then his potential may not also be known. This then noted that intelligence is an interaction of the biological make up of a certain individual and the opportunity to discover and develop such potentials (Gardner, 1991).

Intelligence as Distributed

Intelligence does not only reside in the head but is residing simply within the environment one is in and that intelligence can be found on the human and non-human resources with which individuals go about with his daily tasks and this is what a person depend on for productivity in his work. These could be in the form of books, notebooks files in the computer and sources of the like. This is what Gardner and his colleagues has been exploring which explains the realization that significant parts if intelligence is distributed which is also closely related to the trend toward contextualization (Gardner, 1991).

This would help us appreciate the presence of others as a part of the “distributed intelligence” because, like books they can be considered as one source of learning or a help in our productivity. Our teachers are one great source and factor of the intelligence that we have.

Intelligences can be developed

In the field of neuroscience, it explains that the human brain is where neurons interact and that the connection or synapses of these units is where knowledge depends thus it is considered as a neurally distributed processor. The baby would usually have all the neurons that he can have but only few synapses are needed in adulthood which are formed after birth and that their creation is mainly driven by experience. It has been affirmed by Brandsford, Brown and Covking (1999) that learning changes the brain’s structure, it also organizes and reorganizes the brain, and the readiness of the parts of the brain to learn may vary with times and that by strengthening the connection of the brains neural network results to learning. Stronger connections would depend on the patterns activated (Arnold and Fonseca 2004).

The Learners

One of the most significant advances that were made in the field of education in the twentieth century was the recognition of the difference in the learning profiles of the students in the classroom. Gardner’s research showed that the cognitive ability of a human being is pluralistic and that the human being if given an opportunity to use their areas of strength to master the necessary material will make greater progress. He then recommended that teachers should use variety of ways in teaching a subject because according to him “genuine understanding is most likely to emerge and be apparent to others… if people possess a number of ways of representing knowledge of a concept or skill and can move readily back and forth among these forms” (Gardner, 1991).

The holistic nature of learners

Gardner proposed in his cognitive model that human beings are subjects who are multidimensional who needs to develop their cognitive capacities as well as their abilities. Traditionally, it was believed that learning is a cognitive activity but according to brain science this consideration is inaccurate. According to Rogers (1975) that mainstream educational institution focused only on the cognitive side thus resulted to serious social consequences.

The humanistic psychology and multiple intelligence theory recognize the involvement of the physical and affective sides as well as the cognitive sides when learning. Hannaford, a neurophysiologist, pointed out the benefits of taking into account the physical side of the learners and incorporating movement into the classroom as she studied the relationship between learning and the body. She even pointed out that:

Intelligence which is too often considered to be merely a matter of analytical ability – measured and valued in I.Q. points – depends on more of the brain and the body than we generally realize.Physical movement, from earliest infancy and throughout our lives, plays an important role in the creation of nerve cell networks which are actually the essence of learning (Hannaford 1995).

Multiple Intelligences

In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard University, developed the Multiple Intelligence Theory. This theory suggested that intelligence based on IQ testing, in traditional belief, is far too limited. He originally proposed 7 intelligences that every human being has with an additional 2 in the later years. These intelligences included the following: Linguistic intelligence, Logical-mathematical intelligence, Spatial intelligence, Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence, Musical intelligence, Interpersonal intelligence, Intrapersonal intelligence, Naturalist intelligence and the Existentialist intelligence (Gardner, 1999).

According to Dr Gardner, the school’s focus is mostly on the linguistic and the logical mathematical intelligence. That is people are seen to be intelligent when they are articulate or logical people. However Gardner pointed out that individuals who show excellence in other areas of intelligence deserve the same amount of attention such as the artists, the musicians, the designers and all those who show exceptional gifts in other intelligences. Some children who have these gifts were not even recognized in school and are not given reinforcement. These children are then considered to be “learning disabled” or “ADD (attention deficit disorder)” when in fact they are intelligent in other fields but not in linguistic or logical-mathematical intelligence. Gardner’s theory then changed this view and suggested that teachers should be trained to teach their students in a wide variety of ways using activities that would help develop the intelligence of a certain learner (Armstrong. 1994). This theory gained popularity that hundred of schools adapted its theory to redesign their way of teaching (Armstrong, 1987).

Not only is the theory of multiple intelligences is helpful to students but it is also has a strong implication in the adult learning and development. Some adults find their selves in a job which does not fit their intelligence say for example a linguistic person who is on a Nursing job, may find that she is not very effective of the job that she’s doing and that she may not find self fulfillment in the job that she’s in. She may be happier writing for a newspaper or writing her own books (Armstrong 1993).

Second Language Acquisition

Second Language or foreign language acquisition is an important part of the lives of immigrants. In order for them to communicate with the native speakers of the target language they need to learn the target language first. Children and adults have different comprehension and adaptability skills and thus there is a difference in the learning process, the time needed to learn and the process of how it is being taught to the learners.

Why is there a need for a Second Language?

Learning a second language is a not a necessity when a person is in his own country. You can survive without knowing what the other languages are. But when you migrate to a place or a country where a language used is different from the person’s first language, then the person needs to learn the language that the country uses in order for that person to communicate with the people around him in his day to day life. Having a second language or learning a foreign language then is important.

Having a second or a foreign language also have benefits and among these benefits are the following:

  • students of foreign languages have access to a greater number of opportunities where career is concerned
  • Americans who are fluent in other languages enhance the economic competitiveness abroad, maintain America’s political and security interests and improve global communication.
  • American students enrolled in foreign language studies score statistically higher on standardized tests conducted in English in a Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Achievement Test Takers

Stages of Second Language Acquisition

For one person to learn a second or a foreign language, he goes through stages that lead to the learning of the target language. These stages are the following:

Stage 1 or the Pre-production

This phase is considered the silent period wherein the learner is not yet speaking the language but have 500 words in their receptive vocabulary. At this point some student may repeat what the teacher is saying, a practice that is called parroting. At this stage students may be able to copy the words written, they can respond to visual materials such as pictures, they can even understand or duplicate gestures and movements to show that they understand. At this stage the learners need much repetition of the target language and it would be very helpful for the learners to have someone who speak their language.

Stage II or the Early Production

This stage may take 6 months for students to develop a receptive and active vocabulary for a thousand words. At this stage the student may usually speak in one or two phrases which may not be used correctly.

Stage III or the Speech Emergence

At this stage, the vocabulary of he student may have increased to about 3,000 words and the learner is able to communicate with simple phrases or sentences. They may be able to make up phrases or questions which may or may not be grammatically correct. Some may even initiate short conversations with co-learners. The learners may be able to follow easy stories with the support of pictures.

Stage IV or the Intermediate Fluency

At this stage the learner may have 6,000 active words and they are beginning to use more complex sentences when conversing and writing and are very willing to express their thoughts and opinions. The learners would also have questions regarding their lessons. Comprehension is also increasing that made them understand more complex concepts.

Stage V or the Advanced Fluency

It would take about four to ten years before learners can achieve this stage. Students may be near native speakers with regards to their abilities in their learning process. But on the early part of this stage, they would still need support from their classroom teachers (Haynes, 2005).

Second Language Acquisition Theory

SLA Theories are already very numerous, yet each focus a certain set of phenomena, each defines “rigor” by slightly different criteria and each has their own methods that targets to provide coherence to particular types of data and through certain categories of reference. The current SLA theories’ core are the cognitive and information processing approaches which considers the individual together with his language related mental functions as short and long term memory issues, the reception and production of language processes and the like. These kind of approaches focus more on the performance and the abilities of the individual, the activity intra-psychologically, the methodologies of physical science and the genre presentation of research results.

Stephen Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition

Stephen Krashen’s theory of second language acquisition is widely known and accepted. Since the 1980’s this theory had an impact on all the areas of second language research. This theory is composed of five main hypotheses which are the following:

The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis

This is the fundamental of all hypotheses in Krashen’s theory and is the most widely known among the linguists and language practitioners. According to this theory, there are two independent systems, which are the ‘acquired system’ or ‘acquisition’ and the ‘learned system’ or ‘learning’.

The ‘acquired system’ or ‘acquisition’ is said to be the product of a subconscious process which is similar to the process that children undergo when they had their first language. Interaction is a requirement in the target language.

The ‘learned system’ of ‘learning’ is said t be a procduct of formal instruction. It undergoes a conscious process where a conscious knowledge of the target language. Krashen then gave a statement that says “’learning’ is less important than ‘acquisition’” (Schutz, 2007).

The Monitor Hypothesis

This hypothesis explains ‘acquisition’ and ‘learning’ relationship and defines how learning influences acquisition. The practical result of learned grammar is the monitoring function. Krashen stated that the acquisition system is the initiator of utterance while the system of learning performs the ‘monitor’ and the ‘editor role’. The role of the monitor is on planning, editing and correcting function if the three conditions are met which are: the learner of the second language has enough time at his disposal, the learner focuses on the form and thinks about the correctness, and the learner should know the rule. The role of conscious learning on the other hand is limited in the performance of second language. Krashen further noted that the monitor’s role is/should be minor that is being used only when correcting deviations to have a more ‘polished’ speech appearance.

The Natural Order Hypothesis

This hypothesis is based on findings of a research that says grammatical structure acquisition is following a ‘natural order’ which can be predicted. Some grammatical structure may be acquired early while others may be acquired late. The order of acquisition seems to be independent of the age of the learner, the background of the 1st language, the conditions of exposure, and although in studies it showed that the agreement between individual acquirers is not always one hundred percent, the existence of a Natural Order of language acquisition were statistically significant.

The Input Hypothesis

Krashen, in his attempt to explain how the learner acquires a second language, came up with this hypothesis. This hypothesis would explain how an acquisition of a second language takes place. The only concern of this hypothesis is ‘acquisition’ and not ‘learning’. This hypothesis states that the learner improves and progresses along the ‘natural order’ when the learner receives ‘input’ from the second language which is one step higher with his current competence when it comes to his current linguistic stage. ‘Natural communicative input’ is a key to advance learners to a higher stage to ensure that a learner will receive an input that is appropriate for the learner’s current stage of linguistic competence.

The Affective Filter Hypothesis

This fifth hypothesis states Krashen’s view that in second language acquisition there are a number of ‘affective variables’ that play a facilitative, non-casual role which would include the following: motivation, self-confidence, good self image, and a low level of anxiety which would help in the learner’s success in acquiring a second language. Learners with low motivation, low self-esteem, and with anxiety which is debilitating would raise their affective filter that results to mental block and impedes learning and prevents the input from being comprehended thus impedes language acquisition but it does not only need a positive affect to help a learner succeed in acquiring a second language (Schultz, 2007).

The Process of Second Language or Foreign Language Acquisition

The process for second language acquisition is different from first language acquisition. Learning a second language is not limited when a child is raised by parents using two languages on a daily basis or in a country where two languages are commonly used. The most common situation in learning or acquiring a second language or a foreign language is at school or even later in the adult life. Foreign language learning is when a person learns a language in a certain community that has a different mother tongue. If a certain person, say for example a Korean, learning a different language in their own place which is in Korea, this would be called learning a foreign language because language is not commonly used in Korea. However a Korean learning a language in the United States where English is the common language, then the process is called learning a second language. This is as far as applied linguistics is concerned.

Applying Krashen’s theory, linguists and language teachers distinguish the difference between learning and acquisition. Learning is associated more with the formal instruction wherein a thorough explanation of grammar rules is involved as well as practice of those rules and memorizing a list of vocabulary. Acquisition, on the other hand, is he unconscious process which does not involve formal instruction and is more dependent on the actual exposure and interaction using the target language (Wiśniewski, 2007).

Factors affecting the process of Second Language Acquisition

There are a lot of factors that affects language acquisition and most of it happens in the classroom setting wherein students have fewer hours of exposure compared to the acquisition of a first language with additional incidents inside the classroom that disrupts the process. These disruptions include embarrassment and fear of making mistakes, less motivation to learn or the unwillingness to sound foreign because of the lack of sympathy towards the culture of the second language. Some other factors would include stress and self-consciousness that also influence the entire process (Wiśniewski, 2007).

Who can learn a Second Language?

It is not only limited to children who have been raised bilingually by their parents who can learn a second or a foreign language. Every person who wants to learn a second or foreign language can do so. A child, a teen or an adult can learn a language no matter what race or gender they may have. Second or foreign languages can be taught and can be learned either formally, that is within the school or a formal institution or informally, that is through exposure to the target language. People may learn and acquire a second language. But only a gifted few can reach the native-fluency level of acquiring or learning a second language depending on the age that they started learning the language.

Adults learning a second language who listens to a child who speaks a foreign language fluently would wish they started learning the foreign language at an early stage of their life. This does not mean however that a second language or foreign language acquisition is impossible for the adult learners but it was widely believed that the earlier a person learns a second language the easier it is to acquire it. It was believed that if there was a certain period of the person’s life wherein he can acquire the target language easily, it would be difficult for that person to learn the second language after that certain period. It is through that certain period that can language be learned or acquired easily compared to any other time of the person’s life.

The Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH)

Here are some definitions given of what a critical period is:

Sometime in the life cycle some structures and functions become susceptible to the presence or absence of specific experiences that it alters some future instantiation of that function or structure (Bornstein, 1989).

During a time in the development of an organism, certain environmental events need to happen in order for normal development to occur (Gazzinga, 1992).

Critical period is any phenomenon that occurs when a maturational change in the ability to learn occurs with a peak in learning at a maturationally definable period with a decline in the ability to learn if experiential exposure occurs outside that period (Newport, 1991).

‘Critical Period’ was used for the study of etiologists study of species-specific behavior, a period wherein imprinting can be observed in certain species. Say for example, a goose which is isolated from its parents at the time of hatching would react to the first moving object that they see even following it. However this kind of behavior would take place in a short span of time after they hatch. The CPH have this kind of short period for language acquisition which is decided by the behavior of the learner. Japanese learners learn English before the age of 12 or thirteen, if a Japanese would start learning English at a later age the Japanese accent would be dominant. Flege (1987) identified four characteristics of imprinting which are as follows:

Four Characteristics of Imprinting according to Flege (1987)

  • Tends to appear in a well-defined developmental conditions (Flege claimed that this is the only characteristic applicable to human beings).
  • If it has been established, it cannot be revised or forgotten
  • Involves the recognition of the species’ characteristics instead of the individual characteristics.
  • Before it is being manifested it may have been learned long before.

This then explains why learning is at its peak at certain times and why children learn faster compared to adults despite the fact that adults have higher comprehension skills compared to that of typical children. This is also true when learning or acquiring a second language wherein, if started at an early stage, the probability of children learning or acquiring a native-fluency of the target language is higher compared to that of the adults.

Second Language Learning and Age

Recent research provides increasingly positive results as far as learning a second language and age is concerned. The research showed that:

  • as people grow older, the ability to learn does not decline
  • the age of the adult learner is not a major factor in second language acquisition except for some considerations such as hearing and vision loss
  • the major influence on the adults on their ability to acquire a second or foreign language is the context in which adults learn

Older adults can even be good foreign language learners contrary to the popular stereotypes. Adjustments in the learning environment, giving attention to the affective factors and using effective methods in teaching could help in the difficulties older adults experience in the language classroom (Schleppegrell, 1987).

Aging and Learning Ability

One great obstacle to an adult language learning faces is the doubt if an older can possibly learn a new language. It is generally assumed that the younger the learner, the better the learning. However studies do not really prove this. Although children may have a higher tendency to reach a native fluency level of learning compared to adults, but adults actually learn languages better than children in the early stages (Krashen, 1979). The studies indicated that, comparing a child and an adult, the working ability to communicate in a new language is easier and faster for the adults. Studies on aging as well showed that that learning does not decline when aging. If older people are healthy, their ability to learn does not decline when they age (Ostwald, 1985). Adults and children may have learning differences, but when it comes to the learning ability, there was no age-related difference has been demonstrated.

Stereotype on Older Learners

The roots of the stereotype of the older adult as a poor language learner can be traced with these two roots which are the theory of the brain and how it matures and the practices in the classroom that discriminate the older adults.

The Critical Period Hypothesis in the 1960’s was based on the the then-current theories of the brain development and argued that the ‘cerebral plasticity’ (brain lost) after puberty that makes second language acquisition difficult for adults compared to children (Lenneberg, 1967).

Some studies in neurology in the past however showed that while language learning is different in the childhood and adulthood because of developmental changes that they are going through, adults have superior language learning capabilities (Walsh, 1978). The adults have an advantage in the neural cells responsible for higher order linguistic processes such as grammatical sensitivity and understanding semantic relations. Adult learners have more highly developed cognitive systems and are able to make higher order generalizations and associations and can very well integrate new input with their substantial experience in learning.

Age Related Factors in Learning a Language

Health is the first and foremost factor in learning, as well as many chronic diseases that affects the learning process of an adult. Hearing loss is one factor that affects a person’s ability to understand speech especially when there is a background noise. Visual problems may also be a problem because visual acuity decreases with age. These age related factors may however be addressed by classroom environment to compensate for the impairments by combining audio input with visual presentation of the material and some other adjustment that would make the classroom a more conducive place for learning for these adults (Joiner, 1981).

Comparing Child Language Acquisition and Adult Language Acquisition

Children Language Learning

Children, when they had their first word, they were not taught oral language same as they were not taught to walk. That is most young children learned languages unconsciously and naturally. It’s a part of their development. According to Brown (1973) and Halliday (1975), the child by the age of four can already use and comprehend most of the major structures in language that is with no formal instruction. They have a continuous development of their verbal skills rapidly in the first eight to nine years and researchers, after years of study how this process takes place, came up with three major approaches to explain child language acquisition and these are the following:

The Behaviorist Theory

This theory contends that children learn their language through imitation, repetition and the positive reinforcement that they receive when they make successful linguistic attempts. This theory however failed to explain why children can understand a word that they did not hear yet or produce their own utterances.

The Nativist Theory

This theory proposes that a child acquiring a language is a biologically innate ability and that human have a predisposition to language learning. Researcher Noam Chomsky came up with the idea of a language organ which is known as the Language Acquisition Device (LAD). LAD is a latent biological structure that automatically allows children to systematically perceive the language and internalize its system, an explanation why children are able to learn the complexities of a language in a short period of time. Limitations with this theory however is that language does not develop at a pace that the Nativist theorists predicts but it is more gradual process. The theory also does not consider many different languages spoken all over the world (Smith, 2001).

The Functional Theory

This theory suggests a development of a language cannot be studied in isolation from the other aspects of child development and that it should not be separated from the intent of the language. Halliday’s research in 1979 sound out that before the recognizable words appear, children first produce meaningful expressions.

Adult Second Language Learning

Unlike children who learn a second language naturally and unconsciously, adults need to learn the target language consciously. That is, “the conscious knowledge of a second language, knowing and being aware of the rules, and being able to talk about them” (Krashen, 1982). Krashen (1982) believes that for adults to develop second language competence, it would involve two parts to the processes, they learn the rules of the target language in an orderly and systematic way and to some extent, the second language mirrors the first language acquisition process. He also believes that at a subconscious level and adult can acquire a language, and communication can “feel” right or wrong. Language rules can also be also be internalized and that is why the learner is able to construct new utterances (Brown, 1994). But it does not necessarily follow that a those adults who are competent in using their first language would also be competent in using the second language because successful SLA is affected by some variables as the affective and cultural as well as cognitive differences, which is an important aspect of SLA.

Factors Affecting the Adult Learning

Neurolinguistic Factors

Lateralization process may help us understand the differences in learning the second language of children and adults. It is an ongoing process that is complete in puberty stages starting from childhood which coincides with the of Lenneberg’s critical age for language learning (Fromkin, 1990). Thus the unconscious learning process of a child would be replaced with a more conscious learning process after the lateralization period. Adults may already have completed the lateralization process. Neurological changes to adulthood may explain the differences between the first and second language learning competencies but does not account for the learning competencies which supports he idea that there are other factors that affect the success of second language learning in adults.

Affective Variables

Language, cognition and emotions are three different things and can be studied individually, but in the real picture they are three different variables which are difficult to separate. This is because they are variables that affect each other because language is the way we can express our emotions and our emotions affect our language. Language play a vital role in human beings as it is bound to, and reflects every aspect in the behavior of human beings. Explanations of the variations for the adult learning can be found in the affective and the socio-cultural aspects of behavior of humans. Horwitz (1995), for example, argues that language, unlike other subject-matter studied in academic settings, needs a level of personal engagement and that the language learning factors challenges the adult learner’s perception of himself.

A number of emotional variables in combination form the individual’s personality within the affective domain. According to Brown (1994) these main variables are the self-esteem, inhibition, risk taking, motivation, anxiety and empathy. Each of these variables when looked into may indicate some of the reasons for the success and failure of learning a second language.

One important variable when undertaking any new activity is the self-esteem. It is defined as the “personal judgment of worthiness that is expressed in attitudes that an individual holds toward himself” by Coppersmith (Brown 1994). It seemed that the positive self esteem and success in learning a second language has a correlation. This is because people have their defenses and inhibitions to protect themselves to protect their ego but in learning a second language it a person needs to commit mistakes that are a threat to one’s ego (Horwitz, 1995). If inhibitions are low, it was believed that second language learning is more successful. The risk taking or the capacity to make mistakes without being too restricted by concerns about how other may see one’s mistakes is another factor that may affect the success of successful second language learning. But it does not necessarily mean that high risk takers are successful language learners as what Beebe found out that moderate risk takers are the best language learners (Brown, 1994). Low risk takers may give out correct answers but their learning process is slow and high risk takers may be wild and thoughtless in their attempts to communicate.

Anxiety being another factor in language learning seems to be optimal in successful language learners. Bailey’s study showed that anxiety may positively affect second language learning that if an enough amount of anxiety may help the person be focused and discourages that person to be just too relaxed in learning a second language.

Empathy is another variable that involves the ability to identify, feel and understand what the other person feels and understands. This variable is closely linked to the language’s social aspects. This variable however is difficult to measure but a higher degree of this variable indicates a success in second language learning (Brown 1994).

Motivation is another variable which is often cited to be a key of success in the learning process in any field. Two aspects of motivation affect successful learning and these are the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The intrinsic motivation takes place when feelings that satisfy a person internally such as increased self-esteem, or pride are the reward for an action done while the extrinsic motivation takes place when there is anticipation of some outside reward. According to Maslow intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic motivation.

Cultural Variables

This is another variable that affects a person’s behavior when it comes to learning. The culture governs the person’s behavior at a subconscious level. Culture according to Wolfgang (1979) is “an organized body of rules, allowing for individual differences, concerning the ways individuals bound together by such things as common boundaries, customs, institutions, values, and languages, non-verbal behavior, arts, should behave towards one another and toward objects in their surroundings.”

Culture is ever changing and evolving and language is a manifestation of a culture which is important and learning a second language involves some degree of learning of the culture of the target language. A learner must know the differences of the culture of the target language and their own language. Gardner and Lambert (1972) argue that if a person has a positive attitude toward the target language and the there is that desire to know the culture of the target language then chances are good when achieving a higher level of achievement in learning a foreign language. Learners of the target language must know that the culture of the target language have different characteristics and the set of values and beliefs may be different. Therefore learning a second language as an adult has high complexity and individuality.

With these factors of learning a second or a foreign language, Horwitz (1995) then stated that learning a second language successfully would depend on the emotional responses and the cognitive abilities of the learner. Thus, there is a need to examine the relationship between intelligence and the acquisition of second language learning.

Adult Second Language Learning

Little is said about the adult learning a second language since the focus of the writings about second language learning is focused more on the learner’s individual differences and creating more programs that are pupil-oriented. Christison (1995 and 1996) suggested that Gardner’s MI Theory has a number of benefits when implemented in the classroom. First is that the success of language learning activities would improve with the use of the several intelligences that would allow a certain individual to have an opportunity to discover which intelligence he learns better. She also stated that being familiar with one’s own intelligence profile and how this work, their metcognitive skills improve.

Hancock on the other hand discusses the alternative methods of assessing second language classrooms. That language, particularly the verbal, is a context-based behavior. He also stated that along with Gardner, that assessment should include the effect of the context on the learner’s performance and the performance should be assessed within the contexts that are closely related to the skill being looked upon. The learners of second languages should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their competence in different situations and their assessment should be authentic as possible.

Diaz and Heining-Bonyon (1995) stressed on the importance of including teaching the culture of the target language in second language classrooms and that the teaching strategies should not be limited to the linguistic intelligence but would cover the different types of intelligence and to allow the students to become more immersed in the culture of the target language to achieve a greater communicative understanding.

Implications of Multiple Intelligence Theory for Foreign Language Education

The MI Theory developed by Gardner, first as an account of human cognition that can be subjected to some tests which are empirical. Gardner thought that his book “Frames of the Mind” would arouse interests from those who are in line with Developmental Psychology which did not happen because the psychologists on this field ignored it. However educators’ response to the theory was something different. It harbored a number of implications that are very considerable. Armstrong (1994) even synthesized these ideas into 4 key points.

4 Key Points Armstrong Synthesized

Each Person, possesses all eight intelligence

This key point states that each person have the eight intelligences, however, they vary when it comes to functioning. Some people may have all these intelligences highly functioning while some others may just have some chosen intelligences with high functioning, and while other intelligences are underdeveloped. Each person has a unique combination of the functioning of their intelligences.

Intelligences can be developed

Gardner suggested that each person has he capacity to develop the 8 intelligences that he has to a reasonable high level of performance with adequate and proper encouragement, instruction and enrichment.

Intelligences work together in complex ways

This key point states that intelligences always interact with each other thus no intelligence exists by itself in life. Just for example, in solving a math problem, having linguistic intelligence work, analyze and solve the problem having logical-mathematical intelligence work.

There are many different ways to be intelligent

This key point states that there is no standard set of attributes for a person to be called as an intelligent person. Persons may be musically intelligent in different ways. One may be exceptional in playing the flute and the other may be the opposite. He may be exceptional in singing but not good in playing the piano.

Gardner did not design this theory to be used in schools or to be used in designing a curriculum or planning a lesson. It was the educators who used the theory in different ways and applied this theory in teaching their students.

Applying Multiple Intelligence Theory

Applying the MI theory in the teacher’s techniques and strategies would follow several steps, which are important in introducing the theory to them.

Step 1. Introduce the basic theory

At this step one may use an interesting and a unique simple way of introducing the MI theory. Before starting out with the details, capturing the teacher’s attention and sparking their interest is essential.

Step 2. Use A Multiple Intelligence Theory

According to Armstrong (1994), following the rule that you cannot give what you do not have applies to a teacher adapting the MI Theory. This is a step wherein a teacher before applying the MI theory in their classroom must apply it first with themselves, thus they have to identify first their own MI profile first. This process would help teachers be more confident in their choices that may affect their teaching.

Step 3. Categorize familiar activities

In order for a teacher to begin planning their lessons, she must first identify the activity that she would use together with the certain intelligences that each activity represents.

Step 4. Conduct a personal audit of teaching strategies

At this step, this may require a reflective activity that would examine the activities that she would include in the lessons. The activities would be categorized according to the different intelligences Gardner identified and make sure to have the activities for each of the intelligences.

Step 5. Develop different assessment techniques that also address the eight intelligences

At this step, it is important for teachers, in order to learn about MI theory, to experience using various techniques and use as many as they can in their teacher education course and they should also be aware on how to assess the activities that they employ.

Teaching and Learning Second Languages with Research Studies

Through research in the last 25 years, insights have been achieved with regards to the processes of second language. These insughts may not be accepted by other researchers but this would help understanding second languages and its implications. Mangubhai (2006) wrote an article that enumerated the insights and they are as follows:

  • 1st Insight: Adults and Adolescents can acquire second language

Krashen (1982) distinguished the term “acquisition” from “learning”. He defined the term acquisition as a non-formal and subconscious way of having a second language merely through the person’s exposure to the target language. It then refers to the implicit knowledge which is associated with the children learning their first language without being taught.

It’s not only children who can “acquire” a second language but adults as well that would also include young children and adolescents if their exposure to the target language is enough.

Elley and Mangubhai (1983) conducted a study and was able obtain evidence wherein 10-12 year old children who learns English as their second language in a foreign #language context was given an amount of exposure in English by having them read for about 20-30 minutes in the classroom. These experimental children outperformed the control children who were not ablr#e to have the printed input but continued with the regular structural program on the same duration. Krashen (1993)then labeled this superior language acquisition as “acquisition”.

In another research talked about whether anything can be learned if it is unnoticed. Schmidt, the earliest writer who talked about noticing in the field of Second Language Acquisition emphasized that noticing is important in learning a second language and this concept is critical in understanding the development in second language.

  • 2nd Insight: Learners need to focus on form also in order to develop a more complete grammatical repertoire in the second language.

This insight was formed when immersion programs in Canada were very successful in teaching second languages but with evaluations, even though the learners showed a great amount of fluency in speaking French, there was still a limited use of grammatical structures that were utilized in their communication (Harley, 1984). With this insight, it shows that even with the input given to the learners in the immersion classrooms, learners still did not acquire the full range of structures in grammar and it led to the formation of the “form focused instruction”. This instruction is defined as “any pedagogical effort which is used to draw the learner’s attention to language form either implicitly or explicitly” (Spada 1997). Long (1991), however, defines it as occurring during meaning-based pedagogical tasks where attention is drawn to language as there is a perceived need rather than the focus occurring in some pre-determined manner. He also refers the term “focus on forms” to the type of teaching grammar that used to be the staple of many courses in foreign languages.

Efficacy of the “focus on form” is growing with evidence especially with learners who are 7 and 8 years old, in a content based classroom (Doughty, 1998, and in reviews of the studies in focus on form (Ellis, 2002). Although many are still not convinced with these method evidences from the immersion studies suggests that this method cannot be neglected.

Another study done in relation to this insight focuses on the need to provide opportunities to learners for comprehensible output. It was proposed that “through producing language, either written or spoken, language learning or acquisition may occur” (Swain, 1993). Swain even earlier argued that learners should be pushed to produce output which are comprehensible which have appropriate and accurate in grammar (Swain, 1995). Here are four ways that according to Swain (1993) in which output may play a role in acquiring or learning a language:

  1. provides opportunities for meaningful practice
  2. could force a learner to move from simply semantic processing to syntactic processing
  3. provides opportunities for hypothesis testing
  4. one’s output can generate responses from other speakers, feedback that can lead speakers to reprocess their output

Both of the above mentioned lines of research emphasizes on the need to focus on form. In “focus on form” one can spontaneously do it as Long suggested or it could be a combination of both spontaneous and pre-planned as Spada suggested. The suggestion of Swain implied that the teachers need to push the learners to produce language with accuracy.

  • 3rd Insight: The learner’s developing grammatical system, the interlanguage, is often characterized by the same systematic errors as made by a child learning that language as a first language. At the same time there might be systematic errors which appear to be based upon the learner’s first language.

This insight suggests that some of the mechanisms that operates when the children are acquiring a fist language also operates when they are learning a second language. Corder (1967), in a seminal article suggested that learners had an “in-built syllabus” and that by analyzing the learners’ errors were making, we might get insights into the grammatical system they were operating with when learning which is the interlanguage.

Errors came about because of the use of the rules of the first language in the second language context suggest that the learners are using their linguistic resources including their first language resources to convey what they mean. Chan (2004) found out that in a study of the interlanguage of ESL learners in Hongkong, English sentence were identical to those usual sentences structure in Chinese.

The implication of this insight to teaching is that if learners make these systematic errors is that will they disappear as they refine their developing grammar of the target language? If a person is successful in communicating using the second language but is still obviously having grammatical inaccuracies with the way he talks, the teacher’s role then would be to motivate these learners to get over this problem which is not an easy task.

  • 4th Insight: There are predictable sequences in SL acquisition; learners have to acquire certain structures first before they can acquire others as their interlanguage develops.

Certain grammatical features are learned in a certain pattern as research shows and so later items cannot be learned first by the learner until the early ones are acquired. Pica (1983) found out that those learners undergoing instruction did not show a different order of learning compared to those who acquire the grammatical features naturally. In Germany, an extensive study was done with adults learning German as a second language and found out that there was a developmental sequence of acquisition of a number of features in grammar (Meisel, 1981). They also noted that there is a variability in the usage of the language which depends on the linguistic context in which a grammatical structure was used.

This insight can actually provide an explanation why a certain phenomenon in the classroom happens wherein grammar is taught one week and seemingly leaned only to find out that errors are made on the following week which indicates that the grammar lesson did not really produce the expected outcome.

  • 5th Insight: To become fluent in a language, one must practise using it. (And as a corollary to this insight) To become fluent in a language, one must receive extensive L2 input.

Research studies suggests that when learners engage in communicative acts, learning occurs (Lightbrown, 1999). Interactions frequently require modification of input through reformulations or classification requests (Long 1985). This was then labeled as the Interaction Hypothesis showing that interaction affects acquisition (Gass,, 1998).

Practice in this insight, as conceptualized, leads to great amount of input for the learners. That an extensive exposure is necessary to develop proficiency in a second language. This insight emphasizes the importance of input, be it in a form of videotapes, audiotapes, songs, stories or whatever might help the learners in learning best the second language.

  • 6th Insight: Knowing a language rule does not mean that one will be able to use it in communicative interaction or in writing.

This is the insight which has a paradox with the teachers, they know and seem not know. Students may very well know the rules and even recite it but break the same rule that they recited when they write or speak. This insight suggests that in the classroom the teacher should pay attention more to the activities that are meaning focused and not learning explicit rules of a language. Immersion language teaching studies show that focusing on meaning may not draw attention to the learners to forms in which meanings are encoded and that perhaps rules that learners learn are useful when the learners are already ready to use the rule.

  • 7th Insight: Isolated explicit error correction is usually ineffective in SL learning.

This refers to when a teacher corrects a certain learner but the teacher does not focus on the particular error. Instructions aremore likely to be effective when there is greater explicitness in it (Spada, 1997). Isolated explicit error does not have the explicitness and therefore it may not be effective. This insight suggests that feedback may have to be over a sustained period of time to make some changes in the language behavior of students.

One error correction that teachers frequently commits is called recast wherein a student would say “Jill go to town” and the teacher corrects it by saying “Yes, Jill went to town” just hoping that the student would see the difference which students does not always seem to notice. Lyster (1998) has shown that in the immersion language classrooms, which are content-based, that he studied, it is difficult for students to distinguish if the feedback was given to confirm the content that has been said or the feedback meant to give them information on linguistic accuracy or pragmatic appropriateness.

  • 8th Insight: In meaningful contexts learners are able to comprehend much more than can be judged by their ability to produce accurately language of comparable complexity.

Comprehension exceeds to produce language of comparable complexity, by far. Children seem to understand a lot more than what their spoken language might suggest. It has been argued that this is also true in second language acquisition and that this was exploited in the sense that production shpuld be delayed (Krashen, 1982). Learners of a second language may be able to understand the meaning of a sentence spoken in the target language just by focusing content words or using the knowledge of the world. Mangubha in his study is an example wherein a learner who had been quite fluent in his understanding of the instructions. In his retrospective report he said that he was able to achieve his fluency by focusing on the content words only and used contextual knowledge he would also guess the meaning if it was needed. He was called an input stripper. But by the time wherein sentences presented were more complicated he stated that he should be starting to pay attention to little words.

This insight suggests that teachers must occasionally use materials both oral and printed that may appear quite difficult to the learners but can still be understood, provided, that the learners are not expected to get the detailed meaning of the text but rather gist on what they have heard or read.

  • 9th Insight: The different rate of learning observed in our students arises out of individual differences.

This insight focuses on the differences of the learners. The same curriculum is taught to the same students, by the same teachers with the same amount of input but with different outcomes. This then suggests that attention to input may be driven by many factors and these factors are moderating effect of learners’ preferred learning styles, the level of motivation, the ability of learners to cope with the degree of ambiguity, anxiety, etc.

This insight then suggests that teachers of second or foreign languages may not be able to address many of the things that students bring to the classroom but teachers may at least minimize the anxiety factor in that classroom and that may consider addressing the different learning styles of students.

With the emergence of the Multiple Intelligence Theory by Dr. Howard Gardner, many have been interested in the practical application of this theory to education.

Bruce Campbell, intrigued by the theory developed a program that would teach using the then seven intelligences in his third grade classroom involving 27 students. For him to apply the MI theory, he involved the use of learning centers and thematic interdisciplinary approach.

Campbell was able to come up with seven centers a human being has and dedicated each center to each of Gardner’s seven intelligences. The classroom was restructured physically so that each of the centers would have their designated places in different areas. The lesson planning was also modified by Campbell. He spends a portion of each day about 2 ½ hours for his students to move in groups through all the centers sending about 20 minutes at each center.

After the 2 ½ hours spent at the center, Campbell (1989) said that everyone of his 27 students knew the subject that they studied and stressed out that his students learned covering all the 7 intelligences, that is mathematically, artistically, musically, linguistically, kinesthetically, interpersonally and independently.

On the same study ten hypotheses were validated and they are the following:

  1. Over the course of the year, the students displayed increased independence, responsibility and self- direction.
  2. Students who were identified previously of having behavioral problems showed significant improvement when it comes to their behavior.
  3. All students improved on their cooperative skills.
  4. The students’ ability to work multi-modally in their presentations increased throughout the school year with students using a minimum of three to five areas in their reports in the classroom.
  5. More students who are kinesthetic benefited from the process of moving every 15 minutes from one center to another.
  6. Student’s leadership skills emerged especially to those who did not previously show the leadership ability. These students led their groups in various centers as the building center, the music center, the working together center and the art center.
  7. Parents frequently reported of a positive attitude changes towards school, improved behavior at home and school attendance increased.
  8. The daily work with music and movement in content areas helped the students retain academic information contained in the several songs by the end of the year.
  9. Teacher’s role changed from being directive to facilitative, from being a task master to a resource person and guide.
  10. Improvement with the students being more skilled at effectively working on this totally unique format.

Although these hypotheses were being validated, wherein students showed improvement in attitude and behavior further study is required to see if these positive results continue as the students continue with their schooling.

According to Campbell (1990) the results of this study was not limited on the students but to him as the teacher as well. He stated that he developed different skills than what he used to have and began to see his students in a different perspective. He said that he began working with his students than for his students and that he explored what his students explored discovered what they discovered, and learn what his students learn and began to see growth and development within himself as a teacher.


With the articles and studies presented, it is very evident that the use of the Multiple Intelligence Theory in the adult classroom when learning second languages is very helpful. This may address the different learning styles of each learner that are in that classroom and thus it may speed up the learning process. Adding to that, learners may find it more enjoyable and rewarding thus lessening the anxiety because they are more confident with themselves because they would know their learning profiles. They would know where they can best learn and they can develop that to help them learn a second language easier and more comfortably


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