Working with Multiple Intelligences: Existential

•18/05/2011 • Leave a Comment

Although not one of the original eight intelligences that Gardner categorized when he theorized learning styles, existentialism has its place with many students. Students who operate out of this intelligence are always searching for meaning and must question all choice and philosophies. Here are your deep thinkers. They may drive some of your other students because there is the tendency to read too much into everything. However, it is an important aspect of any form of education that we teach students to think critically. Existentialist thought has given birth to the concept of critical pedagogy. What does this look like in the language classroom? There are some projects related to literature and culture that some students can express their philosophical side. A popular way for students to explore their beliefs is through journaling exercise as a bell ringer.

Some educators may be tempted to preach, as opposed to teach, their personal philosophies or beliefs…tread lightly if this applies to you. The point is to help students learn the ability of developing choice, discovering themselves, and proving or disproving beliefs.

The one think that I personally like about the existential intelligence is that it can be blended with any of the eight Gardner categories. Options for projects and assignments are extremely open, if you play your cards right.

One thing that I must admit to anyone who is a current educator, is that one thing that annoyed me the most about language classes,when the teacher would ask a question, that maybe only half of the students could relate to it.

Symbolism: Choose a story for students to read. As students read, ask them to take note of what they feel are important events in the reading. Students need to define for themselves what these events mean to them personally or how they relate to the event or students can write down a list of themes that they find relevant and they will bring these back up during class discussion

Making connections: There are some students who are very devout in their spiritual faith or personal philosophy. Instead of having students write research papers, have them relate their spiritual faith or personal philosophy to a current event or a topic of your choosing. An alternative could include a viewing of a movie in the target language and they students will review the aspects that they feel most hits home with them.

Interest surveys: Getting to know your students is an excellent way to reach their philosophical side. Design the questions at your own risk. Know the kind of students that you will be working with and prepare your survey. You can design the survey to ask basic questions dealing with favorite music, favorite books to something much deeper like their personal beliefs. The informatin given from the surveys can give you, the educator, a clue as to how to help your students find value and meaning in the lessons that you are teaching.

Working with Multiple Intelligences: Naturalistic Intelligence

•13/05/2011 • Leave a Comment

We are continuing on with the Multiple Intelligence Series today. Our focus will be on the Naturalistic. When I say naturalistic, I am talking about dealing with the sciences. Do not scientists have to write reports when proposing theories or a new kind of experimentation? Regardless of what field students will eventually enter, they can not by any means escape the use of language. To engage students with this kind of intelligence, here are some ideas you may want to try:

Stages of Development: Have your students explain the stages of development for either a plant or a certain animal that goes through some form of dynamic metamorphosis like a swan, butterfly, or even humans. Some of you may be thinking, “Well, what if my students do not know the stages?” Well, this would be an excellent time for you to introduce basic research into your curriculum.

Zoo trip: If you are able, take your students on a field trip to the local zoo or nature trail/center. Students can choose to focus on a particular animal or group of animals. As they focus or observe rather, their chosen animal(s), they can take note of what they see. Also encourage the student to speak with docents and other workers about the animals. As they are observing, have the students write down their questions in the L2 (second language) for the workers and then as they speak with them, they can jot down the answers. When returning to the classroom, have the students summarize what they observed either in written form or verbal form – in the target language, of course. Afterward, students will write a report based off the responses from the workers. This same exercise could be used for a trip to a local botanical garden, farmer’s market, or farm. Allow students to bring their cameras and take pictures as well.

I Wanna Rock: OK, what a cheesy title but I love that Twisted Sister tune, and I also love learning about rocks… and gems. In fact, I used to work at a gem store in downtown Memphis. Well, you may have students who have an infinity with stones. You have some options here. You can (a) bring a small collection of rocks and gems to class and let students pick out one they like. Have the student write down why they chose the particular rock. (b) You can turn this into a research project about the formation of sedimentary rocks or crystals. Option C will actually lead to the next project idea.

Mini Science fair (Option C): Students can create crystals and write an analysis of their project. They must explain the steps that they took to arrive to their finished product. Students will also verbally explain their project during a “gallery walk.” If students do not want to work with crystals or stones for their science project, they can work with plants, animals, shells, or demonstrations of natural occurrences (volcano eruptions, tsunamis, etc.).

Letter Flower: For younger students, this will be much similar to the Language Blueprint from the Artistic Intelligence post. You will have students create a plant using only text. The text used will spell out parts of the plant. Students will develop their vocabulary and spelling skills from this exercise. Text can be manipulated on the computer or students can cut out words or letters from magazines and newspapers.

The gamut of ideas is broad and there is always room for modification. Allow your natural intelligent student use their understanding of all things natural and skills of observation to aid in developing language skills. You might be surprised.

Working with Multiple Intelligences: Artistic

•11/05/2011 • 3 Comments

Good morning to all of you fine people in WordPress Land. Today, I am going to start a new series dedicated to teachers. The topic is going to deal with Multiple Intelligences.

This theory of Multiple Intelligences was first developed by Howard Gardner in the 1980s. The theory that there are various methods in which students learn. Some students may not excel in certain subjects but demonstrate high ability in a particular subject. Gardner listed eight:

  • Linguistic (words/verbal)
  • Artistic/Spatial (visual)
  • Mathematical/Logic (using numbers and reasoning)
  • Natural (science)
  • Musical (songwriting, singing)
  • Kinaesthetic (use of body movement)
  • Interpersonal (people smart/extrovert)
  • Intrapersonal (knowing self/introvert)

Other forms may have been added to this list:

  • Existential (dealing with the spiritual)
  • Technological (dealingĀ  with computers, electronic devices, smart technology)

Today, I am going to deal with artistic/spatial intelligence. The artistic/spatial form has struck a cord with me because I started out as an Art major before switching to Languages. Many people that I knew told me that Art had no real value unless you were in certain fields, and even in those fields, they did not have much value. However, I found the opposite to be true. When I started the preliminary course work for a graphic design program at one of the local universities in Memphis, I learned that art and language were almost one in the same – they are just different forms of expression.

There were several courses that I took that helped me to realize this. One project I remember fondly was an abstract self-portrait. Students were given a list of ten items but they could only choose five that they could use to create their “portrait.” I used a drawing of David Bowie that I did, lyrics to “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, a Korean symbol that I have kind of used as my tag; it was actually my first name in Korean; a picture of meerkats at the Memphis Zoo (I used to work there at the time) and a patch I bought while in New York. As part of the grade for this particular project, students had to verbally express the meanings behind their “portraits.”

To make a long story short, the point is that as I look back on these projects, I am finding some neat exercises that can help bolster the confidence of a student who may excel in Art class but appear to show little interest in language learning.

Without further a due, here are a list of projects you can try with your artistically/spatially intelligent students:

Storyboard: Student will still need to focus on text with assistance of basic imagery. Imagery can be very basic or detailed. Themes of the story board can include summary of a story, a five year plan, short term goals, an exercise in predicting an outcome of the story. Whoever guesses right gets a special prize.

Graffiti Wall: Students will focus on text to display importance for either vocabulary, goals, concepts they have learned, or points related to a story. Students can then verbally express the meaning behind their tag or mural.

Self Portrait: This exercise could be an alternative to the student interest surveys. Give students a list of things that you would like to know about them but instead of drawing pictures of people, have them use items to represent them. For example, one of the items you ask for can relate to a favorite sport. Student may draw, use cut outs from newspapers and magazines, or if they are technologically gifted, use the computer.

Script Analysis: I remember this project from my Computer Aided Graphic Design class. We watched the scene from A Streetcar Named Desire where Blanche is attacked by Stan (Stella’s husband). We had to pay attention to the tone of voices used in the scene. Afterward, we were given a the text to manipulate in Adobe Illustrator. Text could be enlarged, minimized, widened, shriveled, or however we wanted to represent the fight between the two characters. Now, if you are a teacher in K12 education, you may want to choose a milder film, like something from the Chronicles of Narnia series. If you do not have access to computers, allow students to draw or use cut outs from magazines and newspapers.

Book/story cover: This project could be used to assess comprehension of a story. Students can choose to create an image based on a story they have read in class. Then have students write or verbally explain what the image is and why the image would be good for a book cover.

Language blueprint: For students into construction or architecture, students can create a blueprint of either a home, a business, or school. Instead of using images,they will use text to represent all the furniture and rooms in the building.

This is just a short list of many that could ignite language learning for your artistically inclined students. Play around and see what happens.

Free Webinar for those Interested in Translation

•01/05/2011 • Leave a Comment

This was originally on from I had to place it here in the blog for those of you interested in being translators. The best part is that it is free!!

What is ProZ? It is a professional website for freelance translators. A basic account is free of charge but there are two other kinds of count that range between $78 (for 6 months) and $119 (full year). It is recommended that you have some samples prepared to post for potential clients. Also it is recommended that you have tax documentation to present.

You will be able to post a link to your personal website and your social networking sites.

Check it out: as a Language Tool

•21/03/2011 • 1 Comment

If you are into social networking sites that are strictly for the purpose of creating connections outside of the world wide web for a common cause should check out There are several thousands of groups. Many of those groups are dedicated to languages and / or cultures. For those of you who are not in school and are looking to improve your proficiency in a particular language, browse the area groups that are available and join. Meetup live meetings are scheduled and posted on the front of the particular Meetup group homepage. Members can RSVP and rate the live meetings.

Now in order to become a member of these groups, you must first create a profile on Don’t worry, it’s free. Choose your interest(s), zip code and/or city. Sometimes, the Meetup search will turn up groups that may be in a different region since some towns may not have certain groups. You have the option of searching groups 200 miles away. If you are the more trailblazing type, then you may consider starting your own group.

To start a group, there is a fee. You have three payment options: monthly, bimonthly, and semi-annually($72). The latter of the three is probably the best deal. The break down is $12 each month and renew after the 6 month period. As a group owner, you make groups open or private. You can appoint moderators. You can control file content. For example, if you are posting flyers about events not Meetup related but group related, you may post them in your file section. Surveys may be created. The number of meetings, events, and locations are up to the group owners and members.

Another really awesome feature for Meetup are the free market tools. There are name placards available for download. You may print labels on your home ink jet printer. There are banners and buttons that may be place on your group’s personal website, Facebook or Myspace.

Other features include a forum, meeting archives, guest-book, and a contact list. The rest of the work for Meetups is completely up to you.

One word of warning, if you are a group owner and want to step down, you will have to contact the Meetup administrators by telephone. You can get the phone number off the contact link on the home page.

Whether your interests are foreign language education, classical language, translation, intercultural issues, you have access to one another regardless of where you live. Also you can gain access for several networking opportunities in person and online.

Working with Classical Languages

•10/03/2011 • 3 Comments

In case you are wondering what Classical Languages are, these are languages have a literature and that were used in ancient times like Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, and Chinese (depending on who you ask it refers only to Greek and Latin.

For the sake of this post, I am only referring to Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek since the other two are included in most modern Languages programs.

When most of us think of Greek or Latin, we may think of fields related to medicine or law. Also, some of us may think of high school Etymology courses, where students study the roots of words.

When I started this project, I sent out surveys to language teachers from the Southwest Tennessee. One of those teachers mentioned that they were looking for different ways of teaching Classical Languages. Well, today is YOUR day!!

One thing that I would definitely suggest to teachers of Classical Languages is to partner up with a teacher in a different department. For instance, if you decide to work with an art teacher (yes, this can work) and depending on the students interests’ some wonderful projects could emerge:

Logic may applied to math, law, and science but it can also be related to fields that deal with right brain activity like art. Teaching students about the different types of fallacies (ad hoc, ad hominem, post hoc, etc) could be used for the purpose of creating advertisements/ campaigns, or you may collaborate when talking about the culture, art, or archaeology from the Roman Empire or Ancient Greece.

Logical fallacies could also be used in English and Mathematics. Design a project with teachers in Language Arts and Mathematics in which students will used language art skills to debate an issue or a math problem. For example, if you have students in Geometry, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I or Algebra II, you may use some of the equations to demonstrate how fallacies could be used in order to find an answer.

For schools that do not offer etymology to its students, classical teachers could develop an etymology based unit for language arts to help students learn definitions without depending completley on a dictionary. In most language art courses, there is a unit on prefixes and suffixes but not so much on roots. The prefix/root/suffix unit does not focus on classical Greek and Latin language, so Classical language teacher, have a sit down with your language arts colleagues and create something new.

Language Learning Trick for Beginning Interpreters

•07/03/2011 • 4 Comments

I believe I shared a little bit of some of my experiences as a Spanish Interpreter while in Memphis. I must admit, the first year of interpreting were awkward because unlike most people I knew who majored in Spanish and their degree was in Spanish, I have never been out of the country and lived in a Spanish speaking territory.

Yet, working in a Mexican neighborhood in Memphis did have slight advantages that would equal just a small fraction of the experience I would get from traveling and staying in a Spanish speaking country.
Nevertheless, I was and still am jealous of those who do have the opportunity to travel to another country and study and become immersed in the language of the culture.

However, I have not let this little known fact completly leave me gunshy when it comes to improving my Spanish language skills. My very first assignment included transporting a client to the hospital and preparing him for particular medical procedures. Fortunately, my supervisor had already spoken with the Nurse Case Manager (NCM), who gave her the paperwork for the procedure that the client was going to have. I took the paperwork home and studied it in English before translating it on paper. In this way, I would know exactly what I was to explain to the client as the doctors spoke with him. I was very insecure in my speaking skills but I made it work. In some cases it worked in my favor. The client would from time to time tell me other words for certain parts. I think in 2004, I learned 2 different words for stomach in Spanish (barriga y panza).

Sorry for the long-winded story. But the real point of the story was to learn how to develop your own meaning when you are interpreting, regardless of the language you speak. With that said, let’s talk about technique for building vocabulary.

Sure you could do the usual vocabulary list and become lost in a collection of letters without illustration but it’s best to be creative. In a personal notebook, you can any of the following graphic organizer:

*Venn Diagram: Now, I realize that these diagrams are used for bigger concepts such as comparing historical figures, stories, cultures, etc. Why not use words? One thing I have learned that what means stomach in one Spanish speaking region doesn’t mean stomach in another Spanish speaking region or is not commonly used.
Yes, it is a bit over the top but it depends on how big and in depth that you make it.

*If there are words in English that you may have a hard time explaining, then a Pyramid Chart would be good to try out. The capstone of the pyramid could represent your word. The remaining levels could be synonyms of the word or an easier explanation so that when you need to interpret to the client, you are able to do so with confidence. Eventually you want to raise the bar on your understanding so that you develop more with your interpretation skills.

*In similar fashion as presented above, a graphic organizer in the shape of the sun or a light bulb can be used. Certain words or phrases that are used with either legal, medical, or any other type of interpretation that serve as a the main concept would be placed in the center. The rays would represent various explanations for the interpreter to use as they practice their oral interpretation of forms.

*Keep bilingual materials on hand to study that are related to the type of translation that you want to work with. If you intend on working as a CPA or in banking, it is a good idea to find financial materials in both your home language and the target language. If it’s school related interpretation that you are concerned with, then search for bilingual materials related to school administration and policy as well other school related matters.

As the appointments or meetings come, the less you will need the charts. Your confidence will build and you will be surprised at how much your vocabulary has improved.